Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stashing the Atlas

Over at Under Exposed, veteran news hunter Richard Adkins waxes on the art of mobile map management - a dying discipline in the days of Mapquest and onboard GPS:
"There’s nothing like a paper map to give you a hands-on feel for the drive. Paper maps give you an overall look at the lay of the land, a bird’s eye view so you can see all your alternatives at once."
Map GrabIf RAD’s love for his onboard charts strikes you as odd, well then - you’ve never raced to a fresh plane crash on the far corner of an outlying county. I have - and I’m here to tell you, an ample atlas stash in the glove compartment is just as important as that fancy-cam sloshing around in back. More so, for if you can’t find your way to the smoldering wreckage in the first place, no degree of cinematic intent will appease the angry News Gods. It can mean the difference between quizzing the pilot as he stumbles away from the mangled craft and interviewing the driver of the flatbed truck who’s about to haul off the last remains of the twisted bird. I can hear the anchor dancing now, “The lack of video in the following piece is brought to you by ace photographer Roger Soreback, who, despite a flurry of cursed-filled u-turns, never managed to make it on scene...” Trust me, it’s not the kind of on-camera plug you wanna put at the top of your resume tape. Go with a montage, instead...

Circled Side StreetsDespite the wisdom of printed directions, I’d be w-a-y less than honest if I implied my own cache of maps was in such pristine condition. Rather, my streamlined file is in reality a mangled heap of faded hieroglyphics, badly folded origami featuring dozens of circled side streets and the blotches of a few too many jostled condiments. (Head East out of town on Highway 64, then hang a left at the small inland sea of Ranch Dressing...) Still, I’m quite attached to my tracts of topography at scale. I still get a tactile thrill from blindly thumbing through its many greasy folds while I scan the horizon for smoke plumes and steer with my knee. Simply keying in the coordinates and having some disembodied voice lead me the rest of the way just seems wrong in my book (of which several key pages are missing). For now, I’ll forgo any satellite rendered assistance, any housewife-sanctioned cyber-map printout. Give the me the glossy fold-away, the tattered road atlas, the chamber of commerce freebie that counts among vital landmarks all three locations of participating Shoe Carnivals.

I’ll get there, somehow - and I’ll be the prouder photog for it. Besides, how may times can you glop Big Mac ooze on that gleaming GPS unit, before the boys at Radio Shack stop returning your calls? My guess is, no more than three.

1 comment:

newshutr said...

I was always a map man...until I got my iQue M5 from Garmin. I have my maps as a backup now. I don't need to have seven map books of the local counties anymore strewn over the car. Plus, it talks to me....

I'm lonely on overnights....!!