Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mapping Photographer's Routes

The Geotaggers Atlas is a fascinating map showing the paths taken by Flickr photographers between separate photographs, based on the time stamps and locations of the photos. Using the map you can zoom in on any city in the world and discover not only the most popular places photographed by Flickr users but the paths the photographers have taken around those cities.

For five years Eric Fischer of Mapbox has been extracting the data from Flickr photos and mapping not just where those photos are taken but the routes that the photographers have taken between pictures. Using the Flickr search API Eric is able to retrieve the photo geo-tags and draw lines between all the photos in a sequence.

The red lines on the map show where a photographer traveled at a speed between 7 and 19 mph, based on the time stamps and locations of the pictures. As you can see on the map of Paris above the river Seine is full of red lines, as ferry passengers happily travel down the river snapping the sights of Paris.

The map is a great way to see where people love to take photos in cities around the world. In the example above you can see that the Champs Elysees is a popular route for photographers. The Eiffel Tower (on the left of the screenshot) is also a popular location with photographers.

The Geotaggers Atlas covers every city in the world using over ten years of photo data from Flickr. The map is able to display such a huge amount of data thanks to Tippecanoe. Tippecanoe is a tool for building vector map tile-sets from large collections of GeoJSON features. Input GeoJSON into Tippecanoe and it will give you back a vector mbtiles file. It is a very efficient way to visualize very large data-sets on an interactive map with minimal impact on performance.

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