- For tracing aerial photos, see Using Imagery.
Photo mapping, a popular mapping technique, can be a great timesaver - it can be far quicker taking photos of street signs or points of interest than either to write it down, typing on a smartphone, or using waypointing on a GPS gadget. What's more, smartphones and cameras can often add GPS coordinates, making it easy to match up the photos to the exact position they were taken.
Simple photo mapping
Use your camera to help you remember stuff. It can be as simple as that!
You don't need to use GPS and other advanced tricks described on this page. This is particularly true if you're in an area with good bing coverage (makes it a lot easier to get things in the right place) and if you have a good memory for this kind of thing. You'll need to remember the path you walked and the direction you were facing when you took the photos. To aid your memory it's always a good idea to input map data as soon as possible after collecting it. Also the more photos you take the better. If an area of one photo is visible in the previous photo, it makes it easier to orientate when you're looking back over them.
Even if you have a GPS track, it can be difficult to determine the way you were facing when taking a photograph. You can develop your own tricks to solve these problems, but here's one approach: Simply rotate the camera: landscape pictures for what's ahead, portrait-size for infos about the way you just came from and a rotation of +/- 45° for what is on the right/left of the road. Pretty low-tech, but sufficient most of the time. You can also work out orientation using the angle of the sunlight in the pictures.
Smartphones and some cameras come with in-built GPS (and some GPS units come with in-built camera) so these devices will typically write geolocation data to the image file's metadata (EXIF) each time the shutter is snapped. This is very easy with a smartphone, although you may need to enable it. It makes things much easier. Tools such as JOSM will generally use this geolocation metadata.
What if you're using a camera without GPS? You might work with two separate gadgets, a camera and GPS unit. Digital cameras add the date and time to each photo (in the EXIF data), and a GPS tracklog will allow you to correlate by time, matching up the photos to the exact position they were taken. See JOSM/Photomapping if you want the photos to display in the proper location in JOSM, or see Geotagging Source Photos if you want to add geo-tags to photos that don't have them.
Editor integration is available for Potlach (Potlatch/Photo-mapping; KML), JOSM (JOSM/Photomapping), and iD. JOSM is the preferred method for using your own photos, while iD provides easy access to many online sources.
In iD, you can drag-and-drop a GeoJSON file to visualize it on the map, like you would with a GPX file. You may need to enable the "Custom Map Data" layer under the Map Data settings. To turn images with geolocation data into droppable GeoJSON files, you can use this tool.
Tagging and storage
If you want to tag an object (node, way etc) to show that you positioned it using a photograph and not GPS data (perhaps a fence you didn't walk along running directly between two places already on the map), use source=photograph. If, more commonly, it's the name of the object that you got from the photo (e.g. a street name), use source:name=photograph. Similarly, for road numbers (e.g. ref=A305), use source:ref=photograph.
There's nowhere within the OSM project for the photos themselves to be stored. If you upload them to a website such as Flickr, you can use e.g. source_ref=http://example.com/123.jpg (or source_ref:name=* or source_ref:ref=*) to link the photo to the object.
If you're using the Annotation Presets with JOSM, it'll suggest the right tag at the right time, and you won't need to worry about which one is which!
You should add the GPS positions to your photos, see Geotagging Source Photos.
- See source=* for more source-tagging options
- Geosetter can display photos on a variety of map backgrounds (Google, OSM, Mapbox) for an individual image or a folder of photos using a GPS tracklog and a GPS time calibration photograph for correlation. It uses ExifTool to write the corrected times and coordinates to the EXIF header. It can also look up locations (country, county, city, etc.) and optionally write that data to the EXIF header.
- OJW's image locator PERL script can combine a directory full of JPEG images, with a GPX tracklog, to produce a list of latitude/longitudes for each photo.
- Seth Golub's geocoding scripts do pretty much the same thing, but write the data into the EXIF section of the JPEGs using exiv2. The scripts also provide a more usable command line interface to exiv2 for reading and writing geographic data to/from EXIF headers. (Uses the Google Maps API which is now defunct.)
