Saturday, May 1, 2004
Getting There And Back Again
Discover how GPS can improve your travel and photography
As often happens when you're hiking or traveling in new territory, you arrive at a location that's ideal for photography. Unfortunately, the light isn't right; it's heavily overcast, making the scene look flat and unimpressive. Or it's noon and the overhead sun is doing little to reveal the rich color and textures of a scene. You decide to return to this spot, but how do you make sure that you return to the same place?
GPS receivers provide a high-tech advantage for scouting. You're not only able to lock in the exact location, but the receiver can help guide you there, whether you're in a car or on foot.
For photographers traveling in the great outdoors, a GPS device can be a useful tool. Input your starting point and your destination by keying in waypoints (coordinates of a specific location that you recorded earlier) and the GPS receiver keeps track of your current location, rate of speed and estimated arrival time.
Imagine that you’re hiking to reach a location before sunset. After you’ve taken your photographs, you suddenly realize that darkness has eliminated the view of landmarks you had noted while walking. Not to worry—set properly, the GPS device recorded waypoints as you hiked. Simply refer to the GPS screen to determine whether you’re headed in the right direction on the trail on your return. This is one of GPS’s many benefits.
GPS technology also can be useful for planning ahead for a photograph. By using maps and almanac data on sunrises and sunsets or even a moonrise, you can use your GPS receiver to pinpoint an exact location. Rather than being subject to happenstance, you can use navigational tools to increase the chances that you’ll be at the right location at the right time.
You’ll find a wide variety of GPS receivers available today, and many of them provide a wealth of features, including color displays, a barometer, a compass and detailed maps. Basic GPS units typically offer a gray screen with enough memory to save hundreds of waypoints, as well as the ability to track your progress during your travels.
Units that allow the ability to download regional maps via your computer also are available. Connect the receiver to your computer and download detailed maps of the area you intend to visit. The number of detailed maps that can be saved on your receiver is only limited by the amount of internal memory. Units with greater storage capacity or expandable memory are available, but at a higher price point.
When it comes to traveling and photographing the outdoors, a GPS receiver can be a key tool to share space in your camera bag.
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