Are you ready to create your very own Place? Great!
Here are some valuable tips to get you started.
- The very first place you shoot should not be a special place! Really. Instead, it should be somewhere
that's nearby and/or very handy. In the beginning you may need to redo some pictures or fine-tune
and you want that to be as easy as possible. Suggestions:
Your places are not publicly viewable unless/until you publish them!
- Step outside and shoot one or two spots right on your street.
- A backyard, or a deck with a view.... all these are great for trying things out!
- You can just shoot your living room! (Be sure to
read below about shooting indoors if you do this)
- When you're comfortable creating places, what should you shoot?
Just shoot anywhere that looks interesting or is meaningful to you!
If it's interesting to you it will probably be interesting to someone else.
In fact, things that might feel mundane to you, like your immediate neighborhood, could easily
be fascinating to someone in another part of the
country or world. Especially if you have some interesting comments or tidbits to share!
- Do not do anything illegal or dangerous. We are not encouraging anyone to put their own or anyone else's
safety on the line, in fact quite the opposite - PLEASE DO NOT DO ANYTHING STUPID!
Don't cry to us if you get bitten by a Rottweiler when you climbed over
that fence with the "Do Not Tresspass" sign. Or if you fall off a cliff trying to get that perfect shot....
- When choosing spots for your place, try to align them along imaginary (or real) N/S/E/W or NE/SE/NW/SW lines,
and if you can, shoot a spot at the position(s) where the lines intersect.
(See the Place Design page for more info)
In an open area, this will work much better than finding the "perfect photo"
spots or staying on a winding trail, then trying to figure out how to link them later. Without experience, this
may not seem obvious or intuitive when you're out shooting photos, but trust us on this. Not only will it
make your job easier putting the place together, but it will be easier and more fluid for your users to navigate.
The overall effect is almost always better than having great individual photos or spots. You can often add
those "pretty pictures" as zooms.
- For an example of how NOT to select spots, see the Laurelhurst Park place. On the "Find Places" page
(in the "Explore" tab above), search for "Laur". (May not be available on our beta server).
The spots are rather chaotic in their placement, and navigation doesn't work very well.
- If your camera supports different aspect-ratios (wide screen vs. full screen), choose 4x3 (full screen)
instead of 16x9 or any wide screen format. Wide screen generally crops the image on top and bottom to
achieve its dimensions, and it's better to preserve that data for this type of application. Don't fret if you've
already shot something in wide screen; just upload and we will automatically trim the left and right
edges to a 4x3 aspect ratio.
- Be sure to shoot landscape (wide) not portrait (tall). Portrait photos will not work properly.
- Use landmarks, like the street or buildings to keep your directional bearings.
Sometimes it's actually helpful to position your feet at 90 degree angles to each other!
- Try to make the first picture for each spot face a consistent direction (i.e. North),
then rotate clockwise (*to*the*right*) 45 degrees for each
subsequent photo. Sometimes it can even be helpful to make a little + mark on the ground where you stand,
either with chalk on pavement, or by dragging your feet in the dirt or sand.
- When you have 2 or more spots in a line, try to keep a central point in the distance at the same point in
each photo. This helps keep your audience immersed when they walk forward or backward along that path.
- Take all 8 directional shots first, then shoot any interesting "zoom" photos for that spot after the first 8.
- Take a "blank shot" between spots, as a separator.
This is really easy to do and very very helpful when sorting.
The easiest way to do this if you're outside is to just aim at the sky and shoot! This will almost never use
your flash (saving batteries), and with low detail it will use very little memory. Alternatively, you
can cover your lens and take a picture as well. If you do that, you may want to consider turning off your
flash to conserve batteries.
- When you shoot indoors, or in any tighter quarters, a very helpful technique is to step back a bit from your
center of rotation on each shot. In other words, find the center of the room and make sure it is a couple
(or few) feet in front of you for each picture. If you have a very wide angle lens this may not be necessary,
but it's a good trick to know, and once you get a feel for the relationship between the center of rotation and
where you stand for each picture, you can take advantage of this technique in many situations.
- Real Places is about Places, not people. You may love the picture of Aunt Jane in front
of the Eiffel Tower, but unless your Aunt Jane happens to be a supermodel, most of us would rather
just see the tower and it's surroundings.
- Try to minimize people in the foreground of your photos.
People in the background are fine, and often help give a place a warmer or more realistic ambiance. A key point
to remember is that no one person should be the focus of any photo. If you are in the middle of a mall or a
fair, this may be difficult. Just use good judgement.
- If you are in a populated area and someone is standing right where you want to shoot, go ahead and move to the
next angle. By the time you get all the way around the person may have moved. You will have to re-order that
particular spot when you sort the photos, but that's fairly easy if you remember your 'blank' picture
between spots. If you just wait for people to move, they often
move right into the next view you're trying to shoot!
- If you've shot all the other directions, and you're still
waiting for someone to move, another trick is to just hold up your
camera in the general direction you're going to shoot, then raise and lower it a couple times, looking off in the
distance behind them. That tends to get people's attention, and many people will move out of politeness.
Yes, these tips come from firsthand experience! :-)
- Don't knowingly take a photo with a recognizable celebrity or model. The details of what constitutes "fair use"
are complicated, but avoid the easy stuff.
- It's unlikely that you'll need to do much, if anything, to most of your images. But if you took
any 'zoomed' pictures, check now to see if you want to do any cropping. If you're detail-oriented and
want to lighten or darken some images, or if you have a picture that's not quite horizontal and you'd like to
straighten it, you'll need to make those types of
adjustments before uploading. We plan to have some of those features
available on the web site later, but for now you'll need to do it on your own computer beforehand.
- In most cases, it is not helpful to rename your images prior to uploading, and may actually make
your task more difficult. Most digital cameras append a sequence number to the image file names that increments automatically as
you take pictures. We display unsorted images alphabetically, so leaving them with their 'natural' file names
means they will display in the order you took them.
- It's very helpful to reduce images to roughly 800x600 pixels before zipping them for upload. You can upload
whatever size you want, but images will get reduced anyway and this will save you upload time,
bandwidth and time waiting for our server to process the files when they arrive.
- Note for Mac users: We have an AppleScript that makes resizing super-easy and convenient. Click here to download it, and open the .zip file
to get a folder called: MacResizeImagesScript. Inside ScaleWithPromptAndProgress.v2. Put that file
into your Scripts folder (inside 'Library' in your home folder) and then drag the application icon into the area
just below the title bar on any Finder window, pausing for a moment so it will 'attach'. Now, any time
you want to resize a set of images, just select them all and drag them onto that icon.
You will be asked for a folder to put the new images, and your originals will not be modified.
- Bundle up all the reduced images into a .zip file (or files) to send. The hard limit is 50 megabytes per
.zip file, but in practice, 50-100 images per .zip file at 800xN resolution works well. If your image files
are higher resolution you may need to put less images in each .zip file.
- Mac users: To zip up your image files, select the images
and right-click or ctrl-click to get a pop-up menu. Select 'Create Archive of [N] Items' (10.4 Tiger) or
'Compress [N] Items' (10.5 Leopard or 10.6 Snow Leopard), either of which
creates a file called Archive.zip in the same folder with the images.
- Windows XP/Vista users: Select all the images you wish to zip up, then right-click on one of them to bring up a menu.
Move your mouse to the "Send To" menu item. Another menu will appear where you should select
"Compressed (zipped) Folder". A special "zipped" folder will be created inside the same folder as your images.