Mashing it up

Krantz and Sheldon architectural images meets Google StreetView

With LibraryHack and the State Library of WA day of hack approaching, I needed a demo, a quick look at the datasets that the State Library of WA made available. I settled on the Krantz and Sheldon architectural photographs. As this was a small set of photos, I did not have to search through a whole collection of 50,000 images looking for a suitable theme, as this dataset already had a theme, the work of Krantz and Sheldon in Perth in the 1960s and 1970s. Fortunately most had some basic geolocation data, such as addresses.

The original concept was to produce an animation, using CSS3, HTML5 and javascript, showing the Krantz and Sheldon photographs alongside the current Google Streetview. I have not had the chance to animate the sequence yet, so it currently manual.

The first problem was finding the right tool for the job. Fortunately a quick search turned up Using Google Maps to show a streetview of a house based on an address by Jordan Clist.

The javascript allows you to give it an address in and returns both a google map and street view image for most locations. I say most locations, because some locations will not return street view images for an address. Even though a street view does exist for that building, it just does match the address, like 16 Hensman Street, South Perth.

The next issue was while you could get a StreetView for an address, the image does not always suit your needs. A quick look at the javascript found 3 variables you could pass StreetView to change the angle, pitch and zoom. So the javascript was quickly modified to allow me to pass the heading, pitch and zoom variables to StreetView and return a image that more suited my needs.

The next process was the time consuming one. Pumping addresses into StreetView then manually adjust the heading, pitch and zoom to get the preferred view. I quickly found:

  • not all addresses return a StreetView;
  • some addresses return great images of trees obscuring buildings;
  • you can get a StreetView from corner … and … and ;
  • often it was necessary to go up or down the street and adjust the heading to get a suitable image.

Still it is far from perfect, it is almost impossible to replicate the original viewpoint of the Krantz and Sheldon photographs from StreetView. Not all photographs had addresses, and you could not get images of all building from StreetView. It would of been better to go take photos of all the building from the original viewpoint. Still if you want to see the current results, the square version for Safari, Chrome, Webkit, Opera and Firefox 3 and the funky circular version for Firefox 4 and IE9.

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