In a previous blog, we showed how to plot dip and strike readings taken by a field geologist within ArcGIS desktop. This blog looks at acquiring and displaying geotagged photos within ArcGIS desktop, another useful tool in the field geologists’ arsenal.
Now, where was that again?
Geotagging allows you to automatically capture the location information for a photo, meaning that you need never wonder where-on-earth it was taken – you’ll know. In ArcGIS desktop 10.1, spatialising and hyperlinking to these geotagged photos is straightforward.
You say ‘fromage’, I say…
Most modern cameras and smartphones have the ability to geotag photos. The process uses the onboard GPS to capture where the camera is when the photo is taken, saving that information into the photo’s metadata. Some cameras allow additional parameters such as camera bearing to be captured, further enhancing the utility of the photos.
You can view this information if you right-click on a geotagged photo in Windows Explorer and view the GPS section in the Details tab of its Properties, as shown below.
Take a look in the manual for your camera/smartphone to find out how to enable geotagging – it may be switched on by default (checking some old photos should allow you to work if it’s already on). For an iPhone 4, the smartphone used to capture the example photos used in this blog, it can be enabled via the Location Services section in Settings:
If you need more functionality it’s worth noting that camera and smartphone apps and other specialist devices are available that provide more capabilities than simple location capture.
Can you tell where it is yet?
To add the photos to your map, follow the workflow defined below:
1) Copy your photos to a suitable folder and rename as you see fit – the name will be available as an attribute, so making it descriptive of the location is a good idea.
2) In ArcCatalog, open ArcToolbox, and locate the Photos section in Data Management Tools.
3) Open the GeoTagged Photos to Points tool.
4) Populate the parameters – basically you’re going to import the location of each photo to a points featureclass. Click OK to run the import.
5) The new feature class generated will contain a location point for each photo which will have attributes including the path to the photo’s disk location (which we will use to hyperlink to the photo from the point, in a later step), the photo’s name and the date and time at which it was acquired.
6) If you then add the point feature class to ArcMap, you will see the locations of the photos:
7) To hyperlink to a photo from its associated location point you will need to enable hyperlinks on the feature class. To do this, do the following:
- Open the Layer Properties for the layer and go to the Display tab.
- In the Hyperlinks section, check the Support Hyperlinks using field checkbox and select the Path field using the drop down.
- Close the Layer Properties dialog.
8) You should now be able to select the Hyperlink tool from the Tools toolbar and click on a point to open the associated photo in your default image viewing application. It’s like you never left the field!
Geotagging is simple to enable and instantly makes your photo libraries far more useful when used in a GIS.
Similar but more advanced functionality is available for video files – the ArcGIS Full Motion Video Add-In permits you to view suitably attributed video feeds within ArcGIS Desktop, and allows you to capture geographic features directly from the video frames.
Posted by Ian Peebles, GIS Consultant, Exprodat.
Postscript: some additional notes and resources, courtesy of Willy Lynch, Mining Industry Specialist, ESRI Energy-Mining Industry Team:
- ArcPhoto: a set of geoprocessing tools and ArcMap user interface enhancements to enable the quick import of digital photography into the ArcGIS framework.
- ArcPhoto technical tip: see article approximately 3/4 of the way down the page.
- Adding non-geotagged photos: when photos are not Geotagged, one option is to use ArcGIS Explorer to Geotag the photos.