Your Maps, Your Phone, Your Photographs ? Part 1

Jeff Smallwood

Google MobileWith the continued growth in web and “app” capable phones among the public, it is no surprise folks continue to find new ways to utilize this technology for everyday tasks. One area of particular interest for photographers (besides the actual photo capabilities of your phone) may be the maps. Using your phone’s map capabilities can help accomplish two tasks. First, it can help you geotag where you took a photo and second, it can help document locations you’d like to visit later.

If you’re new to geotagging , it is the process of recording the location where a photograph was taken using latitude, longitude, and sometimes altitude. Flickr, Picasa, Google Maps, and some GPS enabled cameras support geotagging, and with the data you can display photographs on a map very easily. For example, click here to see a Flickr map with geotagged photos of Calvert County

I’ll be explaining these techniques using Google Maps because it is the most widely available “app” for phones and is also accessible via your phone’s web browser. If you don’t already have the Google Maps App on your phone, visit Google  to get it.

For Part 1 I’ll cover two potential uses for the “Starred Items” feature. Say you’re on a nature trail and you want to record the location where you just took a great shot. Or say you’re driving down the road and come across an amazing view where you’d like to come back and take pictures later (which happens to me all the time). Just bring up Google Maps (pull over first if you’re driving!), display your current location (GPS enabled phones will do this automatically), and “star” it. You can do this over and over as you move to new locations through the day. When needed, just open your map again to view the list of starred items and you have an instant record of where you took your photographs or where you’d like to get back to. If you have a Google account (which is free), you get even more functionality because your starred items will automatically sync with your Google account. That way you can view all the starred locations by visiting Google Maps in your favorite web browser on your computer rather than having to go back to your phone.

Hint: From your computer it is easier and faster to view the starred locations and bring up satellite or other information about those locations.

Google Maps
For more information about Google’s Starred Items feature, visit here the support section.

In Part 2 I’ll cover how to use the “My Maps” feature to keep track of photo locations and explain how to view those locations on your phone while out shooting.

Lunchtime photography: Put down the sandwich long enough to shoot it

Megan Snider

Everyone is busy. We all have clothes to wash and dry, dishes to scrub, floors to vacuum and cars to gas up. Our families need us; our friends are calling us. Significant others want to cuddle up and chat with us. We have obligations, it seems, to everything and everyone—and sometimes, all we want is a little down time.

Lunchtime PhotographySadly, most of us are not independently wealthy—and have to punch the clock at our day jobs when we’d much rather be out in the sunshine shooting pictures of our grandkids, butterflies or scenery. As a 9-to-5 office worker, I spend most of my time at a desk in a windowless space, where it can be hard to tell night from day or day from night. I live for my lunch breaks, those tiny snatches of time when I can go off the grid and do just what I want to do—whether that’s taking myself out for lunch, reading a book or surfing the Internet.

Lunch breaks, too, are an excellent time to get in some photography. In the whirlwind that is our daily lives, these hours are our own individual chances to do something fun—to step away from the keyboard. And if you bring your camera along for the ride? To shoot.

Lunchtime PhotographyNo matter how fast-paced your job might be, everyone needs to eat. And if you can spare fifteen, thirty or sixty minutes for a meal, why not go ahead and document it? It’s amazing how much you can accomplish on a lunch hour. And it’s amazing how different the world can look after you’ve photographed it in a new way.

With my point-and-shoot Panasonic in hand, suddenly the tin of colorful paperclips near my monitor looks like a prickly mountain range. When I switch to a macro setting, the highlighters in my chipped mug, too, become a subject of fascination. Think about doing a series of “lunchtime” photos—a special project showcasing how you spend your break. Maybe that means snapping shots of your lunch fresh from the microwave, or the tattered paperback you read in your free time. Zoom in on the words. Get your lunch in the background. If I’m at my desk, I’m taking “office macros”—something I love so much, I’ve done a whole series of them.

Lunchtime PhotographyWith a photographer’s eye, nothing is too mundane to document. Tap into your artistic sense and look for colors, patterns and textures in unusual places—like the corkboard on the wall, or the carpet around your chair. Think about documenting how you spend one hour—just that one hour—of your day, a time reserved for eating, chatting or wandering. Change up the settings on your camera and be different. If you only ever take color photos, why not switch to black and white—or get really wild, shooting instead in sepia? When you step out of your normal shooting habits, everything becomes more interesting. Even turning your camera to the left or the right skews your “ordinary” viewpoint, forcing you to frame shots in a different way.

So snap a shot of your turkey sandwich. Catch your coworkers mid-sentence, peeking at you over your cubicle walls. Get in macro and photograph your own frantic handwriting, scrawled on Post-It notes around your screen. You’ll be surprised at the results you get—and how relaxed you become. Taking pictures of the things—even tiny things—that matter to you . . . then bask in your own creative genius. I promise you, it’s there.