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The Daily Render


A Digital Scrapbook for the Past, Present, and Future


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.

: detail :

View the rest of the details:


another QR Code mistake
|| 4/23/2008 || 12:24 pm || Comments Off on another QR Code mistake || ||

: rendered at 9,000 x 6,000 :

The other week I attempted to hack the QR-Code to see if I could visually embed a censored aerial photograph of the Washington Monument to create “Geovisual QR Code“. While I was unsuccessful, I enjoyed the process of experimenting with this type of visual code.

Today I tried to make a second QR Code design based off a QR Code tessellation. I was able to make the tessellation without a problem and when I was finished I saved the new QR Code as a GIF. When I imported the GIF into my rendering program I noticed that something was awry. Instead of being shown in black & white I was seeing bits of color. I assume that this happened because the program does not take GIF files well. This might have happened because I saved the GIF as an interlaced file and when the program was deconstructing the GIF it created some type of visual static. Instead of casting the mistake aside, I decided to see what the final result would be, and frankly sometimes even mistakes can look quite cool.

Up next will be the intended QR Code design.

: zoom to center :

View the rest of the details:


Boston Financial District Quilt
|| 4/20/2008 || 8:11 pm || Comments Off on Boston Financial District Quilt || ||

: rendered at 12,000 X 8,000 :
Boston Commons Quilt #2

Continuing my series of maps of Boston, Massachusetts, today’s map features Boston’s Financial District. Using the same Quilt / Lenz hybrid that I first employed in Rochester Quilt #2, I placed a magnifying sphere over the center of the map. This magnified geography in the center of the map features Boston’s Government Center, Faneiul Hall, and the nearby Faneuil Hall Marketplace. As your eye moves away from the center the rest of Boston’s Financial District is revealed.

View the Google Map of Boston’s Financial District.

: detail :

View the rest of the details:


Brownsville Spheres
|| 3/17/2008 || 5:30 pm || Comments Off on Brownsville Spheres || ||

: rendered at 15,000 X 10,000 :Brownsville Spheres.

Brownsville is the southernmost border town in the state of Texas. Similar to my “Ciudad Paso” maps, this map features land in both America (Brownsville) & Mexico (Matamoros, Tamaulipas) and literally focuses on border issues like immigration.

Using the same elements of Charlotte Spheres, I decided to make another version of this type of Lenz-influenced map. Unlike the previous version, which featured the spheres completely centered, I chose to move the spheres around to achieve a desired result.

Specifically, I noticed that a few of the spheres (four to be precise) hovered over the border facility where cars are waiting in line (below) to cross into America/Mexico. If you look closely, you can see the border/bridge at 3 different spatial scales. This visual element is what I like the most about using the spheres in my maps because it forces your eye to move around the page to identify places where the geography is the same and where the scale is different. One drawback, however, is that I cannot accurately predict how much magnification the spheres will produce. This map, for example, was slightly overprojected (see the graininess below), but unless I am printing it at it’s largest size, its hard to tell the degree to which the imagery was overprojected. I chose to render the map at 15Kx10K instead of the normal 18Kx12K to allow for 3,000 pixels worth of magnification to take place, yet after looking at the results, I probably should have rendered it at 12Kx9K. Oh well, thats the beauty of trial & error; next one will be better.

View the Google Map of Brownsville, Texas.

View the rest of the details:


Federal Triangle Refraction
|| 3/6/2008 || 12:16 pm || Comments Off on Federal Triangle Refraction || ||

: rendered at 12,000 X 8,000 :
Federal Triangle Refraction by Nikolas Schiller

Lately I’ve been revisiting some of the elements from the Lenz Projection— specifically in the Charlotte Spheres, Pentagon Spheres, Grand Design Lenz Quilt, and Rochester Quilt #2. Today I decided to experiment a little more with aerial refraction. Using the 3rd derivative tessellation, originally used in Federal Triangle Quilt #4, I this created a visually engaging map. I like how the bars look very similar to my polar coordinate experiments. Specifically, I like the way that they imagery is curved and refracted. What I don’t like, however, is the way the shadows present themselves within the refraction. Since like bars are angled toward the viewer, they create a darker hue due to their internal shadows. The way around this is to decrease the angle of the bars, but in response to this, the imagery bends less. I will probably revisit this type of map in the future.

