Geotagging My Images

One of the benefits of digital photography over film is the ability to tag the location of where the image was taken into the file.  I've been geotagging my images now for several years, especially since my iPhone tags the images automatically.

Up until recently, I've had to add the geolocation information into my images after the fact.  My 7D Mark II has GPS built-in, as well as my iPhone.  For any images captured with any other camera, as well as scanned images, I've had to add the location later on.

There are three different ways I've used to gather the location information and then embed the info to the image file.

  • Use iPhone app to save to GPX file
    • I've used an app called GPX Master, which has not been updated in several years, to create a log of where I've been at a particular moment.  As long as the time on my camera matches the time on my iPhone, when I load the tracklog into Lightroom, the proper images will get tagged with the correct location.
  • Use iPhone to take an image from the same location and then copy the coordinates to images
    • If I don't want to turn on the GPS in my 7D Mark II nor use my iPhone to log my location (perhaps due to low battery), I can take photos using my iPhone and then copy the coordinates to the images from the 7DII inside Lightroom.
  • Manually add the coordinates
    • For all of my old images, including old film prints which I scanned into my computer to preserve, I've had to manually add the coordinates.  Before I used Lightroom, I would add the GPS information using Google Earth.  It's similar to the map module inside of Lightroom.  One downside is trying to remember where I was years before.  Another downside is that I may not remember where I was standing but know what I was taking a picture of, so I would geotag the location of the subject, not where I was located.  This makes it hard for me to return to the same spot in the future.

Another option, which I've never used, is an external GPS receiver.  These are separate devices which attach to the camera, either with a wire or wirelessly, and embed the GPS information into the image as you're shooting.  They typically run about $250 so I chose to go with the cheap/free method instead.

How I Use Lightroom - Keywords

As part of my on-going posts regarding how I use Lightroom, I thought I would circle back and discuss how I keyword images and keep the keywords organized.

When I first started using Lightroom, my keywords were just one giant list.  I then came across a few free downloadable keyword lists which put everything in a hierarchy; and after some thought, I realized I preferred the hierarchy.  I took some cues from the lists I've seen and organize my keywords under one of five main criteria - Who, What, When, Where, and How.

  • Who - keywords describing any individuals in the images.  These can include names, ages, gender, profession, etc.
  • What - keywords describing any objects in the images.  These can include type of structures, make/model of vehicles, breed of animal, etc.
  • When - keywords describing when the image was taken.  While this information can be garnered by reviewing the metadata, I typically also keyword with what season the image was taken in, time of day (morning, afternoon, evening), holidays, time zone, etc.
  • Where - keywords describing where the image was taken.  While I can geotag the image and know exactly where it was taken, I may not want to include that when exporting images so I'll keyword some geographical information (continent, country, state and town), some general location information (beach, park, river, etc.), and whether the image was taken indoors or outdoors.
  • How - keywords describing how the images was taken.  While some of this information is found in metadata, I like to add this information as a keyword as a backup in case the metadata gets stripped by accident.  I also keyword information which wouldn't be found in metadata, like whether I used a neutral density filter, whether I panned the camera to capture motion blur, what type of light the image was taken with (sunlight, incandescent, etc.).

I've created smart collections which let me know when an image does not have a keyword which falls under one of these five categories (though most of the time I don't have something from 'Who' since I mostly take landscape photos).

When I import images, I add keywords which apply to all of the images.  Then after the images are done importing, I go back and assign image-specific keywords to each photo.

How I Use Lightroom - Export Presets

Last time, I covered how I get my images out of Lightroom using Publish Services.  This time, I'll cover Export presets.

I use export presets when having an image outside of Lightroom is only temporary and there isn't a plugin to handle it automatically.  For example, if I want to share my images using social media that doesn't have a Publish Services plugin, I setup a preset to export the image out of Lightroom, typically at a lower resolution.



