Using Google Earth to Find the Name of a Mountain (and How to Get GPS Info into Google Earth)

"Mountain in Colorado"

“Mountain in Colorado”

What is the name of this mountain? Photo editors want to know. They like caption information. If you have a distinctive mountain in your photo, “Mountain in Colorado” won’t cut it with your friendly neighborhood photo editor. Here’s how to identify that mountain in Google Earth (and how to get GPS coordinates into Google Earth).

Originally posted Jan. 26, 2016. Updated and re-posted Feb. 5, 2017.

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Checking the GPS Location Accuracy of Your Camera, Part One

Yellow Pin: GPS location provided by the camera. Red X: Actual photo location.

Yellow Pin: GPS coordinates provided by my iPhone. Red X: Actual photo location.

In a prior article (on figuring out the name for Antora Peak) I noted the discrepancy between the GPS coordinates provided by my iPhone and the actual location where I took the photo (graphic above). They were off by about 20-30 feet. You can test the accuracy of the GPS information provided by your camera/smartphone. This article will show you how.

Originally posted Jan. 28, 2016. Updated and re-posted Feb. 3, 2017.

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Comparing the GPS Accuracy of Three Cameras

19 MI Road looking west, Michigan's U.P.

Looking west from the intersection of S. Hantz Road and 19 Mile Road. Canon 7D2 and 100-400mm lens.

I was on S. Hantz Road east of Rudyard, Michigan looking for Snowy Owls. According to eBird there had been several recent Snowy Owl sightings in the area, but no owl was to be found the day I was there. Another photographer I met didn’t have any luck either. I had three GPS enabled cameras with me, counting my phone, so with no owls in sight I decided to compare the accuracy of the GPS units.

Originally posted Jan. 31, 2017. Revised and expanded Feb. 19, 2017.

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“Where Were You When You Took Those Photos?”

Mount Rundle, Two Jack Lake

Mount Rundle, Two Jack Lake

Today (Mar 18, 2014) I was asked by a client where I was when I took some photos in Banff National Park. I was able to provide him with the exact locations, complete with marked satellite images. It is a good idea to known where you were when you created your most important images, and the more specific the information the better. It is good info to have for your own use and sometimes it can make the difference between whether or not one of your images is published.

Originally posted Mar. 18, 2014. Updated and re-posted Jan. 30, 2017.

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When is the Best Time of Year to Photograph the National Parks?

Denali, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Parks

Denali, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Parks

Planning a trip to photograph some of our national parks? You will get better images if you visit a national park at its prime season of the year. But when is each park at its very best? And how do you figure out the best time of year for other locations that aren’t in the national parks?

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Don’t get ripped off! Part Four

We’ve been down this road before. The formula is simple. Take a cheap smart phone telephoto lens you can buy at Amazon for $15, sell it for $54.95, say it is a limited half price offer, and imply the lens will do amazing things that every well informed photographer knows the cheap lens absolutely can’t do.

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One Photographer and Nine Outdoor/Travel Writers Pick the Best Winter National Parks

Mount Hunter from a Bush Plane. Denali National Park. Alaska.

Mount Hunter from a Bush Plane. Denali National Park. Alaska.

I am planning a winter photography trip to some U.S. national parks, some of which I haven’t been to before. So I am narrowing down my choices to fit the time I have. My search is what led to the advice in this article. I recommend you also read The Best National Parks to Photograph in Winter.

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Winter Photography Safety Essentials

Some of the winter travel items I carry in the trunk of my car.

Some of the winter travel items I carry in the trunk of my car. This is the kitchen and “furnace”.

I grew up in Colorado where strange weather can strand you in any month of the year. Even though it is rare, I’ve seen blizzards in the high country in July. So I learned to carry some safety essentials when doing winter photography in remote locations. You never know when you might be stranded for several hours, a whole day, or longer, until the blizzard abates and someone can come find you. This is what I carry in my car pretty much year around but especially in the winter. I include a few winter travel tips, too.

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Exposure Warning: Turn On The Blinkies

Camera LCD Display With the "Blinkies" Turned On

Camera LCD Display With The Blinkies Turned On. Washed out pixels in the photo are flashing white and black.

Some camera’s come with a highlight overexposure warning, commonly called “the blinkies”. If you have overexposed, blown out pixels, those pixels in your image will flash white and black. A quick look at the LCD image will tell you if part of your image has white, washed out, featureless pixels. If your camera has a highlight overexposure warning, I suggest you turn it on. If you see the blinkies and you don’t want washed out pixels, tone down your exposure until the blinkies go away.

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How To Focus Your Lens at Infinity for Night Photography

Photography workshop out at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photography workshop at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

The most important and difficult step in night photography is to focus your lens at infinity. If you have tried to focus on the stars at night you have already learned that it is an impossible task for the autofocus system and just about impossible for you to do manually. You just can’t see clearly enough through the viewfinder in the dark of night to manually focus on the stars. Fortunately, there are some ways to get the job done.

Originally posted Jan. 8, 2017. Revised and expanded Feb. 10, 2017.

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How To Work With A Model When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio

You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.

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Testing Your Camera’s Snow Exposure Latitude

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers, Prince William Sound, Alaska

The “snow exposure latitude” for every camera is different. You won’t find it in your camera’s manual but it is easy to determine with a do-it-yourself test. Why does it matter? If you don’t know the snow exposure latitude for your camera and how to apply apply it to your images, the color and quality of your winter photos will suffer.

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Metering Nighttime Winter Scenes

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park. Sirius, Canis Major, Orion, Taurus, the Hyades star cluster, and the Pleiades star cluster are all visible in the fading light. Click for a larger version.

You can photograph the night sky year around, but winter brings an added bonus: SNOW! When you don’t have the benefit of moonlight, most of the year land forms a dark to black  silhouetted skyline against the night sky. In winter you have the possibility of including the highly reflective snow. You can see both in this photo. Any place not covered with snow is very dark to black. Having reflective snow is why winter is the favorite time of year for a lot of photographers to go out and photograph the night sky.

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part Two

Cougar

Cougar

Most wildlife are medium to dark in tone, making them a challenge to meter properly in the bright, white tones of winter. If you trust one of your camera’s automatic exposure modes, the odds are good you won’t get the best exposure. If you switch over to manual exposure and make the right decisions, you can get great exposures and better quality photos (more about that later).

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part One

Elk in the Snow, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in the Snow, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Metering dark toned wildlife in the snow is a major exposure challenge. It is usually best to avoid large “burned out” areas (washed out, featureless white) in a nature or landscape photograph, but with properly exposed snow, the wildlife can be so dark as to lose all texture. On other hand, metering for the wildlife can burn out the snow. So what do you do?

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Metering Daytime Winter Scenes

Mount Hunter from a Bush Plane. Denali National Park. Alaska.

Mount Hunter from a Bush Plane. Denali National Park. Alaska.

Metering for scenes with a lot of snow can be tricky since the bright snow fools the camera meter. I see a lot of winter photos with gray snow, which means the camera meter did exactly what it was designed to do and the camera owner didn’t know how to use exposure compensation. The solution is quite simple provided you know what to do.

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“How To” Series: Winter Photography

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

In addition to all of the usual photographic challenges, winter provides some extra complications, especially in terms of metering. So I began my series of articles on winter photography. I am in the process of revising and updating this series. I am also revising some related articles and adding new ones. Check out the links below. The articles will help you meet the unique challenges of winter photography. So get out there, have fun, and create some great winter images!

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