Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why do you photog?

This week I read about the story of local photographer Cory Hansen, and the time-lapse video he made in memory of his father. Hansen say he "had a really hard time with it (his father's passing)" and his project has "sparked a fire under me and got [him] up and running again". He finds inspiration in capturing the beauty of places he had enjoyed with his father, and in the solitude of nature.


In Search of Night from Cory Hansen on Vimeo.

After reading the article and watching his beautiful video, I couldn't help but reflect on my own life and how I got into photography. 

My reasons for starting up with photography were two fold: I had recently moved to California and was disconnected (geographically) from my family, and I had made some new friends who enjoyed the hobby. It was part social, and also a way to share my experience and life in this new place with those I loved. 

As a wonderful side effect of meeting great friends and picking up their hobby, I've also gone on lots of trips to some absolutely gorgeous areas. And while I'm certainly not the greatest photographer in the world, I love exploring these areas trying to find the best vantage points to capture their beauty. In fact, it was on one of these such trips that we came up with the idea of building ShutterGuides!

So what about you? What's your inspiration? What made you pick up that camera those first few times and causes you to continually consume inordinate amounts of storage with thousands of photos?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Upload Your Photos Directly to ShutterGuides

I'm proud to announce that, in addition to being able to import photos from Google+ and Flickr for your photo guides, now you can directly upload photos from your computer, phone, or tablet! This is a quick, easy option for adding photos to your guides, especially if you don't share all your photos on Google+ or Flickr.

Haven't created a guide before? It's quick and easy! Let's say you are a San Francisco based photographer and know several great spots in and around the city. Here are the steps:

1. Add Photos


First, you'll add photos to the guide that spotlight your favorite spots around the city, perhaps starting with some great spots on Treaure Island: the old pier, and both the eastern and western span of the Bay Bridge.

2. Guide Map


Next, you'll add all the photos from step 1 onto the map. If any of your photos were geotagged, we'll take care of the mapping for you.

3. Spot Details


Then you can (optionally) add tips for each spot, a little nugget of wisdom for another photographer who might visit that spot for the first time. You can also offer recommendations on gear and best time of day to visit. For example, you might suggest heading to Treasure Island at sunset with a wide angle lens and tripod, and to remember layers of clothing as the weather changes very quickly there.

4. Guide Details


Last, provide a name for the guide, something like "San Francisco Photo Spots". You can optionally add some tags and a description to entice people to your guide.


That's it! Your guide is done and at the ready to help other photographers find great photo spots in San Francisco. (And by the way, if you really are looking for photo spots in San Francisco, there are a handful of great guides!)

This feature is in beta, so go ahead and upload photos to your guides, and as always, we'd love your feedback! And if you know spots in beautiful cities like New York, London, San Diego, Los Angeles, Sydney, Chicago, and many more, we'd love to talk to you!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

S-Curve and History

Last weekend the highway authorities moved traffic over to the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which is the half that crosses from Yerba Buena Island (halfway out in the bay from San Francisco) to Oakland, California. I knew I wanted to try to capture the existing span, which was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, before it got taken out of commission.

One photographer who was up there was quite sentimental about the whole thing: "It's like historical and stuff," he said to me. I almost wondered if he was going to need a shoulder to cry on. I have to agree, though, the scene I saw then doesn't exactly exist now, and though it was my first time up there, I was glad I made it to see it. Rumor has it, though, that the photo spot is still quite worthwhile to check out.

It is, like, historical.


East Spans of the Bay Bridge
Photo of traffic moving over the original east span of the Bay Bridge, from Yerba Buena Island. This spot can be found in my Left My Heart in San Francisco photo guide.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Any Device, Any Screen: Fully Responsive Site

A few weeks ago we quietly revamped the entire website. In case you didn't notice, now the site is fully responsive, meaning it will adjust and resize to any sized screen that you might be using at the time. It also means we folded the mobile website back into the main website, which we think makes it easier for everybody: one URL for you to remember, and one beautiful site for us to keep improving on.


In the process, we also made sure that all parts of the site are accessible down to a mobile phone-sized screen. Now, you can even create a photo guide entirely from your phone.

We also gave the home page a facelift, so now you'll see a featured photo guide displayed prominently at the top (we're currently featuring the great new Miami Photo Guide by photographer +edin chavez). We'll be rotating those out periodically to help you discover great new guides that you might not have known were added to the site.

