6 crazy tricks for digital cameras and photos

Draw images with light on your photos, make time-lapse video from a lowly point-and-shoot, fix your stereo with your digicam, and more fun tricks.

In this story, you'll learn how to make high-def, time-lapse video from your ordinary point-and-shoot digital camera, how to geotag your photos even if your camera can't do it, and how to draw messages with light on live photographs. (Why? Just because!)

Geotag Photos Even If Your Camera Can't

In years past you may have charted your travels using the old pins-on-a-map method. Now, in the digital age, you can mimic that approach by storing your photos by location. Many cell phones and a few specialty cameras already geotag your location, embedding the data in your pictures.

If you don't have a camera capable of geotagging, you can use a GPS digital imaging accessory to add location information after the fact. Sony's US$150 GPS-CS3KA, for instance, works with many cameras and camcorders, and keeps track of your location and the time. Just turn it on, and go shoot. Back at your PC, the gadget's software matches the time you took a picture, which is recorded on the camera, with the location data the GPS-CS3KA has recorded. That geotag data gets stored in the photo's EXIF (exchangeable image file format) profile.

If you don't have a GPS device, you can manually enter location details at your PC with the free program GeoSetter. After you do, the application can show your images as pins in a Google Maps pane built into the program. The process updates EXIF details so that the locations appear in other applications.

Here's how to use it. First, download and install the software. Within GeoSetter, navigate to your pictures in the upper-left pane. In the Map pane on the right, use the Google Maps tool to enter a location. Try searching--or zooming--to be even more specific, focusing on, say, "Arc de Triomphe" versus just "Paris." When the map pin is in the correct location, select one or more images, and choose Map, Assign Marker to Selected Images. Geotag data will now be stored in those pictures for you to browse in GeoSetter or other applications. On services such as Flickr and SmugMug or in Picasa software, you can see your photos displayed on a map. In basic photo editors, you can only browse the metadata and see the latitude and longitude.

If you upload your images to the Web, the geotag data usually stays intact. However, if you want to protect your privacy and not let people know your location, you can strip the data out before you upload the photos.

163747-Geosetter_screen_original

GeoSetter and many photo editors can modify or erase EXIF details, but a specialized utility can strip the data out more quickly. I like Exif Farm because it's accessible through the right-click menu. Select one or many pictures, right-click, and choose Exif Info, Clear Exif Info. Note that this process erases all potentially identifying details, including your type of camera, as well as the time and date you took the photo. --Zack Stern

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Zack Stern and Dave Johnson

PC World (US online)
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