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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How can I Geotag photos with the Canon EOS Rebel XSi and Blackberry?

Over the past year, I have had a mildly increasing interest in geotagging -- what is known as recording the exact GPS coordinates of the location where my photos were taken, and embedding it in the photo. I only say mild since I never looked into any deeper other than thinking “wouldn’t that be kind of neat” if for example the photos I took in Italy were recorded at their exact location.

Over the past month, I became a little more serious about geotagging, specifically on how I could geotag the pictures I was taking with my Canon EOS Rebel XSi. A little more serious meant that I started searching for an easy way to record my locations as I was taking photos. If I could figure it out, it would be an exciting addition to our upcoming trip to the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and Oahu.

For me, I thought the ultimate would be if I could simply connect my Blackberry 8800 devices to the Rebel XSi via the USB connection and the camera could pull the GPS location right from the Blackberry and tag the photo with the latitude and longitude position where it was snapped. I did a little searching, but could not find an application that would perform such an action. (Does anyone know of one?)

Next I turned to look into Canon’s (and third party) accessories to see if there was a device similar to their wireless network battery grip that offered GPS and geotagging capabilities. That search ended quickly when I could not locate anything that offered the type of functionality I was looking for.

Having hit a “dead end” for a simple and automatic way to tag my photos, I started looking a little more broadly into how some people were accomplishing the desired outcome. It seemed that most used a 3rd party (many free) software program available for both the PC and the Apple Mac to associate a GPS log (GPX file) from their GPS device like a hand-held Garmin or Tom-Tom navigation system with the pictures from their camera.

The process seemed fairly simple.

1. Download the software that you would use to associate the GPS information to the photo and geotag the picture.

2. Synchronize the time on your camera and your GPS device.

3. Start capturing a log on your GPS device, preferably in the GPX format. Here is a how to guide on capturing it on your Blackberry using the Open Source program TrekBuddy:

4. Take the pictures as you would normally, but in JPEG/JPG format as you will not be able to associate geotagged information with RAW formatted images.

5. Download the images from your camera and the GPX file to you computer.

6. Run the program to embed the location information from your GPS into the photo’s JPG file.

7. Publish your geotagged imaged where you want to show locations.

The problem was that when I checked the options on my GPS radio on my Blackberry 8800, there were no options for creating a tracking log out of the box. Had anyone used their Blackberry device to geotag photos taken by another camera? (There were a number of guides on how to do this with photos taken by a Blackberry)

After some digging, I turned up an open-source software called “TrekBuddy” which among several other things allows you to track and record your GPS location. Even better, it would generate a GPX log file that was stored on the MicroSD media card in my Blackberry 8800. That meant easy retrieval and transfer to my computer.

Now that I had found a Blackberry-based GPS logging solution, all I needed to do was find the right software program, and start taking pictures. Expect a few articles in the near future on geotagging with your Blackberry devices and attaching it to your photos taken with another camera.


Andrew said...

Darn....there goes my million dollar idea. ha ha ha

That's a solution...but it sounds painful. My phone(Windows Mobile) takes 5 minutes to get a GPS fix, and the GPS sucks the life out of my battery. Google Maps/Microsoft search allows a less accurate location based on phone towers that is almost instantaneous. Logging that would solve the startup time and battery issue, but wouldn't be as accurate.

Interesting thoughts, though. This is no doubt the next technology we will be seeing in cameras.

Anonymous said...

This gadget will do the GPS recording for you and uses the time the picture was taken to corrleate the location at that time.

Brett said...

What software do you use to stich the GPS info into the EXIF data?