Geo-location Without Google Maps!

Hey all, let’s try to locate a place just by looking at some photos online. Today I wanna talk about the most beautiful OSINT tool out there — ‘Our own eyes(vision)’

The other day @LoneRider2019 tagged me to a video to verify its authenticity.Fortunately there were articles about it. Today,I want to take few snapshots of that video and geolocate its possible coordinates just through Google photos without(or minimal) using Google Maps.

Through this, I want to share some knowledge on “lateral thinking” in OSINT investigations, intel in transition & dead ends, chit chat about some no brainer tools, and of course talk about your beautiful eyes(vision).

Disclaimer: I’m not into “teaching” Visual ANALYSIS.

Why?

1. Because it depends on many things & I don’t know many things! Sometimes visual identification requires knowledge about the cause, event, location, ethnicity, geographic diversity and so on. If anyone is reading this,I encourage you to expand your knowledge on aforementioned topics & be vigilant. Nonetheless, collectively you are more intelligent than me.

2. Narratives — Your favorite media could present the “objective” visual evidence in many forms. So read, understand different worldviews, and do it everyday. Still if you want to learn analysis,consider this thread as a case study or a mode of thinking of an individual.

Step 1: I had few videos of the incident, so I needed few snapshots of the videos, for this I used FFMPEG to split the video into frames. It’s a very powerful tool & I’d suggest everyone to learn it. It’s cross platform, you could use it on GNU/Linux,Mac & Windows.

This is the command to split the videos — ffmpeg -i myfile.mp4 -r 1/1 $myfile%03d.jpg. You can also use the same, replace myfile with your filename.This gave me around 260 frames and I selected few. You can also use InVid or similar softwares to split videos.

Step 2: Let’s approach this target from ground zero. What do we see in this image? A river flowing in the background, the water is kinda white; probably it’s snow, mountains, and a specific attire worn in some parts of the world(based on my prior knowledge).

Step 3: Going by the attire, we shall presume that it’s from Indian subcontinent. Looking at the terrain with snow, mountains, greenery etc., possibly it could be from Jammu & Kashmir.

Step 4: Before looking into the photos, let’s try to have a clear picture of the landscape. So we could remove the human objects from sight using https://cleanup.pictures. Now our reference point is the landscape itself.

Step 5: Now lets type Jammu & Kashmir in the search bar and carefully examine the images.

Step 6: The following images looks kind of co-related as the terrain seems to be similar to our image.

By the way here’s a tip, if you don’t know already. You could copy the link & open in another tab,now select the satellite view in the bottom left and as you could notice, there would be location pointers on the map as you hover over the images in the bottom.

Step 7: Moving on, these two images are pointing towards Pahalgam. As we scroll through the images of Pahalgam, there lies an interesting image waiting for us. Ring any bell?

Step 8: If we try to co-relate & carefully examine the images, we could find the following possible similarities.

WHAT!! Did we really get it?

Hmm..possibly, but can’t say exactly because of the minimal method & insufficient data. If we look at the photo URL to see the coordinates it says 34.016188,75.315152.The funny part is,the same coordinates(with minimal changes) points us to other photos as well.

Takeaways: Sometimes lateral thinking abilities and bit of luck also plays a role in your investigations. The terrain of J&K doesn’t have lot of street views or clear satellite imagery.The intel in transition could be more geotagged images by tourists in the future or better street view & imagery.

That’s it! Hope you enjoyed the article. Feel free to find out more techniques or come up with your own. Read, learn, teach, create and make use of the world knowledge. Follow me for more articles.

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Amoghavarsha

Freelancer, writer, OSINT and cyber security enthusiast, geopolitics nut, movie buff, bibliophile, selective extrovert. https://amoghavarsha.in/