Geotagging your digital photos--adding geographical information, typically precise latitude and longitude--is a great way to keep track of where your photos were taken and to place them on a map. Geotagging is a fairly simple process too, if you are taking the photo with a smartphone. Adding geodata to photos taken with most regular digital cameras is a more complicated process, however. While GPS is now a feature in some of the newest digital cameras, geotagging camera photos for most of us means either manually dragging them onto a map with a photo software (tedious and fairly imprecise), or using information from a GPS unit synched to your camera (also complicated and can get pricey).
One free solution, if you have both a smart phone and a digital camera, is to use a new feature enabled in Panoramio, a community photo website that allows you to geo-locate, store and organize your photographs online--and to view those photographs in Google Earth. I blogged about Panoramio two years ago as a tool for accessing location-based photos when researching in a new locality, or planning a genealogy research trip. Now Google has combined the features of Panoramio with another tool of theirs--Google Latitude--to automatically geotag your digital camera photos as you upload them to Panoramio. Google Latitude is a free app available for most smartphones (Android, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, Nokia, and others) which records your location and allows you to share that location with your friends, or to view their locations on a map. Google Latitude History, when enabled, allows you to store your previous locations, and it is this feature that Panoramio uses to automatically geotag your photos as you upload them.
To begin, sign up for a free account with Panoramio (or just sign in with your Google account). Then download the free Google Latitude app for your smartphone. To use the automatic geotagging feature you will need to enable it in your Settings page in Panoramio (it is turned off by default) and sync the time with your digital camera (make sure the time in your digital camera is correct and then enter that time on the Panoramio settings page). You also need to make sure you have geographic services turned on for your smartphone, and that you take that phone with you the next time you are shooting photos at the cemetery or in your ancestor's hometown!
Photos that you have previously taken can be geotagged in Panoramio as well, but you'll have to handle that manually by dragging the photos to their approximate location on the map.