And if you're into the little details, you'll notice that all of our icons are now vector-based icons, meaning they'll scale up crisply to your high-resolution retina iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks (or of course your non-iToy high-res device of choice).

We've got some more awesomeness coming up very soon, too, so stay tuned. And as always, we welcome any feedback you have on these changes or anything else on the site.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

One Photo Guide, Two Views

Just wanted to make a quick announcement: now your photo guides offer two different views of your photo spots. Every guide still defaults to displaying your spots on a map, which makes it easy to understand where each spot is in relation to each other and makes it easy to navigate to each location.

But now, you can also view a photo guide in a list format, allowing you to see all the spot details (like GPS coordinates, tips for getting the shot, gear and time recommendations, and more), all at a single glance. This new view also doubles as the print friendly version of your guide, so you can take this list of spots with you on the go if you <gasp> find yourself without an internet connection while you're out discovering new spots.

List view of photographer +Dave Morrow's "Pacific Northwest Top 50" photo guide.
Check out all Dave's Pacific Northwest photo spots in list view.

As always, keep sending us your feedback as we continue to roll out new features. Let us know if there's something you'd like to see in moving ShutterGuides toward being the best way to find and discover new photography spots around the world!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Making the Most of the Situation

Every now and again I take a trip somewhere with the specific intention of taking photos. Some of these photo runs are extended week-long epic road trips to places like Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, while others are to nearby San Francisco for the afternoon and evening.

Recently I did the latter type of photo run with the family to scout out a few more locations to add to my San Francisco photo spots guide. I knew I wanted to hit Bernal Heights again, then on to the Bay Bridge to see the new Bay Bridge lights. I charged up the batteries, grabbed my gear and warm clothes, loaded up the family, and we made our way to the City by the Bay. 

I had been to Bernal Heights before, capturing a great sunset with photographer +Toby Harriman (in fact, I found the spot in Toby's awesome San Francisco Photo Spots guide), and was hoping for a repeat performance. This time, however it was not to be – dull, gray overcast skies with a high chance of boring. 

We took that as indication that it was time to eat (not to mention our rumbling tummies), so we found a great Peruvian restaraunt nearby, warmed up, relaxed, and ate a wonderful meal while San Francisco turned from dull gray to city-lights night. 

Next we went to the Bay Bridge, where I was hopeful to capture the new Bay Lights lighting "sculpture" on the bridge. We found a great parking spot, unloaded, and...it started raining. I didn't have much in the way of rain gear (for myself, my family, or my camera), but after a few minutes debate we decided to go for it anyway. 

The rain sputtered out for a bit, started up again, and went back and forth again. I started to get a little bummed thinking about my two wasted efforts (Bernal Heights and the Bay Bridge), until I looked down at the ground.

It was then that I realized just what an incredible opportunity I had been handed. Looking down I noticed puddles, and with puddles come reflections. Plus, I realized, because of the rain there was virtually nobody there, affording me an unobstructed view of the Bay Bridge with the lights (which by the way is awesome if you are in the area).




I learned an important lesson that evening. While you're out shooting landscapes, urban photography, or anything really, make the most of the situation you're handed. Often times it's the uniqueness of the situation that makes for the best photos. And who knows, you might end up with a great meal and a wonderful collection of new photos.



For these two San Francisco photo spots and more, take a look at my San Francisco photo guide, Left My Heart in San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New and Improved Photo Guides

Where are the best photo spots to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge? Where are the most interesting locations to shoot while visiting Yosemite National Park? These are the questions that ShutterGuides seeks to answer, and at the heart of our experience are the awesome photo guides that you all have added over the past year and a bit. For the past few weeks we've been gradually transforming the layout and features of these great photo guides to make sure they are the best they can be. Here are a few of the features we've added recently.

The spot photos are now larger and unobstructed to better show the location.

