Geographical Coding in Digital Photos

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Geographical Coding in Digital Photos

Post by rogerwimmer » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:06 am

Smile, Doc, you're on Candid Camera! And . . . alert your wife and knock-up the neighbors* because you da man. My question is about digital photographs.

I've recently seen a couple of different TV cop and/or court shows, both of which claimed that part of any digital photo file has a special code that indicates the exact location, by degrees/minutes/seconds latitude and longitude, where the picture was taken. Is this true? If so, where in the file can this information be found?

*In the British sense, not the American. - Geno in KC


Geno: Nice to hear from you again. I left your opening sentence as you wrote it. A little too much caffeine today? Thanks and on to your question . . .

I'm not an expert in photography, so what I'm about to write is what I learned on the Internet. What you are referring to in relation to photographs is known as geocoding, geotagging, or geostamping. These three terms all mean the same thing – the geographical information where a photograph is taken is embedded into a photo and is readable with special software.

Since you have been reading this column for a long time, you know that I don't like to reinvent the information wheel, so please click here for a good explanation of the procedure.

You'll also find a load of information in these searches: Geocoding, Geotagging, and Geostamping.

If you read some of the articles in the searches, you should have noticed that there is a lot of controversy about cell phones and geocoding. Many people are concerned that their location(s) can be determined and used by nefarious individuals.

I hope that answers your question. If not, let me know.


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Roger Wimmer is owner of Wimmer Research and senior author of Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 10th Edition.

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