We’ve written a few times about the Map Module in Lightroom, but they have made some interesting updates and improvements that you might not be aware of. First a few basics. There are a lot of times when you want to be able to answer the question, “where did you take that photograph?” More and more cameras these days and almost all cell phones embed the geocoordinates into the meta data when you take a picture. There are external GPS devices which can attach to your camera, that inject that data when you press the trigger. There are also a huge number of phone applications which can log your position information and create an exportable “track file”. All of these, as well as just knowing where you were can be used to plot the location of your photos into your Lightroom catalog.
For those photos where the location data is embedded, you don’t have to do anything extra. LR reads the files and if you go to the map module, the image will show up as a block, with the number of shots there in the center. If you, don’t have GPS data, all you need to do is select your images, go to map and you can just drag your images to your location. You can make the details as precise or as loose as you choose. Famous landmarks show up on the map, and if you drag your images to that symbol, it adds that data as well. For example, if you shot a bunch at Magic Kingdom, but don’t particularly care if it was Fantasyland or Adventureland, you can make them all Magic Kingdom. If you click on the icon on the map module it will select those images from your library for you to see.
One of the new features that a lot of folks had been asking for is the ability to synchronize one of those track files with photos. There is a new import button on the map menu, which will read the file and then will attempt to synchronize any photos taken at that same time as recorded by the camera’s own clock. The system even allows you to do a timezone offset, in the case where you didn’t update the camera when you arrived at your shooting location. I haven’t played with this yet, so I can encourage you to go try it and tell me how it works.
The maps themselves are driven by Google, and they have added new display options. These are accessible from either the View menu, or at the bottom left underneath the map display itself. You can choose:
1. Hybrid (Road map + satellite
2. Road Map View
3. Satellite View
4. Terrain features
5. Light grey background
6. Dark grey background
Another feature, which if it is not new, is one I hadn’t noticed before, is the Saved Locations panel. This feature allow you to set and save a radius around an area and then to set some universal properties for pictures in there. Here for example I created one for San Diego. The program itself proposed a radius and a logical name which was “San Diego County”.
There is a lot of concern with the amount of data that people can learn about you from the things you post online. For example, if you or your kids post images from home onto social media, then others can easily figure out your address. Then when you post something else from say, the Bahamas, people could figure, that you weren’t home and go in and do something like rearrange your sock drawer, or much more nefarious activities. If you create a Saved Location filter around your home, and check the “Privacy” button, LR will automatically strip off all of your location data from the images when they are exported. Just a smart thing to think about.
Updating locations on old photos is another one of those tasks, like keywording, which can seem daunting, if you haven’t done any. My recommendation is just start grabbing a few at a time in a quick collection, and just drag them to your map. Pretty soon, you will find you have them all located.