Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Your pictures linked with Google maps

This is probably one of the most recognizable scenes from Saipan, of course it's Bird Island from the Bird Island lookout. Pictures are a great way of communicating the beauty and uniqueness of Saipan to those who have never been here, or who may have never even heard of Saipan. I was playing around with some of the settings on my Smugmug picture page. One of the settings I've seen for a while, but never really knew what it was or how to use it was for "mapping". Today I finally decided to teach myself a little bit more about it and find out what I could do with it. Was I ever glad I did, it's amazing what you can do with this handy little tool. You can link any of the pictures from your galleries to a Google map showing exactly where the picture was taken. You tell Smugmug you want to map the picture, and it takes you to a Google map, you just zoom in to where the picture was taken, and then leave a marker there. In the case of my Bird Island picture, I was actually able to zoom in on the map and actually see Bird Island on a satellite picture very clearly, so I left one of my markers right on the exact spot. I have only begun to play with this amazing tool, but you can see what I've done so far by following this link http://maps.smugmug.com/?feedType=geoAlbum&Data=2715756 That will take you to a zoomed in shot of Saipan. If you zoom out a bit, click on the minus button on the picture control, you will see little markers for all my pictures that I have marked. If you click on the marker, it will then show you the picture that I took of that very site. You may need to give the map a minute or two as it is loading up all the pictures associated with it.

I also started "mapping" some of my pictures from my trip to Hong Kong last year. I could actually zoom in to the point of being able to see the hotel I stayed in and put a marker for it's picture right on the exact spot on the map. What a great way to keep track of your travels, and to let any visitors to your site take a little tour of where you've been as well, courtesy of Google and Smugmug.

Here is a picture I took of a bunch of the Filipino maids gathering on Sunday afternoon on one of the walkways by one of the big malls in Hong Kong. And then you can click on this link http://maps.smugmug.com/?feedType=geoAlbum&Data=2895553 and it will take you to that exact spot on a Google map of Hong Kong.

Yes, this is a very cool way of keeping track exactly of where you've been, but it can also be very useful for others in planning their trips, or knowing where to go. I can think of many uses for such a thing. Sure it is a bit of work to set up properly in the first place, and there is a certain amount of trial and error involved, but once you get the hang of it, it goes very smooth.

For those of us trying to come up with various ways of positively promoting Saipan, this is an awesome tool! Not only does it create awareness of exactly where Saipan is through Google mapping technology, but it let's you put your pictures in perspective for guests who have never been here. I'm sure that there are some sites other than Smugmug that incorporate Google maps, but I'm only familiar with that one because it's the one I use. Do a little exploring though, and see what you can come up with as well. What a great tool for creating awareness of Saipan and letting people see not only where we're located, but letting them see the pictures that go along with the maps as well.