Larger, Unobstructed Photos

While the core of ShutterGuides is photo locations (rather than the photos themselves), we as photographers humans are visual people. The proof of the photo spot is in the photo, and so we've removed the extra clutter that was preventing the photo itself from being presented as large as it could be next to the map when you click on a spot to get the details. Of course, you can still click the photo to view the full size version as well. And, of course, your large higher-resolution photos are still protected by right-click and drag-and-drop copy protection.
Guide stats show how people are reacting to your guide

Guide Statistics

We've added some stats to help you see how your guide is doing. Now, in addition to seeing the rating your guide has received, you can now see how many photographers have favorited your guide, and how many overall pageviews your guide has received. After all, who doesn't like to see numbers?
New layout is cleaner and easier to use.

Cleaner Layout

We've rearranged the guide information to improve the overall layout and organization of the page. Now all the guide information is together, and all the actions you can do with a guide are together (favorite, share, print, etc.).

Improved Map

When you click on a spot on the map it zooms in to give you a closer view of the area surrounding that photo spot. And now, if you click to expand the map back out (or hit the Escape key on the keyboard), the map will return to the original position, making it easy to see all the spots in one glance. 



These are just a few of the big improvements we've made to the photo guides on the site. Behind the scenes we've also fixed a number of bugs to make things better and faster. As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or issues, please let us know in the comments or hit us up on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

Thanks for adding those photo guides, and help us spread the word - we've got a lot more places left to cover!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Photo Spot Gear and Time Recommendations


A few days ago we rolled out another new feature on the site that will make your guides more useful to photographers visiting new locations for the first time: Now you can optionally add recommendations to each photo spot for what gear to bring and when in the day to go to catch the best light.

There are still open text fields to title the spot and leave any tips or advice, but now with these new toggle buttons it's as simple as clicking a few buttons and you're done. No typing required to leave useful recommendations.

Adding gear and time recommendations is a few clicks.


When a photographer views the spots in your guide, they'll see the gear and time recommendations you made in the spot "Details" section, below your "Getting the shot" advice (you did leave advice, didn't you?).
At the Palace of Fine Arts (from my "Left My Heart in San Francisco" guide), I recommend bringing a wide angle lens and tripod, and to check it out at night.

So what are you waiting for? Add in gear and time recommendations to your guides today! And if you have other feature requests, don't hesitate to ask!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yellowstone Photo Spots

Thinking about our U.S. national parks always conjures up a certain warm, nostalgic, almost campy feeling in me. I'm not sure if it's the natural splendor of the locations, the freedom found in the outdoors, or just the thrill of travel, but they have a very special place in my heart. I love to visit these national treasures, and visit them as often as I can, happily feeding my love for landscape photography in these wondrous settings. Since this week is National Parks Week here in the United States (which by the way means free admission), I thought I'd write a bit about one of my most recent adventures at America's first national park, Yellowstone National Park. While I was there I did a lot of location scouting, and here are some of the best Yellowstone photo spots I found while there.

Grand Prismatic Spring
GPS: 44.5212492529, -110.838124752

Grand Prismatic Spring 

 This festival of color found at Grand Prismatic Spring is quite impressive, and unsurprisingly draws hordes of visitors. But while wandering around I noticed people climbing the hillside overlooking the chromatic pool. It took a bit of sleuthing, but I figured out that if you park at the next pull off just south of Grand Prismatic Spring, you can hike in toward the pool, then a strenuous climb up the side of the hill, until you're finally rewarded with an outstanding arial view of the color spectacle. Be warned though, that the trail up is steep and possibly not an official trail.


Fishing Cone Geyser at West Thumb Geyser Basin
GPS: 44.4175132092, -110.570665598

West Thumb Geyser Basin

There are a number of geysers packed into this small area of the park hugging the westernmost side of Yellowstone Lake. A few, like Fishing Cone Geyser, are actually in the lake, and make a wonderful foreground to a sunset photo of Yellowstone Lake.


Old Faithful

Well, I couldn't write about Yellowstone without mentioning Old Faithful, right? If you can time it right (and get lucky), you can catch some low orange sunset light in the steam from the eruption. Just be aware that, while it may be called Old Faithful, the eruption timings are still only guidelines and prone to be off by several minutes. If the eruption is just a bit late, it's possible that the sun will duck behind the surrounding terrain before the steam spews out. Regardless, the area is also a hotbed (literally) of geysers, and you could easily wander for a few hours around the other lesser known geothermal features. A particular favorite of mine was the Castle Geyser, a short walk from Old Faithful.

