Wildlife Photographers: Scrub Your GPS Data 

Wildlife Photographers: Scrub Your GPS Data 

In a recent series about people, technology, and nature, Vice highlighted the growing problem of poachers who are using photographer’s GPS data to locate, harass, and kill rare animal species. In the US, one of the more prevalently poached species is the rattlesnake, a species that is almost exclusively North American.

The article, released earlier this week, highlights the extreme measures that preservationists and scientists are having to take in order to keep poachers away from at-risk animals. One of the main methods poachers are beginning to use is Instagram, scanning photographer’s posts for any indication of where the photo may have been taken. In addition to GPS data, poachers are also looking for any type of recognizable landmark in order to locate where a new habitat may exist. 

Luckily, most major social media platforms already scrub EXIF data automatically from photos, but someone determined enough can still trace photos back to photographer’s personal websites or portfolios where the EXIF data may still exist.

In an era where technology makes seemingly anything readily available and at our fingertips, it may be time for photographers to exercise even more caution when protecting the locations and subjects of their photos.

You can read the entire Vice article here.

Lead image by Pixabay user Hans, used under Creative Commons.

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35 Comments

Neville Ross's picture

This is why I'd rather use a film SLR to take a picture of wildlife, instead.

Anonymous's picture

Really? That's the reason?

Neville Ross's picture

It's as good enough a reason as any. Not everything has to be done with digital cameras.

Anonymous's picture

You don't need a reason at all. That one just doesn't make sense since you can easily exclude location data.

Neville Ross's picture

Not everybody needs to have the latest gear to take pictures, buttercup/creampuff. Maybe if you weren't so obsessed with the latest gear, you'd realize that.

BTW, a picture I took using a film camera a while ago:

Neville Ross's picture

It's an actual picture I took a few years ago with a film camera (Pentax Super Program) and film (Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO) while having a walk down Jarvis Street near the St. Lawrence Market here in Toronto, put onto a CD-ROM.

Neville Ross's picture

I have no interest in buying a film scanner, sir. I like my methods all the same.

Benjamin Quarles's picture

Bahahah!! Dying....this is one of the most hilarious trolls I've seen in a while.

Neville Ross's picture

And you're the biggest asshole I've seen in a while, but who's counting?

'Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were the typical photographer of today obsessed with the latest gear. But, I repeat myself.'

After Mark Twain (1835 -1910)

Anonymous's picture

You're switching arguments after the fact. You're the one who appears to be obsessed with not being wrong. You misspoke. There's nothing wrong with that. Let's move on, shall we?

Neville Ross's picture

And you want to oppose me 'just because'. But, in doing so, you're being an asshole (and no, I DON'T care about what skills as a photographer you have that might be better than mine.)

Anonymous's picture

No, not at all. I'm not trying to oppose you but, yes, I'm being a kind of a jerk. I just didn't understand your reasoning and, having clarified yourself, I think we're in total agreement.
Photographic skills are meaningless. We all start knowing nothing and die, never knowing as much as we would like. :-)
I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot.
Friends?

makes totally sense

Neville Ross's picture

Since you can make copies of pictures when you develop film and then scan them using a scanner, it is a good idea to use film.

Neville Ross's picture

Why are people like you so against film photography, especially when I or others mention it?

That's why I never post location when I photograph wildlife or landscapes. I also don't want a camera with GPS capabilites, so I use old gear.

Neville Ross's picture

Smart man. And if you use film, you can just develop the picture and then scan it using a scanner-no EXIF data at all.

Anonymous's picture

And that process takes a lot less time than excluding location information. :-/

Moreover, noone will see your valuable camera model information and won’t be able to trace you to steal it from you. That’s the reason I never publish photos on Internet.

Anonymous's picture

Good idea. I know of a guy who has a Nikon D810 and a Nikkor 70-200 and lives in Geneva. I'll be visiting his house some night. I'll leave his X-T1 and Sigma lenses, though, since they're not worth anything. ;-)

Don't hurt my insurance company, they are good evil :)

Neville Ross's picture

I'm sorry, but that's not much help to most people, and as I said before, you can post pix on the 'Net the old-fashioned way, by taking pictures with a film camera, developing the photos, and then scanning in the pictures to your computer and then post said pics on the 'net.

Neville Ross's picture

Not everybody wants to (or can afford) a film scanner, sir.

Anonymous's picture

My camera doesn't record GPS data but I regularly record location data with a hand-held unit and incorporate it into the final images for clients who want that kind of information. I wouldn't do it for my personal images. But, as I've said before, stripping the location information is so easy, why base your gear choices on that? Use whatever you like but for reasons that make sense...not out of ignorance.

It's not ignorance. I can strip the information. However, there are also financial reasons and assessing needs. I don't need the latest and greatest camera. What I have works just fine. Our society get so caught up on the latest and greatest, we forget to ask ourselves if we really need it. Basic camera functions have not changed. Some bells and whistles can be a benefit if you'll use them. I don't use them and I don't have the need. No reason to spend the money.

Anonymous's picture

Please read my posts before replying. I wrote, "why base your gear choices on that?" All your other reasons make perfect sense and, really, you don't need a reason at all. If, however, your choice were based solely on the inclusion of location information, that would be ignorant which, while nothing to be ashamed of, is nothing to be proud of either.

You are right. It's not the only reason and it shouldn't be the only reason, but we are getting off topic.

The real issue at hand is no matter how you choose to do it, don't post GPS coordinates, especially if the photo is of an endangered/protected species.

Anonymous's picture

Agreed.

nothing wrong with having a camera with GPS. there is a checkbox on the export menu in lightroom to remove all location data, so your JPEG would be without the info, but you would sitll have the location data in your RAW files.

Paulo Macedo's picture

I have my 6D and i don't recall ever switching on the GPS. Don't like and don't feel comfortable with this "here's where I am right now" feeling.
Shouldn't we like, start finding poachers and kill them too, like, hunting them till exaustion and finally a bullet to the skull (this is f'ed up i know but they deserve no less).

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