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Worth Submitting These Photos?


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I was out caching yesterday and decided to hike over and take a look for MY2744 TOWNERS 1935. The station's drill hole turned out to be in the middle of an overgrown patch by the bottom of a small oak that'd taken root on the outcrop. First time I've had to start with the reference marks and work backwards to the station. (I'm sure that's old hat for the regulars here, but it was a new experience for me. :D)


Feeling nice and confident about submitting the text part of the recovery on this one. All reference marks were present, GPSr readings were within 0.1 seconds of the published location, distances and bearings from the station drill hole to the RMs checked out. No worries on that score.


But I'm wondering about the photos I took, and whether they're worth submitting to NGS in this case. The closeup is...well...just a picture of a hole. No disk or stamping, of course, no interesting little undocumented lead plug...it's just a drill hole. Is a closeup like this actually useful to anyone?




I'm just having a tough time picturing some surveyor a few years down the road pulling up this picture on their laptop and saying "Hmmm, I was going to skip this station, but man, look at that drill hole. That is one fine-looking hole in the rock. Thank god I had Brett's photo available, otherwise I might have simply skipped right past this baby." Or is it useful simply because it shows this really is still just a drill hole, and hasn't been lead-plugged or otherwise modified in the past 70 years?


I also wasn't terribly excited by my attempts at an area shot. The outcrop drops off steeply on all sides a short ways past each RM - not a lot of angles to work with that'd give any useful context for the spot. Ah well, it's not like there's really a whole lot of places where the station could be up there, so maybe context isn't all that important. I finally settled on just trying to establish the general location of the hole relative to a tree that's taken root a few feet away. Tried using the tape measure at ground level as an impromptu photo marker, but once I moved a half dozen yards away it was just a few hints of orange glimpsed through the undergrowth. Tried putting a stick in the hole and hanging the tape measure off that so it'd be a couple feet higher, but the stick just kept falling over. Grrrrr. :yikes: Finally settled for hooking the tape to the tree and rolling it out so the end was down at the drill hole:




(There's a higher-res version of this in my GC.com log, but this smaller version is probably enough to show what I'm talking about.)


Sort of gets the idea across about the relative location, decent enough as far as GC.com logging goes, but again I'm asking myself whether a shot like this would be worth submitting to NGS.


So, any opinions on these? I promise my feelings won't be hurt if the consensus is that they wouldn't be useful. :P And I'd rather not waste Deb's time if that's the case - I'm sure she's got more than enough on her plate already.


Any tips, tricks, or suggestions on other ways I could've approached these shots would of course be most welcome!




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Cheers, rockhounders! This was certainly a fun find - it's the first for me where the entire station consisted of open drill holes. (A couple of other sites in this area had multiple drill hole RMs, but a disk for the station mark. Came across another spot a few months ago that was a chiseled square with a lead-plugged drill hole, but no RMs.) This was also the easiest set of drill hole RMs I've come across, since they were all in the open and tagged with pink paint - no need to go duck-walking around with a tape measure to locate these holes! I quite like these older sites, particularly when I can still make out the remnants of details like the chiseled arrow on RM 3.


Interesting thought about referencing the pics on geocaching.com - I hadn't realized we could do that in NGS reports. Cool. :yikes:

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Commercial web sites like Geocaching.com come and go depressingly quickly. Considering that our recovery notes could survive and be used for another 50 or 100 years, notes that refer to Geocaching.com could be quickly outdated. The site could disappear, or be bought and renamed, or Jeremy could even decide to reorganize the site and all links would be broken.


Just keep in mind that any notes about pictures on Geocaching.com could rapidly be just a historical curiosity, a little like saying "the station is 50 west of the hitching post and 100 feet south of the windmill."

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GEO*Trailblazer: Looking at the recovery submission page, I think gnbrotz is correct - several of the characters needed for HTML (<, >) or even just for the direct GC benchmark URL (:, ?) aren't on the list of allowable characters. Might also hit some snags if the URL got converted to uppercase - I don't see any prohibitions on lowercase letters on the submission page, but all the description text I've seen has been uppercase. (I've occasionally wondered why the description section was done that way, since other sections of the datasheet use mixed-case. Tradition? Some practical/technical reason that's not obvious to a layman?)


holograph: saw your reply while I was typing this up. Good point - and rather apropos for this station, which makes use of an ice house (no longer standing) as a landmark. Quite a booming business in my area at one time - back in the mid-/late-1800s, one of the ponds down the road from my home reportedly supported an ice industry that shipped blocks as far away as India and South America. Not so much these days. :yikes: But at the time, it probably seemed like a stable, long-term business.


