What the maps miss

Anya Beaumont – see ‘How maps inspire us‘ – talked about the little details of place and local landmarks. I was preparing another post on Google imagery but her attention to detail with scuplting little trees and suchlike got me thinking. Map specification often forces us to omit information that perhaps is relevant. If Ordnance Survey were to map the crater lakes of Flores in Indonesia, we would have to show them all in 15% cyan! Clearly the 3 different and vibrant colours of the lakes is by far the biggest distinguishing feature of the area.

The crater lakes of Flores, Indonesia © Google 2013. © Cnes/Spot Image, Digital Globe 2013
The crater lakes of Flores, Indonesia
© Google 2013. © Cnes/Spot Image, Digital Globe 2013

 

This got me looking at aerial imagery in general and how larger features, often natural features, are clearly defined by their colour. I soon stumbled across the beautiful images on the weblinks below. Imagine how these scenes might appear on a map. I’ve spent a lot of time and hard work at Ordnance Survey striving for consistency in our products, and obviously to the purpose of the map these objects may be extraneous features or the difference in their colour may be irrelevant to the user, but I cannot help but think that us cartographers are somehow missing something and that maybe general topographic maps need to be a little less-rigid in their specification.

© Matjaž Čater 2012
© Matjaž Čater 2012
© Andrei Yermolayev 2013
© Andrei Yermolayev 2013
© Jason Hawkes 2013
© Jason Hawkes 2013

 

Terraced rice field, China © National Geographic 2013. © Thierry Bornier 2013
Terraced rice field, China
© National Geographic 2013. © Thierry Bornier 2013

 

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