I love travel – seeing new landscapes, new cities, and expanding the list of places I’ve been. Of course,I don’t have the opportunity to go everywhere all the time, but I still want to see what different places around the world are like. I also want to send pictures to family and friends after a trip to show them where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. As a result, I’m a bit of a geotagging junky. I love recording and organizing where I’ve taken my photos, as well as knowing where – exactly where – others have taken their photos.
Geotagging, for many people, implies going on trips with a camera and a GPS receiver, and then using some custom software to tag all the photos with the GPS data after the trip. Being one who loves geotagging, I have a confession, though: I have never owned a GPS device.
So, how can I geotag photos and share them with family and friends? I can explore the world virtually through many different mapping applications that combine both maps and photos. Some of these allow geotagging (a la Flickr, et al), but that records only individual photo’s locations, not a full tour. What I’ve found out is a way to play around with the Live Maps Collections feature to create a photo tour. So, for those who want to create simple photo tours to share with friends and the world (and don’t want to deal with GPS), here’s how.
This week I’ll show a straightforward, 2D method of creating geotagged collections of photos. This article is only the first of two parts. The second part will show how to take advantage of the 3D features of Virtual Earth to make a fuller video-like geotagged photo tour so you'll want to look out for that post!
Building a Geotagged Set of Photos
There are three parts to building a geotagged set of photos. The first is to upload the photos that I want to tag. The second is creating the geotags, which is done using the Virtual Earth collections. The last is to attach the photos to items in the collection. As a note, you will need a Windows LiveID to be able to create and save collections as well as upload photos.
We do this step for you. Simply upload the pictures you want to tag to Windows Live Spaces using the Windows Live Photo Gallery. The first step is covered in a previous article so I won’t repeat it here. Once you’ve uploaded the album you want to tag, view the album.
Creating a Collection
Now open another browser window and go to http://maps.live.com. Once you arrive there, sign in (in the upper right-hand corner). You can now create a new collection and save it with your Live ID. Click the “Collections” link in the upper right-hand area of the page and click “Open your collections”. It’s OK that if you don’t have any yet. You can make them after you follow the link.
When you’ve clicked the link, you should get something like this where you can add your new collection:
I’ve already got my collection sitting here (“Moving to Washington”) so I’ll show you how to create an additional collection. Simply click “New Collection” and fill in the blanks. It should look as follows:
Make sure to turn on sharing if you want your friends to be able to see it. And if you don’t mind the general public seeing it, let the “Make this collection searchable” box stay selected.
Arriving at this stage, you can now add items by clicking the pushpin button at the bottom. Don’t be confused by the text in the box talking about “Add to collection” like I was – that’s just for adding items found using searches. We’re not doing that here.
So next, I’ll show how to add geotags. Live Maps uses pushpins to mark places on a map – just like how people put pins in wall maps to show where they’ve been. We add pins to a collection and then add photos to those pins.
Adding pins is simple, just open you’re collection and click the “Add a pushpin” button at the bottom of the “Collections editor” window. In 2D with the “Hybrid” map view, it looks like this:
After clicking to add a pushpin, click on the map to place the pin. Here’s what shows up:
This is the same location as the 2D, but I’ve rotated the view (I’ll show why next week). Now we can add a couple of details about the point, which is our geotag for a photo. Next, we tie a photo to the pushpin, which we have two ways of doing. The first is using the album that I created by uploading from the Live Photo Gallery. The second is to use Live Maps’ upload tool, which I won’t show here since it’s pretty easy.
To add a photo to the pushpin I created, I go to the window I left open from Step 1 that’s viewing the album I just uploaded to Live Spaces. I select the photo from the album I want and view it.
On the right, there are a bunch of options to play around with. Here, we’ll hack the “Embed” feature to get what we want. Click the “Embed” link (underlined in the picture below). When you do, some options will show up down below the album area. Here we’ll use the “Copy” feature of the “Emed this photo” box.
When you do, some options will show up down below the album area. Here we’ll use the “Copy” feature of the “Embed this photo” box. (Make sure to click allow on the dialog that comes up if you’re using Vista).
Now, we paste this link into the geotag pin we created in the collection and clean it up by removing the HTML. The pasting and cleanup looks like this:
Delete the highlighted text shown in the images above. Now just click “Save”, and you’ve geotagged your photo! If you notice, there’s a 3D tour option when you’re using the 3D mode. I’ll show how to use that next week.
Do these steps for as many photos as you want. When you’re done, simply click the “Actions” link next to the “My Collections ” link and choose “Send in e-mail” to send a link for your friends and family to view your tour.
Of course, one of the cool things about collections is that the more people use it, the more photos that can be explored. Speaking of exploring, here’s the link (http://maps.live.com/?v=2&cid=AF105ADE514CC699!103&encType=1) to the collection I created that’s a tour of the places I went through when moving from New Jersey out to Redmond to work for Microsoft.
Let us know what you think! What works and what doesn’t with geotagging? What do you like about geotagging and what are cool ways you think to geotag photos? What are cool ways to explore other’s geotagged photos?
- Tim O'Connor (Software Development Engineer)