Using GPX Data in LightRoom

Background

  • This will allow you to add a Latitude/Longitude (aka GPS Coordinates) to your photos after the fact, and without needing to use a GPS receiver on your camera.
  • This allows for a trip where only 1 person carries the GPS recorder, but everyone can benefit.
  • These features have been available since Lightroom 4.
  • The screenshots below are from Lightroom CC 2015, on Mac OS X.

Lightroom Instructions

Terry from Adobe talks about Geotagging – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-9kSbLk26M

Important things to know: The Timezone offset means the difference in the camera’s clock vs your computer’s clock. If your camera’s clock is set to PDT (Pacific Daylight Savings) and your computer is set to EDT (Eastern Daylight Savings), you want to use -3 as your timezone offset. The computer needs to know the difference between your computer and your camera’s clock.

An easy alternative to this is to reset your computer’s clock to the timezone your camera’s clock was set to before using the Geotagging data.

Before We Begin-

Things to Know – Lightroom remembers the location of the .gpx file. It is recommended that you create a folder inside of your [My] Documents folder for GPX logs.

Without full information, Lightroom will guess. If there is a jump in the data, it will pick one side or the other and not try to calculate where you may have been on a straight line. Knowing this behavior, when capturing the GPS logs, I recommend turning off your GPS when you will be stationary for an extended period of time, and turning it back on when you move.

The GPS log will not be 100% accurate, but it will generally be close enough. In many situations, the GPS receiver can have trouble locking on to the location. For the most part, accuracy is within 30m/100ft. In the difficult areas, accuracy is within about 0.1 miles. There are some places, it does look like this-

If you see something like this, it is just due to the age of the GPS chips and the limited accuracy of that location. If you use a piece of software to edit the GPX file, you can just delete this section.

It is also HIGHLY recommended that you perform this on ~5 test files that you have not yet worked on. See “Removing Geolocation Data” below. If you had a device that was geotagging, it is HIGHLY recommended that you do not try to tag a tagged photo.

Let’s Begin
Step 1 – Open the Map Module of Lightroom
Step 2 – Click on the box at the bottom that looks like a line graph (to the right of the Padlock Icon). We will call this the ‘Tracklog Icon’

Step 3 – Choose “Load Tracklog”

Step 4 – Navigate to where the log was stored, press ‘Choose’

This should now load the entire track

Step 5 – Click on the Tracklog Icon, select “Set Time Zone Offset”

Step 6
See “Things to Know” at the start of this section. You will be presented with a dialog box asking you for the timezone offset. This is the difference between your computer’s timezone and your camera’s timezone. If they are both set to the same, choose 0.0.

Note: This assumes that your camera’s clock had at the minutes set correctly. If your camera’s clock was set completely wrong, you can adjust the offset by .1 hours (6 minutes). Good luck! And set your clock right next time.

After setting the offset, press OK.
Step 7 – Using the filmstrip area, choose the photos you wish to tag.

Step 8 – Hit the Tracklog Icon Again, choose “Auto Tag X Photos”

The first time you do this, you may see a pop up about doing reverse location info. This sends the GPS coordinates to Google to fill in the city/state/country/region information for where you were. Turn this on if you’d like. I leave it turned off.

Step 9 – Assuming your test went smoothly; perform the same task on the rest of your files.

Step 10 – Enjoy your map

If you click on one of the numbers, then switch back to your Library View, those photos that were in that area will be selected.

To find files that do or do not have location info, you can go into your Library and do a ‘Metadata Search’.

You can add a new column for ‘GPS Data’, which will let you search for files that do or do not have GPS Data.

I have been geotagging since 2010. If you continue to geotag over time, your map could eventually look like this:


Removing Geolocation Data-

Under the Photo Menu, choose “Delete GPS Coordinates”

GPS data is stored in the .xmp of a photo and in your .lrcat file itself.