I was looking through my NGS datasheets and I do see a number of GEOCAC recoveries for my state (MA) that include a blurb like rockhounders suggested, along the lines of 'PHOTOS CAN BE FOUND AT GEOCACHING.COM'. So it seems like NGS allows this - I'm not sure if they encourage it, but maybe it's a pragmatic, better-than-nothing approach? (Kind of like "if the only identifiable objects within 10 miles of your station are a hitching post and a windmill, well, you work with what you've got at the time"?)



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One thing that would make your area photo better would be to overlay a label saying "View to the SW" or whatever direction.


It appears to me that the NGS will be better off having these photos than not, but the pics aren't going to be super valuable. The most important thing is your report assuring them that it is still in good shape and not too hard to find.

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Good suggestion, Bill93. For my GC.com pictures, I've gone back and added viewpoint info in the text description for each of the non-closeup pictures. (Might go back and tackle the pictures later in the week if I have a little free time - I'm heading out on a business trip in a few hours.)


I've actually been creating separate photos for my NGS submissions, since their resolution/compression/size guidelines are different than the ones on GC.com. For the photos that I've felt comfortable submitting to the NGS for previous station recoveries, I've been editing labels into the pictures based on examples from a document that CaseyB referenced in one of his replies in a thread about NGS photo submissions. (It's a PDF document titled "Attachment 1: Requirements for Digital Photographs of Survey Control".) Seems to be doing the trick - I haven't had any modification requests from Deb yet. :D


Maybe I'll start editing in directional cues for my GC.com area shots too. At first I thought it was going to take way too much time, but it actually hasn't been that much extra work when I've done it for the NGS photos.



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I think re-sizing photographs and re-naming with those arcane names to satisfy NGS proposed photography standards might be a waste of time since the size constraints and detailed name convention exists simply because they currently have no automated system of accepting, cataloging, and storing photographs, like GC.com does. I suspect that if and when they do, those standards will change completely.


The above is true if you're just preparing to send, and not sending any to the NGS at this time. I'd say wait until they really solicit photographs as part of their recovery page programming.


In the thread just referenced in the last post, the NGS people are saying, between the lines, - don't send us pictures now. They're not refusing to accept them, but they're apparently far from soliciting them (at the present time).

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.....  the NGS people are saying, between the lines, - don't send us pictures now. They're not refusing to accept them, but they're apparently far from soliciting them (at the present time).


I came to same conclusion some weeks ago. Think Trackers is right - NGS is being polite but does not yet have efficient way to process images. I'm not burdening them with any more until they ask.

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I think re-sizing photographs and re-naming with those arcane names to satisfy NGS proposed photography standards might be a waste of time since the size constraints and detailed name convention exists simply because they currently have no automated system of accepting, cataloging, and storing photographs, like GC.com does.  I suspect that if and when they do, those standards will change completely.


The above is true if you're just preparing to send, and not sending any to the NGS at this time.  I'd say wait until they really solicit photographs as part of their recovery page programming.


In the thread just referenced in the last post, the NGS people are saying, between the lines, - don't send us pictures now.  They're not refusing to accept them, but they're apparently far from soliciting them (at the present time).




I am not sure were you get this idea. I see your idea as a way of justifying to people that they should not do this because you think it is currently too difficult.


I think It is inappropriate to say NGS does not want the photos when they have already outlined how they would like them submitted to them for the time being.


They asked for formatting and sizing. Just because it does not automate it and make it easy for you does not mean they would not be happy to have them.


I think you are making policy for NGS where there isn't one. The simple way out for those who do not want to submit photos for now is don't. But don't Meddle or try to out think , even apply your spin on the meanings NGS has for doing what they are doing. If you are wanting to know, Don't spin it, simply write them and ask. If you have a problem with their methodologies then simply opt-out.


If you want to send Photos to NGS, they format them in accordance with the direction you have been given and email them to Deb Brown.


Though this has all been previously decided for the interim, Why not ask Casey to give you an update and simply follow the direction he gives you for now? If you would rather not follow the direction, fine, but let that be your choice, don't appoint you decision as the rule everyone else needs to follow. NGS would still like to have the photos. Format them as they ask, what they do with them afterwards is their business.


NGS Datasheets will not support HTML and linking to a photo off site at geocaching.com assumes Geocaching will be here in a year, 10 years and 100 years without changing their database... Bad Idea. That link will be in the NGS Datasheet forever.


Beyond putting it off, the photos are best sent in while you remember the details. Send them in and let NGS deal with them from there. Far better for them to be in their hands than to never send them at all.


If you want to help NGS, The best way is to follow their direction. That is pretty much the best approach to working with them.



