Why this technology is a must-have addition to a photographer‚’s bag.
Navigate trails, lakes, oceans and cities with the pocket-sized, waterproof Magellan Crossover GPS. It comes preloaded with street maps of North America and topographic maps of the 48 contiguous United States.
If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of being lost in a wilderness or a city, for that matter, or of not being able to retrace your steps to a choice location, then it might be high time to pick up a GPS. It’s one of those things you might not think about until you need it, and in situations like that, there's usually a predictably exasperating outcome.
Granted, a lot of photographers aren’t trying to replicate the Lewis and Clark expeditions. And you certainly aren’t going to lose your bearings in the local arboretum or botanical gardens. But if you travel to unfamiliar places, hit the trails in national parks and wilderness areas in North America or abroad in search of unusual and fresh places to photograph, having a handheld GPS in your gadget bag makes a lot of sense.
In our issue last month, George Wuerthner wrote about photographing old-growth forests and stands on the East Coast. Many of these areas can be difficult to find just once, let alone returning to them. Still others have yet to be discovered, so if you happen across what might be a new tract when you’re out hiking, giving the exact location to a conservancy would be most appreciated, I can assure you.
Beyond that, on trips I’ve taken into the Sierras of the West Coast or roaming around the red rock canyons of Sedona, Arizona—even with maps, a compass and trail guides galore—I still have trouble getting places. It’s so easy to lose your bearings in these vast places and others like them.
Since I typically have anywhere from three days to a week to get some shots worth the expense of traveling somewhere, I like to be efficient and organized in my approach. In terms of finding locations as quickly as possible, returning safely and then being able to retrace my steps on a different day, a GPS device is really helpful.
Whether on land or water, the Garmin GPSMap 76S can save up to 1,000 of your favorite places in 24 megabytes of internal memory.
GPS Basics How this technology works, if you don’t already know, is the GPS unit receives signals from at least three U.S. government satellites orbiting above the Earth. Location and distance is triangulated and displayed on the LCD as coordinates, typically latitude and longitude, because these numbers account for the curvature of the Earth.
Since every square foot of the planet has its own GPS "address" each position is epresented b a unique set of coordinates. All GPS receivers will have various ways this information is displayed or converted into other visual representations.
Most GPS units will give you compass readings, an audible warning if you stray off course and estimated time of arrival based on the distance and your current speed.
They also use up battery power like a starving bear. With continuous use, which is really the point of having one along, you’ll want extra batteries. A lot of units take AA batteries, and others require a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Depending on the unit and how much power it needs, you’ll get anywhere from five to 16 hours of use.
So always, always bring more batteries than you think you’ll need.