Google Earth, Maps, GPS tracks and geotagged photos

Google Earth is an amazing program that brings the world to you. It’s also an amazing tool that also puts you in the driving seat of geography! Not entirely a Geographic Information System (which most normal people don’t need in any case), it does make it easy for you to interpret and “map” your own life. You can put pins where you’ve been, and add lines and shapes to mark spaces and areas. An advanced feature even allows you to see historic satellite images on the same place! If you’re someone who owns or uses a GPS, this is also a program to see all your info in a pretty slick display. Then there’s Google Maps – the online map for everyone and for (pretty much) everywhere!

I wanted to see how I could use Google Earth to track two hikes we did in Chamonix, France and then share the route and photos online with my friends and family. Luckily I recently bought a Canon S100 which has a built in GPS to tag photos which helped a lot in automating the whole process. Check out the two maps below:

View Chamonix – Aiguilette in a larger map

View Chamonix – Brevent in a larger map

So what’s the verdict? It’s a little difficult to mash-up the GPS locations, tracks, and photos all together. Event though Adobe Lightroom, the program I use to manage my photos, has a way to view your geotagged photos it doesn’t seem like there’s a way to automatically share them online. Of course, mobile phone technology and other online programs are available to do this (i.e. Flickr, Picasa, etc.) – I think the Canon S100 even has a way to track the whole route even without taking photos.

Since I’m a Geography geek at heart, it was still a lot of fun to experiment and a great way to store and share the memories. Also, knowing how to use a GPS while hiking or in unpopulated places with little mobile reception is always a good skill to have! I’ll probably find an easier way to do this in the future, but for the moment it’ll do – have you done this before? Add a comment and let me know!

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