Edited by evenfall
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So as to refresh everyone's memory:


QUOTE (DebBrown @ Mar 30 2004, 10:00 AM)

Hi Geocachers,....


I've received several emails asking to clarify misconceptions about the criteria we (NGS) has for reporting on the condition of our control stations. I'd like you all to feel free to email me at Deb.Brown@noaa.gov or use this forum to post your questions. Emailing me would be best for an expedient answer.


Here are some basic guidelines:


1) A station is reportable to NGS if it has a PID.


2) A PID is a 2-letter/4-digit number assigned to every station (regardless of establishing agency) that NGS has positional or height observational and descriptive data on.


3) Not every station you will find is reportable to NGS because we may not have positional or height observational and descriptive data for it and therefore no PID.


4) You can find the PID for a station by visiting our website at www.ngs.noaa.gov Go to "Datasheets/find or update a point". From there click on "Datasheets" and from there do a search using the station name or position of the marker. It's self explanatory from there.


5) The time between recovery reports should not be more frequent than 1 year UNLESS the condition of the marker or the descriptive information has changed since the last report. Before submitting recovery information, please access the datasheet to see when it was last reported on.


6) A station whose setting is stable and the marker undisturbed or unmarred is considered to be in "GOOD" condition.


7) A station whose setting is unstable but intact or the marker broken or marred or stamping unreadable should be listed as "POOR/DISTURBED". In the text portion of the form explain the condition in detail.


8) For a station that is destroyed,...do NOT report it on the online form but instead:

a) if it's a disk or underground marker, take a digital photo of the remnants

and send it to me via email at Deb.Brown@noaa.gov along with the PID

and designation of the station. The photo must be in JPEG format.

if it's a landmark station such as an antenna, tower, tank etc. then a

photo of the area showing where the station "used" to be is sufficient.

Send it to me in JPEG format via email along with the PID and


c) If you know the station is destroyed but there are no remnants to photo-

graph or some other type of "proof" of the destruction is unavailable,

then use the online recovery form to submit a "NOT FOUND" report and

in the text portion explain your determination and why. Do not send me

an email about it.


9) At present, we are working on adding the options of photo submissions and hand held gps positions to the online recovery form. It's not available yet. Until it is you can send me photos via email of stations if they meet the following criteria:

a) The file size must be a meg or less.

The name of the file MUST be PID_YYYYMMDD_A <or> C.JPG (IN ALL


c) I need 2 photos of each marker, one area (A) with a background

reference object and one close-up © showing the stamping.

d) Photos cannot contain images of anything inappropriate or people/pets.


NOTE: The criteria for submitting photos found on our website is intended for those submitting blue-booked projects. It's more stringent than that for recovery submissions. Use the criteria I mentioned above for your recovery work.


10) For the time-being, please include your hand held position in the text portion of the recovery form.


11) If you find a discrepancy on our datasheet, send me via email, a detailed explanation of it and why you feel it's in error. I'll make any appropriate database changes.


12) In general, a station is suitable for satellite observations if there is an unobstructed view of the sky from about 15 degrees above the horizon. Small objects such as light poles are ok.


13) Please don't include personal phone numbers on the form. As well, please don't include questions or comments directed to me using the form. Email me instead.


I hope this information helps. I've tried to answer questions most frequently asked. If you have any others, please feel free to contact me.




So I don't see a problem beyond following direction.



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evenfall Posted on Jun 21 2005, 04:48 AM

I see your idea as a way of justifying to people that they should not do this because you think it is currently too difficult.

Nope. But thanks for the kind thoughts. :lol:


joegeodesist Posted: Apr 8 2005, 03:03 AM 




Posts: 16

Joined: 14-April 03


As you all have correctly suggested, NGS does welcome photos but is lacking a proper formatting program, thus the onerous requirements for the contributor (filename spec, sign in photo) and the unseen hassle on the NGS side (slow, manual process for loading photos.)


Casey, NGS should take up a collection and pay the geocaching webmaster to come over and show us how to ingest photos automatically; or link our datasheets to his photo archive:


HV9698 Photos of this station have been posted at geocaching.com


Until that hopeful day, please continue to send Deb photos you feel are particularly valuable, cognizant of the added burden for yourselves and NGS; and store the bulk at geocaching.com. Thanks! 


That sounds pretty clear to me. I don't want to be a burden to the NGS now.


When they get their automated system up, or whatever it was that joegeodesist was referring to when he said "that hopeful day", I will be happy to upload photos, that're waiting (patiently) on my hard drive, to them, using whatever naming and sizing conventions etc. they come up with, at the time the future system comes to exist, to match that upcoming system.


