I am not a GIS guy.

I have a GeoTiff and I need to read elevation information out of it using GDAL (in some Java Code). So now I need to convert a given latitude/longitude pair into a pixel inside the GeoTiff.

Here's some information gdalinfo gave me about the file:

Driver: GTiff/GeoTIFF
Size is 58808, 30323
Coordinate System is:
Origin = (106549.267203768889885,576922.512073625810444)
Pixel Size = (10.000000000000000,-10.000000000000000)
Image Structure Metadata:
Corner Coordinates:
Upper Left  (  106549.267,  576922.512) (  9d19' 7.63"E, 49d 1'24.32"N)
Lower Left  (  106549.267,  273692.512) (  9d31'19.50"E, 46d17'55.02"N)
Upper Right (  694629.267,  576922.512) ( 17d21'50.31"E, 49d 1'22.34"N)
Lower Right (  694629.267,  273692.512) ( 17d 9'35.51"E, 46d17'53.15"N)
Center      (  400589.267,  425307.512) ( 13d20'28.29"E, 47d43'39.80"N)
Band 1 Block=128x128 Type=Float32, ColorInterp=Gray
NoData Value=-3.40282306073709653e+38

Can somebody tell me the formula on how to convert my coordinates into pixels?

  • First create a point with the lat/lon, set the geographic spatial reference then use transformTo gdal.org/classOGRGeometry.html to convert the point into the spatial reference then find the offset in cells from the GeoTransform gdal.org/… then with RasterIO read the 1 by 1 array from the raster. I'm not a Java programmer but have done this in python, C# and C++ pretty much the same way with only a few minor changes for each language. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 5:45
  • Thanks for this great hint! I think I got it working using the SpatialReference as well as the CoordinateTransformation class! Thanks! Do you want wo copy your comment as an answer so that I can accept it?
    – Georg
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 6:16
  • It would be better if you answered your own question, like I said I'm not a Java programmer so would struggle to put in a working code block. There is a meta post gis.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4608/… decrying the answering of questions with a different software package so if I answered in C++, C# or python it would likely receive downvotes - and rightly so. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


Turns out that gdal provides everything needed (which should be no big surprise as gdal can do almost EVERYTHING :) )

So I just need to use the SpatialReference class to create my source projection which is WGS84:

SpatialReference src = new SpatialReference();

and then my target projection:

dataset = gdal.Open("path/to/my/file", gdalconstConstants.GA_ReadOnly);
projection = dataset.GetProjection();
SpatialReference dst = new SpatialReference(projection);

Now I create a Transformation object like so:

CoordinateTransformation ct = new CoordinateTransformation(src, dst);

And then I transform a given pair of lat/lon to a pixel in my geotiff like so:

double[] xy = ct.TransformPoint(lon, lat);

int x = (int)(((xy[0] - transform[0]) / transform[1]));
int y = (int)(((xy[1] - transform[3]) / transform[5]));

You could further improve my taking a mean value of surrounding pixels as well, but for me that's enough.

  • +1 from me. You can read the pixels as an array and calculate the mean very quickly, the Java I've seen uses ReadRaster gdal.org/java/org/gdal/gdal/Band.html but be careful not to read rows or columns outside the pixel bounds. That's worthy of a new question though. Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 20:50
  • 1
    int x = (int)(((xy[0] - transform[0]) / transform[1])); What is the transform array here? I don't see any such variable in the code that you have posted.
    – Nancy
    Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 9:45
  • I think you get it from your GDALDataset with a call to GetGeoTransform. eg. myDataset->GetGeoTransform(transform); it is defined as double[6]
    – winwaed
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 2:21
  • IS there a equivalent code for this operation (as @Georg's code) in python?
    – Steven
    Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 16:49
  • @Georg it would be super useful to see this code as a self-contained function Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 0:34

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