# Archive for January, 2017

## Gorilla research in Musanze, Rwanda: Hillshades continued

Posted by smathermather on January 30, 2017

I’ve been working on base cartography for the research area in Rwanda. Unlike here in Cleveland, we have some great topography to work with, so we can leverage that for basemaps. But, it’s such a beautiful landscape, I didn’t want to sell these hillshades short by doing a halfway job, so I’ve been diving deep.

# Background

First, some legacy. I read three great blog posts on hillshades. One was from ESRI revealing their “Next Generation Hillshade”. Drawing on Swiss Cartographic Traditions, these are some nice looking hillshades using lighting sources from multiple directions (more on this later):

Next, we look to Peter Richardsons’s recent post on Mapzen’s blog regarding terrain simplification.

Terrain Generalization example from Mapzen

I tried (not nearly as hard as I should have) to understand their code, when I saw a link to Daniel Huffman’s blog post from 2011 on terrain generalization: On Generalization Blending for Shaded Relief.

That’s when I saw the equation:

((Generalized DEM * Weight) + (Detailed DEM * (WeightMax – Weight))) / WeightMax

I’ll let you read these posts, rather than rehashing, but here’s what I did toward adding to them. The gist of Daniel and Peter’s approach is to blend together a high resolution and lower resolution version of the DEM based on a weighting factor. Both use a standard deviation filter to determine where to use the high resolution DEM vs resampled version — if the location is much higher or lower than it’s neighbors, it is considered an important feature, and given detail, otherwise the low resolution version is used (actually, I suspect Mapzen’s approach is only highlighting top features based on their diagrams, but I haven’t dived into the code to verify).

## The Need

Excuse the colors, we’ll fix those at the end, but this allows us to simplify something that looks like this:

Into something that looks like this:

See how the hilltops and valleys remain in place and at full detail, but some of the minor facets of the hillsides are simplified? This is our aim.

I developed a pure GDAL approach for the simplification. It is purely command line, has hardcoded file names, etc, but could be done with a python or other API and turned into a proper function. TL:DR: this is not yet refined but quite effective.

## Landscape Position

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall a series of blog posts on determining landscape position using gdal.

Landcape position

This, with small modification, is a perfect tool for determining where to retain DEM features and where to generalize. The one modification is to calculate standard deviation from our simple difference data.

# The Tools

## Generalization

Back to those ugly colors on my hillshade version of the map. They go deeper than just color choice — it’s hard not to get a metallic look to digital hillshades. We see it in ESRI’s venerable map and in Mapbox’s Outdoor style. Mapzen may have avoided it by muting the multiple-light approach that ESRI lauds and Mapbox uses — I’m not sure.

To avoid this with our process (HT Brandon Garmin) I am using HDRI environment mapping for my lighting scheme. This allows for more complicated and realistic lighting that is pleasing to the eye and easy to interpret. Anyone who has followed me for long enough knows where this is going: straight to Pov-Ray… :

# Results

The results? Stunning (am I allowed to say that?):

Example of simplified and HDRI rendered hillshade.

The color is very simple here, as we’ll be overlaying data. Please stay tuned.

Posted in GDAL, Gorillas, Karisoke, Optics, POV-Ray, QGIS, R | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

## On Generalization Blending for Shaded Relief

Posted by smathermather on January 29, 2017

I have nearly recovered sufficiently from an amazing NACIS conference, and I think I’m ready to get back to a little blogging. This time around, I’d like to present you all with an unfinished concept, and to ask you for your help in carrying it to completion. Specifically, I’d like to show you some attempts I’ve made at improving digital hillshades (I’ll be randomly switching terminology between ‘hillshade’ and ‘shaded relief’ throughout).

Automated, straight-out-of-your-GIS hillshades are usually terrible, and it generally takes some extra cleanup work to get them to the point where they aren’t embarrassing or won’t burst into flames simply by being put next to a well-executed manual shaded relief. Here’s an example I stole from shadedreliefarchive.com which illustrates the problem:

The computer doesn’t see the big picture — that every little bump in elevation can sum to a large mountain, or that some bumps are more critical…

View original post 1,411 more words

## Gorilla research in Musanze, Rwanda: Hillshades!

Posted by smathermather on January 22, 2017

In previous posts here1, here2, and here3 discussed a then and future trip to Rwanda to help with GIS and gorilla research.

No more in depth write up yet, but I’ve been working on some of the cartographic products to show in the background of maps. Since Rwanda is so beautifully hilly (read: mountainous) and the research is focused on the Virunga Mountains (volcanoes) themselves, this is a huge opportunity for some hillshades to figure in the background of some maps.

So… the following image probably won’t make its way into production maps, but it is very painterly and beautiful, so I thought I’d share it:

Hillshade of the Virungas and surrounding areas.

Posted in Gorillas, Karisoke, QGIS, R | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

## Gorilla research in Musanze, Rwanda

Posted by smathermather on January 18, 2017

In previous posts here1 and here2, I discussed a (then future) trip to Rwanda to help with GIS and gorilla research.

I cannot say enough good about the experience. The people of Rwanda are warm and welcoming, the research team at Karisoke (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International) hard working, brilliant, and fun. For now we’ll do some pictures to give flavor. Then I’ll build out the narrative and code in the next few blog posts:

Mount Mgahinga over Musanze Town

Mount Sabinyo over Musanze Town

Class on QGIS, First Day

A little Karisoke Soccer/Football. No GIS Managers were injured in the filming of this video:

Samedi Mucyo working on some QGIS2ThreeJS for visualizing Golden Monkey ranging data

Potato fields below Mount Bisoke

Stay tuned for more!

Posted in Gorillas, Karisoke, QGIS, R | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

## FOSS4G 2018: Dar es Salaam

Posted by smathermather on January 10, 2017

This will be a different FOSS4G. As the first in a developing country, our vision is for an accessible and inclusive FOSS4G, a FOSS4G for All.

Source: FOSS4G 2018: Dar es Salaam