View the Google Map of Federal Triangle in downtown Washington, DC.

View the rest of the details:


Charlotte Spheres #2
|| 2/3/2008 || 7:52 pm || Comments Off on Charlotte Spheres #2 || ||

: rendered at 9,000 X 6,000 :
Charlotte Spheres 2

Using a portion of Charlotte Spheres #1, I created this derivative map. I noticed that there was over-projection in some parts of the first map, so I under-projected this map to reduce further pixilation. The result is one of the most exquisite quilt projection maps yet! It has a nice assortment of aerial photography at multiple scales and the geometric designs of the original buildings standout quite nicely. I look forward to getting this printed eventually because it’s quite fun to look at.

Speaking of printing, I spent some of my hard-earned funds on a 60″ x 40″ canvas print of Federal Triangle Quilt #4. This is the largest printing I’ve ordered for myself. I joined Imagekind exactly one year ago and not once did I ever get around to purchasing one of my maps at it’s largest size and on the most expensive media. It’s not like I didn’t want to, but I just wasn’t sure which one to purchase. I have a $2,500 check arriving shortly from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and I intend on purchasing quite a few more! Very excited.

One disappointment was how the canvas hangs using Poster Hangers. I hung it vertically and the sides of the canvas bend inward. I knew this was going to happen somewhat, but I was expecting so much bend– like a full two inches curving inward. Another interesting observation is how the texture of the canvas adds to the quilted nature of the projection technique. When it comes to quality and longevity of media, I think I’m going to do most of my future printing on canvas. It costs more, but I think it’s worth it.

Also arriving last week was Imagekind’s Sample Media Kit, which contains samples of all of the company’s media that my maps are printed on. It costs $15, but you get $15 off your next purchase, so it’s kind of worth it. My evaluation of the kit was rather simple: does it reflect too much light or does the paper/canvas tear? The winner, and what I printed Federal Triangle Quilt #4 and Israel / Palestine 1993 on, was the Epson Piezo Pro Matte Canvas.

View the Google Map of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.

View the rest of the details:


Charlotte Spheres
|| 2/2/2008 || 4:59 pm || Comments Off on Charlotte Spheres || ||

: rendered at 15,000 X 10,000 :
Charlotte Spheres by Nikolas Schiller

About a week ago I noticed someone from Charlotte, North Carolina looked at my website multiple times. One time while they were exploring my website the person did a search for “Charlotte” and since I had not made a map of Charlotte yet, they didn’t find anything….

Using the same Lenz Projection elements used in Pentagon Spheres and Dupont Circle Lenz Quilt, I developed this unique map. However, unlike the Pentagon Spheres map, I arranged the height of the spheres in a different pattern and I used a diamond quilt projection for the background.

I am quite pleased with the results. Specifically, I like how the magnification varies perfectly on the left and right-hand side of the map. Below you can see a close up detail of two identical locations that were magnified differently. The magnification process is quite processor intensive which made this map take over 10 hours to render– the longest render time since I purchased my MacBook last year and I didn’t even render it at my standard size.

View the Google Map of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.

: detail :

View the rest of the details:


Audio from Teresa Mendez’s article in the Christian Science Monitor
|| 1/29/2008 || 4:38 am || Comments Off on Audio from Teresa Mendez’s article in the Christian Science Monitor || ||

I was able to extract Teresa Mendez’s 90 second audio segment from the Christian Science Monitor‘s website. I uploaded it to my website for archival purposes. You can listen to her talk about the Festival of Maps in Chicago and my Lenz Projection.

Click here to download the 90 second MP3.

The Grand Design Lenz Quilt
|| 1/13/2008 || 11:20 am || Comments Off on The Grand Design Lenz Quilt || ||

: rendered at 9,000 X 6,000 :
The Grand Design Lenz Quilt

Using the elements from the Lenz Projection I was able to magnify portions of a tessellated Messier 101 Pinwheel Galaxy (a grand design galaxy) to create this fine celestial perspective.

Read more about this project here.

