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Post details Post   (Expand pics)
2013-07-30 09:57:08
"Burnt-tip Orchid  (Neotinea ustulata)" from simon3 Expand pics
Burnt-tip Orchid (Neotinea ustulata) (Expand pics)
A Pyrenees Trip, part 2.
Nurturing the inner geek.
Social Photography.
One of the reasons Ireland is such a hard place to take interesting mountain photos is because of air stuffed with water mist or the blue smudged horizon of Rayleigh scattering so it’s a pleasure to get up a bit higher to a place with more consistent weather and drier air. Mostly I took pictures with my Canon 450D / 18-200mm lens. While not great optics the big zoom, filter capability (polarising filter almost every day) and snappy autofocussing compensate for the weight of around 1.6kg & lack of sharpness. Walking with a group is about opportunistic photography – find an attractive composition and photograph it in 5 to 20 seconds without faffing around. Walking with a group is also about taking interesting pictures of the group members and sharing them. For the first time on such a holiday I brought a tablet along. With some miscellaneous connectors it is possible to directly transfer from the camera to the tablet (Samsung Android based). While the applications on the android are crude by comparison to a PC they allowed for the creation of galleries. The net effect was I was able to create a daily slideshow and pass it round at supper. Compared with other approaches to doing this (printed photos, back of the camera, laptop and projector) this is really handy and great fun.

Mistaken Navigation.
The leader of the group mainly used the straightforward approach of 1:25k maps with excellent and experienced map, compass and aneroid work. Being in the fortunate position of not having responsibility for leading I was able to experiment with modern navigation approaches which you may find interesting. Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Even basics we might take for granted in Ireland just aren’t there on French and Spanish maps. For example the “Ordesa y Monte Perdido” 1:40,000 map has a 1km grid superimposed in black. Great. Except that the grid turned out to be in UTM 30.
We need a short digression here. In Ireland we use Irish Grid but in many parts of the world it is UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) a global way of creating a grid for any part of the world. It divides the world into 60 zones each 6 degrees of longitude. In the case of UTM 30 this is a segment of the earth from 6 deg west to 0 degrees centred on 3 deg west. Grid references in UTM are described as Easting which starts at 0 on an imaginary point (“the false origin”) 500km to west of the centre line (3 deg west for UTM 30) and a Northing. The Northing is much simpler conceptually than the easting. It is simply the count of metres from the equator. So for the national park centre Pradera de Ordesa the grid reference in UTM 30 is around 741300 4726400. That is 741300 metres east of the false origin and around 4726.4 km north of the equator. Usually this is shortened to 413 264. However I couldn’t get the GPS I was using to give the same coordinates. It turns out that Pradera de Ordesa and other places we were walking in are near but to the west of the Greenwich meridian. Pradera de Ordesa is at around 0 degrees 3 mins west. This is near the borderline between UTM 30 and UTM 31. And my GPS decided it was going to show the grid reference in UTM 31, never mind it was actually in the UTM 30 area.
The cartographers had also printed the coordinates for UTM 31 on the map, but these were just as blue markers around the edges not lines you could actually work with. Bummer. Eventually I found out how to force the GPS (Garmin GPSMap 76 Csx) to show position as UTM 30 by defining my own UTM grid. That worked. By the way, the Spanish for UTM zone is “UTM HUSO”. Quite separately from this there was a GPS positioning problem on some days.
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