9 Oct 2008

Feeding my inner geonerd

We interrupt this embarassing blogosilence with a post about openstreetmap.

Why the silence? Well, I was going to do a Photo Tutorial Part 3, about focus stacking, but attempts to produce a satisfactory focus-stacked photo using enfuse were unsatisfactory, whereas proprietary software, using the same images, produced much better results. Grrr! Sulk, sulk.

Anyway, recently there took place the Openstreetmap Bradford Mapping Party, a concerted attempt to survey and map the inner city of Bradford. Openstreetmap is a worldwide wiki-style project to produce detailed free-licensed mapping. So along I went. Unsurprisingly, the OSM posse turn out to be a well organised bunch of geeks armed with appropriate electronics, pencils, and, in some cases, bicyles. These fine people had been drawn to the unmapped, unlovable void of Bradford by nothing but altruism, enthusiasm, team spirit, love of a challenge, and rampant ignorance of what a shit hole modern Bradford really is. As it turned out, I was both the token local and the token newbie. The weather was astonishingly good, the sponsor's sandwiches were heartily useful (thanks!), my mentors Andy and Nick kindly transmitted their knowlege and enthusiasm, and, oddly, nobody got mugged.

On the Saturday, Nick showed me the ropes around the city centre and between Manchester Road and Little Horton Lane. This bloke got very agitated at the sight of my camera when he wandered into shot outside Tudor Court flats on Manchy Road. So here he is blown up and enhanced in all his Lucozade carrying glory. Go on mate, sue me like you threatened.

Nick and me were hugely amused by this pound shop in Broadway - well, what's left of Broadway - which is having a 50p closing down sale. Laughing apart, it really emphasises the current ruinous state of Bradford, which has somehow managed to fall to pieces during the ten year economic boom. God help us all when the forthcoming depression hits.

On the Sunday, my allotted patch was the old mostly industrial area at the bottom of Wakefield Road. I had a go with my newly-acquired Really Crap Old Camera, a Fuji MX-1200. The theory is that it is so awful that nobody will want to mug me for it, and even if they do, I won't mind handing it over.  It really is rubbish: grainy as hell, ghastly jpeg overcompression, fixed lens with dreadful barrel distortion and chromatic aberration, lousy obsolete "Smart Media" media.

So now, after a week and a half of editing and rendering, the central area of our fine city is quite well mapped, a vast improvement. It's going to be a long, slow job titivating it, but I'll be having a go, and I've even made a start on my own little patch, safely outside the ring road.

UPDATE -- Forgot to mention, while mapping "my own little patch", I've found a toroidal street (Willow Crescent) in which half the torus is numbered in the normal manner, odd on one side and even on the other, but the other half has even numbers on both sides of the street.