Scott Reinhard combines contemporary land elevations with historic maps to create three-dimensional environments of a specific region, city, or state. To produce the digital maps, he pulls elevation data from the United States Geological Survey, which he then embeds with location information and merges with the original design of the old maps.
Producing these hybrids allows the Brooklyn-based graphic designer to gain a better sense of the topography found in large areas without aerial photography, while also developing a story from the cartographic information. He often selects locations he has personally visited or is generally curious about for his digitally produced works. “I am from Indiana, which always felt so flat and boring,” he explains to Colossal. “When I began rendering the elevation data for the state, the story of the land emerged. The glaciers that receded across the northern half of the state after the last ice age scraped and gouged and shaped the land in a way that is spectacularly clear.”
By visualizing the history that shaped a location’s composition at a large scale, Reinhard is able to notice trends in the environment in a more localized way. These forces affect how we traverse our daily environments, but are hard to comprehend without taking the time to zoom out, or look at from above. “As a visual person, I was most intrigued by the ability to visually harness data and create images that helped me gain insight into locations,” he continues. “I felt empowered by the ability to collect and process the vast amounts of information freely available, and create beautiful images.”
Reinhard was introduced to the methods he uses in his digital maps through Daniel Huffman’s website Something About Maps. You can see more of Reinhard’s digital works on Instagram and buy select high-quality prints, on his website. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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When considering the historical path of a river, it’s easy to imagine a torrential flood that causes a stream to overflow its banks, or a drought that brings a body of water to a trickle. The reality of a river’s history is vastly more complex, as the artery of water gradually changes directions over thousands of years, shifting its boundaries imperceptibly inch by inch.
Geologists and cartographers have grappled with helpful ways to visually depict a river’s flow over time. In 1941, the Mississippi River Commission appointed Harold Fisk to undertake a groundbreaking effort to map the entire Lower Mississippi Valley. Three years later he produced a stunning series of 15 maps that combine over 20 different river paths obtained through historical charts and aerial photography.
The beautiful map seen here of the Willamette River Historical Stream Channels in Oregon by cartographer Dan Coe also shows the history of a river, however Coe relied on more recent aerial radar technology called lidar. From The Oregonian:
Lidar data is collected by low-, slow-flying aircraft with equipment that shoots millions of laser points to the ground. When the data is studied, an amazingly accurate model of the ground can be mapped.
It is possible to strip buildings and vegetation from the images, so that only the ground is shown. In the Willamette River poster, the shades of white and blue show elevations. The purest white color is the baseline, (the zero point, at the lowest point near Independence on the upper part of the image). The darkest blue is 50 feet (or higher) than the baseline.
The shades of white show changes in elevation, between 0 to 50 feet. This brings out the changes made by the river channel in the last 12,000 to 15,000 years, in the time since the landscape was basically swept clean by the Missoula floods.
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