If you overwrote a location from a photo that was already tagged (for examply, 1 camera has GPS tagging built in), the only way I know to get the location back is to remove the file from your catalogue, delete the .xmp file (if there is one), then import the file again. Sorry.

If you wish to hide the location data during export, check the “Remove Location Info” box.


Alternative method – Jeffrey’s GeoTagging Plugin

A more feature-full GeoTagging Option is the one from Jeffrey Friedl of regex.info (http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/gps. This plugin has a lot of options and can guess where you were a lot better than Lightroom’s out of the box functionality. If you want to go down this route, the author’s web page has a fantastic step-by-step guide.

Resources
Terry from Adobe Talks about Geotagging – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-9kSbLk26M
Jeffrey’s GeoTagging Plugin – http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/gps

-Brad

Compressed RAW Files

This post is my thoughts on this well intended, but slightly misguided, post on Digital Photography School.  NOTE – this post was written in June of 2016, if something changes, updates will be noted here.

Personally, I always shoot at 14-bit Compressed RAW.  For me, it is better to shoot at 14 vs 12.  While using 14-bit does create larger files, for me, this is not an issue.  But, I do not work weddings or sports where shooting 14-bit may clog down the system due to processing large numbers of large files.

Now, I like math.  I like math a lot.  I also understand light and electronics.  Here are my thoughts.

14 bit raw does not buy you much except when it does.  To fully explain what it buys, I have to explain how your eye works vs how an image sensor works.  I’m going to use an example.

If you take a room with 1 lit candle, then add 1 more lit candle, your eye will really notice the difference.  If you take a room with 1000 lit candles, then light one more, your eye will not notice this at all.  This is because your eye works on relative brightness.  Doubling the light is very different vs an increase of 0.1%.  However, a camera works off of absolute brightness, which means that both examples are the same increase in brightness, or an increase of 1 candle.  Minute Physics has an explanation of this.

With the Gamma Curve, and relative brightness levels, what does the bit-ness mean and what does it give you?

The simplest answer – the bit-ness matters in the shadows and the shadow detail.  If you have a well lit scene with very little shadow detail, there will likely be no easily discernible difference in 12 vs 14 bit.  There will certainly be differences between 12 and 14 bit RAWs, but they are mostly in the file size and the after capture flexibility.  The less you want to push the shadows in the final image (vs at capture) the less 14 bit matters.  If you shoot HDR or shoot brackets for some kind of HDR usage, you should be fine with 12 bit.

In this part, I do not disagree with the DPS post.

Where I do severely disagree with the post is in compression.  This part of the discussion shows where the author lacks computer science skills.

Side note – this is about lossless compression only, and is based on my experience with Nikon cameras.  This does not cover lossy RAW, which is available on Nikon and Sony cameras.  Nor does it talk about sRAW files.

Much like how in photography every choice you make is a trade-off, compression is the same.  But in compression, the trade-off is more interesting.

Let’s take a file that is 100MB.  In this situation, the file can be compressed to 60MB with 1 additional second for processing time.  This file can be uncompressed with a modern CPU in half a second.  The question very quickly becomes — does compression make sense?  The next question is, how long does it take to compress the file, and is the storage system able to handle uncompressed vs compressed faster.  For storing the file, if you can transfer 20MB/sec, the 100MB file takes 5 seconds to transfer and the compressed file takes 1 second to compress and 3 seconds to transfer, for a savings of 1 second.  If you can transfer 100MB/sec, the larger file transfers in 1 second, and the smaller file transfers in 1.6 seconds.

If you shoot compressed RAW, opening the file on a computer later could take slightly longer (due to needing to decompress the file).  But a computer normally is fast enough that this doesn’t matter.  You may not notice a difference in the compressed file vs the uncompressed, especially if you have a SSD and a CPU from the last 3-4 years.

