About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lightroom Map Module, Finding That Red Barn

Green River Bridge and Falls, Guilford, Vermont

There are just TOO many red barns in New England and not enough space in my aging brain to keep track of all of their locations. For that reason I have been forced to be compulsive about labeling my images with their GPS locations. Over the years, I've used a number of different techniques, but I'm happiest with my current approach which depends on the amazing power of the Lightroom Map Module.  If you don't have Lightroom or haven't used the Map Module to its full potential, consider this your wake-up call.

Past History 

 I started recording GPS coordinates using a separate GPS logger and special software to synchronize the images based on the time they were taken. It worked reasonably well, but added several, often time consuming, steps to my work-flow. A few years ago, while on a trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons, I misplaced my small logger and, of necessity, began using my iPhone to capture GPS labeled images in key locations. I would then manually add the coordinates to the metadata of the images taken in those spots. I just needed to remember to grab the iPhone picture in each location. All this was a bit complicated, but it worked, as long as I stayed rigorous in my work-flow.  Then I finally broke down and got Lightroom 5 and everything changed.

 I purchased Lightroom primarily to simplify the organization and accessibility of my hundreds of thousands of image files, but in a short time I found myself using it to streamline file uploading and to do the majority of my editing, finishing the process in Photoshop. Since Lightroom 4 the program has also included a nifty Map Module which makes it much more intuitive and easy to add and use GPS Coordinates in your images.  Here's how it works.

Finding Yourself
Upon return from a photo shoot I usually have a good idea about
the locations of most of my images, especially when my shots are close to home. The Map Module portrays a Goggle Map in the display. It does require that the program has a connection to the internet to allow access to Google Maps, but then it is easy to click and drag groups of images to their known locations on the map.  Immediately the images are labeled with their coordinates and a small tag (or "Pin") appears on the map including the number of images placed in that location. Hovering the cursor over the tag reveals a thumbnail showing the top image from that spot and an arrow allows scrolling through all of the other images in the stack. I'm usually able to place tags for familiar locations within a couple of minutes. I can drag the map for nearby spots or use the search box to jump to more distant locations. I still use my iPhone images to fix less familiar locations, and I can find them on the map by typing the GPS Coordinates into the search box. I just need to remember to put the negative sign in front of the longitude coordinates to avoid ending up in Kyrgyzstan.  

Ancient Red Oak in Friedsam Forest

Randon Aside
Actually if you dig straight through the earth from New Hampshire you don't end up in Kyrgystan or, as tradition would suggest, China, but actually in the southern Indian Ocean north of the isolated French island of Kerguelen.  There!, you must admit that you have learned something from this post.

The Map Module provides a fun way to quickly see where you have traveled on your photography shoots and quickly preview the images taken in any area.

Pins marking nearly 60 thousands images in the Monadnock Region

A Hike in Friedsam Town Forest
I have just begun experimenting with the use of GPS Logging to
follow me on shoots. Lightroom allows the input of logging files (gpx format) which can then be synced to the images taken during that time frame. I use "myTracks", one of a number of simple, free GPS Logging Apps. The app regularly records locations into a file, which, after moving it to Evernote,
Forgotten Wall, Friedsam Forest
I am able to email to my desktop. For accuracy the camera's clock must be synchronized with the time on the iPhone. A few days ago I took a hike through a section of the Friedsam Town Forest in Chesterfield.  Most of the images here are from that hike.  I started the logger and then placed my iPhone in the top pocket of my backpack. Once home I was able to upload the track to Lightroom and the location of each photo was shown on a detailed track of my hike. It actually worked, but the logger is a hog on the iPhone battery, 90 minutes of use dropped power to about 20%.  For longer hikes I will bring a power backup unit, but in the car I can hook the iPhone to a power adapter. So far it seems that the logger will tick away even when I answer the phone or adjust my music.

Friedsam Town Forest, Chesterfield, NH  (pin # 8)

Putting the Data to Work

Spofford Lake & Harvey Pond
Once in Lightroom, the database of locations can be used in a number of helpful ways. If I'm trying to find the location of a particular image, all I need to do is click on it in the Map Module and it will be bring me right to the spot.  Within the Library Module, you can click on the small Pin Icon at the bottom of the any thumbnail and the map location will appear.  Alternatively, if I am looking for all the images around a certain location, I can click on "All Photographs" in the Library Module and then switch to the Map Module to bring up tags to all the labeled images in any area on the map.  

Map Location Icon

 Zooming the map out to include much of Cheshire County, you can see that I have taken more than just a few images in my home region, nearly 60,000. Tags with a pointer refer to a single location and rectangular tags indicate that more than one location is under
Harvey Pond with resolved locations
that spot. As I zoom in, these markers separate to the discreet locations. Another particularly nice function in the Map Module is the ability to produce customized "Locations" of photographs from a defined area. By drawing a circle around a region the program will pull all of the images from that area into a separate "Location" and will continue to add images to the collection as pictures are uploaded. 

"Location" including Cheshire County
Defining a location makes it easy to jump to that spot and by clicking on a Map Location in the Library metadata filter, all the images within that circle can be selected for editing. 

Filtering for the Cheshire County Location

Red BarnSearch

Lightroom is a remarkably capable program with more features than I can sensibly be expected to understand, but much like Photoshop, it is a constant adventure finding new toys to help me manage and fulfill the potential of my images. And now I DO know where that red barn is.

The Red Barn, Windsor, Vermont

Julieanne Kost  of Adobe TV has an excellent video describing the features of the Lightroom Map Module. 

Jeffrey Newcomer

1 comment:

  1. Great post. My Canon 6D has GPS but since it tends to drain the battery I don't usually have it on. But maybe I should reconsider.