December 31, 2008
My first embodied experience of mountains was in the mid-eighties in France and it left me speechless. We have been living within viewing range of the spectacular Rocky Mountains for over a year now and I am still in awe at the visual phenomenon of recognizing geographical formations with the naked eye, that are hundreds of kilometers away. I was born and grew up on Prince Edward Island where we had rolling hills, fields, harbours, and magnificent ocean views, but no vistas or panoramas that could cover this scale. For reasons I do not understand I have always needed to place my visual world in measurable perspectives and have even learned to map waves and spherical objects in order to draw and paint them with more accuracy.
I am struggling with Google Earth as I have overloaded my .kmz files.
Picasa allows me to tag my individual digital images and to place them in digital albums while maintaining separate albums on my PC to enhance findability. Semantic tools used on the Internet are developed on PCs too.
In order to paint the Rockies I wanted to first know where they were in relation to my easel. I don’t know why but I really want to know names of things including their historical and scientific names. Geological formations fascinate me as much as the history of the First Nations whose trails became our highways. I wanted to know exactly where I was and where they are with locational indicators. I wanted to know their height and how they were linked to neighbouring peaks. We became chasers of the light, watching Calgary skies for the best conditions for capturing images of the Rockies. We searched out the best sites for viewing the mountains from here and returned to them often. Most of our pictures were not that great from a photographic or aesthetic point of view. But bit by bit we were able to see more peaks clearly and identify them.
I began to take 180 degree pans even when the light was not great if at least some of the peaks were more visible.
We drove and hiked closer to the peaks as much as we could and continue to do so looking for more vistas and slightly different angles.
Using online and print sources piece by piece small sections came together.
I began to trace the contours of the peaks skyline so I could more clearly see which peaks were farther west, which were closer to us.
I used both Google Earth and Google’s My Maps features to geotag and tag exact peaks. Then I created lines between the peaks and the site from which I was taking photos so I could visualize compass directions.
I used the various mountaineering sites like bivuoac.com to study maps, to learn the language, to situate peaks within ranges, regions and subranges. I gathered descriptive information.
In Picasa I can geotag and label my photos and I have started uploading some of them to my Picasa album.
Using Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite I create digitage (collages of digital images using .psd layer options) and I add text fields to label peaks and other features that help situate them.
I upload, tag and geotag some of these labeled images to Flickr but I have been disappointed by the low resolution in my free account.
Recently I have begun to upload higher resolution images to my wordpress accounts, including this one.
A group of savvy semantic web experts have created programs to autogenerate similar images! They describe how they align real photos with a synthetic panorama. I guess that is what I have been doing manually. See Technologies of Vision: semantic image labelling, Marmota: Visual Environmental Monitoring. Recently I received this delightful email from one of the researchers-collaborators:
Dear Maureen, I saw your picture and I think it is very related to the mountain labelling tool I’m working on: http://tev.fbk.eu/marmota (as a demo, please look at the photoblog). Can you describe the context of the Peaks’ Project? You are also welcome to add your photos to the flickr group labelledmountains Merry Christmas from Italy, michele
I thought it would be an appropriate time for me to contextualize my own slow world process involved in my “Naming the Peaks Project.”
Webliography and Bibliography