Compression may shorten the battery life on your camera.  The longer the camera CPU and sensor are idle, the better your battery life.  Transferring and compressing both use power.  With a relatively new camera, this is unlikely to make a difference of more than 5% change in the number of images per charge.  My DSLRs can shoot nearly 1000 images on a single charge, so +/-50 isn’t a huge deal.  With a modern camera and a slower memory card, it is more likely that you notice that images save faster if you use compression.  Only once you hit the fastest of the fast for memory cards (say, a latest generation QXD card) would compression increase the time required to save a RAW to the memory card.  I am not saying you should buy cheaper cards, but I am saying that most people will not need the fastest generation of cards, and would be better off buying 2-3 of the previous generation of cards for the same price.  Also, if you compress your files, they will take up around 30% less space on the card, making those 3 64GB last gen cards even better than the 1 128GB current gen card.

In short, the math proves that for the vast majority of people, compressed RAWs will be a benefit.  I will be happy to edit/append this post if I am wrong within the next 2-3 years (note, the year this post was written or updated).

-Brad

Site Changes

I’ve been making some changes around the site.  The two biggest are my name changes and the switch to https.  The switch to secure just makes sense, given all of the current news.  Google searches also now prioritize secure sites over non secure.

However, with my switch to secure, I wanted to make sure that all old links worked.  So I’ve added a rewrite rule in my .htaccess file

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R,L]

</IfModule>

What this does is simple – if you visit via http, it immediately redirects you to the https version of that url.

The other change is the branding.  This really only relates to having an extra domain name pointing to the same pages.  I’m a little uncomfortable giving any personal details out over the internet, but, I think this will change over time.  There will be a bigger change as well in the near future, but, this will deserve its own post.  The new domain name was step 1 of the bigger post.  Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Experiments with Time : Seattle Timelapse, What I Learned

Hello Everyone.

This past weekend, I came up with an idea for an experiment with time.  I was sitting in my apartment, watching storms pass by, thinking to myself “it would be really neat to make a timelapse of these passing storms”.  But the storms came and went over two days.  So I began to think about how you could actually capture something that lasts that long.

After thinking about it for a day, I came up with an idea – a full 24 hour timelapse.  Somehow, I would have a camera take photos for 24 hours.

My first thought was to have 24 hours in 24 seconds.  Since I live in the USA and we use 30 frames per second on our TVs, shrinking 60 minutes to 30 frames means 1 frame every 2 minutes.  After thinking about this longer, I decided this was a lot of work for under 30 seconds of video, so I decided to go with 40 frames per hour, or 1 every 90 seconds.  This works out to 960 photos in 24 hours.  I ended up going with 1000 photos over 25 hours as a ‘just in case’ precaution.

After more thoughts, I decided to go from midnight to midnight.

So, with a concept created, I got ready.  I cleared out my memory cards, set up my tripod in my windows, then set up the camera.  I decided to use my D750 because my D800 is testing out a new tripod, and my 24-70 f/2.8 lens.  My initial thoughts were that the D750 would be better because the low light capabilities are better (turned out this didn’t matter) and because the files are smaller (this DID make my life easier).

For the camera setup, I had to shoot through a window.  So, I added my C-PL to the front of the lens to eliminate as much of a reflection as possible, then used masking tape to hold a dark blue hand towel to the window to prevent as much reflections as possible.  The towel was taped to the window, camera, and tripod.  Because I would be asleep and unable to make changes, I selected f/9 and iso400 in Aperture priority mode.  The D750 has a min shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second and a max shutter speed of 30 seconds.  Back of the napkin math said this would probably be fine.  For the metering point, I picked the only white object in the scene — the Space Needle.  This would also allow the auto white balance to correctly handle the transition from night to day.

And so, on March 7th, 2016, I set up my camera with a timer set to start at midnight, and went to bed.

I woke up at around 7:15 and checked the camera.  Oops, battery is running low, glad I looked.  One more battery change at 6pm was required.  The last battery charge lasted from 6pm to 1am and still had about 40% remaining in the morning.

I am very happy with the results of this test.  Due to a limitation of iMovie, each image ended up lasting 0.13 seconds in the final result, and each hour is around 5.3 seconds.