View Details:


Rochester Quilt #2
|| 12/18/2007 || 11:19 am || Comments Off on Rochester Quilt #2 || ||

: rendered at 15,000 X 10,000 :
Rochester Quilt #2

This map features the transparent sphere originally used in the Lenz Project. By placing the sphere on the map, it magnifies whatever region it is placed over, and for this map it’s been placed at the center. I rendered the map at 150 megapixels instead of the standard 216 because I did not want to over-project area within the Lenz. As in, if the sphere magnifies the raster map too much it will cause it to blur when projected at a large size, so by limiting the size of the map I prevented the level of potential blurriness. The last map I made that used this process was the Pentagon Spheres, but this is first time I’ve used the Lenz at the center of a dodecagon quilt projection map. I hope to use this technique more in the future.

View the Google Map of the Rochester, New York

View Details:


The art of Map Fest by Teresa Mendez – The Christian Science Monitor
|| 12/14/2007 || 12:42 pm || Comments Off on The art of Map Fest by Teresa Mendez – The Christian Science Monitor || ||


Exactly 9 months to the day after David Montgomery’s article in the Washington Post was published, Teresa Mendez writes a great piece about maps and she includes section about me:

__snippet__[with links added]

They are artists such as Ms. Contro and the 11 others featured in “The Legend Altered: Maps as Method and Medium,” the Carrie Secrist Gallery exhibition. And they are artists such as Nikolas Schiller.

Except Mr. Schiller hesitates when asked to define what he does. Is the young D.C. resident, profiled earlier this year on the cover of The Washington Post Style section, an artist? Is he a mapmaker?

“I make pretty maps or artistic maps,” he says, searching for the right description, “or boutique maps.” He finally settles on “conceptual cartographer.”

Schiller takes US Geological Survey aerial photographs and plays with them.

The Quilt Projection” which his website (www.nikolasschiller.com) calls “A Journey Through Geometric Geography” is his most prolific series. It consists of 350 images that look less like maps and more like something you might see peering through a kaleidoscope.

There are the “quilted” neighborhoods of Mount Vernon in Baltimore, Md., and Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan. There is George Washington University in D.C., which Schiller attended for a time, and the University of Texas at Austin. Look close enough and you can identify familiar landmarks: streets, parks, a monument. But step back and the tessellation makes for a wonderfully abstract mosaic.

Schiller’s work is a way to see the world anew, to be an explorer when nearly every corner of the earth has previously been combed.

“With the world already charted and mapped,” he says, “geospatial art allows you to discover it all over again.”

Schiller is something of a curator of maps. He can point one to websites of antique maps, industry maps, and calendars detailing map exhibits around the world. The Internet, it would seem, abounds with cartograms. Twice, he mentions the Waldseemueller Map.

Also included on the Christian Science Monitor’s website is a 90 second audio report filed by the author. She talks about my Lenz Projection and how it was developed.


Dupont Lenz Quilt Animation
|| 8/7/2007 || 9:46 pm || Comments Off on Dupont Lenz Quilt Animation || ||

Click on the screenshot above to watch the 30 second animation of Dupont Circle. [12 mb download]

Miami Lenz
|| 1/6/2006 || 7:20 pm || Comments Off on Miami Lenz || ||

: rendered at 8,000 by 6,000:

Thats only a half signature :-) Check the google map, but imagine you can zoom in even further into the map above than you can on google maps! And my maps do not have my name embedded in them like Google’s do….

Adams Morgan Lenz #2
|| 10/23/2005 || 8:58 am || Comments Off on Adams Morgan Lenz #2 || ||

: rendered at 10,000 X 7,500 :

rendering details:


Adams Morgan Lenz
|| 10/20/2005 || 7:04 pm || Comments Off on Adams Morgan Lenz || ||

: rendered at 10,000 X 7,500 :

The last rendering I made for the Lenz Project was back on July 22nd, so I figured that it was about time to make another. I definitely like the way it turned out because I rotated the central plane at a 45 degree angle and it made the intersection of 18th & Columbia more pronounced.

I was going to make a second version by using the “inverse” of the source imagery, but my Mac’s internet connection (via it’s 25ft ethernet cable) was screwed up and I had to restart the computer (in hindsight, I realized I didn’t need to reboot grrr). I did save how I wanted make version two, so I might make it this weekend…..

rendering details:


The Washington National Cathedral Lenz
|| 7/22/2005 || 7:16 pm || Comments Off on The Washington National Cathedral Lenz || ||

This rendering was made for a very special friend of mine. You can see her apartment building all over this rendering (I believe you can see it about 20 times!) and you can see the Washington National Cathedral 8 times reflected around the center (hence the name).

