March 23, 2007
Here is a hidden feature that has been around in Lightroom since Beta 2, but is one that I only found out about it recently thanks to a recent story on John Nack’s Adobe blog. Basically, if you have GPS metadata embedded in an image file, Lightroom will let you link directly to Google Maps and locate exactly where that photograph had been taken.
But in order to pull off this trick you will need to find a way to embed GPS metadata in your image capture files. This is not as difficult as you might imagine, since there are now several GPS devices capable of capturing the GPS coordinates at the time of capture and then synchronize the GPS data with your capture images via post-processing software. For example, according to John Nack’s blog, Jobo AG has announced photoGPS, a $149 device that sits in the hot shoe (i.e. the mounting point for a flash) of a digital SLR. Post-processing software synchronizes data captured by the device with the corresponding images.
In the following steps, I have used a set of images with embedded GPS metadata, kindly provided by Ian Lyons to demonstrate how Lightroom can use such metadata to link to Google Maps. By the way, you can see more of Ian’s photographs taken around the Falklands and Antarctica on his Computer Darkroom website.
1. Here is a Library view of Ian’s photographs showing a selection of images shot around the Falklands and South Georgia islands.
2. In this Loupe view mode I have focussed on one of the photographs and you can see that if I roll the mouse over the arrow alongside the GPS metadata item, a tooltip dialog displays ‘Map Location’.
3. Here is a close-up view of the Metadata panel showing the GPS metadata information
4. Click on the arrow next to the GPS metadata and (providing you have a live Internet connection) this will take you directly to Google Maps, pin-pointing exactly where the photograph was taken.
5. If Google Maps will allow you to, you will often be able to zoom in further, to get a closer look at the location where the photograph was taken.
6. If you happen to have the Google Earth program installed on your computer you can also copy and paste the GPS coordinates and use the more extensive navigation tools to explore the scene where the photograph was taken. In this example I tilted the view to a ground level view of the site where Ian took his photograph.