News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for February, 2012

Images in Use: TravelHost Austin

by on Feb.29, 2012, under Photography

TravelHost Austin, February 2012

I mentioned that I was doing some work for a new Austin travel magazine recently but the first issue of TravelHost Austin has now hit the shelves and can now be found in 16,000 hotel rooms in the greater Austin area. This issue also includes a mini-editorial about me (that’s a first for me) and an advertisement for Altered Perspectives, my canvas print collection sold by Really Big Canvas.

The print edition contains several of my images but many more are in use on the magazine’s web site where they have more real estate for pictures. Head on over and take a look.

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Image in Use: KIJK Magazine

by on Feb.21, 2012, under Photography

One of my Hamilton Pool images is featured in the magazine “KIJK” in Holland this month. As far as I can tell, this is the Dutch equivalent of Popular Science. It looks like my kind of magazine but, unfortunately, I can’t speak the language so I’m just looking at the pictures.

KIJK - March 2012

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Remote Location Scouting Tools

by on Feb.19, 2012, under Photography

I’m heading to Yosemite at the end of April for a week of photography led by Raul Touzon. The trip starts on a Sunday and we’re all meeting in the vicinity of San Francisco International Airport that afternoon. In booking flights from Austin, however, I couldn’t get anything useful that day so ended up booking a Saturday morning flight leaving me a day to wander around San Francisco and take pictures before joining the group.

Although I love San Francisco, it’s not a city that I know large areas of particularly well since most of my visits have been brief evenings after driving up from San Jose while on business trips. This time, however, I’ll have 24 hours to see and shoot the sights but the question is which sights do I want to see and where should I stay to ensure I’m best placed to get as many of them in as possible in the short time I have available?

In a perfect world, you would have enough time to scout locations in person but, on a brief trip like this, that’s obviously not feasible. These days, however, that needn’t be a problem. Here are a few of the great tools I use in situations like this to help decide where I’ll visit and what I’ll shoot.

San Francisco Skyline at Dusk

Social Media

This is probably the least obvious of the suggestions here but, frankly, it’s by far the best resource for me. When visiting a new city, especially if I’ll be on my own, I typically drop a line to any photographers I follow on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ and ask if they would like to get together either to shoot or just for a coffee or beer. Aside from the fact that this can give you a chance to meet folks you’ve been interacting with remotely for quite some time, local photographers obviously know the area a lot better than I do and can offer great suggests on locations to shoot. Another great benefit is that, assuming folks are able to meet, you end up with some company on your visit – personally, I very much prefer having someone to bounce ideas off while on a shoot.

This approach has been very helpful to me and I’ve had a chance to meet many online buddies face-to-face while on brief visits to their home cities. The list includes Brian Matiash and Bob Lussier in Boston, Charles Dastodd and Matty Wolin in Chicago, Jim Goldstein in San Francisco, Scott Wyden, Mark Garbowski and Jesse Pafundi in New York and Karl Williams in Glasgow (even though I knew Glasgow well, it was great to have an excuse to say “Hello”).

As far as the upcoming San Francisco visit is concerned, I put out a plea on Google+ and Jesse Nichols came to the rescue. It looks like we may even have a fully fledged downtown photowalk on the afternoon of April 21st!

The other side of this coin, of course, is that you should strongly consider offering your services to remote photo buddies who are visiting your city. I love doing this in Austin even if it means reshooting locations I’ve been to tens of times before since, very often, the visitors’ shots of those locations show something new that you’ve missed in all the years you’ve been there.

Flickr Places

A more obvious location that is enormously useful when looking into locations in a new city is Flickr Places. This section of the Flickr site acts as a geographic portal, grouping together photos, photographers and groups related to particular towns and cities. You can see the most popular images for each location and, clicking on the map, you can find where each of those shots were taken. For example, here’s the main San Francisco entry and the most interesting image map for the city.

The only warning here is to note that some of the geotagging on the photos can be rather inaccurate. Again, using San Francisco as an example, a great image of the Bay Bridge is noted as having been taken from the middle of Van Ness Avenue which even I know is not at all possible!

The main places page for a given city also includes links to any groups that relate to the same location and these groups can also be great places to post questions and have locals provide you helpful advice in advance of your trip.

Stuck on Earth

This is a new resource that I’ve come to very much enjoy over the last few months. Stuck on Earth is a free iPad application produced by Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs. It’s beautifully put together and provides a wonderful, map-based browsing capability. The basic idea is somewhat similar to Flickr Places (it actually uses the Flickr API to show images pulled from the service) but the result is very much more polished. Another distinct advantage it has is that it contains many, many curated galleries of excellent images chosen by local photographers. In my planning for the San Francisco trip (using my son’s iPad. I may have to treat myself to one some time soon purely for this application!), I spent a lot of time trawling through Thomas Hawk’s “Top 50 Secret Spots in San Francisco” (you can see some of the images here) and will definitely be visiting some of the great locations he describes.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris

After deciding on specific locations, another tool I like is The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE). This tool uses maps and tables to show you exactly where the sun and moon will be from anywhere on earth at any date or time. It’s especially useful when planning sunrise or sunset shoots since one of its views overlays the sunset/sunrise/moonset/moonrise directions on top of your map to show exactly where these will occur relative to your camera position. It all sounds a bit geeky but it really is enormously helpful.

The application is available for iOS (iPhone and iPad), Android and Mac and Windows desktops. The desktop version is free and the mobile versions are very cheap at around $5.


Another app I have on my iPhone provides a quick sun and moon angle calculator. FocalWare integrates with the phone’s compass and rotates its view to match the direction you are pointing. You can enter any longtitude/latitude, time and date, and it will show you where both sun and moon will appear in the sky. You can drag the sun or moon icon around the compass star and the app will update the time and elevation to show exactly when the sun or moon will appear at a given position. Again, it sounds rather geeky but I find this a very easy application to use when trying to figure out when, for example, I can expect a full moon 10 degrees above the horizon in a given direction.

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Plus One Collection

by on Feb.11, 2012, under Miscellaneous, Photography

Here’s something cool from the land of Google+. Ivan Makarov, well known in online photography circles, has pulled together submissions from over 500 photographers worldwide and published a book in aid of charity Kiva. The Plus One Collection will be sold in three forms – a limited edition collectors’ version, a Blurb-printed version and an eBook. The printed editions include photos from 193 individual photographers while the electronic version contain all submissions received. The image I submitted was selected for both the print and electronic versions and, if you have sharp eyes, you can see it in the poster image in the top right quadrant of the plus sign.

The limited edition book is on sale between February 10th and 20th only, after which no more copies will be made. On February 21st, the general print edition will be available for purchase. So far, over $5000 has been raised and that is only in 1 day of sales. Head on over to the project’s web site for more details or to order a copy of the book.
Plus One Collection

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The Big Cover Reveal!

by on Feb.10, 2012, under Family

Many of you know that my wife is a writer and some of you also know that her first childrens’ novel will be published this coming August by Razorbill, one of Penguin’s imprints. After a lot of refinement and tweaking, I’m now delighted to report that the book cover has finally been revealed to the world:
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy

You can read more of the trials and tribulations of a soon-to-be-published author over on her blog if you want to follow the story as publication draws nearer.

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