Right now there are three main players in the photo geotagging world – Flickr, Panoramio, and Picasa. All three of these list geotagging as a feature, and provide easy drag-n-drop apps for adding location to the images. I was curious as to whether or not other big photo sharing sites, specifically Photobucket, WebShots, and Kodak Easy Share could be tricked into supporting geotagging, even though they don’t have these same mapping features.
I began by creating a basic user account on all three of these services. I then uploaded two test images to each service. The first challenge was to determine where location data could be added to the image metadata in each of the services. Then I had to determine whether or not there was an RSS feed that could be parsed through Yahoo Pipes or some other GeoRSS generator. Here’s a breakdown on each service:
Photobucket is the darling of the MySpace crowd, so much so that it’s actually been bought out by MySpace. The content I’ve seen on it seems to consist mostly of little web dinglies and teen party pics for posting on MySpace. It’s more of a snapshot/graphic holder than a serious photography site. Because of its close association with MySpace, it’s often blocked by school districts that also block MySpace, including my own. However, an image is an image, so I decided to give it a try.
First, I could find no way to tag the images. There is also no place for a description or comments, as far as I could see. I had to place the location data in the title of the image itself. On one image, I used the standard triple-tagged format. On the other, I used just the decimal lat/long numbers with no “geo:=” prefix.
Photobucket does provide an RSS feed for a user’s photos. I first ran this through Yahoo Pipes with their location extractor, but it wouldn’t display the information on a map. Next I tried the Geonames RSS-to-GeoRSS converter and ran this through exploreourpla.net . The image with the plain decimal numbers was displayed on the map correctly. However, the triple-tagged image wasn’t displayed at all.
Webshots was one of the first online photo sharing sites. We used to block it in our district because users would download the screensaver application, install it, then complain when it slowed down their computers. It’s since been bought out by American Greetings, the card company. I’m not sure that the screensaver software is available any more.
Unlike Photobucket, WebShots supports tags and descriptions for individual images. I was able to add triple tags, and I could put lat/long information in the description. However, I couldn’t find a suitable RSS feed. WebShots only provides feeds for users’ albums, and not for the the individual images. I could also add geotags for those albums, but these couldn’t be displayed on maps in either Pipes or the Geonames system no matter how I tried.
Kodak’s core business has traditionally been print media and film. As they move toward the digital realm, those two aspects still drive their online model. You can upload images and place them in various galleries, but that’s about it. There is no way to add tags, descriptions, or comments to those images. There is no RSS feed of any type that I could find. You can, however, order multiple prints of your images on a variety of media.
Of the three, only Photobucket seems to support limited geotagging. Even with that, you have to put the coordinates into the title of the image. That seems a bit cumbersome to have to rename all of your images if you want them geotagged. I would recommend switching to a system that actively supports geotagging, such as Flickr, Panoramio, or Picasa, rather than trying to kluge something together.
[tags]geotag, geotagging, Flickr, Panoramio, Picasa, Photobucket, Webshots, Kodak, photography, photo sharing[/tags]