I have been wanting to make geotagging my photos part of my regular workflow for some time now. I have experimented with some applications that integrate with Google maps and allow you to tag photos one at a time, but they are too time consuming. To make it practical to geotag each and every one of my photos, I decided that I would have to come up with a solution that is automated as much as possible, and that could work on the raw photo data prior to importing it into Aperture.
After some research, I decided to try the Sony GPS-CS1. The GPS-CS1 is a battery powered GPS data recorder. It does not have a screen, it simply records the current position in a log every 15 seconds. It connects to your computer via USB, allowing you to retrieve the data and work with it. Initial research revealed that Mac’s running later versions of Tiger were able to read the data from the GPS-CS1, so I figured that Leopard would be able to as well. I found one on e-bay, clicked Buy It Now, and had it a few days later.
While I was waiting for the device to arrive, I did some research about the log format, and discovered that a program called HoudahGPS could translate the log format used by the GPS-CS1 to GPX format, which is used by GPSPhotoLinker, a program that can compare the timestamps on photos to the timestamps in the GPS log and automatically tag the photos with the GPS data. I downloaded and installed HoudahGPS and GPSPhotoLinker while waiting for the GPS-CS1 to arrive.
I used it for the first time this morning while walking to work, and excitedly hooked it up to my MacBook Pro this morning, waiting for the drive icon to pop up so I could get the GPS logs… and discovered that the keyboard and trackpad were locked up. I unplugged the GPS-CS1, and the keyboard and trackpad started working again. Hmmm. That is not supposed to happen.
Some further research revealed that Leopard, in fact, does not work with the GPS-CS1, but that Windows XP running under Parallels could see it. This required configuring Parallels to attach USB devices to the guest OS, rather than letting both the host and the guest see the device. I booted up XP in Parallels, and was able to retrieve the log files.
After copying the logs to the Mac, I fired up HoudahGPS, converted the Sony log format to GPX format, and then used GPSPhotoLinker to geotag the photos I had taken. The actual tagging process worked quite well, and Flickr was able to pick up the geotags just fine. Zooomr doesn’t seem to have picked up the geotags, but at least the data is in the files.
This is a good first effort, but I am going to try again. The work required to get the data from the GPS-CS1 is just too much of a hassle. I found another GPS data logger that is supposed to work correctly with a Mac, the Amod AGL3080. It seems that early versions had some problems, but the manufacturer has fixed those issues with firmware updates. One of these is on the way, and hopefully will work better than the Sony. I’ll use the GPS-CS1 until the Amod device arrives, and then sell the Sony. Anybody need a slightly used GPS data logger?