Day 5 on Google Earth

I really am a first order geek.

I recently wrote a lengthy account of my “Big September Gig,” in which I spent six days flying around northeastern Arizona with a team of 15 or so Russian photographers. You can read the first part of the story here.

On Day 5, I flew from Monument Valley to Shiprock Airport to Farmington Airport, by way of the San Juan River. What I didn’t mention in my account of that flight is that I had my GPS on and running, creating a track log of the trip. (Geek alert!)

Today, I was reading messages in an aerial photography forum I follow. One of the members, in an answer to another member, mentioned a Mac OS program called GPSPhotoLinker, which can link photographs to GPS data. I figured I’d pull the data off the GPS and record the coordinates of a photo location in the photo’s EXIF tags.

GPSPhotoLinkerI sucked the data off the GPS in Mac OS with a one-trick pony program called LoadMyTracks, which saves in both the GPX format I needed for GPSPhotoLinker and KML (Google Earth) format. I brought the file into TextWrangler, my text editor of choice, and deleted all the unnecessary data to trim down the file. Then I loaded it into GPSPhotoLinker, pointed the software to a folder containing the 18 or so photos I’d taken during the flight, and sat back to watch the results.

Disappointment. The clock on the damn camera was wrong. Since the software uses time to match coordinates with photos, there were no matches. I have to reset the clock on the camera — preferably with my computer so the time is right — and try again on another trip. But this gives me a geeky project to work on. (As if I needed another one.) When I get it all working smoothly, you’ll probably find an article about it here.

Google EarthAnyway, there is a side benefit to this. I also ran the KML version of the file though Google Earth. If you haven’t wasted time with Google Earth, you’re missing out on a great time-sucking experience. Without going into a full blown description or review, I’ll just say that you can take a GPS track, like the one from my trip, and open it in Google Earth. You can then do a “tour” that follows the track just like you’re flying along with me (but at least 3000 feet higher). If you’ve got nothing better to do, give it a try.

3 thoughts on “Day 5 on Google Earth

  1. While upgrading Irfan recently I came across a “readme” to a feature of an optional utility that dealt with the information stored in any image file generated by a digital camera. It is loaded with data such as date and time, digital camera data and its setting, to name a few. It is this data space that Chinese underground students used to report to the world info that otherwise would not have gotten past the censors of the Government. They are now wise to that, of course.

    I never looked at that utility, but it seems to me that you can, at least for now, enter your best estimate on date and time into the GPS LoadMyTrack file for each picture you want to be correlated with your track until you re-set your camera.

    It’s a thought, although I cannot help you better by identifying the name of that utility.

    BTW – just reading about how much competent work you can squeeze into each hour of your days makes me dizzy. Your blog is a delight, and the only one I read. Just for motivation alone it is a treasure.

  2. I’m going to use iPhoto or A Better Finder Attributes (thanks, Miraz!) to change the time in the 18 photos I have and try GPSPhotoLinker again. I also have some new images with new GPS data to try.

    Interesting about the use of those data fields to smuggle information in files.

    As for the competent work — it’s I good thing I don’t share info about all my screwups!

What do you think?