Adding GPS metadata to a photo

Jun 29, 2011   //   by Mei   //   Behind The Scenes, Blog, Mei  //  No Comments

A lot of non-picture information can be stored in a digital photo. This embedded data is called ‘metadata’.

Most digital cameras store the time and date of the exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and a lot more. Any data that’s not present can be added later, even for scans from film.

One potentially very useful piece of metadata is the GPS location where the photo was taken. Some cameras, for example those built into mobile phones, record this when you take the shot. Most dedicated cameras don’t though so it’s useful to be able to add it.


I took this photo near where I live in Cardiff using a Canon 5D Mk2 DSLR which doesn’t have GPS built in. I shot it in RAW format giving me a .CR2 file which I copied from the card to my computer.

I found where I took the photo on Google maps, which handily provides GPS coordinates, in this case +51° 28′ 50.37″, -3° 12′ 8.02″

To add this data to the .CR2 file I used the free program ExifTool GUI for Windows. Unfortunately it needs GPS in a slightly different format which is +51° 28′ 8395, -3° 12′ 1337. Wikipedia has information on the conversion here.

Next I opened the image in my preffered RAW conversion tool, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, did some slight adjustments and rendered the square thumbnail you see above and the larger full-frame image you see when you click it.

The map below is generated from the square thumbnail.

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