Location data from photographs

Is iSpot having problems extracting the EXIF data from photographs? I’ve submitted a few photographs lately taken in my mobile phone with its GPS switched on. iSpot seems to have assumed that the photos were taken at my home address and I’ve had to move the pin on the map to the actual location of the observation. I know that the EXIF data in the photos exists and is accurate: they have been correctly located on the map when downloaded to another site (strava.com).

Funny you should say that as I’ve add a couple of new observations recently and there was no location data. I did fiddle with the image handling a while back to handle HEIF compressed images but the idea was to retain location data, not delete it!

A new ispotter who lives in Bristol posted this.

His jawbone from a beach is located in Bristol.

I’ve just submitted three JPGs from my phone and the location iSpot shows is entirely accurate - so I think the code is actually OK. What I’d done last week was to email the images to myself and submitted from my desktop PC - so the process of simply emailing the JPGs had stripped out the EXIF data.

Have a look at https://www.ispotnature.org/communities/uk-and-ireland/view/observation/858573/test-of-photo-location-handling where I’ve illustrated the problem.

Some questions, is it a different phone or method of loading photos to the system you were using previously when it worked properly.
Do you have pictures from the older system you could try again now.
Note Chris’s comment about HEIF, with this file format the image itself uploads but the metadata may be lost as there are not good libraries (that we can use) to handle the metadata properly yet. Which file format are you uploading e.g. is it HEIF or a .jpg produced from HEIF.

I put up an observation of Auricularia auricula-judae yesterday, using a photograph taken by the Seek app on my tablet to specify the location. iSpot correctly extracted the location (though I’d like it to report more significant figures, since I don’t think Windows File Explorer understands BNG).

I don’t think I’m doing anything different but I suspect that the problem has been on-going for some time.
AFAIK, all the files are just straightforward .jpg, downloaded to my desktop computer direct from my Android phone. In the example I posted earlier, exactly the same photograph was dragged and dropped into the two different websites from the same place so I can be sure that both sites were given the same photograph and metadata.

If you use an EXIF viewer (delete any lines necessary for privacy) on one of your photographs you can let Chris see what is being presented to iSpot, and compare it with the scripts. As extraction of location from photographs is working for some people, either it has been lost from your photographs somehow, or it’s represented differently in you photographs someway.

Yes, noticable
iSpot is asking for ‘your location’ again after a long break. Once in I assume it assumes you are always there. Actually a lot of my photos are at home but I’d prefer to do that manually anyway.
I have taken to always checking EXIF because sometimes it is a bit wild but mostly very accurate. I assume this would be more so on a phone, than a camera
There must be a way to switch off ‘I live here’ @Chris_Valentine I assume then that EXIF will behave.

Here are the properties of the image in the test observation.

iSpot has stored the location as:
-3.1601736 55.9594845
…two digits more precision than are shown on screen. The lat/lon figures from your phone look a tad strange and I don’t understand how its translated from what the JPG file has stored in it to what you see above. I guess the question is now - do other phones result in the same issue?

Here’s the data from one of my iPhone images:
Lat: 51°56’8.2"N
Long: 0°39’20.36"W

iSpot doesn’t cache your lat/lon location either against your user account or in a browser cookie. There is a ‘hometown’ field in one table but that’s for storing place names and we don’t geocode from that into lat/lon.

Thistle’s values are degrees, minutes and seconds, separated by semicolons, rather than the specific symbols shown in the values from your iPhone, but they’re the same numbers. I would expect that the latitude and longitude are stored as decimal degrees. The issue I overlooked is EXIF viewers being clever and interpreting the field values rather than just displaying the raw numbers/text.

The next steps are to use Google Maps to compare the location -3.1601736 55.9594845 to where it should be, and to specify the EXIF viewer used so that Chris can use it on one of his images.

Doh! Of course they are. Too early in the morning! Its effectively the same as the iPhone, just with different delimiters and no units.

ALL my current Observations are Auto-located as soon as I add ANY infornation to an Observation
I have NOT added a photo here, just a title and date
I am happy with it but I would like to know how to switch it off
I remember being asked recently, for the first time in years, that “iSpot would like to know your location” I clicked OK maybe ten days ago.
I will switch on my Camera EXIF (it eats battery power) and see what happens later today
I suspect it will switch off the rememberd one.

That’s a browser thing, not iSpot - your browser is seeing a form that’s asking for location data and being clever. If you say yes it will work out your location from your IP address - which may not be particularly accurate - and save it in its own settings. If you’re using Chrome you can manage which sites can/have saved your location with this page:

Think I have mentioned a few times before that although there are standards for storing metadata in .jpg and other file formats the camera and phone manufacturers do not stick to them properly. This means it is very difficult for software to correctly interpret image files from all devices, those websites that do this correctly probably have several libraries and clever bits of code to check for all the possible variations of how the data could be stored.
Ispot just uses one of the libraries to get the location data and time etc from the metadata in the image file, this works fine for some camera/phones but not all of them. This has been tested repeatedly by me and a range of cameras both on the old version of ispot with a couple of different location libraries and on the current version of ispot. At least one of my cameras produced images where the metadata could not be read by the particular library in use at that time and I think one produced images where the date was correct but either the lat or long was wrong. I know that others have had similar issues.
If it is down to the wrong reading of metadata then blame the manufacturers who don’t stick to industry standards - in my case above it was the same manufacturer (canon) who produced some cameras where the metadata could be read correctly and some where it could not. Fortunately now it can.

What about Android phones?

Photographs from an Android (11) tablet are working for me.