Lurking on the Molotov Line - tools of the tradePrints of this photo as well as my other works are available on #crated #fineartamerica and other online galleries
First mentions of compass originate from China and are as old as 2nd century BC. Surprisingly, although most decent smarphones and tablets have GPS-supported compass built in, there are still very few people who know how to use a real compass properly.
All what the common knowledge comes to is that the needle points to the north. Well, this is true (sort of) but actually this seemigly simple device is capable of - i.e. when used with a map - to calculate a ton of data. If you know how...
I can still recall when a fellow researcher, who is a former scout (and a professional surveyor by trade, too!), patiently tried to explain me that north was, well.. not exactly to the north and that the azimuths we measured were just a decent attempt at measuring what we thought to be the most accurate and correct thing in the world...
I've learned a lot since then and a pair of trusty compasses is an indispensable set of tools when lurking on the Molotov Line. We widely use satellite imagery, good quality GPS devices (no, not a smartphone for God's sake!), trackloggers, laser rangefiders and a ton of other stuff but still an ancient compass is of great help.
When I manage to locate, say, 15 pillboxes scattered on the field or hidden in the forest and I collect their GPS locations and then put them on the map all I get is eeerm.... a map with 15 blobs. Except for the information that they are there, it means nothing. But when I use my compass to measure the azimuth from each and every loophole in each and every pillbox and then add them to the map it all suddenly becomes clear. Why were they built this way, why here and not 50 meters to the south? Why this one is facing north and the other one west? Seeing in which direction they were supposed to fire transforms 15 blobs on a map into a clear and meaningful plan of a defence line.
Can a compass be useful for you today, providing you are not lurking on the Molotov Line? Sure it can!
Next time you face an avalanche of questions from your wife - just because you went to buy cigarettes and failed to come back for three days - just say you lost your compass.
Photograph © 2014 Piotr Tyminski#ColorsOnFriday +ColorsOnFriday
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