18 October 2009

The location challenge

Antarctica is a place where relatively few geographical features are named. Many of the names are also disputed because explorers from different countries have assigned different names, so what's "official" will depend on who you ask.
So I figured the safest way of keywording landscapes from this trip would be to assign geographic coordinates. Geotagging. Much like the way I've used my Garmin heart rate monitor, I assumed. Just log the positions, upload to computer and match with images based on time. It shouldn't be much harder than to make sure the clocks of the GPS and the camera are synchronised, right?

Right. Step one: buy a cheap GPS logger with long battery life. This one looked good, a GlobalSat DG-100.

When it arrived at my house, I realised the software did not support 64-bit Vista. Fortunately, after a bit of googling, I found that the obstacle was actually the USB driver, which could be downloaded from the USB component's manufacturer, Prolific. Link here.

Latest version of the GlobalSat software can be downloaded from the GlobalSat product link above. It's pretty amateurish but do the job I want it to. An open-source alternative also exists at SourceForge, if you'd like to try something else. Link to DGmanager .NET.

The only thing I use this software for is to collect the GPS data-log from the unit, and save it as a file on my desktop. Both programs support the Garmin *.gpx format, which is what I prefer at the moment.

Next, I dug around for a program that would match the GPS data with my images. There are lots of tools out there, but not many that support raw files. I chose GeoSetter, which is a very decent piece of freeware. I also found a LightRoom plugin that seem to work, but I get a bit confused about the author's explanations of "shadow data", so I have steered clear of this.

The total workflow seems now to end up something like this:
1. Turn the GPS on before going out for the day, and make sure the clocks of the GPS and camera are in synch.
2. Happy snapping.
3. Upload GPS data to PC and save as *.gpx
4. Upload images to PC. In my case also import to LightRoom.
5. Run GeoSetter on uploaded images
6. Reload metadata from files in LightRoom.
7. Further processing and backup.

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