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The Gershman Y Quilt
|| 3/8/2010 || 3:27 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

: rendered at 18,000 X 12,000 :
The Gershman Y Quilt by Nikolas Schiller

The first map in this series uses the resampled aerial photography that was republished in 2006 laid out in a Hexagon Quilt Projection. Aside from the Gershman Y, this map contains the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and the Suzanne Roberts Theater.

The subsequent maps in this series will all be derived from this map.

View the Google Map of Philadelphia.


: detail :

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The Eye of Philadelphia
|| 3/7/2010 || 3:20 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

: rendered at 9,000 X 6,000 :
The Eye of Philadelphia by Nikolas Schiller

I’ve started working on a series for next month’s exhibition in Philadelphia. I’m not sure what final scope of the project will end up being, but I’m enjoying the act of making new maps again.

The first in this series is based off of the similarly pattered “eye” series that I used in locations like Kansas City, Missouri and Erie, Pennsylvania. The imagery used in this project is based off of two type of aerial photography from the USGS. This map employs the .75m per pixel spatial resolution that was published in 2004. You can read the metadata here.

While there is newer 2006 imagery at .15m per pixel, there has not been subsequent imagery added to the USGS servers since I made my first generation maps of this city. I found and requested newer imagery from the city of Philadelphia, but was met with no answer upon two e-mails. Therefore I had to follow-up with the older imagery that is slightly out-dated, but just as useful for what I am working on.

I chose .75m resolution imagery for the oblique nature of the imagery. This allows the viewer to see the sides of buildings they would otherwise not see if the photograph was taken directly above; which is the case with most orthorectified imagery. I’m please with the results and look forward to printing it out.

View the Google Map of Philadelphia.


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Participating in my Monthly Maps Sale in 3 Easy Steps
|| 8/26/2009 || 11:08 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Washington Monument Quilt by Nikolas Schiller - The first Monthly Map

Starting earlier this month those who are subscribed to my listserv were given the opportunity to purchase a map at the reasonable price of $100. I felt this was a great way to cheaply obtain the different maps I have created over the years. Since I have hundreds of maps to choose from, this monthly opportunity will last for years and ultimately become a great way to collect my maps.

Previously I used to point people to my ImageKind Store, but I wasn’t pleased with some of the cheap papers the maps were printed on, and have chosen to remove the middle man, so to speak, and have all the map purchases go directly through me. This way I can control the materials the maps are printed on, personally sign each map, and ensure the quality for each map that is produced.

For the month of August, the first Monthly Map, I chose was Washington Monument Quilt (above), which I first rendered on January 31st, 2006. Since the area around the Washington Monument was redacted in the 2005 USGS aerial photography, I felt it was a worthwhile piece to start with.

After sending out my initial e-mail about the offering, I had a friend contact me about purchasing the map and decided to document some of the steps involved in the process of ordering the maps through me….



Washington Monument Quilt by Nikolas Schiller in a shipping tube

Photo of the tube the map is shipped inside of.

Step One – Payment

You can either contact me about sending cash or a check or you can quickly & easily pay the $100 by credit card on my PayPal merchant account page. After I receive the payment, I will need your mailing address if you want the map mailed to you. If you live in Washington, DC, I can either mail it to you or meet you in person and hand-deliver the map. I’ve found it easiest to go through PayPal because it’s quick and safe.



Washington Monument Quilt by Nikolas Schiller in a shipping tube

Photo of the rolled up map next to the shipping tube

Step Two – Printing

After I receive payment, I send the map to the printer. For the time being, my Monthly Map Sale is featuring 30″ x 20″ prints on Kodak PerfectTouch Paper. Throughout the last 5 years I’ve had the best results on this medium, both in quality of colors and durability of the paper. It’s also the same medium I used when I donated 8 maps to the Library of Congress in 2006. In about 3 days or less, I receive confirmation that the map has been printed and is in transit to me or you.



Washington Monument Quilt by Nikolas Schiller in a shipping tube

Photo of unrolled map of Washington Monument Quilt

Step Three – Shipping

I can have the map shipped directly to you as well (without signature, date, or label) for faster turnaround or I can have it shipped to my house. After the map arrives, I remove it from the shipping tube (above), carefully flip it over, label the name of the map, label the date it was originally rendered, label the date it was printed, and sign the map (below).

