Saturday, March 14, 2015

Special Guest Photographer

For the first time in ages, I don't have any photos to blog. Well, I could always dig something out of the archives, but nothing comes to mind and I haven't had a chance to take anything at all this week. (I'm going to remedy that today with a long photowalk.)

So, in lieu of more photos from me, we have a Special Guest Photographer -- Google Street View!

Every once in a while, browsing Street View, I'll stumble across a scene and think, "Hey, that's a great picture!" The best example so far may be the photo at the top, from London. Between the man instructing his dog to pee, the clamped car and the graffiti assuring us all that "It's OK!" it's a heck of a scene.

I love the everyday life on the streets -- the kids waving at the camera, like these boys in London...

...or the pets wandering around, like this cat in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Google blurs the faces of the people it photographs, as well as many of the street signs and license plates. I think it's crazy, but it appeases privacy advocates.)

Isn't it cool that we can virtually explore Tel Aviv? Or Yekaterinburg, Russia, or Sao Paulo, Brazil? It's amazing.

I spend a lot of time on Street View. Sometimes I'm reading a news story about a particular place and I want to see what it looks like, or sometimes I get curious about places I've lived or visited and want to see what they look like now.

The scenes can be quite beautiful, like these palm shadows near Venice, Florida. I guess it's the whole million-monkeys-typing thing. You take enough pictures, you're bound to get a few good ones -- even if you're a mechanized camera on the top of a moving car.

How about these dramatic skies in New Iberia, La.?

Or these amazing bougainvillea in Miami?

My Google Street View captures, however, are nothing compared to those gathered by artist Jon Rafman. Take a look!


  1. Being Israeli, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the Tel Aviv cat is a stray (what we sometimes call a 'garbage cat', not as a judgement but because that's what they tend to live on) and not a pet. We have a lot of them, all over the place.

    And yeah, wondering around with Street View is great, and quite addictive. There's a site called MapCrunch that supplies random Street Views (and a daily pick of some interesting location, as well), and I really like going there, choosing the 'stealth' option - which removes place information - hitting 'go', and then trying to figure out where I am (and, if it's not too much middle-of-nowhere-y, getting to the nearest city). Try it, it's fun!

  2. Thanks for sharing these! As you can tell, its been another late night of little sleep, so I'm off to bed...Have a good afternoon.

  3. I really want to live in that house in Miami. Google street view is awesome and also creepy. I am not sure why.

  4. I love this. Love, love love. I have a friend who found his wife sitting in the front window of their San Francisco apartment on Google street view. Cool.

    Privacy, schmivacy.

    Throwing a yogurt should be a colloquialism for ... something.

    Yes, catarrh is a great word. I'm so glad you're on the mend.

  5. Love these pictures! And yes, those ones on that website are wow...

    Now I'm off to see if the place I used to live in Zambia is on street view :)

  6. I've never spent any time on street view other than looking around at whatever address I was looking up. I never thought of it as a way to sight see.

  7. wow what a great post, the first photo made me laugh a lot. The link is a fascinating bunch of I have not spent much time on the google street, but now, I must...see you in another lifetime! More addicting than stumble upon...
    my son is standing against a wall in the Portland street google thing, face blurred. Some of those shots certainly would be great inspiration for a creative writing class.

  8. Oh, and I hope that you are 100 percent well before you fly to Singapore!

  9. Yael: Thanks for the info on the "garbage cat"! That cat seems to be eating pretty well, whatever food it's finding. I've never used MapCrunch but I've played an online game called GeoGuessr that does a similar thing:

    E: Hope you got some sleep! :(

    Ms Moon: Isn't that a great house? I don't find Street View creepy at all.

    Reya: How cool, to see someone you know in Street View! I haven't had that experience yet.

    Bug: Google hasn't done every country. But a surprising number of them are done. Even tiny remote places. Try Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific, for example!

    Ellen: It is a GREAT way to explore the world.

    Linda Sue: Aren't those photos incredible? Definitely short-story worthy!

  10. Ah, right I heard of GeoGuesser! But I'm weird, so for me the fact that it's officially a game kinda spoils the fun. I don't like keeping score, so the improvised version on MapCrunch works better for me.

    As for the cat, there are some people who feed stray cats (and there are all sorts of arguments around that). Or they find stuff in the garbage. Still, the cat in the picture has a sort of muscly, grubby look to it, which makes me think it probably lives out on the street (kinda makes me think of Greebo, the cat from Terry Pratchett's Discworld witch series... ah, RIP Sir Terry). I can't be 100% sure, of course, but about 99%.

    And I think that if you spend enough time 'walking' on Street View around your usual haunts, you're bound to see someone familiar eventually. Somewhere in the SV of the Givat Ram campus is Jerusalem, my sister can be seen walking her dog Disney - and since he was a seeing-eye-dog-in-training, who has since gone on to finish his training and be some lucky blind man's seeing-eye dog, it's a sweet reminder of the time she had him.