We can’t spend all day every day exploring the wilderness as much as we would like. Work, family, sporting and social commitments can impede on our hobby/passion, in creating fantastic photographs. We do get those fleeting opportunities some weekends or during holidays but they can be few and far between. So how do we maximise our down times to find those places without leaving the comfort of our lounge? Google Maps my friends. Now I hear you say, “How’s a navigation application going to help me do this?” Well there’s more to Google Maps than meets the eye and this is how I use it as part of my workflow.
- Pick an area of interest, National Parks, State Parks, Local Parks, Coastline or whatever tickles your fancy. For this example I’ll pick Mona Vale Beach in the Northern suburbs of Sydney.
- Click on the suburb, park or beach name closest to the area of interest. I’ll pick Mona Vale, Sydney.
- On the bottom right of the map (if viewing on a web browser) you will see a little yellow man with the 3 square images and upward pointing double arrows. Clicking on the arrows will reveal the ‘explore section’ (or as I call it my remote scouting party’s reconnaissance images.) Then clicking on the downward pointing arrows will hide the section. 🙂
- Now you’ll see a bunch of photos taken by various people in that region. If you hover your mouse over an image it will point to the location on the map where it was taken or near enough.
- Switch from Map view to Satellite view by clicking on the the satellite image on the bottom left of screen. It should be the very first image on the left of our ‘explore photo’ strip. Now we get to see a more detailed layout of the land.
- The more you zoom in on the map the more refined the image search is for that closer view.
- Now you have an area that looks interesting and maybe a few compositions you would like to try out, but we haven’t finished with our scouting just yet. There could be more interesting images that no one has uploaded so we need to move to phase two of remote scouting.
- Now you can zoom in and out and move the map around, viewing where the images were taken but more importantly where images WERE NOT taken. This is where you can find an interesting photo that might not be as obvious as the popular areas presented.
- The image above shows a rock formation that points out to sea, which is under water. At low tide it may be exposed creating an interesting leading line. 🙂 As it turned out this rock formation was a concrete storm water outlet as seen in the first image of this tip.
- Now for the cash saving part of this story. With the help of Google Maps we have found a photography location and subject to shoot. We know how long it will take us to get there with the aid of Google Maps navigation but where are we going to park the car? We can see in the third map there’s a car park right on the beach front so that shouldn’t be a problem……or is it? Like a lot of Sydney beaches the local councils would like to relieve you of a few dollars with parking fees. So this is where we use our little yellow man icon mentioned earlier, as this opens up Google’s Street View. By dragging and dropping our little cash saving scout (aka yellow man), into the carpark we can now click on the arrows to move around, drag our screen around for a 360 degree view and zoom in and out to read signs posted in that area. As you can see below this is a paid parking area so I just used street view to find a parking location nearby that was free. More money in your pocket for new gear, photography education or your next holiday. :)))
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