Artists' Paintpots
GPS: 44.6921490584, -110.737724304

Artists' Paintpots

The Artists' Paintpots area (and for that matter nearly everywhere I visited early in the day) was amazing in the early morning light. The cold frosty mornings, mixed with the heat from all the geothermal activity, created some incredible scenes. It's a short, level walk from the parking lot to this geyser basin.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

If you find yourself tiring of geysers, head over to the canyon region of the park. Here you'll find sweeping vistas of the enormous 800-1200 foot deep Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, several waterfalls, and many great scenic overlooks to take it all in and relax at.

Mammouth Hot Springs Terraces
GPS: 44.9710374689, -110.704421997

Mammouth Hot Springs Terraces

On the far northwest side of the park, you can explore the Mammouth Hot Sprintgs Terraces, covered in stunning white, chalky mineral deposit cascades. Many of the terraces were dry at the time I went, but the overall effect of the terraces is still quite photogenic.



If you'd like to see more of my Yellowstone favorites, check out my Yellowstone National Park Photo Spots guide for all the spots I found while exploring the park. What were some of your favorite Yellowstone spots? I'd love to hear some of your recommendations in the comments!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sharing Photo Spots: Past, Present, and Future

Guest post by Scott Wood

Scott Wood is an Olympia, WA based photographer who specializes in nature, landscape and severe weather photography, but dabbles in many other genres of photography also. Scott is an avid storm chaser and has been published both domestically and internationally. You can follow Scott from his website www.scottwoodphotography.com where there are links to his blog as well as all of his social media outlets.
The photographic world is a much different place than it was when I started shooting over 25 years ago. The closest thing we had to a "community" was a local camera club or hanging out around the counter of a local camera store. It was a completely analog world without the benefit of digital imaging technology, at least for the masses, and we certainly didn’t have the online world we now enjoy. While you might get one of the local photographers to share their “super secret” locations with you, if you were traveling out of of your general area, you were pretty much out of luck.

Now we live in the digital world, we are all connected through a multitude of social media services and we have exposure to more great photography than ever before, but more importantly we have the means to share the great locations we shoot at with more than the people in the local area.

Grand Falls, from Arizona photo guide
Grand Falls, by Scott Wood
from Arizona photo guide
I travel a far bit for my work, and while that is great for being able to shoot in a number of different areas, the downside is that I don’t always have the amount of free time that I would like to actually explore these new locations. I really need to be as efficient as possible and that means doing a good deal of online scouting before I arrive at my work destination. If I am only going to have an hour or two to shoot, I certainly don’t want to spend all of my time looking for that “iconic” location, that I know is out there, and miss getting “the shot” simply because I couldn’t find the right place to setup my tripod.

What is so appealing to be about ShutterGuides is that it lets me see an area through the eyes of a photographer who has actually experienced that location. I am not going to try and duplicate their work, but I will use their work to help me plan my photo safari when I am there.

I will continue to add to my existing guides, and blog about them in the near future, but I will also be creating new guides as I get images to share from different locations I shoot in. Since ShutterGuides is user content driven, I hope that everyone else will be motivated to setup a guide or two of their favorite shooting locations, it helps all of us in the long run.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Photographing Hidden Gems in Washington, DC

Guest post by Brandon Kopp

Brandon Kopp is a Washington, DC – based amateur photographer. He has wide ranging photographic interests from cityscapes to landscapes to macro. Brandon uses high dynamic range (HDR) photography for most of his photos. Brandon maintains two blogs; one on photography in Washington, DC and another on miscellaneous photography topics.
I moved to the Washington, DC area three years ago. The day I moved to town was the second day I’d ever been in the city (the first being when I interviewed for my job). So I was new. I was fresh. I was a tourist. Every weekend, I would pack up my camera and head out to the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, or the Capitol Building and spend the evening waiting for the sun to go down. My first couple years (yes, years) were spent in that same sort of pattern. I learned a bunch of new photography techniques and got the hang of how and when to photograph the hot spots around town. I began to divide my photography “career” into two eras: before DC and after DC.

About a year ago, my interest in those must-see locations around DC started to level off. I’d gotten most of the good shots that I was going to get of them. I needed a new challenge. So I started looking for lesser-known spots. In a city like Washington, DC, with so much history and so much fantastic architecture, there was bound to be such places. I looked through photo sharing sites, hoping that people would add a descriptive enough title or caption to their photos or would, even better, geotag them so that I could find some new inspiration. I was surprised to find some amazing photo locations hiding in plain sight. In some cases, I’d walked right by them without a second thought.