After this, I roll the map back up into the tube, add a little extra padding to ensure the map will not be damaged, then I bring it to the post office. Three days later it should be delivered to your mailbox. Or if the map is purchased locally, we can meet up and exchange the map in person.



Washington Monument Quilt by Nikolas Schiller in a shipping tube

Photo of the label, date, and partial signature

THATS IT! I think the whole process is pretty simple. In all this process takes about one or two weeks depending on the speed at which the payment is received and how long it takes for the map to be printed and shipped.

I think the hardest part of it all will be choosing which map to offer each month! Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing this month’s map or have suggestions for future Monthly Map offerings.



Postmodern Cartography: You Are Probably Not Here
|| 8/8/2009 || 2:56 pm || 3 Comments Rendered || ||

You Are Probably Not Here with pushpins

Just click!

You’ve probably seen a map sometime in your lifetime that proclaims YOU ARE HERE. Well what if you are looking at a random location? You could actually be there, but you are probably not. I first came up with this postmodern cartographic concept back in December of 2007 when I made the first graphic. Yesterday I decided to expand the concept by adding new graphics and making a webpage dedicated to the concept. It currently features only 8 different foreground graphics that are randomly displayed over two folders of map ‘zoom-ins’ (146 close up & 136 far away) originally used in “American Stereography #3.” I hope to add more foreground graphics over time and I would also like to update the background image folders with newer imagery because the page currently shows only maps that I made in 2006.

Total number of visual combinations: 2256 = (146 X 8) + (136 X 8)

Just click click click to cycle through the images


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Photo of the Sandy Spring Friends School Quilt Printed on Polyester Fabric
|| 8/7/2009 || 6:00 pm || 4 Comments Rendered || ||

Photo of the Sandy Spring Friends School Quilt Printed on Polyester Fabric

I gave this map to the client Wednesday afternoon, but not before snapping a photograph of the final version of the map. I have to say that seeing a map on my website is a completely different experience than seeing one in person. When you are actually looking at the map, all the details come through, as opposed to viewing them on-line, where the map’s scale is reduced considerably. This map was printed at 60″ x 40″ on polyester fleece and I am quite happy how the printing turned out! I sincerely hope the final recipient enjoys it :-)

As always, send me a message if you interested in purchasing a map or having one commissioned for yourself or as a gift.


[Commissioned Map] Sandy Spring Friends School – Tessellation One
[Commissioned Map] Sandy Spring Friends School – Tessellation Two
[Commissioned Map] Sandy Spring Friends School – Tessellation Three
[Commissioned Map] Sandy Spring Friends School – Tessellation Four
[Commissioned Map] Sandy Spring Friends School – Tessellation Five
[Commissioned Map] Sandy Spring Friends School Quilt


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A Gigapan of the 105 & 110 Quilt
|| 3/23/2009 || 3:10 pm || Comments Off on A Gigapan of the 105 & 110 Quilt || ||


After uploading yesterday’s map to Gigapan, I realized that most of my maps on the website are not really panoramas. They were big files, but not wide panoramas, so I decided to make a special map that looks more like a panorama. To do this, I found the map 105 & 110 Quilt in my archives and opened it up. Then I increased the size of the canvas by a factor of 3 to 27,000 pixels wide and added two more copies of the map in the new space. Finally I saved it and uploaded it. I could easily do this with the rest of the Los Angeles Interchanges Series, but I think one example is enough for the time being. I would have made it larger, but my computer can only handle files 30,000 pixels or smaller. Maybe if I were to use a different computer with more ram and more hard drive space I could actually make a GIGApan.


If you are subscribed to my RSS feed and are reading this on through your RSS reader, please click here to view it on my website or click here to view it on the Gigapan website.


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A Gigapan of Erie Coke Corporation Eye
|| 3/22/2009 || 4:43 pm || Comments Off on A Gigapan of Erie Coke Corporation Eye || ||


After posting the map, I decided to upload it to the Gigapan website in order to add a little more interactivity to the map.


If you are subscribed to my RSS feed and are reading this on through your RSS reader, please click here to view it on my website or click here to view it on the Gigapan website.