The first mistake I realized I made was when I first looked at the images.  I always shoot in RAW format.  But now, I needed to convert the images to JPEG.  The conversion took 6 hours.  Next time, I’ll either shoot in RAW+JPEG or JPEG only.  The reason I would use RAW+JPEG is because there is a chance some of the images are good enough to become standalone images.

The next change I would make for the next attempt is to have more images.  I find the resulting video to be quite nice, but, I wish it was longer.  I would probably change to 1 image every 60 seconds and potentially try to go for 2 days.  But, this would require more battery changes, potentially 3 overnight, and probably an external power supply.  There is also less time to change a battery during the night, when the exposures can get to 20 or more seconds.  During the day, when the exposures were 1/400th of a second, there is a lot of extra time for a battery swap.

The final change would be in the framing of the image.  I made the mistake of handling the framing after dark on viewfinder that doesn’t cover 100% of the image.

I would also like to make the resulting video better and more professional.  Right now, this is a rough draft video that was produced quickly to see how well it turned out.  Now that I know how it turned out, I’ll spend some more time on the video, which is something I am not very good at.  Because I started with 24 MPix files, I could finalize the video at 4K, but likely will keep it at HD only.

While I certainly wish I could get lucky and predict when a fantastic sunset will happen (as I look out my window tonight, the sunset is nicer than when I ran the test), this is one of those ‘luck’ things, which is difficult to predict 1-2 days in advance.

-M

Working With LightRoom Keywords

This is a post I’ve been wanting to work on for a long time. This will be a much more technical post than normal.  Sometime I may write more about how I specifically use Keywords.

But first, some background information on how I use Keywords in LR. There are 3 components to Keywords.

  1. Exportable Keywords – this is what the majority of keywords are
  2. Non Exportable Keywords – these allow you to build trees of keywords
  3. Synonyms – these are alternative words to a keyword

Toplevel Keyword List

For the most part, all of the folders shown are Top Level and set to be Non Exportable. I use this system because it lets me build a folder system to store my Keywords, but these do not show up when you export the file. This ensures that your storage folder for ‘Water Features’ is not alphabetically near your location folder for ‘Wales’ or ‘Whales’.

I also use Non Exportable Keywords for family members or exact locations of homes. For example, if I am at a family wedding, and I want to tag my cousin, I might use the non exportable keyword hierarchy of “Smith Family” -> “NY Smiths” -> “David”. If I am careful with my tagging, I can quickly find all photos of my cousin David Smith from the NY side of the family in the future using the LR Keyword search feature. In LR CC 2015 the feature was added to mark a Keyword as ‘People’, which is also a non exportable form of a keyword. I don’t use this right now because it would require me to redo a lot of my tags.

Let’s expand my ‘WORLD LOCATIONS’ folder to see why I use these Non Exportable items.

In this example, I’ve expanded my World Locations, and the subfolder ‘Europe’. This allows me to store all of my location keywords in one place, keeping them separate from other keywords (e.g., “sunrise”, “waterfall”) which may occur almost anywhere in the world.

One of the benefits to making subfolders that are exportable is that you do not need to add those Keywords to your list, they are automatically added on Export. In the case of ‘Rovaneimi’, I’ve added this label to around 1000 photos. But, Rovaneimi is a city in Lapland, which is in Finland. All I need to do is add the Keyword ‘Rovaneimi’ to a photo, and ‘Lapland’, ‘Finland’, and ‘Europe’ will all be added on export. If I wanted, I could make my folder structure something like Europe -> Finoscandanavia -> Finland -> Lapland -> Rovaneimi. It is up to you. For me, folder structure this in depth would normally require justification. I currently live in Seattle. Because I photograph here a lot, I’ve separated the USA into regions. My Seattle photos have North America -> USA -> Pacific Northwest -> Washington -> Seattle. If I had under 10 US States, this extra level of US Regions may not be needed.  Until I had about 20 US States, I kept each one as a sub of USA.

