How to map a whole country in five days with two action cameras and a phone?

The Quest

So, my son Oskar wanted to take a road trip for our holiday week this year. We were thinking of going to Jotunheimen, in Norway, when we read about the Faroe Islands’ petition to bring Google Street View to their streets, and the resulting Sheep View project. “How cool!” we thought — that’s exactly the Mapillary spirit! We realized that there was only one Mapillary user active on the islands - lifo in Torshavn.

Oskar and I decided that we wanted to help him show the world the beauty of the Faroe Islands through photo mapping! The day we read about the islands we booked the tickets, and after the weekend we set off to drive as many of the roads of the beautiful Faroe Islands as we could manage in five days.

The Preparations

We packed a few clothes, three consumer-grade cameras (two Garmin Virb XEs and one Giroptic 360 camera), and support gear for mounting the cameras to a car and for charging them in case we ran out of power - everything ready for a multi-camera setup. Everything fit into an IKEA bag, with room to spare for snacks.

The mapping case:

the mapping case

The first thing we did on Monday evening was to go to the Torshavn tourism office (we of course mapped our way there with the Mapillary phone app). The friendly people at the office knew all about the great reach of their Sheep View story, and were extremely delighted when we told them about Mapillary. They gave us a good overview of the main tourist destinations and the islands that had roads to map, so we went back to the hotel with all the information we needed and rented a car for the next five days.

On Tuesday we rigged our cameras to the car: we placed the Giroptic panoramic camera on top of the roof, and the Garmins on the front and back of the car with normal GoPro suction cups. This is how it looked!

street view mapping car The car in action

We also brought duct tape and tried different positions and angles to make sure the panoramas were as good as possible—duct tape goes a long way!

the mapping case
The panoramic camera Giroptic
the mapping case
The front camera with cables for power

Hotel Havn

We started out from our hotel, Hotel Havn in Torshavn, every morning after breakfast, and drove for about 8-10 hours in total with breaks for ferries, food, and sightseeing. Oskar managed the cameras, the GPS tracking with the phone, the batteries, and buying snacks - I did the driving.

Every day after coming home in the evening we tried to upload some sample photos in order to test the quality. The fastest internet in town is at the Torshavn public library—thanks to the people there for staying open extra late to wait for the uploads to finish!

After trying a few different configurations, we finally settled on a setup where we pointed one action camera forward and one to the side, and drove all streets back and forth, since this is what you have to do on the Faroe Islands anyway. This way, we covered all four directions and could add the panorama on top after Mapillary processed the images.

We also tried the same camera setup manually while walking, as you can see below. These were locations where you can’t go with cars, like the Fugloy and Mykines islands and the lagoon of Saksun.

the mapping case The one-man-three-cameras rig

The results

All in all, I think we increased the photomapped coverage of the Faroese roads quite a lot in five days, as you can see below.

the mapping case Mapillary coverage before and after, image provided by @peterjkoby

And we had some luck with the weather, too. It’s often cloudy and it rains a lot, but we got five almost rain-free days!

Here are some fun moments from our trip:

The lighthouse on Surduroy - turn around to see the big bird cliff!

The beautiful remote church on Fugloy, captured with just a few cellphone images

You can check out the Faroe Islands photo story to see even more amazing places.

Oskar and I thought we did a pretty good job of taking photos, but you may be wondering, “What happened to the Sheep View images?” After getting in touch with Bárður Eklund, Digital Marketing Manager at visitfaroeislands.com, he was so kind as to send over the Sheep View images, which we’ve also uploaded into Mapillary. Here they are—quite close to where we mapped!

A sheep with a view

We were able to significantly increase the photomapping representation of the Faroe Islands with three simple cameras and a cellphone in a few days of vacation time. And the best part is, anyone can contribute their own photos! Now go fill in the blanks and tell your friends to map other remote islands!

/Peter Neubauer

Tags for this post: community tutorials travel photostories
comments powered by Disqus