The Google Earth Trick
By: Gary Gray
An interesting trick I have developed is to utilize Google Earth to scope out potential landscape shots of the Colorado high country. I mark specific areas I intend to visit and pan my view down to close to ground level and scan the horizon for a view that interests me and try to locate a spot for taking the photograph. Sometimes these views can be obscured by trees and undergrowth when you actually get there though.
Of course, you don't have to be in Colorado to do this. It should be a helpful tool for finding interesting geographical features in just about any part of the world.
So, to give you an idea of how accurate Google Earth can be, here's a sample of a real photo taken based on a location in Google Maps. Google Maps will give you a very accurate look at the terrain. This is near Ridgway, Colorado. Same exact scene from a computer drawing and a real photograph. Pretty close if you ask me. The real trick here is to scroll your view in Google Earth down to ground or near ground level and use the panning tools to view the horizon.
The above Google Earth representation is probably higher above the ground by 100 feet or so.
I use this method of pre-scouting locations all the time. At the very least, I've found it quite helpful for getting a feel of an area before making the trip. More often than not, the actual scene is far more dramatic and useful than what I find on the Google Earth view.
(Original publication date: November 1st, 2010)