Creating a Topo for a Difficult-To-Photograph Area?


Original Post
20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,352

I've tried shooting the crag parallel to the wall so as to represent the actual view that climbers standing at the base would see. However, because many of the routes are dihedrals, roughly half of the routes on the wall are out of view when I shoot this way. Further, the closest dihedral tends to block the view of the further ones, thus further limiting the use of such a shot. The obvious solution would be to simply walk down the hill a bit and shoot the crag, but any space more than 10' away from the wall is covered in dense forest and so the trees block any shot I might try to take from down the hillside. Here are some random shots of the crag:









Of course I could borrow a 600mm lens and zoom in enough to shoot the crag from the road. However, the topo would not represent what the climbers see from their prospective standing at the base of the wall. If you look at the 1st and 2nd photos, those are shot from the parking lot. The 3rd, 4th and 5th photos are what the climbers see at the base. As you can tell, they dont look even remotely alike.

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

If you have access to a POV/FPV drone, you could take a video and capture frames that represent the crag best.
Otherwise, perhaps a drawn topo map with major features/routes supplemented by photos?

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,415

I agree with comment above and really prefer a well drawn topo that gives just the essential beta.

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470

Ultimately a series of topos from the point of view of a person approaching the crag is more useful than one shot from a viewpoint they will never see. It's more work to do it that way, but it's definitely better. I have a few guide books with photos shot from the road that are nearly impossible to match up to what you see standing underneath the same wall.

David Baddeley · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 30

It's a personal thing, but I'd disagree with Stitch and probably find a good photo(s) taken with suitable zoom and lighting from the road to be more useful than very occluded point of view photos (I tend to find routes as, e.g. 3rd dihedral past some easily identifiable feature). Photos taken from a distance will let you mark positions of anchors etc ... which might not be visible from the base of the routes.

It might also be worth doing both - an overview photo from the road with a few classic routes marked at semi-regular intervals as 'landmarks' to help with orientation, along with either a drawn topo or photos of the individual sections. For the individual sections, the further you can get away from the wall the better (ideal would be ~10-20m/30-60ft straight out) - maybe put the camera on the end of a long pole and trigger remotely. The perspective in photo 5 is good, but I find 3&4 too 'flat'. Whatever you do, it would be a good idea to take the photos when the sun is hitting the wall but low in the sky so that there are some shadows to hint at the 3D relief.

simplyput · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60

Draw the topos! I know that in today's technologic convenience world this seems arduous and insane, but sometimes oldskool is newskool. For an example of AMAZING hand drawn topos check out Tyson Wallace and Paul Qiu's Yangshuo guide.

Clint White aka Faulted Geologist · · Lawrence, KS · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 158

Check out the (old, maybe also the new) North Table Mountain guidebook (Golden, CO). It has a stripe at the top of each page with the whole mountain ridge, and the area for the page and individual wall pictures highlighted on the stripe above.

You could use the whole area shot, just cropped vertically to only the wall portion, at the top of each page. Take your individual photos for the topo and put them as the main pic, and highlight that section in the stripe of the whole. I thought it was the best method I've seen in any guide.

Cheers!

Nicholas Gillman · · Las Vegas · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 331

Does the second photo represent the entirety of the crag?

I've been trying to overhaul outdated areas on MP here in RedRock and part of that has been uploading new topos / overlays . Very often I run into the same problem you are with larger or awkward to photograph crags coupled with the fact from a distance everything looks different than it does up close. ( everything looks like red rocks with black splotches!)

So what I've tried to do is give a from a distance view with detail photos flagged out when needed. So you can say "Ok I need to be over here on the far left of the crag and when I get there I'm looking for this" . I've gotten pretty positive feedback from the approach. Also while it's not super favorable (In my opinion anyway , I like everything in a single image) you could also split the crag up into multiple images.

Example of a further back shot with detail images , my topo for The Hamlet here in RedRock.

A really difficult one for me was a crag here called the Fringe . Which is simply massive in addition to which it (very similar to your area ) only had about a 15ish foot ledge at the bottom of that then immediately dumped straight down another 200ish feet so taking a photo upclose would have been a funky fairly useless angle. However even having to break it into two images and taking it the photos from pretty far away I think it still came out pretty solid . The Fringe (Left half) , The Fringe (Right half) .

Hope that helps , or gives you some ideas / perspective.

Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,470
David Baddeley wrote:It's a personal thing, but I'd disagree with Stitch and probably find a good photo(s) taken with suitable zoom and lighting from the road to be more useful than very occluded point of view photos (I tend to find routes as, e.g. 3rd dihedral past some easily identifiable feature). Photos taken from a distance will let you mark positions of anchors etc ... which might not be visible from the base of the routes.
Truth be told, I like both. It's when you only have a far away photo of a cliff that doesn't have very distinctive features that shows the limitations of that kind of guide. One of the older Shelf guides is like that. The photos are from across the canyon, which doesn't help that much once you walk up. But over time you figure it out. I get the expense and trouble of doing it closer, but it's worth it.
Ray Pinpillage · · West Egg · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 180

Buy a drone.

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,352
Nicholas Gillman wrote:Does the second photo represent the entirety of the crag?
No, it's just a zoomed-in version of the first photo. It looks like a drone is the way to go so far. Part of the problem of taking the photos from the road is that the road is 600' lower in elevation than the crag and the trees at the base of the crag end up blocking the view of the bottom of the cliff.
simplyput · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60
Ray Pinpillage wrote:Buy a drone.
please don't.
climbnowworklater · · Colorado Springs · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 10
simplyput wrote: please don't.
Please, please don't. No better way to ruin ones outdoor experience than with a bunch of drones buzzing around. (especially not while your pumped and cruxing...)
Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,950

I'm with Stitch, especially his 2nd clarification. Ultimately, I want a guidebook that can clearly direct me to the routes base and give a basic description. Beauty shots are great for the cover, but most times do little to add to actual guidebook effectiveness. That's me.. for what it's worth.

Still, technically, I think you'll get best results from a drone. Long zoom tends to flatten the subject.

Craig Childre · · Lubbock, Texas · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 4,950

I perfer a crag drone to the infamous crag baby... or a ghetto blaster...

All joking aside, so far as drone work goes. Suggest shooting early morning and late evening for the best light. Times you will usually find the wind tends to be calmer. Lastly, consider the impact you may have on others in the area. Very least, advise any other groups in the area what you are up to. Most folks have a more positive response when they are advised in advance. I would probably try to avoid shooting during peak times. Good luck. Post your results if it pans out.

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
This post violated Rule #1. It has been removed by Mountain Project.
simplyput · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 60
Tylerpratt wrote: don't let the door hit you in the vagina on the way out.
Do you walk through doorways backwards? It's either that or you're not very well acquainted with the female anatomy...
climbnowworklater · · Colorado Springs · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 10

"Seriously... why are so many people on this whiny bitchy drone rant."

Maybe because it's: narcissistic, self-absorbed, jackasses that fly them? And what could be worse, is, a inexperienced one who flies it dangerously! Complaints are a large reason they are banned in National Parks and areas like Garden of the Gods because it does ruin the outdoor experience people go to these places for. Sorry, if you perceive this as whiny or bitchy, but it's also reality. Btw, What does Oahu have to do with annoying drones? (I've been to Kauai and it's just as overpriced and blown-out and drones would ruin the wilderness experience there as well.)

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 125

Good on ya for researching and trying to make the best topos possible. It's some serious effort.

We struggled a lot with this when making the new Yosemite guide, trying to figure out what would help folks most. A good starting point for sure is to make a couple styles of topos for the crag, (even if they're not complete), say one that is the traditional, from far away, and then take one that is more like your shot from the base. Take them to the crag and see what new comers find more usable. In Yosemite, where drones are illegal, this meant that we have a couple pics in the book that are of mostly trees, with just the tops of a couple routes poking out - but that is the view from the parking lot, and the approach is 5 minutes, so most beginners said they were helped by seeing the view as they see it when they park. That said, we def used some of all styles, and there are some real benefits, as have been noted, of being able to see more of the routes.

Woot!
Erik
Rockclimbyosemite.com

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
climbnowworklater wrote: "Seriously... why are so many people on this whiny bitchy drone rant." Maybe because it's: narcissistic, self-absorbed, jackasses that fly them? And what could be worse, is, a inexperienced one who flies it dangerously! Complaints are a large reason they are banned in National Parks and areas like Garden of the Gods because it does ruin the outdoor experience people go to these places for. Sorry, if you perceive this as whiny or bitchy, but it's also reality. Btw, What does Oahu have to do with annoying drones? (I've been to Kauai and it's just as overpriced and blown-out and drones would ruin the wilderness experience there as well.)
The guy wants to snag a drone for some pics for a crag topo. Everyone loses their minds.
ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 230

The fact that some of drones can cut you to the bone and that same force accidentally hitting a rope or a person climbing could cause concern.

But as someone else pointed out above the most important pictures are ones that people will see. Not to say an overview isn't nice to have as well but it is less important than one from the base level so you can find the start of a route (and if multi-pitch than it is nice to have pictures looking up from anchors as well if there isn't a clear path)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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