iPhone for GPS Scouting

// June 9th, 2011 // Technique

A Work of Art?

Your phone knows where you are.

The iPhone 4 and many other phones have GPS built in. It’s how the phone knows where you are when you look at a map or use any other location aware application.

When you use the phone to take a photo the GPS coordinates are written into the metadata that’s recorded with the picture, along with date, time, filename, aperture, ISO and a load of other stuff, some of it quite obscure. Using a computer it’s pretty easy to read this metadata. I use Adobe Lightroom to process photos, which makes it as simple as clicking a button and a Google map showing exactly where I was standing when I took the picture appears.

This can be a very useful tool and recently I’ve been using it when scouting locations for upcoming shoots. I’ll explore and find somewhere I might want to come back to for a proper shoot, take reference pics with my DSLR or the Panasonic LX3 digital compact camera I have then take a snap with the iPhone so I have a record of the GPS location. When I get back home I’ll keep the iPhone picture in the same folder as the proper reference shots.

I take a dedicated camera with me to shoot the reference images and don’t rely on the iPhone camera because the iPhone picture quality isn’t very good in most situations and as there’s no manual control available I often can’t get close to what I want out of it.

I found this interesting looking tree near Bristol. The weather that day was gorgeous and quite suited to the limited iPhone camera. I was surprised by how good it was compare to a similar shot on my LX3 so I thought I’d post a comparison.

In the gallery below you’ll find the default versions of the iPhone and LX3 photos then versions I’ve graded and cropped to look as similar as possible. I was using the LX3 in it’s 16:9 mode and the iPhone has a typical squarish compact camera aspect ratio. There’s also a screen grab of the location on Google maps and a side by side comparison of two 100% crops from the photos.

The composote pic above is just for fun. It occurred to me that the only things visible in the photos were the old tree, the countryside, a mansion house that’s hundreds of years old and the sky which hasn’t changed in millennia. That plus the formal, balanced composition remind me of an oil painting.

no images were found


Wikipedia’s explanation of GPS