The personal blog of Sven Seebeck

Location scouting with a touch of 2.0


As I’m now deep in the planning of my upcoming trip to Cornwall, I though I share some part of my workflow concerning the location scouting process.


Already a while ago I have chosen to go to the area around Marazion, Cornwall, because I saw some images from photographer David Noton from that area which were like the kind I like. I enjoy seascapes, old harbours and rugged coastlines, and there should be plenty.

It is common sense, that the better prepared a shooting is, the better will be the result. Since I never have been visiting this area before, it’s best to get as much knowledge about the surroundings as possible. Precise location searching will still need to be done when I’m there, but I want to know some main spots to shoot already before.

First of all I got me a guide book and maps from the area I’m going to, which provided me with a good overall idea what to expect in that area. Most important it offered me a some example images from the scenery and also which map material is available. Also I got some hint from blogfriend and fellow Pixyblogger Richard from 635 Images who used to live in this area. From there on, I proceeded more in a 2.0 style.

Software I use:

  1. Google Earth

Most of my planning is done so far in the just released Google Earth 5.0, which has proven to be the most useful tool for that. Not only can I see the location, but with the image layer enabled it provides me with some example images from that area wherever available. This feature is enormously useful, as the satelite imagery doesn’t offer a much detailed view of the scenery in this area. Also I used it to calculate the distances between the different keypoints that I had in mind. Additionally I found two more possible locations due to that.

Knowing the distances, I was able to make up my mind about the actual travelling during that trip and figured out that it’s maybe best to stay in one place as a kind of base station. Getting up at four or earlier will still be necessary though.

A very useful feature, which has raised the awesomeness factor, is the sunlight overlay in Google Earth which shows the where the light will fall at which time of the day. You can actually see the sunlight moving over the landscapes on a certain spot, which is a enormous help.

  1. Focalware

Another software I use to see where the sun will come from, is a software called Focalware” available for the iPhone. With it you can also see from which angle the sun will come from and where the moon will be in the sky at any given time of day. I use it to decide which location should be best lit at which time of the day. Therefore I can make a little plan, which location to shoot at either sunrise or sunset, or maybe even both. This together with Google Earth gives me a decent idea about the lighting conditions.

  1. Image Search

Additionally to that I used Flickr image search to view geotagged images from this area.

  1. Evernote

Whenever I run into a interesting location or anything related to the trip I quickly note this or place a bookmark in Evernote, where I have created a notebook just for this trip. I found this to be very useful, since I don’t want to also have to remember where on my computer I have made a bookmark, note or whatever. Just saves some time. Naturally every other notebook application should to the same trick, I just happen to like this one.

One more factor to consider in this area is the tide schedule. A quick search though provides the needed information.

I think, that’s about it and I have the feeling I’m pretty much prepared, the only thing I’m worried about is the weather, since I have a history of bad weather following me, and I surely don’t want to spend the whole time shooting the interior of the local pubs ;-)

I don’t claim this is the perfect way to do some basic location scouting, but so far it seems to be useful and works for me. If you have some ideas, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment and share it.