Monday, February 13, 2012

Using the Camera GPS to find the Sunken Church In San Miguel

I've now been in San Miguel de Allende for almost 6 weeks, about half way through our winter stay here. I have been enjoying all flavours and experiences that this city has to offer. I've even experienced some of the standard tourist events such as fighting with the Aztec gods (Montezuma of course). This laid me low for a few days but unfortunately after a few days when I thought I was getting better I developed a secondary infection that required visiting the doctor and getting medication. Now after 2 weeks I'm finally starting to get the spring back in my step and venturing back out. This does curtail your photography.

But back to the GPS item. Several weeks ago my friend Mike took me out to see the sunken church on the large shallow lake south-east of San Miguel.  The lake is really a reservoir and during the dry season, winter here, the church becomes fully visible.  The ground is still too mucky to be able to walk all the way out, but you can get close enough for some good shots.

If you look closely you can see some cacti growing out of the top portion of the church spire and therefore the church is not completely sunken.

What was really surprising when we first arrived was that we saw pelicans, which to many may not be unusual near water but this is at an elevation of 6,000ft and and 550 km from the nearest ocean.

I've been using on-camera GPS for almost 3 years, at least capturing the meta data with the image but I've never had to really use the info as until now I've always known exactly where I was. Not this time as this was new territory, so when I tried to use the Nikon format to enter into Google maps it took a while to find a site that would convert correctly.

Nikon gives a format such as:
Longitude:  20,52.1567N
Latitude:     100,50.1574W
Altitude:     1853m

Nikon is not DDD, MMM, SSS (Degrees, Minutes , Seconds but in format of DDD, MMM.MMMM)

Whereas Google maps required decimal degrees only in format DDD.DDDDD.

After some web searching I did find one site that would provide conversion in the Nikon format.

Nikon GPS Converter

In the Google map below the green arrow shows where I took the photo of the church above and the red arrow the top of church spire above the water.  This Google map (satellite view) was taken when the area was flooded. It is a bit strange to see that where you were standing is now underwater. A little north east of red arrow is a round ring. This is visible in the last photo of this article.

Towards the hill on the south-east in the map above is another church, not sunken but still abandoned.

Most of the foliage,except for the cacti at this time of year, is brown. This make a colour image rather drab. But converting to B&W and adding some contrast can make the photo stand out more.

In the image below the green cacti with a blue sky does make a colour version work better.

Below is the map and the green arrow shows where I was standing taking the photo above with the cacti.

As you can see the camera GPS is very accurate in capturing within feet where you where standing at the time when photograph is taken.
Another version of the sunken church where you can see the round ring that shows up beside the spire in the Google water map.

  Church with ring structure

Niels Henriksen


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