gps photo linker

A couple of people have asked about my photograpy & blogging workflow so I thought I'd offer a brief overview.

On the hardware side, I shoot mainly with my Nikon D40 but will occasionally use my iPhone or point-and-shoot Canon. I have a Garmin 60CSx GPS -- powerful enough to get a signal even in the deepest woods -- for recording track logs. In addition to the 60CSx I also have a Garmin Forerunner 305 which I use on occasion, mainly for running and cycling. I write and manage the photos on a MacBook Pro.

I do all my photo editing with Adobe's awesome Lightroom. For a year or so iView (later Microsoft's Expression Media) managed my photos but Lr can handle both non-destructive editing and photo cataloging. I make heavy use of keywords and other metadata so I can find photos easily later.

To aid in geo-metadata management I use Ascent for syncing my GPS with the computer -- it manages my racing and training data too. GPSPhotoLinker marries the photos downloaded in Lr with the gpx data from Ascent.

Finally, when I put together a post I use MarsEdit for the editing and my own SmugNDrag for creating the photo links.


If you're still with me, here's a more detailed timeline of my workflow.

In the field

  1. Turn on the GPS and establish a strong signal. Sync the clock on the camera with the GPS to make the linking of the tracks and photographs more accurate. I find the D40 clock runs quite fast and so I re-sync just about every time I shoot.
  2. Make sure the memory card has been re-formatted. I reformat before every session.
  3. Shoot. I try to carry a tripod but it doesn't always happen and I have no VR lens so I often will shoot 4-5 photographs in sequence -- one or more of which is usually sharp enough.
  4. Have fun. I most enjoy capturing my daughter as she grows up but I like to lay stomach-to-the-ground in the mud to photograph a mushroom too!

Archiving & Tagging

Most people seem to dislike the process of meta-tagging and editing but I enjoy it.

    • Download the GPS tracks to the computer using Ascent and export the tracks to a gpx file. Sometimes I don't have a GPS track log so I skip this step but more and more frequently I do.
    • Download the photographs from the camera using Lr. I download all new photographs into an Incoming directory separate from the tagged and archived structure in which they will eventually be placed. Lr doesn't delete the photos from the card so I now have two copies of the photos: one on the computer, one on the card (that's why I reformat before every shoot).
  1. Drag the gpx file and the files from Lr into GPSPhotoLinker, map a few photos to make sure the time and place agree and batch tag the photos.
    gps photo linker
    gps photo linker
  2. Reload the metadata from the photos in Lr and continue tagging with keywords. I use the hierarchical keyword feature of Lr to tag People, Event and other keyword metadata extensively.
  3. Run through the photos in Lr and remove all the rejects and duplicates. On a typical weekend outing to the beach I'll shoot about 400 photographs but keep around 150-200. I don't know if this is typical but I'm getting faster and faster at culling so this often means I'll get a few photos I really like.
  4. Now the time consuming part, for all the photos I want to keep, begin making adjustments to color, exposure, crop, whatever.
    lighthouse color
    lighthouse color
    lighthouse b&w
    lighthouse b&w

    Sometimes I'll make a black-and-white or other more drastic color alterations.

    nash's farmstand
    nash's farmstand

    Some photos require more work such as this photo in the farm stand under really bizarre lighting. I also took the liberty to crop out some needless components (mouse-over to see the changes).

  5. All of the keepers are moved within Lr to a directory matching their Year/Month and renamed accordingly in sequence. Since I make extensive use of metatags the actual directory structure is less important than other workflow schemes I've seen.
  6. Export to SmugMug the best of the keepers, or if of my daughter everything I have -- sometimes with jfriedl's plugin, other times with pysmug.
  7. Backup. At this point I have a copy on the card, computer, SmugMug and external hard drive.


After all the photographic bits are done I will occasionally blog about where we went and what we did.

Then I post, then you enjoy ... I hope. Thanks for reading.

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