What Reverse Geocoding Is and How to Do It

Geocoding adds to a photo the GPS coordinates, the latitude and longitude, of where the camera was when the photo was taken. Without mapping software or a map with GPS labels, the GPS coordinates are of limited value. The full potential of geocoding is only achieved when reverse geocoding is performed on the GPS coordinates.

Reverse geocoding adds textual location information to the photo that can be read, understood, and searched upon. A reverse geocoder fills in information such as Country, State/Province, City, and Sublocation. Sublocation might be the street address or what is located there.

In Adobe Lightroom 5 or earlier if you geocode your photos using the Map module, reverse geocoding is done at the same time. (Be sure to go to Lightroom’s Catalog Settings/Metadata section and check both checkboxes in the Reverse Geocoding section to enable reverse geocoding.)

If your photos are already geocoded, possibly by your camera, then Lightroom 5 and earlier needs a plug-in to do reverse geocoding. Import your photos and run Jeffrey Frielh’s Reverse Geocoding plug-in from within Lightroom. It’s donation-ware that requires at least a $0.01 donation to use the plug-in for more than a limited time. It’s highly recommended. If you have Lightroom 6, though, you’re in luck. It automatically scans your catalog of photos and reverse geocodes any images with GPS data!

A closing comment, Sublocation hasn’t been well standardized. It’s a good idea to double-check what the reverse geocoding software actually inserts. In Lightroom go to the Library module and select Location from the drop down menu in the Metadata panel. All the GPS related fields including Sublocation are displayed.


4 thoughts on “What Reverse Geocoding Is and How to Do It

  1. Pingback: Use your phone to set the location of you pictures | Victor Pillac

      • I have just updated to LR6, a heap of my older photos do not have the geocoding done on them, is there a way I can select a directory and get lightroom to JUST run the geocoding on them, without having to re-import?

        • I am so sorry, but I haven’t used LR6 in so long that I’m not sure what the answer to your question is. I suggest you ask your question in the Adobe forums.

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