Friday, September 14, 2007

Geotagging Tombstone Photos

I've started geotagging my tombstone photos using Google Picasa, the free desktop photo organizer / editor which integrates with Google Earth. Geotagging means adding the geographical identification of latitude and longitude to the photo. The geotag info doesn't actually show on the photo, but it does show on the photo metatag.

Picasa can be downloaded for free.

Picasa allows me to match my photos to a specific location using Google Earth. The Geotagging feature embeds location information within the photo file metadata and also displays the photo on Google Earth.

To Geotag your own photos:
  • Select your photo in Picasa.

  • Select Geotag with Google Earth from the Tools > Geotag menu to launch Google Earth. A small Picasa window will appear in Google Earth's lower-right corner displaying thumbnails of the pictures you selected. Here I have selected one photo in Picasa, but more than one can be selected.

  • Use the arrows to advance through your photos in Picasa. If the place taken information has already been entered in Picasa's folder description, Google Earth will automatically go to the specified locale. Otherwise, you can navigate to the location using the yellow cross-hairs in Google Earth.

  • Find the location you want, and press the Geotag button.

  • When your pictures are tagged, press the Done button which will add the latitude & longitude information to Google Earth's My Picasa Pictures collection. You can also use the Geotag All button to tag all of the selected pictures with the same location information.

Picasa writes the longitude and latitude to the photo's EXIF GPS metadata. If you look at the Image Properties in Picasa you will see GPS Latitude & GPS Longitude. Picasa will display a small cross-hair icon on the thumbnail of a photo that has been Geotagged.

From now on when I visit cemeteries, I will capture the exact GPS latitude and longitude of the grave site. For photos I have already taken, I am using the GPS of the cemetery as I find it on Google Earth. Some of my ancestors are buried in difficult-to-find cemeteries, and I like the idea that my family can find the cemeteries by GPS info.

Once your photo is geotagged, select Tools > Geotag > View in Google Earth in Picasa to fly to the photo's location in Google Earth.

All photos can be geotagged, but I thought the cemetery photos were a good place to start.

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