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A Gigapan of West Sahara Lake Circles Quilt #2
|| 3/10/2009 || 11:25 pm || + Render A Comment || ||


Last month I decided to upload my map of the New York Public Library to Gigapan to see what it looked like. Today I uploaded my most recent map for you to check out. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to upload my maps here because it takes a long time to open them up and resave them as jpegs, but I find them quite fun to look at. Maybe the next one I’ll have something hidden in the map and make it into a quasi-Where’s Waldo style game.


If you are subscribed to my RSS feed and are reading this on through your RSS reader, please click here to view it on my website or click here to view it on the Gigapan website.


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Harvard Quilt #3
|| 2/25/2009 || 1:42 pm || Comments Off on Harvard Quilt #3 || ||

: rendered at 18,000 X 12,000 :
Harvard Quilt Number 3 by Nikolas R. Schiller

The other day I decided to snoop around on some of my old hard drives and discovered that I had quite a bit of imagery that I never used to create a map. Yesterday I decided to use some of this imagery to make today’s map. It features .3 meter per pixel imagery that was taken in 2002 of the area around Harvard University.

What is interesting about this imagery is that its really not .3 meters per pixel, but closer to .6 meters per pixel. I found this out when I was post-processing this map and discovered that when the imagery is viewed at its full resolution it becomes quite blurry. At first I thought that I had screwed up and over-projected the map, but when I reopened the source imagery I discovered that it was blurry to begin with. Had I known this, I would have only rendered the map at 9,000 x 6,000 (one half the current size) because this downsampling would make the map less blurry.

Anyways, I haven’t been as active on the mapping front because I’ve made just about every major city in America. I still intend on publishing an atlas featuring all of these maps, but I have yet to find an interested publisher and am wary about going down the self-publishing route. I would, however, love to start mapping cities in Europe. Please contact me if you can obtain public domain imagery of any European city.

View the Google Map of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

: detail :

Do you see the heart within a heart?

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A Gigapan of the New York Public Library Quilt
|| 2/12/2009 || 12:40 pm || Comments Off on A Gigapan of the New York Public Library Quilt || ||


A couple weeks ago, after seeing the fabulous Gigapan of the 2009 Inauguration by David Bergman, I decided to try out Gigapan for myself.

In the past I’ve used Zoomify to do roughly the same type of zooms, but over the years I’ve found that it has some important limitations. Most notably, I’ve found that Zoomify freezes up after I’ve been using it for a couple of minutes, which would always force me to reload the page. I believe this has to do with the Flash buffer or cache filling up with data and slowing down the viewing experience. Maybe the software engineers have changed this flaw, but I haven’t been too keen on adding all my maps as Zoomifiable entries because it takes too much time and I’m aware of a means to reverse engineer the tiles into the original map.

What is unique about this Gigapan, unlike all of my previous Zoomify maps, is that I went through the extra steps of saving the original map at its full size in .jpg format. In the past when I’d use Zoomify, I’d use a map that was saved at 9,000 x 6,000 pixels, which is half the original size of 18,000 x 12,000 pixels. The reason I shrunk the map was because I was unable to save the full-sized map in .jpg format using my photo manipulation software. Since the free Zoomify converter only took .jpgs, instead of the native tiff file format, I would have to resave the file at its largest size in .jpg format, which was around 9,000 x 6,000 pixels.

In order to bypass this current limitation, I chose to use Graphic Converter to open the original 18,000 x 12,000 tiff file and save it as a .jpg. The inherent problem here is that even with a somewhat new computer, it takes about 15 minutes to open the 216 megapixel file and another 10 minutes to save the file. In the end, the final .jpg saved to about 65 megabytes, which is considerably smaller than the original file size of about 500 megabytes. With this newly compressed map being so much smaller in size, I was able to upload it and share it here.

As regular readers know, a printed 60″ x 40″ copy of this map was donated to the Map Division at the New York Public Library back in October when I gave my presentation to the New York Map Society. If you are in New York City and curious about what it looks like printed out, head over to the library and ask to see it.


If you are subscribed to my RSS feed and are reading this on through your RSS reader, please click here to view it on my website or click here to view it on the Gigapan website.


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A Digital Scrapbook for the Past, Present, and Future.

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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