I love photos and I love maps, but I’ve not been the best at doing both together. I almost never remember to go back to flickr and place my photos on the map, so less than 10% of my photos are geotagged.

I really want the process to be automatic, the best I do is on my iPhone photos which can geotag at the time of the camera shot.

Back in January, I saw a story on the new GISTEQ Phototrackr, a very small and portable GPS device. The principle simple- the Phototrackr records your locations and time stamped at regular intervals, and software then can “locate” the photos by matching (or interpolating) by the time stamp on the photo.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I was stuck for a while… because I could not get my MacBookPro or my PC to even recognize the device. The GISTEQ support was… well non existent (no response to emails, and limited helpful responses in the sites’s forums). I sat it aside for almost 3 months! When I returned to the GISTEQ site, now there was helpful information pointing to a new driver and software, and badda boom badda bing, it worked!

The downside was I had to import photos into the GISTEQ software to add the geo data to them. And the software they give you with the device will not geotag RAW images (you have to buy the upgraded version) so at first I thought I’d end up using just my old pocket cameras, export the images from the card, drop them into GISTEQ to geocode, then drop into Aperture to edit. Lots of steps.

In about the same time frame, I switched to using Aperture 3 which has a new “Places” feature, which can map the photos that have embedded geolocation, or provides a map tool as well where you can drop your photos.

But I also noticed there was a feature to import GPX files, so if I could somehow get the tracks exported from the PhotoTrackr, I’d be set.

It’s not too complicated, after all.

The funky thing about the Phototrackr is you have to remember to turn the thing on before popping it in the USB port.

In the software, I act as if i have photos to geocode, so I simply ask it to download the data from the PhotoTrackr:

which opens the device, so I then just import

This brings the data off of the device into the software. Now I click the “GPS Log Manager” button in the bottom left, and find the track in the list that matches the date/time I want to geotag. This brings up a preview of the data, and there is a button on the right to export the data as a GPX file:

which I just save on my computer.

Over in Aperture, it took some fumbling to find the way to geo tag- if you go directly to “Places” you see only the photos that have already been geotagged. So I go back to my normal gallery/editing view, select the photos I want to geo tag, and then select Places from the View menu.

From here I hit the GPS button in the bottom left, and select “Import GPX file” from the menu. This imports my data file and creates a track on my map. The problem I have had so far is that it now shows my map from the world view layout. I did not see an easy way to zero in on my new track besides a series of zoom and pan (I am sure I am missing something).

Once I can see my track, if I simply drag all the photos that should be located and drop them on the track, it attaches the appropriate longitude and latitude to each photo:

At this time, I’m not all that interested in the Aperture map, but now when I upload to flickr, it adds the latitude/longitude to each photo.

It’s still not seamless, but its a process that works now in my normal photo review flow; I dont have to geocode in some other software (I only need it to get the data off the device).

Maps and Photos- two great tastest that go well together!

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. iPhone owners that use my GeoLogTag app have a fully integrated Flickr geotagging solution. GeoLogTag tracks your location during a photoshoot and geotags your Flickr photos once you uploaded them. Another option is to let GeoLogTag geotag the photos on your Mac (over WiFi) before you import them in Aperture.
    You can try out the free version of GeoLogTag. It’s fully functional except that logged locations are automatically removed after 2 hours (instead of 90 days).

    App Store

    1. That’s nice @Galarina except it has the smallest relevance to the post besides promoting your geotagging app. The iPhone natively geotags and there are oodles of flickr uploads that manage that. I was not writing about geotagging iPhone photos, that’s drop dead easy,.

      But I have you get fabulously wealthy selling your app.

      1. @CogDog

        I was probably not clear enough in my original post, but GeoLogTag geotags photos taken with any digital camera. It is not intended to geotag photos taken with the iPhone. That would be – as you noticed – pretty lame.

  2. oh, man do I wish I’d have had one of these for the last couple of weeks. I’d been relying on the GPS in my iPhone 3Gs, and it recorded location data on exactly one photo. in the airport before leaving the country on the way south. 250 more photos were taken to try to record location data, but none actually had any. Yikes. This little doodad looks pretty much perfect for traveling – just stick it in your pack (or belt, so it has line of sight?) and forget it. Perfect. How long do the batteries last? How much data can it store?

    1. I’m sure there are more sophisticated ones; but at US$69 this does well. I’ve not done more than short tests (yesterday was about 3 hours). The specs say 17 hours in continuous mode; no batteries- it recharges via USB, though there’s nothing to tell you when it is full charged (it blinks red when it goes low).

      It’s memory is 2 Mb which should hold a lot since its just text, the specs say a single record is 16k, and yesterdays trip of 3 hours with it on stored maybe 12-15 points.

      I have a clip on it to attach to a pack of belt loop, but it did okay yesterday stored inside an outerpocket of my life vest.

      Guess you are left with map dropping to geocode, bummer.

  3. Does the “free” version of the Mac software allow you to do this export?

    Also, when you say drag your photos to the “track”, does it put them all in one place or actually put them along the track in their proper locations?

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Paul,

      If you mean the free version of the software that works with the photo tracker, yes, that is what I used. I don’t use it at sly to process images, I just run it tp export the track data.

      Aperature does map photos to the location of where the actual photo was taken, or close enought by interpolating the time of the photo to the position. I’ve only done a few tests so fat.

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