(Click here to watch and listen to the video version of this blog entry)
Note: The Hacktoria website no longer has geolocation challenges therefore all the links have been removed. This blog entry is for legacy purposes only. Free feel to give it a go by attempting to geolocate the image before reading the walkthrough.
Here is an explanation on how to solve geolocation 11 challenge on Hacktoria’s website. Quick disclaimer, I already knew the answer to this challenge because I am the one that took the photo that we will be analysing. So let’s get down to business.
Geolocation – 11
Question: Where was this picture taken? (Be more specific than a country or town, name the venue. Use English name, only words with spaces, no special characters)
First thing we must do even before starting analysing the image is to analyse the question.
We are told that we will need to find the venue, meaning we are in a venue. What type of venue? Clearly one in a non English speaking country as the question specifically requires you to give the “English name” without using any special characters. We can already infer that the original non-English name has special characters that would not be used in English. We can then narrow it down already without even looking at the photo by checking a world map showing countries with English as an official language and remove them all from our scope.
Of course we could always argue that you could find, for example, a Chinese restaurant in New York’s Chinatown with nothing on it written in English but let’s assume that the author of this challenge (me) was not that mean.
Now that we have analysed the question let’s analyse the image. For that we will open the picture on a new tab and save it to our desktop. We will zoom it around and try to find any interesting features, landscapes, buildings, etc.
Let’s start with the usual routine, a quick image reverse search using Yandex, Bing and Google images. As usual, Bing and Google’s results are of little help, but Yandex picked up something interesting. Let’s take a look at the results below.
On the right side of the page, under “similar images” we spot many interesting photos. It seems that Yandex detected the big cable on the top left of our image and focused the search results on it. If we quickly look at the geolocation 11 challenge photograph we can see that there are two very unusual cable structures (seen below). One on the top left of the image and the other set on the mid-bottom right side of the image. Are those two connected at all?
Looking through Yandex similar image results it seems that they are pointing us in the direction of them being part of an aerial cable car system.
Now looking back at Yandex’s results, this time on the left side of the screen under “sites containing information about the image”, we can spot several links to VK, a popular Russian social media website. If we follow the links we will end up in someone’s profile. It seems to be a user that lives in Lagos, Portugal. If you check out their photos we spot a few showing aerial cable cars. It all seems very familiar.
Knowing that we are probably looking for a cable car system, surrounded by big trees in some city, we spot already an interesting photo (amongst many other interesting photos of course).
The photo shows a couple of ladies in a small aerial cable car, with many trees around them and a (familiar?) structure over water. The sides of the cable car depict a couple of zebras and many trees. This seems to be indicating we are either in a Zoo or a Wildlife Park.
Let’s now compare the photograph above with our challenge image. Looking at the wooden structure below the cable car, and aided by the fact that we now suspect that we are in a Zoo or Wildlife Park, we can make the assumption that we are looking at an animal enclosure; most likely a primate or some sort of arboreal animal that is intimidated by a water moat.
Now let’s look at the top of the cable car and compare it to the original image showing the big cable lines in the distance. Could all the white spots on the long cable be individual cable cars? It’s starting to seem likely.
So if the VK user is from Lagos, Portugal, let’s find out two things. Does Lagos have a Zoo? And does it have a cable car on it? If we search for “lagos zoo cable car” on google images this is what we get. There are 4 images with cable cars on them, two of each have similar types of cable cars to the ones we saw in the VK account. Both are in Lisbon, not Lagos.
Maybe it’s time we check Google Maps and zoom in on the Lisbon Zoo. If this is correct we’ll be able to spot a few landmarks such as those big buildings on the left of our image, the strange white canopy set in the middle, the wooden structure surrounded by a water moat, the forest in the far back, and the cable cars of course.
First thing we spot when checking the Lisbon Zoo on google maps is the interesting white structure seen on the second picture of the set above.
Let’s take a better look using Google Earth Pro that allows us to move the camera on a different angle. And there it is, a great match.
Now let’s just try to find the match for every other landmark mentioned.
The big buildings on the top left viewed from Google Earth Pro and compared to the geolocation challenge image. Another great match.
The animal enclosure with the wooden structure and a water moat surrounding it seems to also be visible. We can even find a few other details visible on the original image such as the orange roof and the green flat roof near the enclosure.
Now let’s compare the forest in the distance along with the hill line and shape.
And finally, let’s try to spot the cable cars in the zoo. Google Earth Pro seems to have some trouble identifying the cables as they are quite thin (compared to everything else around them) but we can still spot a few faint lines.
So now we can draw our conclusion. Knowing that the original photograph was taken so close to a big cable (visible on the top left) and that we are clearly quite high up, it’s safe to assume that the author of the image (me) was riding the cable car at the time the photo was taken. This was likely where the photo was taken based on the nearby landmarks, the orange roof tiles, the enclosure with a water moat and the green flat roofs. The coordinates of the red circle below are: 38.7459, -9.1718.
So, long story short…
Where was this picture taken? (Be more specific than a country or town, name the venue. Use English name, only words with spaces, no special characters)
– Lisbon Zoo
I hope that this walkthrough was informative and helpful in case you were stuck.
If you reached the same conclusion using a different method feel free to share it as I would be very happy to learn new techniques and/or tools.
For this challenge you could have use the olive tree (Olea europaea) in the middle to narrow down your search to countries around the Mediterranean Sea, the (typical Mediterranean) orange roof tiles to identify that it was a European Mediterranean city, the fact that this is a hilly big city and lastly, the forest in the far distance.
Thank you for reading!