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Mona Vale Map 3

Scouting With Google Maps

Mona Vale Map 3Mona Vale VW Post 1

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.
Mona Vale Map 1

Mona Vale region on Google Maps.

  • 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.
Mona Vale Map 2

Google Maps with Explorer Section pointing out possible location.

  • 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.
Mona Vale Map 3

Google Maps satellite image zoomed in to reveal a refined search.

  • 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.
Mona Vale Map 4

An interesting rock formation further south along Mona Vale Beach.

  • 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. :)))
Mona Vale Map 5

Money trap. Paid parking area of Mona Vale Beach.

If you have any questions please leave comment below. [adrotate banner=”9″]

About Author Mykal Hall

At the age of 34 my life changed from aimlessly wandering through life without a purpose, to finding the "WHY" to my life in the form of my wife/soulmate/best friend Dianne and her 3 children. My home life is now perfect and I could not imagine a better family to spend the rest of my days with. There was however, another yearning that wasn't fulfilled. My work life. Having no real passions to pursue at an early age, I fell into various work situations from Storeman, Forklift Operator, Service Technician to finally a Truck Driver. After 43yrs my interest for "Geekdom", from my Service Technician days, was reignited once again. I discovered "Podcasts". The ability to learn about any subject at my own leisure was too tempting to resist. So what subjects did I choose to fill this quest for knowledge........Psychology and the latest technology trends. It was the former that I thought I would be pursuing as a career until I stumbled upon the podcast "This Week In Photo" (TWIP). It sounded very geeky with all the cool gadgets and the creative side would make up for past failed interest in drawing.​That's when I purchased my first camera, a Nikon D90. Having never held a DSLR or for that matter a SLR camera I thought I should learn to use it in Manual mode first. When I say manual mode I even mean manual focus too.

Almost a year later I managed to get an invite to Google+ before it went public and it was here my passion for photography escalated rapidly to new heights. I was discovered by the hierarchy at Google Australia and was added to their "Suggested Users List" for photography. The SUL is a list of people Google suggests you follow in various interest categories. What an honour!!!!! I had found my lost "TRIBE", Google+. ​I also found the "HOW" to my life.​ I think the great Sufi poet Rumi says it all,

"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."​​​

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