Moving With The Times (Digital Mapping and GPS)

I love maps. Really, I do. Especially 1:25000 ones with all the detail on them. Particularly of national parks with all their Right to Roam land. I also rather like technology and have recently started tracking walks with the GPS in my phone and uploading them onto Social Hiking. I started to think about how I could use maps and GPS together to my advantage rather than just as an indulgence, so started in investigate digital mapping – I tried Anquet, Memory Map and Quo. Memory Map crashed several times on my PC, Quo wouldn’t unlock half the demo maps and also crashed. Anquet, however, worked really well so my choice was made. I bought the 1:25000 maps for the Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire National Parks – thanks to an offer, they cost a combined total of £53.

 

Using Anquet, I can load my GPS tracks and see where I walked superimposed on the OS map – brilliant! I can download other people’s walks and get ideas of walks we can do as a family. It also allows me to create walks and export them, should I want to follow them on a GPS. A huge advantage is the 3D capability – it can render the OS map as a 3D landscape you can ‘walk’ around. I only discovered this morning how beneficial it is when figuring out places to photograph – you can place yourself on the chosen viewpoint and move around the 3D landscape to see what parts of the landscape would be visible! It means, for example, I can figure out new places to photograph Pen y Fan from without going there, so my recce’s should turn out to be more successful. Unfortunately, I can’t show any examples due to licensing terms of Ordnance Survey… It should be noted, though, that this will never replace my paper maps and the GPS will never replace my compass as should be the case for anyone and everyone who uses GPS.

 

Another benefit of being using the GPS whilst out and about is you can use the data to geotag your photos, i.e. add the longitude and latitude of where you took the photo to the RAW camera file. This is useful when uploading to sites such as Flickr who make use of the information. It’s easily done with a free piece of software – GeoSetter. It takes your GPS route and synchronises it with the RAW files using the time stamp and adds the information to the RAW file. I’m expecting the use of geotagging to become more widespread in the future….

 

The phone GPSs are generally inaccurate – on one of my walks, I apparently suddenly walked 50 metres out into the sea and back again… However, decent GPSs are relatively cheap and Garmin are releasing a new one in September – the etrex 30. I love to know how much ascent I’ve done on a walk and this has a barometric altimeter which makes it more accurate than just using the GPS data, plus it will be able to use the new Russian system which goes live in 2012 in addition to the GPS satellites. And it’s not just for all that – I shall be commencing a project of writing some walks in the Autumn.

 

If only I could connect up Anquet and my photo database…. I don’t think that will ever happen and will most probably always be the missing link. However, I’ve discovered in digital mapping and GPS, two new tools that will be beneficial to my photography work :-)

 

I’ve rambled enough for now about new exciting technologies (new for me anyway) – here’s a photo I took this morning:

Cray Reservoir

Cray Reservoir

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