- For Linux users there is GPSCorrelate which has command line and GUI apps and is available in most repositories.
- GPSPrune, a java-based cross-platform application which can correlate photos manually or automatically using timestamps (from GPX, KML or text files). It can output the photos in a KMZ file or it can use ExifTool to write the coordinates to the JPEG files.
- A_Photo_Manager Android app to manage local photos including show photos in a map and edit exif geo-data.
- A little tool to compute the -geosync parameter for ExifTool given a photo of an accurate time source, is found here.
More software and information about writing location in the pictures' metadata can be found on the Geotagging Source Photos wiki page.
Some Nokia camera phones do not include date information in EXIF headers, causing JOSM and other tools to fail. The date and time can be copied from the file creation time using the useful Perl library and command-line application ExifTool : $ exiftool -P '-FileModifyDate>DateTimeOriginal' *.jpg
Websites/projects about geolocating photos
Websites/projects as (free) services:
- Flickr, the photo sharing site, supports special OSM "machine tags". If it's a photo of an OSM object you can add tags such as osm:way=123456 or osm:node=654321 and Flickr will link to the data browser page. We also have a normal 'openstreetmap' tag and a group.
- OpenStreetCam, project to upload geotagged images and put them on openstreetmap layers. Even if you don't have any images yourself, you can help by moderating existing images!
- Mapillary - Crowdsourced Street Level Photos
- Mapknitter (mapknitter.org), Public Lab's browser-based image stitching program, supports automatic or manual placement of aerial photos and exports them as GeoTIFF, TMS, or a basic JPG.
- Pic4Carto, an efficient street pictures viewer for mapping. It combines pictures from several sources (Wikimedia Commons, Flickr, Mapillary, OpenStreetCam) and shows them all in a simple user interface. Website.
- Pic4Review, an easy editor for OSM using street-level pictures, make wide use of free-licensed geolocated pictures in order to contribute simply to OSM.
Miscellaneous (local tools or software repositories):
- CycleStreets (cyclestreets.net) has a Photomap for street photos of cycling facilities (No geographical restriction, though routing is UK-only). CycleStreets for iPhone has direct addition of photos, and the app code is GPL
- Show Your Places (syp.renevier.net) is a CMS specifically designed for showing geolocalizated photos and add. A software repository with demo page. It requires PHP and MySQL.
- phpMyGPX (phpmygpx.tuxfamily.org) is an open source web based application showing photos and GPX tracks on different OSM layers. A software repository with demo page. It requires PHP and MySQL.
- Viking (viking.sf.net), local program allows you to create and edit tracks and waypoints.
Abandoned or merged projects:
- MapPIN'on OSM, introducing system of geotagged photos. The website is designed as very simple in order to introduce millions of photos. This server doesn't hold any photos. Those photos are uploaded on each author's blogs and just linked to "MapPIN'on OSM" by RSSes. Seems to be defunct (except for the Ads?).
- OpenStreetPhoto. Somewhat misnamed project. Mostly working on various ideas for gathering aerial imagery (quadcopters) but some work on OCRing of street-level imagery. Seemed more active in 2009, then merged to OpenStreetView.
- Geolocation.ws - geotagged Creative Commons photos taken from Panoramio, Flickr, Geograph, 500px and Wikimedia Commons websites. Supports direct photo and GPX trace file upload
If you get any better sunny weather / picturesque photos (not just pictures of a street sign) while you're out mapping...
- Check if there's a Wikipedia article you can illustrate with the photos. Remember: it is best for the Wikimedia projects to upload the file on Wikimedia Commons. There may also be a Wikivoyage guide you can illustrate with the photos. See Collaboration with Wikipedia and Collaboration with Wikivoyage.
- Geograph (geograph.org.uk) is a UK photo site. Use this page to upload with lat/long instead of BNGR)