Deb and joegeodesist both work at the NGS. You and I have interpreted what they've said, differently. Not totally differently:

1. We both agree that they will accept pictures from us.

2. We don't agree on how much it seems they'd like us to send them pictures at this time.


This sets the stage for them to be explicit about number 2. :D


Unlike your implications, both of us agree, that whenever we send them pictures, we must go along with the photo specifications that they provide. :lol:

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What you do not take into account is that Joe is not Deb and does not do Deb's Job, In Fact he does not work in Deb's office and have anything to do with the work Deb Does.


See, NGS is a big office and people are assigned responsibilities. Very specifically, Deb is collecting submitted photos via email as one of her duties, and she has done so from me. Many Photos. And I went to trouble to format them exactly as she asked.


While Joe is a Geodesist and works at the agency, and is correct that NGS has no officially formatted method of accepting photos, he is not in control of Deb's tasks and workload and though he may be aware of some things from an official agency overview, he may not have been aware of what Deb has been doing in order to get information from Geocachers.


He may not have misspoken, but then he may not have known all the details.


I am aware of who does what. I have contact with NGS. They are a big agency and the work is split up amongst many. The right hand does not necessarily know what the right hand is doing. That is not how the chain of command works. Deb asked for the Photos. It is specific to her job to collect them. Joe is not her supervisor either. Just because she is busy and allows Casey to be the liaison to geocaching, (Read Casey does his job, Deb does hers) (In the case of Casey, As assigned by the director of NGS, Charlie Challsworth) it does not mean she changed her mind on the photos. I feel you might pay Deb the courtesy of an email to allow her to explain to you that she is still collecting the photos. Because last time I checked, she very happily is accepting them. Again, Please pay us all the courtesy of an email to Deb, come back here and let us know. It is her job, not Joe's.


Let us not make statements that shoot the efforts of the NGS in the foot. Let us not hamper their efforts to do what they can. They are a slow moving government agency, and such is the culture of government agencies. While all of the people I have spoken to there realize this, the want is to move as quickly as they can.


So email deb and get back to us, Will you?



Edited by evenfall
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Here the topic has been the submission of photos, but reposting Deb Brown's guidelines re-introduces the matter of submitting handheld coordinates. Readers who haven't seen it should probably take a look at that topic, which evenfall addressed very cogently.

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In Lieu of you checking in with Deb Brown, I took the liberty.


Here is what she told me:




From: Deb Brown <Deb.Brown@noaa.gov>

To: Evenfall

Date: Jun 24, 2005 7:55 AM

Subject: Re: Survey Mark Photo submission


Hi Rob,


We have a large backlog of photos waiting for a batch loading program

that's "supposed" to be written this summer sometime. For now, ...if you

wish, please continue to send me photos via email in the naming format

I've described.


Feel free to post this on the geo site if you wish.






And So, I wish, so there you go gang, Please continue to format and send photos as asked. If you do not do it now, you probably won't do it later. Call me silly but that is human nature.


Why put off today, what you could get out of having to at all?...


So send them Photos... Let NGS worry about future formatting. The benefit to them begins when the photos are in their hands.



Edited by evenfall
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Between work and vacation I fell a little behind on the forums. Just to tie this thread up, I did decide to submit the photos for this mark, going with the idea that it'd be better for someone to have the photos and the option of whether or not to use them, rather than having no photos and no choice. If nothing else, at least they'll know that the station mark isn't in a clear, wide-open area, and that setting up equipment over the mark might be a bit of a PITA.


I also decided not to reference GC.com - holograph's thoughts regarding the relative longevity of recovery notes versus web sites just makes a whole lot of sense to me. (Heck, the last time this station's NGS info was updated, the transistor hadn't even been invented yet, never mind all this new-fangled fancy-pants World-Wide Web foofaraw. :D)


Thanks for everyone's feedback - as always, much appreciated.



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Bringing this subject back to the original post....


Hi, Munin;


Congratulations on such a great find. I exactly know what the challenges are, because I have tried to look for drill holes on stone ledges in the woods of New England, that haven't been visited in over 50 years. I roll my eyes every time I see one of those datasheets! :D I'm not sure how usefull drill holes are, these days, but they are still part of the database, and, therefore, they should be tracked.


My opinion is that though they aren't set up for storing pictures, NGS would rather have them, even if they are stored on CDs in somebody's desk for the time being, than lose potentially valuable information. The mere fact that you could take a picture of the drill hole means that it is recoverable (not covered by leaf litter, roots, grass, dirt, etc.).


The 'quality' of a photo is always a judgement call. I used to refer people to the gc site for some of my less than 'good' quality photos until I came to the same conclusions about the stability of web site names as previously discussed. Id submit them.


Hope to cross paths one day! :ph34r:

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