View Full Version : Geo tagging your photos and displaying them in google earth.

22-11-2012, 10:03 PM
Hi Guys

If anyone's interested in geo tagging the photos that you take when you're out and about and then adding them to google earth as a record for yourself or others to see on a webpage then the following might be of interest to you.
Ok I cheated here and took the text from my website that I created a while back for a Safari we had in Kenya. Most of the kit has been updated but the software and technique remains the same.

You dont need an expensive GPS unit for your DSLR.. Most smart phones have GPS as standard these days..

An example can be sen here http://www.kenyasafariexperience.co.uk/samb151110.html
If you just see a map instead of a globe then you will need to install the google earth plug-in, there is a link for it on the page.

Cheers GriGGerS


Geo Tagging and Google Earth

Geo tagging photographs is not as difficult as some might expect. In fact some people have the tools readily available with realising. If you have a camera, a GPS enabled mobile phone, the right software and some spare time then you can keep an exact record, accurate to a few meters of where you took your photographs. You can even record and show the exact route that you took whilst out on your journey.

All of the GPS tracks and geo tagging of photographs on this site was achieved using my Blackberry Curve 9300 and a free application called GPSLogger. Whilst out on the game drives I turned off all of the wireless functions of the phone, you donít want your phone to go off and startle any of the wildlife that you are observing. This in turn creates a massive saving on the battery life of the handset enabling you to use the handset as a standalone GPS unit with a battery life of days. I own a dedicated GPS unit that will eat through a set of AAís before the day is out, I now always use my Blackberry instead of the GPS unit for recording tracks.

The first thing that you need to do is synchronise the time on your camera with the time on your GPS device. If you donít do this and the minutes or even seconds out then your photographs will be placed in the wrong location. Most GPS enabled handsets have applications that will record a GPS track then allow you to export the track as one of the common GPS file formats.
GPSLogger will export to KML, GPX and CSV, and although ultimately a KML file will be created for use with google earth, for this instance I exported to GPX.

So next we want to geo tag the photographs. For this you will need your exported GPS track (GPX file), the photographs that you want to tag and a way of combining the two. For this I purchased a piece of software called RoboGEO. RoboGEO is a very powerful piece of software but the creators have made it very easy to use.

Step one is to select a folder containing your photographs. RoboGEO will import photographs in many formats JPG,TIF,PNG,BMP,DNG,NEF,MRW,RAF,ERF and CR2 (RAW). You will need to set the time zone in the software to that of where you were when you took the photographs, this is an offset (time bias) in minutes from UTC. In this case for Kenya I used an offset of -180 minutes.

Step two is to select the GPX file (or whatever file format you chose to use to save your GPS track in).
As well as the different GPS file types that you can use to batch process your photographs, within RoboGEO there are several ways of geo tagging without having a GPS file. RoboGEO will call up Google Earth and with the use of a cross hair you can pin point each location and tag that to each photograph individually. This of course incorporates a little guess work on your part as to the exact location that the photograph was taken. Another method available is to manually type in the coordinates for each photograph...

Step three is to export your work to a format that yourself or others can see. You have many options here. You can export to various GPS file types, applications, flickr, Google Maps and Google earth. I opted for Google Earth, this created a KML file which I later used in conjunction with the Google Embed KML gadget to create the code for the Google Earth windows that you can see in the game drive section of this website.
When exporting to Google Earth you are given various options including the ability to give the photographs a title and add any information that you may want to include. You can point the KML file at an optional image folder or URL (web location) for your photographs. There are also various tracklog options that you can choose from. By clicking on the settings button you are presented with many other export options. I chose to show some of the keypoints, make the tracklog path visible. Once you have selected all of the options you require you simply press the create KML file and the software does the rest.


If you have Google Earth installed then it will be launched by RoboGEO and your KML file will be displayed with all your selected options. You will also see little camera icons, each one of these represents a location at which a photograph was taken. Clicking on these icons will reveal the relevant photograph.
If you want to embed the KML file into a web page then you will need to use Googles Embed KML Gadget. Once you have created your KML file you will need to upload it to your web space.
In the gadget settings you will be required to point the KML Gadget at the KML file location (URL). You will know if you have the correct URL as your GPS track will appear in the gadget window. There are various other settings to choose from such as view mode, fly in from space, default map type, these are just a few of the options that are available. The display settings are where you set the Title of you embedded KML along with the window size and border customisation.
Once you have filled in all the details the gadget will present you with the code to copy and paste into your webpage.


Job done........... You now have your very own google earth containing your GPS track and images.

Links to the software and tools that were used.

RoboGeo (http://www.robogeo.com/home/)
GPSLogger (http://www.emacberry.com/gpslogger.html)
Google Embed KML Gadget (http://www.gmodules.com/ig/creator?synd=open&url=http://dl.google.com/developers/maps/embedkmlgadget.xml)

22-11-2012, 10:17 PM