Photo Geotagging – My Workflow

I was asked recently about my GPS tagging workflow. Something which I haven’t given much thought too, and I haven’t been that doing that  consistently. This post basically describes the method I find most convenient now.

Tools used

Logging GPS data with Moves app

There are a number of ways to get the GPS data needed to tag the files. I have tried several. GPS photo loggers can collect a lot of data and usually have a pretty good battery life. But there are not many options, most are not mac compatible. I tried one of these, but got a faulty unit and gave up on it. Full GPS units, like Garmin, also collect data that can be downloaded. But the units are generally  bulkier and the screens require more battery usage. iPhone apps are good, because I always have my phone with me. I have used a few different apps here too, Runkeeper is good if you want to also track your exercise progress, but I have used it just because it outputs GPX files. Placetagger is another app that is good for just recording a GX track, and now that it saves the files directly to dropbox. Saving the export step. Both apps worked well, but I found that I would forget to turn them on, and  they had a pretty big hit to the battery life of the phone.

Moves App Screenshot
Moves App Screenshot

The Moves app is always on. So there is never the need to remember to turn it on. It has a fairly low battery draw. But it does have some, so I do carry a backup battery for my iPhone. It records locations, so I can easily review the days activities. it also records my steps, bike rides etc. And it does a really good job identifying them. But the moves app itself only provides a visual way of seeing your daily activities, and only exports images of the day.  Once the developer opened up the app to other developers it became possible to get the raw GPX data out, and is now my primary method for recording my data for Geotagging.

Downloading the GPX Data

The Moves Export  ( service allows you to pull down the Moves data in a GPX format. You have to setup moves to share the data, and give Moves Export permission to access the data. But once you have completed that, it is really easy to pull down each days data file.

  • Start at the “Your Storylines” tab,
  • Navigate to the day
  • Click on the “GPX” button.

If you are looking for a particular day, it may seem cumbersome to navigate day by day with the forward/backward arrows. But you can easily just change the date in the URL string, which  ends with soemthign like startdate=20140228 (startdate=yearmonthday) to the date you want to download. If moves has data for that day you will be able to download it.

Merging data tracks with Adze

Aperture (Lightroom behaves similarly from my understanding) does not work well with multi-track GPX files. Which is most GPX files from moves. There are not a lot of GPX editing apps for Mac. And from the few I have seen, Adze has the best UI. Most of the time I simply use it to merge tracks, but I have also used it to deleted errant GPS points with the GPS point editor. You can also export a KML file if you want to view your location data in google earth.

Adze Screenshot
Adze Screenshot

To merge a multitrack GPX to a single track file

  • Open the GPX file,
  • Select all tracks
  • Choose Merge Selected Tracks from the select menu
  • Save (or Save as…)

Tagging image files in Aperture

Aperture and Lightroom store the location metadata in the applications database, and do not in the original RAW files. Aperture’s tagging is a little different than others I have seen. I believe Lightroom simply tags the selected files based on their times. Another app I have used, GPSphotolinker, also uses the times. Aperture requires you to drag the selected files over the point on the GPS track that matches the first image. This usually is not too hard and would theoretically allow you to shift the set if you time was off a few minutes. But if you have a lot of overlapping tracks, it can be harder to live up than you expect. Otherwise the steps are strait-forward.

  • Load the GPX track
  • Select files and drag them to the correct point on the track for the first track

I used to use GPSphotolinker. Which gave the option of recording the GPS data in a sidecar file, or in the original raw file. But since it no longer works with the current Mac OX. They do make a commercial program called Photo Linker Pro which is compatible, but is not free like GPSphotolinker. I am sure it is an excellent program, but I decided to stick with the Aperture only method instead of buying another app.


Aperture Presets & Plugins

Filters, filters, filters from the iPhone to the desktop there are a ton of apps to apply filters to your photos. From subtle to garish there are many many options.

But if you are an Aperture (or lightroom user for that matter) you can easily add some of the same effects with presets. This is only a small list of free presets I have run across, there are more and many commercial preset packs out there as well.

One Software has released a great set of presets for Aperture (lightroom version available as well)

Gavin Seim


Export Plugins

  • BorderFX – “an Aperture plug-in for adding borders and titles to images”

Web Sharing Plugins


Of course Apple maintains a much bigger list of plug-ins,
Pug-ins, Workflows and …

Export Presets for iPad and new iPad

Since the first iPad I have been using the same export settings that I have always used for the web. With the “new iPad” I started reading that it is recommended that images be exported in the native resolution of the iPad. So i dug up the resolution of the original iPad as well. If you want the image to fit the screen perfectly you may want to crop it to the same aspect ratio. The iPad’s native aspect ratio is 4:3 (1024 x 768 or 2048 x 1536).

So these are the export Presets I have set up for iPads.

Color space sRGB

iPad 1 & 2 – 1024 132 dpi

iPad (third gen) – 2048 x 1536 264 dpi

Deleting Keywords from Aperture from multiple images

I don’t do this often, but every time I have had to try to delete keywords from multiple images I have had to figure it out all over again. The process is not difficult, it is just not obvious. 


  1. Before you start make sure the keyword controls are visible (Shift-D or Window -> Show control bar, Window -> Show  keyword controls)
  2. Select the images with the keyword you want to remove
  3. Type the keyword you want removed in the keyword box
  4. Press Shift-Enter.