A walk with a geotagger

As it’s some time since I wrote about about using a geotagger (see Seeing Qstarz), I thought you might like an update. There are a couple of other reasons why the Qstarz BT-Q1000X has been on my mind just lately.

The first was that I was having trouble recharging the unit and after a lot of toing and froing, this led to me being sent a new battery. More on that another time. The second reason was that when I tried to produce a map of an outing, the software would throw up an error message and although the resultant map showed my track, it didn’t show where the photos had been taken. I am glad that this problem seems to have been solved by downloading and installing the latest version of the software. It was to test this that I went on a little walk this morning.

A false start
A false start

I chose a place to start and end my walk and went there before switching on the Qstarz. The first thing to notice is that this produced a spurious starting point, as shown above. According to this, I started in White Lion Street whereas in fact I went nowhere near there. (Employers might like to take note of this before accusing their geotagged employees of making unscheduled visits during working hours!)

Here is a larger scale map showing where I did walk.

Map of my route
Map of my route

If you took this map literally, you would have to believe I was at times walking through the solid walls of buildings! That is not true, of course, and I walked along the roads throughout. This gives you some idea of the accuracy of the device. On the whole it is good enough for locating photos but not for forensic purposes. Mind you, I carry it in a case hanging around my neck under my coat. Perhaps if it were out in the open (on my hat, for example!), accuracy might be improved, though I doubt it. As I say, it is good enough for my needs.

In the article referenced above, I explained that the software inserts the longitude and latitude of each photo into its EXIF data. It does so to a precision of 3 or 4 decimals of a second of arc. These positions can be fed into Google maps to show where a photo was taken. You can also do this with the street maps in the Bing search engine.

Viewing photos on a saved map
Viewing photos on a saved map

Once you have geotagged you photos, you can save a map of your journey. You can do this in several formats. The ones I find most useful are HTML (see above) and KMZ (more about that below).

Provided you are using the latest version of the software, if you save a map in HTML form, it will include the locations of your photos. Click on the HTML file to display it in your browser and then click on any of the camera icons. That will bring up a thumbnail of the photo taken at that point (but see below regarding more than one photo being taken at the same spot). This provides a quick way of locating your photos, avoiding the need to type the longitude and latitude into Google (or Bing) maps.

My route on Google Earth
My route on Google Earth

For some purposes, it can be useful to show your track and photo locations on Google Earth. For this, I save a map of my outing in KMZ format. That file resides quite happily in the same folder as the HTML file and both can have the same name as they have different file types (.htm and .kmz, respectively). Note that rather than displaying a camera icon, Google earth displays the file name of the photo. That can sometimes be helpful.

Viewing pictures on Google Earth
Viewing pictures on Google Earth

On this map too you can view thumbnails of the photos by clicking on the photo’s filename.

Interestingly, I made a discovery while writing this. Above, you see two pictures displayed for one position: why? Because I took two photos at that point and although Google Earth shows only one filename there, it displays both photos. Unfortunately, in the same circumstances, Google maps shows only one of the photos.

This article describes how I generally use the Qstarz myself but it doesn’t exhaust all the possibilities. I believe that Flickr and Picasa can use the geotagging information to display the route taken but I haven’t tried this.

There are also a few problems such as “drift”: if you stay in one place for a while the geotagger produces a set of spurious crisscrossing lines about the point that makes it look as if you rushed back and forth like a mad thing. The software detects drift and warns you about it but, as far as I can see, is unable to do anything about it.

We are going away on holiday soon, when I will really be able to put the Qstarz through its paces. I will let you know how I get on with it.

Update

Since writing the above, I have discovered that there is a drift correction function in the new software. I haven’t yet used it so cannot say how effective it is. I will publish a note on that once I have tried it out and seen how well it works.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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7 Responses to A walk with a geotagger

  1. Peter Harvey says:

    I’ve got a Qstarz on its way to me right now. I hope I have it for Saturday when we are going to Tarragona to eat spring onions. It’s what people in Catalonia do at this time of year — eat onions that is, not necessarily in Tarragona.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I wish you happy usage of your Qstarz. These devices have their limitations but in general locate the positions of your photos well enough for most practical purposes.

      I’m not so sure about the onions. Onions are fine, in small doses…🙂

  2. BFG says:

    I think I’ve mentioned the “games” that folks here (US) have created for geotagging. One I came across (and which might have some relevance for you) is Waymarking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waymarking), although I feel that the process may be a little hard on bloggers who post regularly:

    “The signs are typically posters strapped to railings or lampposts…”

    • SilverTiger says:

      It sounds a bit like the “Monopoly” groups we see touring all the areas mentioned on the board of the famous game of that name. They go to pubs along the way, of course, ending up rat-arsed pleasantly relaxed at the end of it.

  3. Reluctant Blogger says:

    I rather like the idea that you can look at your route and the photos pop up. But the wiggly lines make me shiver. I always have to snap my runs to the roads when I use mapometer – I can’t bear wiggly lines!!! I only unsnap it from roads if I go down some steps or something and there is no road.

    • SilverTiger says:

      We all have our little phobias, I suppose. With a geotagger, there’s no need to look at lines, straight or wiggly, if you don’t want to. You can simply geotag your photos and look at the coordinates if and when you need to.

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