Using OS OpenData to explore top Peak District photo spots

OS OpenData launched back in April 2010 and we’ve seen over a million downloads over the last five years. From red squirrels mapped in the Highlands to crime statistics overlaid on tweets, we’ve seen a huge variety of uses too. Most examples we see are online, so when we spotted OS OpenData used in a book recently, it caught our eye.

OS OpenData was used in James Grant's book

OS OpenData was used in James Grant’s book

Peak District Book Front Page Sample 300dpi-page-003James Grant published his book, ‘Peak District Through The Lens’ as a photography guide to the most picturesque places in the Peak District. As lovers of the great outdoors, and our current interest in photography with our OS Photofit competition, it would have attracted our attention anyway, but there was the added bonus of OS maps inside the book too! We spotted that James had used a couple of our OS OpenData products, OS Terrain 50 and OS VectorMap District, to illustrate his walks and we caught up with him to find out more.

“I’m a Peak District and UK landscape photographer with a passion for the outdoors. I started off as a walker and as time went by, a passion for photography developed and it became about capturing moments to savour the memories. I’m fortunate enough to live on the Peak District’s borders, which helps to inspire – plus I won a number of national competitions early on which only spurred me on further!

I started thinking about the book a couple of years ago and had a back catalogue of images for favourite locations in the Peak District dating to 2008. In December 2014, I sat down with my girlfriend, a graphic designer, and really fleshed the idea out. In February this year, I started crowd funding to see if I could raise a percentage of the funds to self-publish and was thrilled to succeed. It took a solid six months of writing, designing, editing and all the other jobs that come with putting a book together. I decided on locations from all my years of walking and photographing the Peak District. I wanted to ensure that classic views everyone knows through to some of the quieter spots were included.

Using OS OpenData in my book

When it came to maps for the book, I wanted the book to be professional and OS maps conveyed that. They’re something that everyone is familiar with and are easy to understand. I also wanted the maps to be stand-out and as far as I can tell, no other publisher has used the hill-shaded variety. Creating the maps in the book was a bit of a steep learning curve, but I used OS OpenData in QGIS. I spent quite a while getting the layers, colours, and so on how I wanted and compiling it all. There was use of Adobe Photoshop afterwards to tidy things up and add such things as a compass and scale bar, plus place names that were not included in OS OpenData. Once I got used to it, the data was a very powerful tool.

Choosing a favourite walk

If you’ve read my book, you’ll know that I’m passionate about the Peak District. If I had to choose a favourite, it would have to be Chrome and Parkhouse Hill. They are two neighbouring hills in the Dove Valley, that are quite different to any other hills in the Peak District. The view from the top of Parkhouse probably just tips the scales in which I prefer, but included in the book is a great photographic walk in the area which combines both and many other little extras.

James Grant's photo on Parkhouse Hill

James Grant’s photo on Parkhouse Hill

Aside from the Peak District, I love travelling, be it in the UK or abroad and now I’ve finished the book I intend on doing more (I’m looking at getting a campervan as I type!). I like wild camping high up mountains for them really special moments you just wouldn’t see otherwise and I simply can’t wait to get more done now I have the time.

Top three landscape photography tips

  1. Patience has to be main thing. You can spend many hours and multiple outings to capture just one photo. But you just need to enjoy it, which brings me on to my next tip…
  2. Enjoy the outdoors and build a connection with the places you visit, you’ll soon be able to appreciate what we are lucky to have on our doorsteps and your passion will show through in your photographs.
  3. I think finally, just take your time with your images. Compose carefully ensuring any distracting elements are cut out.“

Win a copy of James’ book

For the chance to win a copy of James’ book, answer this mappy question:

OL1 is the first Outdoor Leisure map OS produced and covers the Dark Peak area of the Peak District. Tell us the number of the map which covers the White Peak area of the Peak District. Just enter ‘OL’ and the number on the blog before 5 pm on Friday 18 September. Winner will be chosen at random from all of the correct entries received.

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