Talking maps, beautiful Britain and #OSPhotofit with Bonita Norris


Bonita taking part in a TV interview at OS head office

We were thrilled to have Bonita Norris in our head office last week, helping us launch the #OSPhotofit competition. In 2010, at the age of 22, Bonita became the youngest British woman to reach the summit of Everest. Her next challenge is taking her back to the Himalayas and she also squeezes in time to present for Red Bull on extreme sports. So, abseiling down our head office and taking part in dozens of radio and TV interviews on launch day must have seemed like a walk in the park. In between all of the interviews, and filming videos for us on how to enter OS Photofit and how to fold a paper map, we also caught up with Bonita to ask a few questions…

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What can an Ordnance Survey paper map help you discover on your next outdoor adventure? We ask Nick Lindsay, product manager of OS paper maps

triathlon1-nickIn light of our new competition – OS Photofit we interviewed Nick Lindsay, paper maps product manager here at Ordnance Survey on what makes paper maps great! Here’s what he had to say…

Can you tell us about the history behind Ordnance Survey’s paper maps?

Ordnance Survey is Britain’s mapping agency and what we do is connect all of the mapping data needed for publication of mapping products and services covering all 250,000 square kilometers of Great Britain. We’ve been doing this since 1791, with our first map produced in 1801 and our Outdoor Leisure maps materialising in the 1970s!

To see for yourself how our paper maps have changed in the last 200 years, check out this short video. Continue reading “What can an Ordnance Survey paper map help you discover on your next outdoor adventure? We ask Nick Lindsay, product manager of OS paper maps”

How to capture a great landscape photo

Naturalist and film-maker Simon King was the perfect choice to join the judging panel for our OS Photofit competition as we look for landscape photos to feature on our maps. If you’re thinking of entering and capturing some stunning snaps of Britain, read Simon’s tips. 

Capturing a still image that tells a story is the Holy Grail for many photographers. For a picture to reveal more than just a moment in time takes careful planning, an eye for detail and a good dose of luck.

Ordnance Survey have always sought to adorn the covers of their maps with images that capture both a sense of place and a flavour of the unique character that defines that place.

Landscape photography is a discipline that on the surface appears simple and yet, like so many things, requires careful consideration before executing it.  It helps if you know the lie of the land you intend to capture, and a great place to start is by carefully studying… yep you guessed it…an OS map!  You should be able to locate viewpoints and features of interest before setting foot outside.

Use a map to find the best spot to take a photo (photo by Paul Shaw)

Use a map to find the best spot to take a photo (photo by Paul Shaw)

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Ordnance Survey’s paper maps – can you make the cover? Launching the #OSphotofit competition

Today, we are launching a brand new competition for 2015 – OS Photofit – and we can’t wait for budding photographers across Britain to get involved!

To support our recent brand refresh and in light of the revival in sales of our paper maps, we are looking for inspiring photographs of Britain’s stunning rural and urban landscapes to take pride of place on the covers of our paper maps for some of the most popular tourist destinations and biggest cities across Great Britain.

Whether it’s flowing rivers, modern buildings, views of a valley or life in the city, we want to show that Great Britain is a beautiful place to enjoy and explore. What better way to do this than on the front covers of our iconic OS Explorer Outdoor Leisure series maps!

OSPhotofit Continue reading “Ordnance Survey’s paper maps – can you make the cover? Launching the #OSphotofit competition”

Our Director Peter ter Haar is running the London Marathon for MapAction

Guest blog from our Director of Products, Peter ter Haar, on training for the London Marathon in support of MapAction.

Peter Ter Haar profileThis year I will run the London Marathon for MapAction. I only got into running about 18 months ago; I was 51 years old, overweight and often tired for no real reason. I have never been into team sports, probably because as a kid I was always the tall one (6’5’’) that couldn’t control his limbs. Another excuse I used for being inactive was that in my career I have always been travelling a lot, so where would I find the time?

So where did I start? I’ve always been a bit of a geek, so the trend of ‘wearables’ (Fitbit, Jawbone Up!, Garmin Vivofit and many other step counters) was something I was happy to try, to see if it would make me more active. It worked for me; getting the step counter over 10,000 steps a day a few days a week was really cool. But that was not enough, so I dug out the running shoes that my wife and I bought over 10 years ago and I went out for a run. Being honest, I did injure myself a few times in the first six months. Continue reading “Our Director Peter ter Haar is running the London Marathon for MapAction”

GeoVation Challenge finalists Democratising Development

We recently announced our GeoVation finalists for the housing challenge that we’d worked on with Land Registry. Four fantastic ideas, all using data from us and LR, aiming to help Britons live in better places, became successful finalists. For the first time last year, we ran a series of our opendata masterclasses to support people in building their ideas for the challenge using our data. Andy Reeve (pictured on the left below), one of the finalists with Democratising Development, shares his GeoVation experience from joining in a masterclass through to the camp.


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How do we map Great Britain? are two questions we’re often asked: ‘Why is there a man (or woman) in a hi-vis OS jacket in my area carrying a pole?’ and ‘Why is there an OS plane going backwards and forwards overhead?’

In both cases, whether on foot or in the air, it’s members of our surveying team, capturing some of the thousands of changes taking place every day and adding them to our mastermap of Great Britain. As well as 250 surveyors on the ground working across the country, we operate two aircraft which are used to take aerial photography and are based in East Midlands Airport. They capture on average 50,000 aerial images covering 40 000 km squared of Britain every year. Continue reading “How do we map Great Britain?”

Enter our short blog survey

We’d love it if you could spare five minutes of your time to fill out our short blog survey. We’d just like your thoughts on our blog and the articles we share. As a thank you for completing the survey, we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win one of three Custom Made maps.

Please complete the survey by Friday 6 February.