Archive for October 2011

Stuck on Earth Finally Got Me to Buy an iPad

Stuck on Earth = Pure Awesomeness

Update Note: Folks, this app is NOT out yet. It’s almost out (think early Nov.) but it’s not available for you to download yet. I am one of the lucky few with private early access. This is an early review. I love the app. You will too. But you can’t get it just yet. Hang in there though!

Ok, it happened. This past week I finally broke down and bought an iPad. I’ve been resisting ever since they came out. I’m not sure why, but I have. The wife and kids have wanted one like crazy. My wife was hinting that she wanted one for her birthday and so I went out last week and bought one.

The biggest reason why I wanted to finally buy one though was to try out the latest app by my good friend +Trey Ratcliff, of Stuck in Customs fame, Stuck on Earth.

What is Stuck on Earth you ask? Well, it’s just about the single best tool ever made for the traveling photographer. I’ve got a trip to Death Valley coming up next month (you are coming aren’t you? — details here) and so I thought I’d put it through the paces as far as helping me find awesome things to take photos of in Death Valley — and boy did it come up with some great places for me to shoot.

Using geotag information from Flickr’s most interesting Death Valley photos, Stuck on Earth easily pulled up some of the most breathtaking places to shoot in Death Valley. From each photo I was able to add them to my map for my upcoming trip to be accessed later.

Stuck on Earth = Pure Awesomeness

Why not just use Flickr for this directly you ask?

Well, for one, at the Atomic Inn, where I’ll be staying on this trip, they probably don’t have wifi. In fact, I’m sure that much of Death Valley will not even have internet access even for my cell phone. It won’t matter with Stuck on Earth though. All of my locations will be saved and I’ll be able to access them even offline. Also when I’m on the road shooting the valley, it’s a lot easier to carry an iPad around than a laptop.

Using Flickr geoinformation is just the start for Stuck on Earth though. What I’m even more excited about is the idea of curated lists on the app. I contributed one of my own for the app which is called the top 50 secret photo spots in San Francisco. They are not all so terribly secret (well some of them are), but they are some of the very best spots to shoot the City of San Francisco from coming from a seasoned local’s (that would be me) perspective.

Stuck on Earth = Pure Awesomeness
My 50 Secret Photo Spots that I curated for Stuck on Earth

There are also curated lists like the top 50 waterfalls in the world — or the top 50 bridges in the world. So there are both inspirational curated lists as well as geo city specific curated lists.

By the way, if you have unique knowledge about a special geographical area or photographic subject matter and are willing to share your locations, get in touch with Trey’s Chief Editor Topher Martini.

With curated lists, Stuck on Earth will pull together some of the most amazing photo opportunities on the planet. With Trey’s large following and especially the way he’s positioned this app as a community gift (it’s free and there are not adverts or upsells) alot of people will end up contributing special local knowledge to the app. From a photographer’s perspective, these special map points will be even more invaluable than all of the flickr geodata it’s already pulling in. There’s a lot in there now, but there will be even more in the future.

I think the app will especially be a good tool for photographers looking to explore future travel plans because it will spark so many great ideas in terms of beautiful places to shoot in the world — so it will also be sort of an idea generator for the travelling photographer.

For the casual traveler the app will be very useful as well. The app (with your permission) gets your current geolocational position and can show you lots of great things to shoot right around wherever you are. In Madrid and have an hour to kill before your conference starts and want to see the cool stuff near you to shoot quickly — now there’s an app for that.

In terms of the design, the app is elegant and beautiful, offering you up full sized amazing versions of the various places that it discovers for you. You slide around the app and move easily from area to area as you put together your great new travel plans, both the immediate and the “somedays.” The voiceover work in the app is especially sexy. 😉

Trey launched the app last Friday officially at Launch Live. People really liked it there. It actually won the audience award which is very cool. It’s not coming out for a couple of weeks still though — it should be available at the Apple Store as soon as Apple approves it (likely early November). Also if you want to learn more about the app, be sure to join the flickr group for the app here.

Anyways, I love the app. I’m sure you will too. It’s super slick and I’m glad it finally got me around to joining the iPad revolution. Nice work by Trey and his team at Stuck in Customs and congratulations on what will I’m sure be a runaway hit and one of the best selling iPad apps very shortly.

Trey Ratcliff Photography Hangout #9

I really enjoyed participating in this video hangout with Trey. 🙂



This is the 500th photo that I’ve posted to Google+. I like celebrating milestones and so I thought I’d post a screenshot of one of my favorite features on Google+, the Google Photos page where you can see your photos in one big long infinite scroll. Here is a link to mine.

I joined Google+ on the very first day that it was open for field testing with the general public. Thanks to +Brian Rose for my day 1 invite. Since then I’ve watched the network explode in the best possible way. I’ve watched photographers flock here and build what is the best community of photographers that I’ve ever seen on the internet anywhere.

Every single day I watch as photographers share the most spectacular work. I +1, I comment and we interact. It’s amazing.