If you’re visiting Washington, DC for the first time, you’ll definitely want to see those must-see locations. If you’ve been there, done that on previous trips, if you live in the DC area, or if you’re a hipster photographer that wants to avoid the spots that have been “overdone,” below I provide a list of my favorite Hidden Gems in Washington, DC.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral
St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral

Churches

I am not religious, but that doesn’t keep me from appreciating a beautiful building when I see one. Some of the most amazing architecture I’ve ever seen has been in churches, synagogues, and mosques. In Washington, DC, the go-to religious venue is Washington National Cathedral. It is an amazing place, but it’s also, currently, covered in scaffolding and construction netting as it is repaired following the August 2011 earthquake. It’s still worth seeing, but you might want to try out these three locations to get your architecture fix.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral

This Russian Orthodox Church is only four blocks South of the National Cathedral and makes a good second stop while you’re in the area.  The interior of the Orthodox Church is covered with paintings of saints, known as icons.  It’s a small location so it won’t take up too much of your time.  When you visit, you may need to use the call box to get in. The staff there are really great people who welcome visitors.

The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception 

This Catholic church, located on the campus of the Catholic University of America, is gigantic.  I often recommend this as an alternative to the National Cathedral.  It’s easier to get to and has no construction work going on.  The sanctuary of the church is beautiful, but for me the real attraction of the church is the 7 or 8 “side-chapels.”  These small churches within a church each have their own personality; different colors, different shapes, different moods. They are also often empty, so you don’t have to worry as much about the clicking of your camera.

The Franciscan Monastery
The Franciscan Monastery

The Franciscan Monastery 

The Monastery is located about a mile from the National Shrine and they are both accessible from the same Metro stop (Brookland/CUA).  The main sanctuary, shaped roughly as a cross, has a beautiful central alter and dome. It’s like a scaled down St. Peter’s Basilica. The monastery offers guided tours, but if you get there early enough you may be able to walk around on your own (I did).  I’ve never been to the Monastery in the Spring through Fall, but I’m told there are lovely gardens that are also worth the trip.


The Freemasons

When I first moved to DC, someone saw my tourist-like enthusiasm and suggested I read the book The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. The novel is centered around Freemason legends in Washington, DC.  The book talks about some of the places around town that have Freemason connections like the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.  It also talks about lesser-known Freemason temples.  I was intrigued and went to visit.  Freemasons don’t consider themselves a religious order, but their buildings are reminiscent of the churches I talked about above.

The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Temple
The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Temple

The Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Temple 

This temple is located a mile or so due North of the White House on 16th St..  It has an unmistakable exterior, framed with columns and two large sphinxes flanking the front door.  You can take a guided tour for $8 and see several rooms in which sacred rites are performed, a number of trophy and meeting rooms, and several libraries.

The George Washington Masonic Memorial 

Towering over the King St. Metro stop in Alexandria, VA, is an unmistakable temple dedicated to one of the most famous Freemasons, George Washington.  For $5 you can walk through the main floor and several museum rooms in the basement.  For $8 you get a guided tour, which includes a view from the building’s steeple. The most impressive part of the whole experience is the main room that you will see as you enter the front door. With its murals, stained glass, and giant statue of George Washington, it has a shrine-like feel.

Hiding in Plain Sight

There are several small, yet impressive memorials in DC that for my first couple years I zipped right by without much thought. It wasn’t until I stopped and looked that I was drawn in.

The Japanese-American Memorial to Heroism During WWII 

Maybe this hasn’t caught on because of how much effort it is to write out it’s name, but the Memorial is a great place to stop as you’re going from Union Station to the Capitol Building.  Long curving lines, a reflecting pool, and a bronze statue of a crane wrapped in barbed wire offer a number of different photographic opportunities.  Because of its Japanese namesake, the Memorial is surrounded by cherry trees and is one of the best, lesser-known locations for cherry blossom pictures.

