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Digital Picture Scouting – The right way to Plan and Scout a Images Journey • PhotoTraces


Don’t you hate it when, after spending hours driving and climbing to a tremendous spot, you notice that you just missed the sundown by quarter-hour? Or the scene of the Milkyway over an iconic mountain is ruined by a full moon?.

Virtual Photo Scouting – How to Plan and Scout a Photography Trip

These are the moments whenever you actually perceive the significance of planning and scouting in journey pictures.

For a very long time, conventional in-person scouting was the one approach to go. You go to the placement upfront and spend a day or two getting conversant in the world to pinpoint the perfect spots, angles and timing.

This method nonetheless works, however this can be very impractical for journey pictures particularly in terms of lengthy driving journeys.

After I go on a protracted driving journey, my purpose is to go to one particular location day by day of the journey. With conventional scouting, this is able to double and even triple the size of my journey, which is each impractical and costly.

Fortunate for us, expertise has reached a degree the place conventional scouting could be complimented by and even utterly changed by digital scouting. It may possibly even be finished previous to the journey!

For a very long time, my scouting routine was an evolving course of the place I attempted to maintain up with the most recent technological advances.

However, in the previous few years, my scouting course of lastly reached a degree the place I not actively search for shiny new instruments or apps. I’m so pleased with my present technique that I can’t wait to share it with you!

Step 1 – Setting All the pieces Up

Useful resource Used: Evernote

The middle of my pictures journey planning and scouting routine is the Evernote app. I exploit Evernote as the first repository for all the data I collect.

I’m positive that you need to use any cloud service for info gathering, however the mixture of Evernote’s desktop program, net app, cell app and net clipper makes it extremely straightforward to gather and manage various kinds of info from numerous sources.

For every future journey, I create a folder in Evernote the place I retailer every part helpful or associated to the journey.

Planning a Photography Trip

I begin accumulating concepts for future journeys far upfront—six and even 12 months earlier than departure.

After I see one thing attention-grabbing on-line associated to my upcoming journey, I merely reserve it to the journey folder in Evernote. It may be an attention-grabbing picture, a weblog publish, a YouTube video, a PDF or a photograph of an article from a print publication.

Step 2 – Searching for Inspiration

Useful resource Used: 500px

A number of months earlier than the journey, I begin actively and deliberately on the lookout for extra concepts.

My favourite place to generate concepts and discover inspiration is You should utilize Flickr or Google Pictures, however I discover that I usually need to undergo tons of of uninspiring images and selfies on Flickr to search out one thing attention-grabbing and inventive.

It takes time.

The 500px library has the perfect ratio between high quality and amount of images. Plus, it has one very attention-grabbing and distinctive function that separates it from the competitors.

For instance, let’s say that as a part of my Southwest driving journey that I plan to go to Zion Nationwide Park and I need to discover probably the most attention-grabbing spots beforehand.

I’m going to and use the search time period “Zion Nationwide Park.” By default, 500px exhibits outcomes based mostly on relevance. That is when 500px’s most helpful function comes into play—I’m going to the filters and alter the sorting to PULSE.

The images are rearranged by high quality based mostly on person voting and variety of views. Priceless!

Virtual Scouting -

From there, I begin on the lookout for concepts. It may be something from enticing lighting and inventive framing to an authentic location and so forth. Right here, I can discover examples of night time photographs, golden hour photographs, winter photographs, something I need.

It provides me concepts for what to anticipate from this location.

Each time I discover one thing attention-grabbing, I exploit the Evernote Net Clipper and save the picture to the journey folder in my Evernote cloud.

I additionally be certain that the images I choose have GPS coordinates in order that I can later pinpoint their precise location.

Step 3 – All the way down to the Particulars

Useful resource Used: Google Earth

By this time in my scouting and analysis course of, I’ve a basic understanding of the places I need to go to and what varieties of photographs I anticipate to attain.

Within the third step, I establish the small print—the precise spots, the perfect time of day for taking pictures, entry routes, parking spots, the place of the solar and, generally, even the precise place to setup a tripod.

My favourite device for attaining all these duties is Google Earth’s desktop app. The desktop model of Google Earth presents an unprecedented digital actuality expertise in addition to some distinctive options that aren’t current within the cell or net variations.

