Finding great locations to photograph is not an easy task. You often run out of places to shoot in your neighborhood and flying to a distant place for this cause is not always an option. Photographers Trey Ratcliff and Darren Johnson individually took to solving the scouting problem for themselves and others in the community. Trey’s approach is an iPad/Mac/Android application – “Stuck On Earth”, which he pitches as a travel guide for photographers, explorers and daydreamers. The app was launched in 2009. Following this, Darren launched “ShotHotspot”, a web app cum search engine for finding great locations to shoot. ShotHotspot started in 2011. We chose to give both of these apps a test drive. Here’s a comparative review of the tools.
‘Stuck on Earth’ uses a combination of crowdsourcing (geotagged photos from Flickr) and curation to bring you the best locations and photos. When you first start using it, its game-like look and feel hooks you. You have a Siri-like voice feature which guides you through the app. The app asks for your personality type before letting you explore the places. This is supposedly done to tailor the content according to your personality but we didn’t see much of that. When searching, in case your specified location is not that popular, you might not find much information about it. Although, the curated ‘Top 50 lists’ are definitely worth a try. Having said that, Trey has surely disrupted the travel guide industry to some extent but calling ‘Stuck on Earth’ the best tool for scouting location is an overstatement.
ShotHotspot is very simple to use and to the point. Just signup and start searching for locations aka ‘hotspot’. In the results, you’ll find some of the best places to photograph. Each search result has a thumbnail view of the location, hotspot type (landscape, nature, architecture, transport etc.), number of views by the community and the number of likes/dislikes. The results also have a curated rating. ShotHotspot also offers an advanced search option. This makes it easy to find out the exact type of location you are looking for in an area. For e.g, you may want to go to a place which offers astrophotography in France and you’ll find just that. However, it lacks a mobile application. Their responsive web application should serve you just fine unless you want the locations to be available for offline use. Both ‘Stuck on Earth’ and ShotHotspot are free apps and seem to be under active development. As the products compete, enthusiasts will keep adding more locations to the apps and regardless which of them is on the top, everybody wins. Check out ShotHotspot and ‘Stuck on Earth’ and share your experience with us in the comment section below.