Land Use Academy

Introduction to GPS Resources

Materials on this page have been prepared to help students who have taken CLEAR's course titled Pictures, Points and Places: An Introduction to GPS. Using a GPS and map to navigate

Be sure to check out the section on Photo2GPS, the program written by Joel Stocker that links digital photos to GPS-derived locations.

We have included links to websites where you can download free software used in the course and to a number of other sites where you can find useful GPS-related information.

Photo2GPS - This is the free program written by Joel Stocker that calculates the location of where you took digital pictures and maps their locations based on a Garmin GPS receiver's track log. Output from the program includes:

  • data that can be converted by DNRGarmin (see below) to a GIS shapefile with a hyperlink field that contains the pathname to the associated digital picture, and

  • a KML file that displays your track and picture locations in Google Earth.

To download the program, click here. Save the compressed (zip) folder to any location on your hard drive. Once the zip file is downloaded, extract the contents. The folder will contain the Photo2GPS program (photo2GPS_GTP.exe) and an Output folder. Double click on the photo2GPS_GTP.exe file to open the program.

A brief set of instructions on using Photo2GPS have been prepared to guide you though the basic operations of the program.

Class Software

Click on a software shortcut above or a link below to go to a website where you can download each of the applications used in class. All of the software is available at no cost, although you may have to register at some of the sites.

MapWindow - desktop Open Source GIS - view, create and edit cartographic and attribute data - supports hyperlinks to digital pictures - relatively easy to learn and use - highly recommended

AccuGlobe2007 - desktop GIS - view, create and edit cartographic and attribute data - supports hyperlinks to digital pictures - relatively easy to learn and use

DNRGarmin - use to transfer data between a Garmin GPS receiver and a GIS program - if you have a Garmin receiver, you should have this program - easy to use - save waypoints and tracks in text, KML, GPX, shapefile formats - highly recommended

Google Earth - Internet based program that can be used to view imagery for any area in the world - KML formatted output from the Photo2GPS program easily can be used in Google Earth - a great way to share your pictures

Irfanview - program to work with digital pictures - can be used to view, crop , resize, rename and edit image files in numerous ways - great program - a must have - should be in your PC toolbox of tools

Trimble Mission Planning Software - software to help determine GPS conditions for any time at any location - can be used to help maximize the accuracy of field data by collecting it at optimal times

Here are some links to other GPS utilities and resources that you may want to investigate. Currently we do not use these in Pictures, Points and Places but they are useful and may have functionality that you find invaluable.

GPSUtility - (there is both a freeware version and a more robust $60 shareware version) - software to transfer GPS data between a receiver and PC, to map and display GPS data, to convert GPS data to a wide variety of formats

GeoSetter - (free)- this is primarily a software tool to geocode pictures; has the ability to encode latitude and longitude inside pictures as metadata; can synchronize pictures to GPS track data; - definately worth taking a look at

RoboGEO (trial version - $40 to register for non-commercial use) - we have not ried this program but based on its wbesite it may be worth looking into. Geocodes photos and lets you convert to a lot of output formats including shapefiles, KMLs, GPX, Flickr, AutoCad... Also lets you edit EXIF locational metadata and add digital voice dictation to photos.

Geocaching - Give it a try!

The whole family can get outside, learn about GPS and have some fun finding a geocache

Geocaching is a worldwide high-tech game of hide and seek. Players hide geocaches (on public lands) that contain a log book and other treasures - trinkets, games, puzzles, etc. - and then publish the gocache's latitude and longitude, a description and maybe a hint or two on a geocaching website like Other players obtain the coordinates form the website and then try and find individual geocaches. Players log their finds and keep track of their successes (and failures) on geocaching websites.

It is also possible to use trackable objects - geocoins and travel bugs - and monitor their travels from geocache to geocache. For example, the Geospatial Technology Program has a travel bug named Buzz Lightyear, that Cary placed in a geocache in Colorado. We will be interested to see where, when and how often Buzz moves from this starting location.

Geocaching is a great way to get outside and visit locations you might otherwise never have gone to. You can have some fun, get some exercise and learn about all kinds of interesting places (many geocachers provide some history and/or background about the areas where they hide their geocaches). It's an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone. Here is a brief step-by-step guide to help you get started geocaching. Also check out Geocaching - A Complete Guide.