Let’s say that the primary spot in Zion Nationwide Park that I need to go to is Canyon Overlook Path. After discovering some beautiful views taken from the Canyon Overlook Viewpoint on 500px, I mark it as a should go to location.

I exploit the GPS coordinates I gathered within the second step and enter them into Google Earth. I begin exploring the world across the Canyon Overlook Path to find entry factors.

I exploit “Placemarks” to mark the placement of parking, the Viewpoint and one other spot alongside the path the place I need to create an HDR panorama.

Google Earth - Virtual Scouting
Placemark: Canyon Overlook Parking

Subsequent, I exploit the “Ruler” to estimate the gap from the parking space to the Viewpoint.

Virtual Photo Scouting – How to Plan and Scout a Photography Trip 1

Now, I’m prepared to change to the Floor Degree View in order that I can use the 3D navigation to guage the angles of my photographs and the best place for my digital camera and tripod.

Lastly, probably the most invaluable and enjoyable function of Google Earth is “Present Daylight.” This permits me to guage the lighting for any given day previously or sooner or later at any given time.

For instance, if I plan to journey there in a single month, I set the day of my future journey by shifting the Time Slider. I can then see how the place of the solar will have an effect on the lighting of the scene with the shadows and highlights.

If I’m planning an evening shot, I can see the place of the Milkyway anytime throughout the night time.

That is once I create a Grasp word in Evernote and begin logging all of the places and concepts related to every focal point. When I’m completed with the places, I mark the word as a favourite and pin it to the house display of my smartphone for straightforward entry.

Step 4 – Getting Prepared for Offline Journey

Useful resource Used: Google Maps

If you journey to distant places, the possibility that you should have an web connection in all places you go may be very slim. The mixture of Google Maps and Evernote helps me entry all my scouting info offline.

A number of years in the past when Google launched its offline navigation function in Google Maps, it utterly modified the best way I journey. Now, all I do is obtain maps to my cellphone of the areas the place I plan to journey. I can take pleasure in flip by flip navigation even when there is no such thing as a web connection.

On this step, I add all of the places I recognized in Step 3 to Google Maps.

Sadly, there is no such thing as a approach to synchronize the Placemarks in Google Earth with Google Maps. I’ve to do it manually, but it surely barely takes any time in any respect.

I open Google Earth on my left monitor and open Google Maps on the best monitor; then, I begin including the brand new places to Google Maps utilizing the GPS coordinates from Google Earth. I save every location utilizing the Star Button and, if mandatory, I add a brief description utilizing the Label area.

adding photography locations to Google Maps

When I’m completed, I obtain the areas of the map for offline navigation.

Now, when I’m on the highway with out an web connection, I can entry all my saved spots and, if mandatory, use flip by flip navigation.

Sunset at Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park
Canyon Overlook


Though digital scouting is a tremendous method to plan pictures journeys, you merely can’t plan every part. I goal to plan round 70 to 80% of my journeys and go away the remaining 20 to 30% for freestyle exploring.

For instance, one among my favourite methods for locating attention-grabbing spots throughout my travels is postcards. Every time I cease at a fuel station, I look over the racks of postcards and, if I see one thing attention-grabbing, I purchase it. On the finish of the day, I attempt to pinpoint the precise location of the spot utilizing Google Maps and Google Earth. Then, I make the correction to my journey.

Virtual Photo Scouting – How to Plan and Scout a Photography Trip 2
I found Cape Tryon in Prince Edward Island with the assistance of postcard.

One other helpful tip for locating attention-grabbing spots in Nationwide Parks is to speak to the Park’s staff as they at all times have attention-grabbing concepts and are extremely conversant in the world.

Virtual Photo Scouting – How to Plan and Scout a Photography Trip 3
The Kolob Terrace Street was steered to me by park worker of Zion Nationwide Park.
It was not a part of my authentic planning.


It’s unimaginable to overestimate the significance of scouting when you’re planning a pictures journey. There’s a direct correlation between the time you spend scouting and planning to the standard of images you produce throughout the journey. When pictures scouting is finished proper, the one variable you need to cope with is the climate—the remainder is straightforward execution.

What to learn subsequent:




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