What I want from GeoTagging

What I want is a system for displaying my photos of interesting events or places in a new way that uses the location or time they were taken. In order to do this I need a way of correlating the data between my GPS and Camera that is flexible, non-destructive, and works with any file format.

  • I want to be able to view photos from my next vacation linked on a map from the area, showing all the cool places we visited.
  • I want to be able to possibly view the GPS track logs showing not only where the photos were taken, but how we got there.
  • I want something that can stand by itself and run on my own web site. Something that has as few dependencies as possible so that it is as flexible as possible for as many people as possible.
  • Most importantly I want something that is easy to use.

See Where the Photos Were Taken

This is my first attempt at posting my geotagged photos to my family photo blog. It shows what could be done using the tools available to me at the time from wwmx.org. It has promise and gives a glimpse of the future (move the mouse over the map points and the associated image will highlight). Things have progressed a long way since then, and this was only a year ago.

See Where We Went

I also played around with the GPS logs from our trip to New Zealand making images like this using the free DG Terrain viewer with my GPS track log. This image took me hours to produce. I had to download sections of the terrain data from NASA, load it all into this program, and carefully position the view by typing in the height of the camera.


I want something that I can use to build cool album views in minutes rather than hours. Both of the examples above took me hours to make. First I had to learn how it all worked then I started using it and played around with it until I had something close to what I wanted. I would rather spend hours building a system that is easy to use, that maybe other people can use, so I can make hundreds or thousands of maps and posts.

Non-Destructive and Flexible

The current tools that I use from wwmx.org write directly into the EXIF header section of the JPG files that come out of the camera. Unfortunately they also modify other areas of the EXIF header and destroy data in the file. This is a common problem of tools that edit EXIF data, if they don’t understand it they sometimes corrupt or lose it.

As I have written on the “How I use my GPS” page, RAW files are also a problem. The GeoTagging tools don’t recognize RAW files and the RAW file tools don’t recognize GPS data.

What I would like to do is save the GPS data of a photo along side the photo in a new file. One that contains just GPS (and possibly other) data for a photo. Some photo editing tools already do this when they want to save information about a photo without changing the file.

For example, when you edit a photo in Picasa it does not modify the original photo and instead writes the data to a hidden file in the directory to keep for later. Pixmantec’s Raw Shooter saves RAW conversion information in a subdirectory so that you can retrieve the conversion settings you previously used for a photo.

The Future

See the projects I am working on to see how far I have progressed.