While traveling, you can ensure you will be able to identify your photographs through easy to use, inexpensive, low-tech techniques. While high-tech methods, can also help handle image identification, even these can sometimes get a needed boost from more down to earth methods.
High-tech identification methods, while great, can sometimes fail, so every photographer, even a casual vacation photographer, should be familiar with the low-tech, failsafe photo identification methods I discuss below. During my recent trip to the Baltic region of Europe, my GPS, attached to my DSLR, died in Stockholm. I reverted to the low-tech techniques, which worked beautifully for me.
Writing a journal of one's photographs is the “tried and true” method of keeping track of your photographic journey away from home. I still have my Moleskine pocket notebooks with a listing of the locations, times and critical details of my photographic treks.
You can key your information to the photo number in your camera. For me, it's easy to do so because the file number of each photograph is displayed on the LCD screen of my DSLR when I review the photos.
TIP: On virtually every digital camera I've owned or reviewed there are two options for the camera to assign file name numbers to the photographs' files. The camera will either reset the number to “1” for each memory card as your format them, or will number all the photographs consecutively from photo to photo, irrespective of your memory cards, starting at 0001, and typically continuing to 9999, when it restarts at 0001.
I suggest turning the format number reset off, and letting the camera assign consecutive numbers regardless of the memory card. This has two main advantages.
First, it makes it easier to track your photographs with your journal or other record keeping methods.
Second, when you copy your photographs to your computer, if you have filled more than one memory card with photos taken of the same general location, you can put all the images together in a single folder as none will have the same file name.An upside of using a Journal is you can easily insert comments and supplementary information about your photographs in its pages. That can make your journal more useful than just a list of photographs. The downside is that it's time consuming, and can sometimes become incomplete when one becomes frustrated with the process.
When I was regularly keeping a photographic journal as my main photo identification tool while traveling, I coupled its use with map identification. When photographing in cities I still use map identification as part of my routine of tracking my images.
Map Identification consists of marking your position on a map when you make your photographs periodically with the number of image. By the time you're done, you have a series of breadcrumbs showing your path of travel and where you made your photographs.
TIP: If you're staying in an area or city for a number of days, either use a different copy of your map for each day, or use a different colored pencil for each day. I always use a pencil on the maps not a pen, to prevent smearing, especially if the map gets wet. Make sure you have a bag or something else to protect the map in case of rain.Identifier Photos:
This is one of the easiest methods to use to locate your photos. Using this method you intersperse photos of street signs, building or park signs, well known, easily identified landmarks, etc. I often take pictures like this, even when using my GPS on my DSLR, as it really helps you zero into your photos.
TIP: along with identifier photos, while traveling, collect brochures, pamphlets, cards, and other materials from places you are visiting. They will help you identify your photos.Once home, with your identifying information in hand, a fantastic tool for you to use is the Internet to help you accurately identify your photos utilizing your information and the photos themselves.
Use Google Maps and Google Earth to help, along with tourism sites for the locations you've visited. Online maps often have the museums, government buildings and important buildings, locales, and works of art, named right on the maps, plus you'll often see photos of them attached to the maps.
The tourism sites will refresh your memory and have resources and photos to help you identify your own photos.
Another resource I've used is Flickr advanced search. You can do searches there, especially in their Creative Commons area and turn up photos similar to your own with detailed photo captions which are helpful.
Next week I'll discuss using GPS technology and other high-tech methods to help you identify your travel photographs.