The Windows Team has finally released their much anticipated FREE Microsoft Pro Photo Tools application and it includes Virtual Earth. The most significant part of the release (for me, at least) is the support for GPS meta data in the photo. Here's an overview from the product group:
"The Pro Photo Tools allow you to add, change, and delete common metadata properties for digital photographs. You can place photos on the Live Earth map and then drag them to the right location. The GPS information will be stored back into the photos. If you have a GPS device, can load track route files from the most popular formats (NMEA, GPX, and KML) and see them on the map. Then you can place your photos on the track route. Again, the GPS info will be stored into your file. When you have the right GPS location for your photos, you can automatically generate location info like country, state, city and even street names. Or if you know the location where a picture was taken, you can type it in and get the GPS location information automatically."
Most of the photos I have don't have GPS coordinates tied to them, so I had to manually enter the locations. I had to figure out the interface a bit and figured I would blog this for other users who run into the same problem.
I pulled a photo of me at Mount Rushmore which I thought was an awesome way to illustrate this. I opened the photo in Pro Photo and began. The first pat of confusion for me was that the top entry fields for street, city, state and county didn't work when I know exactly where the photo needed to go - I wanted to just drag and drop it onto the map. Then, I realized there was a search box near the bottom of the Map Browse tab where I entered "Mount Rushmore, SD" and bam I was there! I switch to Bird's Eye and tried to drag the photo onto the map - didn't work. In fact, 2 things didn't work - (1) You can't drag the photo and (2) you can't get coordinates in Bird's Eye (although the error says 'you can't get coordinates in 3D').
Well, that killed my motivation, so I wanted a different picture. I pulled a different picture in (no, I'm not a dirtbag wearing the same shirt again, it's a different day). Now, I searched for "Sturgis, SD" and found the exact street where the photo was taken. In fact, the photo was taken during the biker rally (see the bikes below). So, I right click on the image and the menu item pops up to "Set GPS location for this image." A red pin pops onto the map and I can move to exactly where it needs to go. Then, click File | Save all images with new data. Done! All in all, the tool is meant to be for power photo users, but even a novice photographer like myself can do it. If you're really cool and have a GPS camera you just point it to the directory and let the software do all the lifting. Download Microsoft Pro Photo today.