Another time I use export presets is when I need to send an image to be printed (AdormaPix, WHCC, Bay Photo, etc.).


I also use export presets for when I bring images to a photography meetup.  Each month, the meetup group I'm in gets together and critiques everyone else's images.  The images are exported out large enough where the detail can be observed but not so large that it takes time to progress from one image to the next.


Of the nine areas that can be configured, I typically only change 5-6.


I assign a separate export location for each preset and do not add the images back into the catalog.


When I export images, I tend to leave the filename as it is since I rename during import.


For file settings, I'll leave image format as JPEG, color space as sRGB and change the quality to 80%.  I also don't limit the file size.


For image sizing, I only resize when needed.  For print, I leave the resolution at the original size.  Depending on the image and how large I'm printing, I may enlarge.


Depending on the final medium, I'll either sharpen for screen or print.


I strip out person info for all images and also remove location info if the image was taken at home.

How I Use Lightroom - Publish Services

Now that I've covered how I get my images into Lightroom and how I organize them, now I'll cover one of the ways I get my images out - Publish Services. screenshot-2017-02-08-19-05-35

I use Publish Services for pushing images to different social media like 500px, Flickr, Facebook.  I started using the built-in Flickr plugin but have switched to the plugin created by Jeffrey Friedl, mainly for the ability to find and link to existing images up on my Flickr account.

I haven't published to my hard drive because I haven't come across a need to keep images on my hard drive.  I typically export images to my hard drive using export presets, which I'll cover next time.

How I Use Lightroom - Ratings, Flags and Labels

Now that I've covered how I get images into Lightroom, I figured I would cover how I (try to) identify my images and where they are in the post-processing workflow.

After importing all of my images, I will go through them in the Loupe view of the Library module.  Even though there are three different flags available, I almost always use only two.  Upon import, all images are Unflagged.  As I go through, if I see an image where the focus was off, I accidentally pressed the shutter and took an image of something I didn't intend, or the exposure is too far off to even attempt to recover (usually because I forgot to check the light meter in the camera between shots), I will press 'X' to reject it ('R' is for the crop tool).  After I go through the images, I'll delete from the disk all images marked as Rejected.  On the occasion where I have two or more similar images and don't see anything about any of them to require me to mark it as a reject, I'll pick one of the images over the others using the Pick flag by pressing 'P'.  If I ever accidentally mark an image as reject or pick when it shouldn't be, I can unflag it by pressing U.


After I've removed the rejects, the rest of the images are given a star rating of one star.  Even though I can go up to five stars, I haven't gone above three stars for any of my images.  To assign a star rating, I just press 1-5 on the keyboard.


I have the same problem assigning a star rating to an image that I have to assigning a star rating to a song in my iTunes library.  A song (or image) I really like today may get 3 stars but a year from now, it may only get 1 or 2 stars.  Now that iTunes has added a like/dislike rating option (similar to flagging), I'm thinking about replacing my star rating with flags.  The only downside to this is that flag values are not written to metadata so if I ever switch from Lightroom to another post-processing program, the flags won't come with the images.  Star ratings, however, are written to the metadata.

Upon import, all of the images are given a red color label.  There are five different color labels available but only four can be assigned by a keyboard shortcut.  The four colors, with their respective keyboard shortcuts are:

  1. Red
  2. Yellow
  3. Green
  4. Blue

The last color, Purple, is only accessible via a right-click menu.


I use the colors to identify where the image is in my post-processing workflow.

  • Red = the image has not had any post-processing done to it
  • Yellow = the image has had some post-processing done to it but is not yet complete
  • Green = the image is done with post-processing but has not been published anywhere (Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, 500px, etc.)
  • Blue = the image is done with post-processing and has been published (Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, 500px, etc.)
  • Purple = the image is done with post-processing, and is part of an HDR or Panoramic image

Since I don't do a lot of HDR or Panoramic images, it isn't a bother having to right click to choose the color.