The District of Columbia WWI Memorial
The District of Columbia WWI Memorial

The District of Columbia WWI Memorial

I was surprised to find that there is no national WWI Memorial, but this Memorial, dedicated to the citizens of the District who died during WWI, suits that purpose.  It’s located halfway between the WWII and Korean War Memorials and is a short walk off of the Reflecting Pool. Its location and the fact that it’s surrounded by trees make it difficult to just stumble across and when people see it, they aren’t really sure what it is, so keep on moving to the MLK, Lincoln, or other memorials they do know.  This relative anonymity makes it a good spot for photos, unobstructed by people.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Several great photo locations around DC are far enough out of the way that you’re not going to stumble across them. You might not know they were there unless you came across a pamphlet or a sign.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center 

The Air and Space Museum along the National Mall is one of the most visited locations in Washington, DC, but it’s companion space located near Dulles Airport is far, far more impressive.  At the Udvar-Hazy Center, a converted aircraft hangar is filled with decommissioned airplanes, helicopters, and the Space Shuttle Discovery.  It’s a jaunt to get out there. The museum itself is free, but parking costs $15.

Great Falls Park 

Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park
I didn’t expect to be so close to an amazing set of waterfalls, but just 15 minutes outside Washington, DC you can find Great Falls, a location that more than lives up to it’s name.  There are miles of hiking trails but the centerpieces of the park are the three falls overlooks. You’ll definitely need a car to get to the park and costs vary depending on number of people in the vehicle.


Hopefully, this has enticed you to think outside of the box when visiting Washington, DC.  There is so much to see and do that it can be overwhelming to fit it into a few days or even a week.  If you’re looking for more advice than you see here, please check out my website about photography in DC, PhotoTourismDC.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on Brandonkopp.com.

- Brandon Kopp

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adding Photos to Your Guides: Faster-er!

Well, we've been quiet again, and if you've been keeping up with us, you probably know that means we've been buried in the code, making things easier, faster, and generally more awesome so you can share your best photo spots easily. This time is no exception!

We've juiced up the guide creation process so that now you can add spots to your guide as fast as you can find them in your albums. No more waiting around for the photos to load in from Flickr or Google+. If you don't believe me, here's a video that shows the first step of adding photos to your guide, with a before and after for comparison:



You'll notice that the photos you select immediately get added to your guide, no spinner, no delay. We grab all the EXIF data for your photos behind the scenes to make things faster so you don't have to wait around for that (yes, I'd like to point out that the original slowness wasn't exactly our fault...cough cough...Google...cough cough...Flickr...but we've worked around it now to keep things moving).

So what are you waiting for? Head on over and add a photo guide for your city today!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Birthday!

One year ago today, we opened up the virtual doors of our site for the world to see. It was an interesting year, with lots of learning and work on the site. We've gone through a re-design and addition of several new features like our Explore page. With the help of lots of incredible members of the photography community, ShutterGuides now has 139 guides with over 1600 awesome photo spots!

We're grateful for the support and excited for the future. As always, we're on the lookout for guides in lots of cities around the world. It doesn't matter if you are a local wanting to show off your town, or a traveler who enjoys sharing places to visit, creating a guide is easy! Also, if you are looking for inspiration, check out the list of the most popular guides from 2012 to get the creative juices flowing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Don't Miss Photo Spots in Salt Lake City

Not too long ago I had the good fortune to spend some time in Salt Lake City, Utah. I almost didn't make it - I very nearly turned around in Reno, Nevada after my car died literally minutes before proceeding across some of the most desolate parts of the United States.

To make a long story short, I had stopped in Reno, and I was filling up my gas tank before driving across Nevada on I-80. My car quite suddenly gave it's last breath at the gas pump, and while I didn't feel very fortunate at the time, I realized later how lucky I was. Had it died another hour or two down the road, I would have had a very difficult time getting it repaired (as well as one crazy towing bill). All things considered, I was lucky to get my car was repaired as quickly as I did, and I found myself at a crossroads: turn back around and head home due to my new distrust in my otherwise reliable car, or take a risk and press on to Salt Lake City. I chose SLC, and I'm glad I did.

Due to my car troubles, I lost about a half a day (and one amazing sunset) in Salt Lake City, but I made the most of my time anyhow -  playing tourist, scouting out photo spots, and generally enjoying myself in this fine city. So if you find yourself in Salt Lake City, here are just a few of the great photo spots you might check out. (If you want to skip to the chase, I've created a photo guide with all my Salt Lake City photo spots on ShutterGuides.)