One thing that I especially like at Google+ is that photographers seem to put their best work forward there. I’m on a quest to publish 1,000,000 photos before I die, but I feel like I am saving my very best work to showcase specifically at Google+. I’m proud of every single photo I’ve posted here and I think more carefully about each photograph that I post and how it will fit into this large (now 500 photo) mosaic that I’m building on the site with my “photos from posts” album.

I post 5 photos a day most of the time to Google+ — and I spread them out during the day. This pace feels about right for me here. It feels like it’s enough for me to get a good variety of my work in front of others but not too much to overwhelm them.

The two things I’m most excited about at Google+ are the people and the people.

What I mean by this is that first there is the community. Never have my photos received so much engagement, but this is not just what community is.

Things like Google Hangouts and photowalks have allowed me to get to know so many photographers so much better than I would have otherwise. I’m totally not going to name names because I KNOW I’ll forget someone and then we’ll both feel bad — but you know who you are — and you know we’re stronger friends than we were 90 days ago.

What I mean secondly by the people, are the people who work for Google. Never have I seen a company so engaged with a social product like this. Never have I seen a more excited, passionate group of people building out something with such enthusiasm. The innovation and almost daily feature rollouts blow me away. These people really care about this product — and not just because it could prove financially lucrative to Google, but because they genuinely like using it themselves and as a greater theme see it as a tool for making the world a better place.

The people who work for Google interact on here with us, they share their lives with us, and they share these high points too where this technology is doing amazing things — things like the +Dalai Lama and +Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu hangout, things like doctors using hangouts to talk to each other in Africa.

Anyways, all of this say thank you to everyone on Google+. I’ve enjoyed all of the interaction from the smallest touches to the deepest new friendships. I’m looking forward to what the next six months bring and happy that we’re all enjoying this as much as we are.

If you want to add me as a contact on Google+ you can do that here.

Flickr Makes Your Favorites Searchable… With No Privacy Control

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 7.37.23 AM

At 4:25 a.m. this morning Flickr tweeted that they’ve turned on searching within everyone’s favorites. What this means is that everything that you’ve favorited at Flickr has now become much more public than you might want.

Publicizing your favorites has been a hot button at flickr for a while. There have been several threads over the years in the help forum where users have asked to have the ability to make their favorites private. Some users have suggested that Rosie O’Donnell, as a celebrity, has been given a special ability to hide her favorites, but it could just be that she’s never faved anything and that the “Rosie O’Donnell doesn’t have any favorites available to you.” isn’t the best language there. I’ve reached out to Flickr for clarification on that and will update on that when I hear back. [EDIT I heard back from flickr who confirmed that no accounts have a special ability to hide their favorites]

In the past Flickr has said that making your favorites private is not part of the “photo sharing ethos” at flickr and at present there is no way keep these private. But by allowing anyone in the public to now *search* your favorites it now gives people even more control over monitoring your favoriting activity on flickr. I have over 100,000 photos that I’ve favorited on flickr over the past 7 years. Now people have much more granular ways to go through these than paging through 1,396 pages one by one.

Are you favoriting too many photos tagged “self portraits” of a certain “friend?” There’s now a search for that. Have you ever favorited anything tagged “boobs?” There’s now a search for that. Have you ever favorited anything tagged “drugs” OR “pot” OR “marijuana?” There’s now a search for that.

It’s interesting that by contrast, when you a +1 a photo on Google+ it’s not made public beyond the +1 that appears on the photo itself. In fact you can’t even share your +1’d photos on Google if you want to.

Personally I think that flickr should have privacy controls on your favorites. They could make them public by default but allow users the option to restrict their favorites to the rest of their world, or to limit their sharing to their friends/family.

There is a seedy side to why flickr might not allow people the ability to have private favorites and that could be to discourage people from collecting porn favorites or favorites of kid photos — both of which happen at flickr. By forcing people to be public about their favorites, this might make someone hesitate before favoriting something that their spouse or coworker might be able to see.

On the other hand it’s pretty well known that people use bogus accounts for this sort of activity at flickr anyways. It’s not hard or uncommon for users to have a second anonymous free flickr “porn” account. There is a pretty heavy underground flickr porn world that is kept pretty well hidden unless you really know your way around the site well.

Google+, by the way, simply doesn’t allow nudity on the site — which is a whole other conversation.

And Drowned

And Drowned

Steve Jobs RIP

Sad news today.

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

— Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

Google+ Live Photo Hangout TONIGHT at 7PM PST!

YouTube LIVE Hangout 7PM PST Tonight

*UPDATE: This has been rescheduled for tonight October 7, 2011, at 7pm PST*

Are you on Google+ yet?

If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Google+ has one of the best communities of photographers I’ve ever seen on the web. You can add me here.

They also have these really cool hangouts.

Tonight we’ll be broadcasting one of these hangouts live at 7pm PST on Trey Ratcliff’s brand spanking new YouTube LIVE Channel.

Come join Trey, myself, Tom Anderson (yep, that dude who started MySpace), Lisa Bettany from TWIT Photos, Gordon Laing from Camera Labs, Jeremy Cowart, Nicole Young, Keith Barrett, and more!

Trey took this screen grab from a live hangout we did a few months back at my place.

It should be a fun time tonight. Hope you can make it!

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