Although the cathedral is actually an Episcopal church, I think that the layout of the rendering, and more specifically, the way Wisconsin Ave. forms the central ridge, makes the image look very similar to the Irish Cross (below).

This is actually the second rendering because I had to scrap the first one because there was a slight defect and has been deleted. The square within the circle was too large and I had to shrink it to make it look like the rest of the renderings in the “Lenz Project.” Regardless, I look forward to seeing this one hanging on her wall shortly :-)

view rendering details:


Ballwin Lenz #2
|| 7/6/2005 || 2:44 pm || Comments Off on Ballwin Lenz #2 || ||

My mother received her print of Ballwin Lenz a few weeks back and left a message on my phone about how much she loves it. She said she got out a map and was able to find the our old apartment building in the image. Hearing about her doing this I felt compelled to make a second rendering!

Using the same style as the “Mandala Project,” on the inside, I placed the 6 way reflection inside of the “Lenz Project” template, and I absolutely love the way it turned out. My old apartment building is all over the center of the rendering! Nothing hits home, like your old home :-) I guess you could also say that around the center is the true Star of Ballwin (or I’d like to think!).

Read my entry on the first Ballwin Lenz.

view rendering detail:


Jefferson Lenz
|| 6/11/2005 || 12:15 pm || Comments Off on Jefferson Lenz || ||

After having Bryce crash while I was setting up the scene, I was very excited to be able to replicate the exact positions of all the objects and to finally start the rendering of this image, albeit over an hour later. This is my first rendering where I’ve gone beyond the standard 4X & 8X reflection to 12X reflection. I am very excited about where this new discovery will take my next set of renderings. Next I am going to attempt to apply this technique to the “Quilt Project“.

As for the Jefferson Lenz itself, there is a slight error in the background where the two objects meet on the seam. Although you cannot see it in the scaled down version above, the two don’t line up perfectly symmetrical- which kinda sucks, but its because I rushed that part of the setup. I was too eager to get the rendering started because of the new central reflections I forgot to see if the background looked perfect or not.

Anyways, I’ll be making another rendering shortly with this imagery…which is actually the same imagery I used for the Washington Monument Lenz, but the way the reflections turned out, you can’t see the Washington Monument, except in the background. So it was going to called Washington Monument Lenz #2, but since you can only see the Jefferson Memorial, I named the rendering accordingly.

Yeah for the weekend!

view rendering detail:


Baltimore Lenz #3
|| 6/9/2005 || 9:09 pm || Comments Off on Baltimore Lenz #3 || ||

Wow. The artifacts left in the center make this one of the most beautiful renderings yet. It almost looks like a snowflake has appeared inside of the rendering. The time which the original USGS aerial photograph was taken (probably around 3pm) makes the rendering interesting because you can see a boat speeding toward the inner harbor on a cloudless day.

I gave my last rendering, Georgetown Lenz #2, a secondary name, “circle of life,” and I’m giving this one the name, “the inner innner harbor.” It’s partly a joke on the Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and partly a more personal dimension, of your own inner mind, where one harbors the thoughts of life.

view rendering detail:


Baltimore Lenz #2
|| 6/8/2005 || 10:04 am || Comments Off on Baltimore Lenz #2 || ||

This rendering was made for a client so it doesn’t have my normal tag on it. It uses the Baltimore Inner Harbor as the focal point which I think the client will appreciate. The next rendering will definitely be either “Baltimore Quilt” or “Baltimore Lenz #3,” the latter will get the same reflection treatment that DC Lenz #4 got. I can’t wait to see how the inner harbor looks reflected! Look at the first Baltimore Lenz….can you imagine what it will look like with 2X more reflection? I am visualizing it right now :)

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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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The Lenz Project

Mandala Project

The Star Series

Abstract Series

Memory Series

Mother Earth Series
Mother Earth

Misc Renderings


+ 95 in 2008
+ 305 in 2007
+ 213 in 2006
+ 122 in 2005
+ 106 in 2004


- The Los Angeles Interchanges Series
- The Lost Series
- Terra Fermi
- Antique Map Mashups
- Google StreetView I.E.D.
- LOLmaps
- The Inaugural Map
- The Shanghai Map
- Ball of Destruction
- The Lenz Project - Maps at the Library of Congress
- Winner of the Everywhere Man Award


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