The final part of Keywords I want to explain is Synonyms or Aliases. These allow you to automatically add an additional Keyword to an existing Keyword. These Synonyms are exported as if they are an additional Keyword.

I use these in several different ways. I live in the United States. In the US, all states have a full name and a 2-letter abbreviation. So states like “Pennsylvania” have a 2-letter code of “PA”. Canadian states, like “British Columbia”, also have abbreviations, like “BC”. I can set my label to be “Pennsylvania” or “British Columbia” and set synonyms of “PA” or “BC”.  Obviously, there can be keyword collisions.  One that I frequently run into is that an old camera of mine, the Canon S30, has a tag for ‘S30’.  ‘S30’ is also an old version of the Nissan Z series, which is something I did not find out until searches for ‘S30’ became one of the biggest drivers to my Flickr photos.

I also like to set variations of words in my Synonyms. Last year, I was inside of a “Glacier Cave”. I found that I wasn’t being as consistent as I should have been, and ended up with the additional Keywords of “Glacial Caves”, “Glacial Cave”, and “Glacier Caves”.

If something has 2 different names, it is really easy to use a synonym to add both named in 1 Keyword. For example, “Northern Lights” is a synonym for “Aurora Borealis”. “Aurora Australis” is a synonym for “Southern Lights”. Or if you prefer, you can make “Aurora Borealis” as the Keyword, and “Northern Lights” as the synonym.

In addition to this, I use synonyms is for non-english variations of words or locations. What do I mean? If I go visit Munich, Germany, the locals would spell the city as “Munchen” and the country as “Deutschland”. I like to keep my Keyword as the English version, but add the name in the local language as a synonym. This doesn’t mean I can, or do, add every variation of a place, but I try to use the US English and Local variations.  I would not, for example, add Londres as a synonym for London, nor would I add Pays-Bas for The Netherlands.  I would likely add Uluru as a synonym for Ayers Rock, or perhaps the other way around.

I’ll also add variations for letters that do not exist in English. An example of this is my labels for Thingvellier National Park in Iceland. Icelandic has Thorn and Eth, 2 characters that no longer exist in English. My aliases for Thingvellier are “Þingvellir National Park“, “Þingvellir“, and “Thingvellir“. My sub Keywords are “Geysir“, “Gullfoss“, and “Oxararfoss“. Oxararfoss has a Synonym of “Öxarárfoss“. By using synonyms like this, I can keep my list alphabetized in the way I can remember.

All of this is great information. But what does it do for you? How do you really take advantage of it?

The real power comes from Lightroom’s ability to import and export keyword lists. If we export our keyword list, we can reverse engineer how to build new keyword lists for import.

Let’s look at a partial export for my own World Locations-

[WORLD LOCATION]
Europe
Austria
Innsbruck
Vienna
Schoenbrunn Palace
{Schönbrunn Palace}
{Other Variation}

What does this export tell us? A Top Level, like “WORLD LOCATIONS” has no indentation. Each sub item is a line lower, with an extra tab. So my “Europe” is actually a “[Tab]Europe”, and my “Austria” is “[Tab][Tab]Austria”. We also see that Synonyms are situated in the same place as a sub item, but are surrounded by {} type brackets. We can also see that Non Exportable items are surrounded by Square Brackets – [].

With this information, it is reasonable to assume that this is also the format that can be imported. Since this is really text, it should not be difficult to manipulate with a programming language like perl or python. It should also not be too difficult to create an input format for the purposes of outputting in the format required for a LR import.

Why do I mention all of this?  Because I’m working on building something like this for myself.  Once I have something that mostly works, I’ll release the code.  I had planned on doing this weeks ago, it is just taking longer than anticipated.

-M

After The Violence in Paris

Paris is a great city. One of the first foreign cities I ever visited, and the first foreign city I ever visited without my parents present (1997). Paris is one of the few foreign cities I have been to multiple times (3 to be exact, 1997 x2, 2004).

