Recently I told you something about face recognition in Picasa 3.6. The other big change in this version is photo geotagging. These are both follow-ups to my posts on getting started, views, editing, special effects and exporting with Picasa.
Simply put, photo geotagging is the attachment of information to your photographs to accurately pinpoint the location of the images. It’s no different to tagging with other information, but it’s handled automatically by other applications which can then show your images on maps and so on. And with Picasa, it’s really easy.
Tagging Your Images
I’ve covered how to get images into Picasa before, so refer back to the older posts if necessary. In the meantime, I’m going to give the rest of you a short geography lesson. I know it’s winter in most of the world right now, but down here in New Zealand it’s the middle of summer. A few weeks before Christmas I had to travel to a little town called Whangarei for business. That’s in the northernmost part of New Zealand. Down here, North means warm. It’s nice there.
One of the questions I often get about my photos is where is that? Photo geotagging solves this problem. So, before I post these images on the web, I want to geotag them. Start Picasa. Find the images. Ready to go.
In this case I want to tag an entire album of images, but you can also select multiple images (CTRL-Click) and tag them. If your images were taken in slightly different locations, then you need to make some decisions about exactly how precise you want to be. So, select the images:
On the bottom right of the Library view, there are three buttons. People, Places and Tags. If you’ve been following the face tutorial, then People will be selected. Click on Places.
Now you need to find the location where the pictures were taken. New Zealand has the advantage of a few unique place-names, but you might need to select from a few options if you are making use of a location (like my home town of Wellington, for instance) that exists in a few places.
In this case, type whangarei in the search box, and hit Enter or click the magnifying glass. Google Maps will search for the location, and if it finds it you will be presented with an appropriate map, and a question about whether the location is correct.
Generally, that’s not quite specific enough for the job. You need to zoom in closer. In my case, I need to sort out where I was sitting with that cool drink.
Click the (+) button to zoom in, and the (-) to zoom back out, or use the scroll wheel on your mouse. You can also switch between street and satellite views, or use a hybrid of both.
Unfortunately small-town New Zealand isn’t the best mapped area on the planet, so the satellite imagery for Whangarei isn’t much use. I’ll stick with the street maps.
Eventually you’ll have enough detail to decide where you need to be. Drag the small green marker to that location, let it go, and click the OK button.
The pointer will turn red, and the images that have been tagged will now have a small red pointer in the bottom-left of each.
If you are using Picasa Web Albums, you can go ahead and synchronise the images. I use Flickr though, so let me just tell you how that works.
Upload & View
Just to confirm what’s been done to the images, let me take a look at one of them in Irfanview, and show you what happened. The photo geotagging information is stored in a data area of the image called EXIF. That’s the same place that all the information about the camera settings is kept. Irfanview can take a peek at that data (and even change it if you need to). Not much to it, is there?
I use ACDSeePro to upload the images to Flickr, but you can use any of the available tools. The location data is stored in the file, not in Picasa, so it doesn’t matter. Just upload as usual, and then take a look at one of the images in Flickr. You can see these ones here.
As you can see, there’s a new item in the information section which outlines (in English, thankfully) the information stored in the EXIF.
You can edit that information here, or just take a look at it on a map. Let’s check the map out.
Flickr doesn’t use Google Maps, but you get a similar experience with the Yahoo alternative. One of the things I like best about this is the ability to see other images that have been taken nearby. Click the button at the bottom of the window. Unfortunately for me, it appears no one uses Flickr in Whangarei, and my images are the only nearby ones. Oh, well.
If you had clicked the Edit option from the information block, you would get the opportunity to reposition the image on the map, using a similar interface to the Picasa one we used. Given that you can do this online, you might be wondering why you might use the Picasa tagging tool. In my case, it’s simple. Because you are running Picasa locally, it’s adding the location data to the original images. Then the uploading choices are all yours.
One more gotcha. I found that while Picasa gave every impression it was successfully geotagging my Canon RAW files, it didn’t actually work. It needed the JPG images to work on.
That’s it. Do you use photo geotagging? What tools do you like? What’s still confusing? Let me know in the comments below.