You no doubt have heard the good news, that Adobe launched its public beta of Lightroom 4, and there’s plenty to be excited about! For this tutorial we’ll take a quick look at the brand new Map module, which allows you to organize your photographs based on where you took them. Adobe has integrated Google Maps with Lightroom Collections and a few other clever features, so that you can easily place and later find your photos using a map (and of course all the memories of the places you’ve been).
These days photos can be tagged with GPS data using nifty gadgets like the Nikon GP-1 for Nikon DSLRs, or more commonly, if you’ve got an iPhone or similar device, you can add GPS info to pictures that way as well. However most of us have countless photos from years past, where we never gave any thought to GPS metadata for our favorite shots. Then what?? How do you mix images with no GPS data, with those that have it, so that the Map module can work with all of them over time?
The answer is geotags. Geotagging is a way of retroactively assigning map coordinates to photos that didn’t originally have this data. As a starting point create a standard Collection in the Library module, and then click the Map module to get a look at your new Lightroom 4 surroundings.
At the center of the window we have the main attraction –the Google map– where we can start placing markers as we gather different Collections of images. Everything is organized as you might expect: at left we have The Navigator panel, with Saved Locations and Collections panels below that. We have zoom and view controls beneath the map view, and a metadata panel at right (shown at the end of the tutorial). When we’re done, all of the (collected) files will end up with accurate longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates embedded!
Note that here I’ve chosen the Terrain view on the map, which can be helpful if you’re looking for a particular high vantage point. As you zoom in you’ll see terrain relief lines and other details. I’ve also got my Collection available, but we haven’t yet created a custom Location (that’s coming up).
The next step is to use the Location Filter (top of map) to find our location. Here I have 57 images from the Napali Coast in Kauai that I’d like to tag with the appropriate data. All you need to do is type in your search location on the right side of the filter area, and you should get a list of possible matches as shown at right. From there just click the location in the list and you will zoom into that spot on the map.
Once you’ve found the area of the world map that you’d like to work with, you can zoom in more if you need to by using standard keyboard shortcuts, or the slider control beneath the map. You can also pan around the map by clicking and dragging it. Next you’ll need to create a new Location, which you can do by clicking the plus (+) button next to the Saved Locations panel, on the left side of the window.
When you do that, the New Location dialog box will pop up, giving you a chance to both name the location, save it in a particular location on your computer and define a radius for the group of photos you’re using. Typically it is useful to create names that not only give you the general area (state, province, etc) but also the specific venue. I also reduced the radius a bit so that it more accurately encompassed the area that I photographed.
You can also make the Location private. This allows you to manage the locations inside Lightroom, but when you export the files, the GPS data will be stripped out so that third parties don’t have access to it.
Once you’ve customized your Location parameters, click Create. From this point you can click and drag the circular widget that is overlaid on the map, so that it encircles the area you photographed. If needed you can zoom in even further, to get very precise locations for small batches of photos. For this tip we’ll put them all in one spot. To tag the photos, open the Filmstrip, select the shots you want to be tagged with this Location, and drag them onto your Location “map pin” (that’s the little silver circle in the middle with the black dot). That’s it!
When you’re done you should see something that looks like this (notice the coordinates in the Metadata panel):
In the weeks ahead, I’ll share more details on the Map module and other great features in Lightroom 4 beta. You’ll be able to find some of them on my web site, at Colortrails.com. Meantime, dive into the beta and have some fun with it (remember to create a new catalog for the beta – don’t convert your primary catalog from Lightroom 3 until the final version of Lightroom 4 is released).
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