Example: Using GPS tracks in Lightroom 4


Apr 23, 2013
Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Just thought I would post an example of what is not really an image processing technique, but using the MAP module in Lightroom is more of an enhancement of the image's metadata, specifically its location. I often travel with a handheld GPS for simple location/mapping reasons (works in a car too...), and usually but not always use the track feature to save the route I take, especially on hikes. Now Lightroom has a feature, in Map, where it can import a track from your GPS (once you have saved it and copied to your PC), and figure out where your photo was taken simply by aligning the time of capture in the image metadata, with the time stamp that is contained in any GPS tracklog. The result is an automatic GPS location of your photos, at least the ones whose capture times fit with the period covered by the GPS track.

Here is an example from a recent trip to NZ; we were on a boat cruise in the Bay of Islands where I saved a GPS track covering the cruise boat's wandering path - the first image shows the tracklog saved in my GPS (as displayed by the Garmin mapping software BaseCamp);

And here is the same tracklog imported into LR4, and after LR has calculated the spatial location of each photo. The orange tags are the locations of every photo I took, numbers indicate several taken at the same location.

The only real catch is that your camera time and date needs to be accurate; if there is a date gap (eg. I forgot to reset my date after flying to Australia/NZ), LR will suggest an adjustment to make the alignment work. Pretty slick IMO! Now this is not a reason to get a GPS by any means, but if you already have one and use it, this might be a neat way to document the locations of photos or a trip, particularly on any day where you are snapping away from a million different spots (and you will never remember later exactly where you were).

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