Salt Lake Temple

The highlight of Temple Square and Salt Lake City in general for me was the Salt Lake Temple. I found the magnificent architecture wonderful to photograph at sunset. Of course, it didn't hurt that a storm cleared right before the sun went down, leaving behind a fiery backdrop. A tip: you may wonder if the security guy who is standing in front of the building in your shot will ever get out of your frame...eventually he will. :) Oh, and bring a wide lens to get the reflection from the pool.


Utah State Capitol Building

Looking up the hill from Temple Square is the Utah State Capitol Building. The interior of the building is marvelous to wander around and photograph. Oh, and it's free. And there's a free tour periodically given that offers access to a few additional rooms that are otherwise closed. There's also a helpful visitor's center across the street from it.

Ensign Peak

I stumbled on Ensign Peak, a great Salt Lake City photo spot, while driving around from the Capitol building, seeking higher ground to try to get a view of the entire city. I went up during the day but it was cloudy and overcast, and so I quickly realized I needed to return again in the evening. It's a short hike up from the street where you park your car.

Salt Lake City Public Library

The Salt Lake City Library is really quite interesting, inside and out. The architecture is modern and unique, and I had a great time wandering around and exploring. I wished I had spent a bit more time in the inside, but I had already spent a lot of time on the outside and was eager to move on. I found myself also wishing I had a wider lens, so bring your widest with you.

City Creek Center

The City Creek Center outdoor shopping mall is directly across the street from Temple Square, and was definitely one of the more interesting malls I've seen. It was fun for a bit of people photography, and the fountains, light, and various other water features made for interesting subjects.




There were several other locations in Salt Lake City that I had on my list to try and visit and photograph, but I simply ran out of time. In the meanwhile, check out my favorite Salt Lake City photo spots from this last trip and let me know what you think. And of course, if I missed any great photo spots, feel free to rub it in leave it in the comments!

The beauty is that I have plenty to see next time I visit Salt Lake City. At the top of my list are some of the sights around SLC, like the Bonneville Salt Flats, Park City, and the Great Salt Lake itself. Next time when I fly.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top Photo Guides from 2012

It's hard to believe nearly a year has gone by since we announced ShutterGuides.com, and since 2012 has also passed by the wayside we thought it would be nice to look back on some of the most popular photo guides over the past year.

San Francisco, California

Photo credit +Toby Harriman 
If you're traveling to the city by the bay, let photographer +Toby Harriman guide you to some of the best San Francisco photo spots. Or if you are specifically interested in the best vantage point of the Golden Gate Bridge or capturing the architecture of San Francisco, he's got guides for those too. If the streets are your interest, photographer +Brian Bach Sørensen shares the best murals of the Mission District in SF.

Washington, DC

Photographer +Brandon Kopp  provides several off the beaten path photo spots in his guide to the Hidden Gems in Washington, DC. Brandon also shares some of his favorite spots around the DC area within an hour and a half drive.

Melbourne, Australia

Visit the second most populous city in Australia and photograph the sights with a photo guide to Melbourne by photographer +Keith Broad. Keith shares some terrific architecture spots, street photography, skyline vantage points, and more.

Photo credit +Clement Mesnier 

Paris, France

A few photo guides rose to the top for photographing Paris, the city of light. Photographer +Clement Mesnier offers over 50 beautiful Paris photo spots featuring well known spots such as the Pyramide du Louvre and perhaps lesser known spots as well. In addition you can take a look at the comprehensive photo guide to Paris provided by photographer +Maurice Loy for photo ideas and inspiration on capturing this beautiful city.

Seattle and Vicinity

The very talented photographer +Dave Morrow shares some photo spots around Seattle and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Take a look at his guide for some tips on photographing the Seattle skyline, a few spots in the Columbia River Gorge, and elsewhere in the beautiful northwest.

U.S. National Parks

Over the year there have been a number of photo guides to the U.S. national parks added to the site. Some of the most popular guides have been to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Crater Lake National Park, and Yosemite.


Thanks for making 2012 a great year, and for sharing your photo spots on ShutterGuides! And if you have some spots to add, it's quick and easy! We're especially on the lookout for photo guides to Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, London, Rome, and anywhere else you've got photo spots for. Here's to 2013!