Aug 31, 2010

Applying Google Earth Tours to Outback Photography

Nasa, navstar, camera in the sky, google earth tours

Source: NASA
The Photographic Society of America defines travel photos as images that "express the feeling of a time and place, and portray a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state." Travel photos have "no geographical limitations."
In 2005, Dr. Leroy Chiao was an astronaut circling the globe every 92 minutes. When taking pictures from a moving space station, timing is everything. Propped on one hand, with one foot strategically wedged between hand rail and wall to keep from floating away in low gravity environment, Dr. Chiao would carefully position telephoto lens of his 6 MP digital camera over one of three small windows. As his target came into view, he'd have just a split second to snap a photo.
According to Chiao, "Since Earth is moving past at 17,500 mph, one must pan the camera as shutter is released, otherwise the image will smear - out of focus." But, he did shoot the Great Wall of China. Source: Eyes on the Sky II, Week 9, Chiao
Google Earth (GE) was in its infancy in 2005…

January, 2010, saw the first integrated presentation of Eyes in the Sky II – a geospatial information technology course for teachers in high school science and technology. The objective – show teachers how to teach students the fascinating use and exploration of spatial data. In geological terms, geospatial data is study of Earth from a terrain satellite. Their last module involved Google Earth. The theme – introduction, getting to know, then using GE. Let’s focus on the last category – using Google Earth to create a dramatic tour!

Google Earth, described as "a view of the world on steroids", is a free tool for exploring geo-spatial data in an interactive 3D environment. In its simplest form, you choose your local and view it in 3D. If you use GPS, a waypoint becomes a placemark. You can title, describe, and use a limited list of icons to show where that special place (placemark) is. A simple description might be, “Monument Valleys’ Mittens are world famous.” You can put GPS routes on GE. You can even geotag your photos from a trip, then post them on GE.
In a more advanced stage, GE provides tools to customize your icon, logo, and placemark balloons. Here is where your branding becomes far stronger. Show your own photography. Create a custom Icon to differentiate your images from the thousands placed on Panaramio. Write the dramatic story of capturing a memorable icon in sunsets rosy glow using elaborate HDR images.

Landscape photographers are somewhat slower to adapt to using a birds-eye view of scenes they love to shoot. To date, they principally use GE as a tool just to estimate trails to a wilderness outcrop; or gauge shadows for a locale near Magic Hour.
With many highly treasured nature shots either already shot or at disposal of a limiting bureaucracy, photography is getting less easy in search of that exquisite Earth landscape icon.

But _and it’s a big BUT_
With advent of GE Tours in February, professional landscape and nature photographers can add inestimable allure by creating tours and enhancing their presentations.
They can learn to manage a space camera as “a video-on-steroids instrument capturing their treks, scenes, and emotions amidst exuberant story telling”! By using Google Earth’s Tours function, a photographer can make a video to tell their story. They can captivate you with an exciting sense of actually trekking into gorgeous wilds, outback, or wilderness.
Google Earth both provides a way to show where you want to go and show your photos at each locale. BUT, its expanding technology now lets you tell the story of why you sought the most fascinating, yet to be ‘filmed’ shots our ever-smaller Planet holds…
And, yes, you do it with Goggle Earth Tours!

Aug 30, 2010

How do Landscape Photographers Presently use Google Earth?

Broken Bow Arch, Escalante Desert, Utah

With release of Google Earth 5.2 (GE), Google provides a marvelous opportunity for landscape photographers to use enhanced creativity in stalking light! Stalking the light is a way of using GE for visualization of when and where shadows might fall at Magic Hour.
In April, 2009, I took a photo trip to Escalante Desert in southeastern Utah. Using Google images, I’d found a small tourist shot of Broken Bow arch in evening shadows. With a GPS, I knew where to wend my way through the canyons. Using GE, I knew when to set HDR up for shadows across the arch. Matter of fact, I was able to take a nap, wake up, then grab the exquisite shot above!
Eighteen months later, I took a survey of some 15 well known landscape photographers. The question was, “How are they using GE today?”
In November, 2008, Dave duChemin was using an iPod touch to examine GE for travel plans. In 2009, Joe Bridwell, S Cole, and Richard Wong were using GE for trails and shadows. In 2010, Bret Edge and Scott Bacon used GE to stalk shadows. In 2010, Joe Bridwell used the tour capability in 5.2 to document his photo trips.
The remaining nine photographers were cited because others used their images in material connected with GE.

When you’re using GE, if the Layers panel has Panoramio checked, you can examine images from other people about an area of interest. It’s a first cut at freely guessing where to set up and when to shoot.
Once you have a 3-D view in GE, if you click on the Sun icon, GE will give you an estimate of shadow projection based on topography and time of day. I’ve coined the phrase “Stalking the Light…” And to think you used to go out and do that yourself!
You can trace your way along tortuous trails, up canyons, etc… all by controlling an imaginary camera which can look either from far above or down close to earth toward any direction you wish.

How Can Landscape Photographers See the Future?
If you want to get fancy, just process a photo in the digital darkroom, write an emotional memory of that event, then post it in an advanced KML placemark balloon. Oops, I’d better watch it here; don’t want to stray too far into technical language…

Tours are the newest GE 5.2 feature… what if you want to talk about several photos in several locations?
Well, then you have the distinct advantage of moving a virtual camera from point A to point B. In effect, you can create a ‘video’ where you show satellite terrain data for a particular locale, tell it’s story with your photos, then move on to the next locale. The resulting KML (a language for geo-browsers relating camera to earth view) can play in GE just like a video you create for YouTube.
What’s that old adage, “Fly Away with Me…!”

Present Landscape Photography Limitations
At present, landscape photographers principally use GEjust to plan their trips.
But, if they knew how to create or use Tours, they could explain each exciting adventure story with a fascinating video GE would play on any computer 24x7x365 planet wide…
Now, that really ain’t too shabby!

Aug 10, 2010

Quick Brush ReSize Using a Wacom Pen Tablet

Photoshop CS5, CS5, Wacom, Wacom Pen, Wacom Pen Tablet, Resize, Hardness

I recently sat with several people working on digital photography for final prints. In CS5, the brush is being used for quite a variety of tasks. The teacher would tap a key, then drag the brush to change either size or hardness. The approach was quite a bit faster than either hitting bracket keys or opening brush panel to modify hardness.
As I keep CS5 and Wacom manuals on the laptop, I did a Q&D search. Neither manual told me in simple language either what key or button to push. Situation normal...

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Manual p 21
Resize or change hardness of painting cursors by dragging
You can resize or change the hardness of a painting cursor by dragging in the image. As you drag, the painting cursor previews your changes.
To resize a cursor, press Alt + right-click (Windows) or Control + Option (Mac OS), and drag left or right. To change hardness, drag up or down.

Wacom Graphire4 Users Manual p. 12
Use a right-click to bring up application-specific or icon-specific menus.

Simpleton’s Pleasure
Put your pen on an image where you want to obscure blown highlights. Hold Alt (Windows) and right click (Wacom Pen) ~ viola, depending on which way you drag, you change brush size or hardness.

You know, it took about an hour to figure this out. I think that time can be quickly saved on the first image where I have a lot of dodge and burn to do. After that, it's all gravy!