Categories: Forensics Tools

Tracking Photo’s Geo-location to See Where the Photo Was Taken – A Forensic Analysis

This article is about collecting metadata from photographs. Metadata is information that is created for every file’s format. Examples of metadata: file created date and time, Tracking Photos, last edited, etc.

In this article, we will take a picture from iPhone and analyze that Image to collect various metadata for collected evidence. Before starting your forensic investigation for images, you should be able to understand EXIF DATA.

For example, if you climb a mountain and take a picture, it stores its GPS location

You can also check the Computer Forensics & Cyber Crime Investigation: Using Open Source Tools

EXIF DATA – Tracking Photos

In the olden days photographers were forced to carry a pen and a notepad with them to record important information such as shutter speed, aperture, and date.

If the image is the only evidence the forensic analyst will find difficulties to find photo-captured data and time etc.

EXIF data which is Exchangeable image file format according to Japan Electronic Industries Development Association /Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association/Camera & Imaging Products Association specifications) is a standard that specifies the formats for images, sound, and ancillary tags used by digital cameras (including smartphones), scanners, and other systems handling image and sound files recorded by digital cameras.

The metadata tags defined in the Exif standard

  • Date and time information: Digital cameras will record the current date and time and save this in the metadata.
  • Camera settings: This includes static information such as the camera model and make, and information that varies with each image orientation rotation, aperture, shutter speed, focal length, metering mode, and ISO speed.
  • Descriptions.
  • Copyright information.


The Exif format has standard tags for location information. As of 2014 many cameras and most mobile phones have a built-in GPS receiver that stores the location information in the Exif header when a picture is taken.

Some other cameras have a separate GPS receiver that fits into the flash connector. By using a map or mapping software.

The process of adding geographic information to a photograph is known as geotagging. Photo-sharing communities like Panoramio or Flickr equally allow their users to upload geocoded pictures or to add geolocation information online.

Privacy and Security

Since the Exif tag contains metadata about the photo, it can pose a privacy problem. For example, a photo taken with a GPS-enabled camera can reveal the exact location and time it was taken. Many users may be unaware that their photos are tagged by default in this manner.

Many users may be unaware that their photos are tagged by default in this manner.

Extracted Metadata from Image

Forensics analysts will get information about the mobile model, make, sensing method, bits per sample, etc. You can use online tools to analyze Exif data for your Image.

Image GPS metadata

Exact Latitude and Longitude and GPS Position For Image.

Geolocation of Image in the satellite map

So you can use online geo-image locator categorized websites to analyze Images, the illustrated picture above was captured on iPhone 6 and Picture was captured in Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, India.

The exact GPS location was traced with Satellite Map. Happy Investigating !!!

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