The events of this past weekend are heartbreaking. I do not know why, but, to me, it feels a lot like the attacks on the USA on 9/11/01. Je suis Parisien. J’adore Paris. #prayforparis

This photo is of one of the tributes that my current city has for one of my favorite cities. I may live in Seattle, but right now, I’m a Citizen of Paris.

I am happy that the city I live in has done this, and I fully support this action.

I am aware that other city landmarks have done similar things. This is a good thing.

I hope and pray, but do not expect, that this is the last time such a gesture is required.

-M

WiP: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forrest at Night

I recently returned from California on a photo trip.

One of the stops was at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forrest, near Bishop, CA, where I captured this 30 second exposure.

To get this photo, I set up my camera while there was still light from the sun. Then captured a few test shots to see how the framing was, locked the tripod down and ate my dinner.

This is one of the test shots for framing. It is also a 30 second exposure.

Getting the Milky Way next to the tree was due to being prepared. I use an app called Star Walk on my iPhone. There are others, but this is the one I use. Since the app doesn’t need a data connection, only location info, it was able to tell me where the Milky Way was before the sun went down. I then both guessed and advanced the clock on the app to see about where the Milky Way would be in an hour after it was dark. This gave me enough information to line up the frame to get the capture I wanted.

I like the results. The first image only has about 20 seconds of edits in LightRoom, and could use quite a bit more. There is a lot of junk in the frame from other trees in the area. Normally, I would climb the hill to get the right perspective, but, the hill was made of loose shale rock and it was raining. It was not safe enough to take the risk to avoid 20-30 minutes in Photoshop.

So anyways, here is a Work In Progress from a recent trip. I’ll probably have the photos from the trip finished in a few months.

-M

My 100,000th Photo in Lightroom

Yesterday was a big day. My Lightroom catalogue finally hit 100,000 photos. That is a lot.

While I’m still on the road, I wanted to share what this photo looks like.

Milkyway over Mono Lake

This is basically an unprocessed rough draft image that I took last night at Mono Lake. I went to the lake a few hours after sunset to photograph both star trails and the Milky Way. This was one of those photos, and it just happened to be my 100,00th photo.

From this screenshot of my Lightroom file browser, you can see that I have 100,076 files in the catalogue, after just having imported 624.

I knew I would hit this milestone on my trip, so, I took the screenshot as soon as it happened.

-M

The Things We Get Bored By

A few years ago, a coworker of mine looked a photo of a waterfall that I made, and simply said “I don’t like these all white waterfall photos”. When I asked why, he replied “Because you see it too often”.

This comment really stuck with me. We all get to this point eventually, where we get stuck between reproducing the nice images we have seen and wanting to be a bit different, and this comment specifically got to me. Part of the problem was, at that time, I was quite proud of that photo.

Over the years between then and now, I kind of agree. The photo is interesting, and I like it, but I don’t feel like it is anything special, at least not anymore. At one point, photos like this were rare. But over the years, so many have attempted to immitate the photos they saw that were great, but in the process, have lost why they were great.

There is a different waterfall photo from that same trip that I actually think is more special, although my parents hate it.

I actually like both photos, but I’ve always prefered the second of these two. I feel like it is more than just a pretty picture.

Since I get no comments, I’m going back to the “I like both photos” from 2 lines ago. Yes, my preference is for #2, but that is that. A preference.

-M

My Favorite Camera Review

I enjoy reading photo news sites.

One of my favorites is F-Stoppers.

About a year and a half they reviewed the Nikon Df, which is a retro styled Full Frame Nikon DSLR with the same sensor as the high end D4, but for half the cost. The Df is a very nice looking camera, but with the retro look and difficulty in controlling the camera, it soon was joked that the camera was made for hipsters.

So the F-Stoppers crew did a Hipster Review of the Df. The other camera they are using in the video is a Nikon D800, which was a ~$3000 camera body at the time and is considered a professional camera.

I hope you enjoyed that. I laughed a lot at this video.

-M