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Combining modern land cover with historic imagery

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I am working on a map highlighting a family property on a lake and the surrounding region (i.e. ~ 10x10 km area). I'm interested in displaying modern land cover classes adjacent to historic aerial imagery from the 1940's and from the 1970's. I created the land cover classes using image segmentation on 0.5 m 4-band NAIP imagery from 2009. The results are outstanding and very accurately classify the surrounding region into: Conifer, mixed-conifer, deciduous, wetland and grassland. I hope to highlight the classified raster in the map, perhaps as a 30% transparent layer over 0.5 m resolution NAIP imagery. To show interesting historic aerial imagery, I was thinking about creating two data frames to the right side of the main highlighted raster.

The objective of this map is to provide a visually appealing wall map (i.e. 16x24") where people can see both temporal change and see modern land cover.

The audience is the general public (i.e. the previously mentioned property owners) with no particular knowledge of land classification or imagery.

How should I put these seemingly disconnected layers into one visually striking map? Any thoughts, ideas or methods for map layout or additional layers needed etc would be greatly appreciated. Any links or examples that I could use as a template would be helpful too.

Dennis McClendon

Dennis McClendon

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You don't say who you expect to be the audience.

If it's primarily laymen, such as visitors to a family or church "camp," I might think about creating a triptych, with maps from the three eras all shown the same size. I'd frame them with snapshots of the time, tickets/ephemera, maybe even "stock" photos of autos and outdoor clothing of the era to give some context and visual interest. If you have a feel for such things, you can even use typefaces and design vocabulary of the era on the maps—but if you don't have a real appreciation of those aspects they can quickly turn into an embarrassing caricature. For example, a 1940s map will use Leroy lettering, not some high-fashion display face found in a Life magazine ad. A 1970s map might use Souvenir Gothic as the typeface; it won't look like a Peter Max poster.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics

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