Friday’s App: Stuck on Earth

IPad, Apps, and Stylus

IPad, Apps, and Stylus

A Coincidental Discovery

I like Fridays to be easy going and laid back. So, it is in that spirit that today’s post debuts. One subject that I have not written about yet is photography. This is a subject that plays an important aspect of my teaching life and my personal life. I have always been a bit of a camera nut, but once I became a yearbook adviser my interest in photography went into overdrive.

Over the years I have spent an obscene amount of time on the internet looking for tips and techniques to help me become a better photographer. I scour website after website and devour article after article in an ongoing pursuit to capture that one great image. So, I am always on the lookout for whatever may help me in that endeavor. And that is what this post is really about: a recent finding.

About a week ago I was reading a photography article that Zite collected for me. The article was some blog’s weekly roundup post and it mentioned the app Stuck on Earth from Trey Ratcliff. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place it and decided to install the app and try it out. Once the app was installed, I realized why Trey Ratcliff’s name sounded familiar.

A couple of years ago I was invited to chaperone the senior class trip to Disney World. In preparation for the trip I dug around on the internet looking for tips on photographing fireworks. One of the sites I ran across was Stuck in Customs…by Trey Ratcliff. Even you have never visited this site, you need to go there…NOW. I would honestly recommend this website for anyone. If you are a photographer, then you will find the tutorials–especially the ones about HDR–very helpful. If you just like to look at INCREDIBLE images, then you will enjoy the site as well. And who doesn’t enjoy looking at incredible photos? One word of warning for my fellow photography hobbyists out there: the website will make you feel totally inadequate.

About the App: Stuck on Earth

My curiosity about the app Stuck on Earth came from its description in that article as a tool for discovering places to photograph near the user’s location. That immediately appealed to my ongoing–and highly procrastinated–desire to “just go wondering around sometime and take tons of photos.” Once I installed the app and started playing around, it fed that desire to just wonder around taking photos like someone had thrown gas on a fire.

Stuck on Earth is a visually beautiful app–even before you begin looking at the photos. Hands down, t is one of the best looking apps I have on my iPad. The app gives you a map of the Earth which you can scroll and zoom around on to the destination of your choice. Map markers then populate the map with attached photos which you can browse through. For example, if I zoom the map in on Nashville, TN markers start popping up with photos. I can then look at all of the photos associated with a particular marker–let’s say: the Parthenon in Centennial Park. I can then browse through a collection of photos users have taken at the Parthenon and see what notes they have written on their photo. The app will also give me directions to a location if I want them.  I think that is pretty handy since I am fairly directionally challenged and usually don’t know how to get anywhere. I need a planned route when it comes to things like this.

All of the photos I have looked at for various locations are extremely good–it doesn’t look like just any old photo makes the cut to be in the app. Apparently the photos are chosen from a curated Flickr community with editors.  To me that just keeps the inspiration level high for the photos–and that is what I want. I want to be inspired. Plus having the photos and locations so readily available enables me to try and replicate the shot.

One aspect of the app that I have not explored much is the travel side. Users can create and save trips for destinations which are shareable with other users.  There is also a travel guide voiced by a professional actress. I usually have the sound turned off on my iPad so I really can’t say much about what the travel guide does.

Although I got the app for personal use, I do see how it could be used by students. If a student was doing some type of project where they were learning about some local location, this app could be very useful. It can give them photos to look at so that they know what to look for and it can give them directions.

If you are a photographer looking for inspiration, a traveler looking for a destination, or just someone who likes to look at great images, then Stuck on Earth is a must-have app.

What apps do you use for photography? Feel free to comment with any ideas or suggestions; I am always happy to get feedback.