Category: Photos

Of GoPros and automated video

Rachel and I recently returned from an amazing once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip to Chile. The highlight by far was the five nights we spent “glamping” outside of Torres Del Paine National Park down in Patagonia.

We got a GoPro for Christmas last year and, outside of a handful of smaller hiking and kayaking trips, haven’t had much of an opportunity to put the thing through its paces. This trip was the perfect use for it and I have to say I came away pretty impressed.

The resolution that this thing is shooting at is absolutely incredible to me given its size. And the wide-lens fisheye thing it has going is absolutely perfect for our purposes. We both wanted to be in the photos and video we were shooting as well as getting all the natural grandeur of the Chilean wilderness.

Probably my biggest beef with it is that it’s difficult to use to take photographs. I got a monopod (don’t call it a selfie stick!) explicitly for this purpose and figured that hitting the shutter on burst photo mode would still give us time to frame a nice photo before it finished taking shots. Not so. I also had the unenviable habit of making a squinty face whenever I checked that it was on, which didn’t look so great in 1080p.

But anyway, cutting together footage was a curiosity once we were back stateside. I had used GoPro’s video editor with some success in the past so that’s what I used on the first pass. Unfortunately, their templates are pretty limited, so if you want to get more creative with the music or the cuts you have to start from scratch. Here’s how it turned out:

I also recently started using Google Photos, and their platform has this near-magical “Assistant” that swoops in and programmatically creates animations, collages, stylized Instagrammy stuff and, yes, video. Check out this montage it created and tell me its not as good or better than the GoPro software.

Adding panoramas to Google Maps

Who doesn’t like shooting a panorama? It’s one of the most fun features of smartphone cameras these days. But because the gigantic and strangely-shaped images they produce don’t work natively on Facebook or Flickr, I think most of them are destined to sit forever in obscurity on smartphones.

That is, unless Google has something to say about it. I just found out that you can post your panoramas to Google Maps, where future visitors to a location can see what things look like. Here’s my view of Old Rag in Madison County, Virginia from this past Friday:

Still some wonkiness in between sections of the photographs, but it’s a pretty sweet way to host a panorama on a third-party site that you can share with family and friends.

Virginia Highlands Park

We’re planning to leave Arlington, Va., within a few months to finally live in D.C. proper. Arlington has treated us well, though, and I wanted to spend my last summer seeing all the cool stuff going on in Northern Virginia.

The plan is to focus on places that will force me to ride my bike for some distance, to incorporate general heart health into this project, but today I was lazy and just went to Virginia Highlands Park down the street from our apartment in Pentagon City.

Heard at least five languages being spoken down there, including Chinese, Portuguese, Russian (I think?), Spanish and English.