Halloween and TMA Air Photos

Last night, I had started mentally outlining a post about a wonderful new free resource that enables users to assess image quality based on calibration targets included in their images. But then I remembered that it’s Halloween, and I should instead pull together a post based on a spooky Halloween themed collection.

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While I came across a lot of great Halloween related material, including this collection from Wellcome Images, this 1903 film directed by Georges Méliès, and some charming children’s costumes via DPLA , what I decided to write about chilled me above all else. It is not a Medieval monster or menacing mummy, but rather a reminder of the very real Midwest winter to come. Specifically, it is the Antarctic Air Photography collection from the University of Minnesota.

Developed by the Polar Geospatial Center (PGC) at the University of Minnesota, this collection is comprised of more than 330,000 air photos, which were collected and scanned by the USGS EROS Data Center. The collection contains trimetrogon aerial photography, which is a method of taking three photos at one time: one vertical (in this collection, designated by a “V” in the filename), along with left and right obliques (at a 45° angle off nadir; designated by either “L” or “R”) taken along a single TMA flight line.

The easiest way to find Antarctic TMA photos, digitized flightline index maps, and approximate photo centers is through the PGC’s TMA Flightline Viewer, a web app that runs in your browser. The application allows users to browse and download Antarctic air photos digitally rather than having to search through rolls of film in the USGS archives. We even have camera calibration information here for those who need it.

Additionally, the PGC provides TMA flightline and photocenters data in two GIS formats: ESRI shapefiles (.shp) and Google Earth KMZ files. The files are separated by Antarctic region, such as Marie Byrd Land or Ross Island.

Users may also look up photos manually, rather than browsing by flightline or geographic region. A breakdown of USGS naming conventions is provided in order to help one navigate the data.

Have a happy and safe Halloween, and bundle up!

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the Memory of the Netherlands

Welcome back, students, faculty, and staff! We hope your fall semester is off to a delightful start.

For those of you with an interest in Netherlandish history, I’m about to make your week even more delightful. The Memory of the Netherlands is a self-described “gigantic digital treasury,” full of information about the Dutch past. Offering hundreds of thousands of digital images, recordings, film footage, and texts, the Memory site organizes this wealth of information into several exhibitions, collections, and themes.

While you’ll still find images of windmills, wooden shoes and tulips are few and far between. Rather, the Memory site provides well thought out exhibitions that explore life in Holland today and themes that range from religion to cartoons.

While the Memory site is largely in English and searchable using English keywords, information about the images and other objects are in Dutch.

Earth as Art

Florida Evreglades

While scientists and engineers at the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center, just north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota , collect satellite imagery to document Earth’s natural disasters, they sometimes enjoy the images for their aesthetic beauty as well. The scientists select about 40 of these images for a special exhibit, called “Earth as Art,” at the Library of Congress. The exhibit is now in its third incarnation, and the latest prints just recently arrived in Washington, D.C. to begin their one-year stint on display. All of the Earth as Art images are available at the link above, and can be downloaded for personal or commercial use. According to Dirk Lammers from the Assicoated Press, some of the images have made it into German coffee table books and neckties.

Hypercities

For those of you who attended the 2010 GIS fair last November, you heard UCLA’ Dr. Todd Presner speak about his project, Hypercities, and are probably already familiar with what it has to offer. If not, read on.

As described on the GIS fair keynote abstract, “Hypercities is a collaborative digital mapping platform that explores the layered histories of city spaces. Awarded one of the first “digital media and learning” prizes by the MacArthur Foundation/HASTAC in 2008, HyperCities is an interactive, web-based research and teaching environment for authoring and analyzing the cultural, architectural, and urban history of cities.” Using Google Maps and Google Earth, users can go back in time to explore cities of centuries past, analyze how cities change over time, and interact with the maps through social media. The fundamental idea behind HyperCities is that all stories take place somewhere and sometime; they become meaningful when they interact and intersect with other stories.

More information, as well as some “how-to”s can be found at the Hypercities website. To start using this tool, click on “launch Hypercities” at the top. From there, select a city that  you would like to explore, and then choose a map from the menu bar at the right. Users can add as many layers of maps as they want, select the opacity for each map, export metadata, and view ‘collections,’ which are projects that other people are working on with those same maps.

It can be a bit clunky at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s a lot of fun to play around with.

Rome in a day

The Architecture department at the University of Oregon has developed two useful interactive mapping tools of Rome. The first, the interactive Nolli map of Rome, is a digitization of the 1748 map of Rome by Giambattista Nolli. This map is regarded by scholars as one of the most important historical documents of the city, and through the work of the University of Oregon the public now has access to this work. Users can zoom in and out, as well as add layers such as gardens, pathways, and fountains.

The second project is Imago Urbis: Giuseppe Vasi’s Grand Tour of Rome, which integrates the Nolli map with the work of Nolli’s contemporary, Giuseppe Vasi (1710-1782). Vasi’s detailed documentation of Rome’s buildings and monuments established him as one of the city’s greatest topographers. With this tool users can view Nolli’s map and Vasi’s plates simultaneously, making it easier to imagine Rome in the 18th century. Plates are grouped into 8 days of an itinerary, making the grand tour of Rome accessible from your couch.

“The Commons” on Flickr

Flickr is home to “The Commons,” a public photo collection that began in 2008 as a collaboration between Flickr and the Library of Congress. It has since expanded to include over 45 institutions, including NASA, the Imperial War Museum, and the New York Public Librar. The Commons is host to thousands of images covering a breadth of subjects, all copyright free.

Users are invited to add tags and descriptions to the photos, making the collection richer and more accessible.


Europeana

Europeana provides access to over six million digital items, including images, texts, sounds, and videos. It is funded by the European Commission and its member states, and includes content from museum, galleries, libraries, archives, and audio-visual collections.

The extensive list of organizations that Europeana pulls its content from includes notable institutions such as the Rijksmuseum, the British Library, and the Louvre.

Currently the online collection is in its beta version, but version 1.0 will be launch later in 2010 and will include links to over ten million digital items.


UIUC Library Digital Collections: Maps of Africa to 1900

The Maps of Africa to 1900 digital collection contains images of maps listed in the bibliography Maps of Africa to 1900: A Checklist of Maps in Atlases and Geographical Journals in the Collections of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Bassett & Scheven, Urbana: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 2000). As such, this collection mines not only the University of Illinois Library’s map collections, but also its extensive collection of 19th century atlases and geographical journals, including the JournalGéographie de Paris (France), and Petermanns Geographische Mittheilungen (Germany).

Arrowsmith, Aaron. Africa, 1817.

Bassett’s and Scheven’s original bibliography lists 2,416 maps of which nearly 78 percent date from the 19th century. Africanists and historians of cartography are drawn to this century because the map of the continent changed so rapidly in the wake of European explorations, conquests, and colonization (Bassett & Scheven, p. iii). About a quarter of the collection dates from the sixteenth century, 9 percent from the seventeenth, and 13 percent from the eighteenth century.

The Library is digitizing as many of the maps as possible, condition permitting. Maps are added to the collection as they are completed.