Archive for the ‘Parque del Retiro’ category

Searching Images: A Follow-up to my Creative Commons Experience

March 20, 2007

I recently posted about the Lost in Light project and how they transferred my family’s 8mm movies to DVD. I agreed to the CC license but I also want to make the films useful so I have been going through them and describing the scenes. For those who get past this paragraph, I will bore you with more details about the home movies. Right now I would like to discuss how I am approaching this project and the resources I am using. This sort of analysis is a good demonstration of the power of the Internet. Consider also that I am working with 50+ year old films and trying identify locations, events, and people. So far, I have spent quite a few hours on the first 18 minutes of one DVD. I now have a much greater appreciation of the photo analysis work done by our intelligence agencies. I don’t see how the sort of work I’m doing could be accomplished without the Internet.

Web resources I’m using

  • Google Web Search. Doing a web search generally leads me first to Wikipedia but I also locate other sites; most of which are travel related.
  • Wikipedia. A lot of the film is from Africa and many of the place names have changed. Wikipedia has been a great source for cross referencing old to new place names.
  • Google Image Search. This has been really helpful when I am trying to nail a specific location. It is also helping me develop skill in analyzing images. The scene in a photograph and the same scene in the film are more often than not seen from a different orientation, angle, and perspective. It is challenging to find out a common element. What I find on the Internet is considerably more recent than the movies and imagination is needed to compensate for the changes in building, vegetation, etc.
  • WikiMapia. I may use Google Earth later. Wikimapia didn’t require installing anything on the computer. My father shot some of the film from an aircraft and I’ve had a difficult time locating aerial shots on the Internet. One recent segment I was working with was taken from the air, over a city, in what looked like an approach to an airport. There were two features that stand out and I want to know what they are. More about this below.
  • YouTube. I haven’t actually used this resource yet but plan to. I am also thinking of posting some film segments on YouTube to see if anyone can assist with identification.

In addition to the web resources, I have my father’s flight records so I know where the plane was and when.
Here is an example of how I used some of the resources I described above. There is a segment of film where the aircraft is flying above a city and passing over what appears to be a park of some sort and a large geometric feature covering a lot of ground that I couldn’t immediately figure out. Following this segment, the scene shifted to the ground in Madrid, Spain. I used Google web search to look for parks in Madrid and was pretty sure I had found the Estanque del Retiro (an artificial boating lake) in the Parque del Retiro but all the views were ground level. I assumed that the scenes from the air were taken when the plane was on approach to the airport so I went to WikiMedia and searched Madrid Spain. The Parque del Retiro is in about the center of town and as I zoomed in, there it was. I had the DVD in the player and WikiMedia on the laptop and I was able to trace the flight path as they flew over the park. Obviously geographic features changed but many of the buildings had the same shape and it wasn’t difficult to orient. Assuming that the aircraft wasn’t going to make any sudden turns, I advanced the DVD and WikiMedia and quickly found the second feature which is the largest cemetery in Europe, Cementerio de la Almudena. Here are comparison shots from the DVD and WikiMapia

Cementerio de la Almudena from DVD

La Almudena from the air, 1953

Cementerio de la Almudena from Wikimapia

La Amundena from Wikimapia

Estanque del Retiro from DVD
Estanque del Retiro, 1953

Estanque del Retiro fromWikimapia

Estanque del Retiro, 1953