The Lightroom 4 beta was publicly released yesterday and although it’s a pretty evolutionary step from Lightroom 3 I was pleased to see GPS mapping integration. Previously you’d need to tag photos outside of Lightroom prior to upload to Flickr, etc. or position them in Flickr’s own map system – not great for a sleek workflow. Lightroom 4 allows you to import GPX track files, which are simple XML files containing time and GPS lat/long data. Having previously used the excellent gps4cam software on my iPhone I thought I’d see how the integration with Lightroom 4 would go, and skip the step of using the desktop gps4cam software to do the tagging (which still has its advantages with respect to time synchronisation between the camera and phone). The mobile app allows the export of GPX files by email, so it’s very easy to send the file to your PC/Mac and import.
Before starting it’s worth getting your phone and camera’s time synchronised. Lightroom 4 does allow you to provide a timezone offset to the nearest tenth of an hour, but it’s much easier to have them sync’d from the start.
Open up gps4cam and start a new trip:
Depending on the type of trip you’re doing you might want to change the precision of the logging. Since I was heading to the beach and walking around quite quickly, I chose the ‘precise’ setting which captures co-ordinates every 30s. This isn’t a good setting for long trips – it’ll eat into your battery. However, you can change the precision during the logging process as well as manually log positions by shaking the phone.
Now go ahead and take all your photos. Once you’re done, you can exit and export the trip within gps4cam. Normally what you’d do with gps4cam is take a photo of your phone screen with a QR Code. The desktop software will the interpret that and process the photos. However, since we’re doing it all within Lightroom 4 we want to export the GPX trackpoints to email:
Email the file to yourself, and you’re ready to begin the process in Lightroom. Import your photos in your usual manner.
Once they’re imported select them all in the library:
Click on the Map tab in the top-right. You’ll be presented with a Google Map within the main frame:
Now we want to import the GPX file containing the trackpoints:
Browse to and select the GPX file you emailed to yourself:
Lightroom will open the GPX file and you’ll see your journey on the map. You’ll be able to see where I changed the tracking from 5 minute captures to 30 seconds.
At this point we can set the timezone offset if necessary. Lightroom will helpfully show us the time range of the selected photos and the track points, so it’s easier to syncronise if you haven’t changed your camera’s time.
Now the easy part – Lightroom will now automatically tag our photos with the appropriate GPS co-ordinates for the times they were taken:
By clicking on a trackpoint on the map we’ll get some more details of the photos taken, and Lightroom will select them all for us:
If we now go back to our library and look at the metadata pane, we’ll see the GPS co-ordinates in there:
Now we can export to Flickr or any other of the supported photo services supported. However, by default Lightroom will disable location tags from being attached to Flickr exports. When you’re setting up Flickr in the publishing manager, make sure you uncheck “Remove location info”:
Now when you export you’ll have a GPS tagged photo that you won’t need to position with Flickr’s UI: