Welcome to Washington State 360
Click-&-Drag on this image to reveal more of this Hobbit House
The HOBBIT INN is a project (built by Kristie Wolfe in 2015) that was fun to photograph and hike around this past year (2016). I began capturing 360-degree perspectives for creating a few fully-spherical panoramas of the “wood carver” themed hobbit “hygge” (a place of wellbeing and cozy togetherness). These sets were then put into a “virtual tour”; a collection, set or otherwise linked 360-degree panoramas. The Hobbit Inn Project began with visiting around the first week of each season (spring, summer, autumn, winter), to capture several perspectives in and around this first (of three planned) underground hobbit structures. And because it is fun also to hike around the property and area in general, I’ve also gathered a few nearby vantage points as well (so as to see how Lake Chelan sits far above the mighty Columbia River and the Hobbit Inn sits far above them both).
That is one example of WHAT I enjoy doing (360° virtual tour photography). Now please allow me to back up a bit and introduce myself…
My name is Timothy Oldfield and my 360° virtual tour photography work is something I often create and label as Washington State 360. And I love creating these engaging “warm introductions” as an initial invitation within public or otherwise-private (sometimes behind the scenes) locations and spaces, whether they be your public buildings, public artworks, the businesses of others’, abandoned bridges, passenger boats, parks, airplanes, bed & breakfast accommodations (including a hobbit hygge), homes, hotels, motels, galleries, gardens, wildlands and whatever! 🙂
Especially in the last several years, I’ve created hundreds of fully-spherical panoramas with my DSLR camera and a few software programs. My clientele are most usually those who enjoy the fact that I can post their virtual tour into their favorite world-class 360° hosting sites (360cities, RoundMe, SpinAttic, etcetera), and that I can also post their new panoramas directly into Google Street View (with related statistics available to me each day, which I can share with them). In fact, although I didn’t request the label of “Google Trusted Photographer” (GTP), Google made the invitation and began labeling me as such even before I responded! This had benefits for my clientele as well. Rather than taking several days to go through a review process before the panoramas went active, I am now regularly able to see same-day or immediately visible results on Google Street View and Google Maps. Another benefit for some clientele is that I can link their same-location panoramas within Street View to enjoy the same sliding effect (for moving between photo-spheres), just like that moving-down-the-road experience Street View became famous for.
You too can become a voluntary “Local Guide” with Google. Have fun while assisting your favorite businesses in being seen! Visit: https://www.google.com/local/guides/
Do you recall that summer of 2016, Pokémon GO™ became a major game hit (trademark 015162647 of Nintendo Co., Ltd. Hey, I used to work for them as a test line instructor in Redmond, Washington a few decades ago). Anyway the popular game evidently funded in large part by the CIA and NSA, was played within a map based on real world locations. I played it for a week or two, simply to understand what people were talking about. It was fascinating to some degree, yet I was thinking that there must be a “game” I could find to enjoy with that would potentially benefit humanity (people I may, or may not, know).
Synchronistically, I got a message from Google Maps asking if I might consider becoming a voluntary “Local Guide” around my area of Lake Chelan (Chelan County being located in North Central Washington, the state); simply taking snapshots of public and business locations and missing basic data on Google Maps. It allowed me to suggest edits for inaccurate data too. After a cafe owner in Chelan saw me posting a couple photos of the beautiful meal they had brought my wife and me, he asked how I was able to do that. I showed him I could also suggest edits if anything was inaccurate about his Maps business listing. As they had recently switched to seasonal hours, he asked if I could somehow update that. So, I went out front and photographed the new hours, as well as editing the text version then and there (my global positioning system [GPS], with perhaps an algorithm, could see I was actually at the location where the “Hours” photo was taken). By the time we were done eating, he announced he reported that his phone was seeing the new changes on Google Maps. My dream of playing a globally as well as locally “helpful game” had come true!
This Local Guide fun was addictive in a productive way. Perhaps daily, I found myself at some point taking a few snapshots most anywhere I was doing business. Even if a location had no incorrect or missing data, I was adding things I found interesting that the owners or social media managers may not realize was helpful. So few people (myself included) realize how much many people go to Maps for more than just an address or phone number; they often go there for IDEAS to help them make a choice, whether looking for places to eat, places to stay, specific shopping, local entertainment, a park to picnic in, a dog-park, vet, doctor or whatever. I had no clue that in about six (6) months of playing my new game and posting about 2,000 snapshots, Google would have already tracked over 1,000,000 views of those photos.
Yes! Over One Million Views in the first 6 months.. that count is for each click to open up one of my images on Google Maps and Street View (both, my voluntary snapshots and my professional 360-degree virtual tour photography work), with my mobile phone’s internal camera of such things as business hours (often posted on the door or a window), front of the building with signage or address number, interior representations, etcetera. Sometimes as simple as a picture of a business card or rack card (front and back, if applicable) can share additional information helping people using Maps, to decide to visit the business for real.
Examples of panorama hosting sites:
One of my favorite panorama hosts is SpinAttic! Although the name is rather odd, the functionality is something I am enjoying more with time, especially how the panoramas begin turning slowly after a couple seconds of loading. And even if the viewer takes control with touch or cursor (depending on their viewing device), it will wait a bit and then return to default functionality:
This world-class 360 host holds an ever growing collection of my latest works and they are now my primary panorama host:
Here is a link to a 360 host that I just recently began posting several TEST panoramas to, as I enjoy how these (similar to SpinAttic) begin turning slowly after clicking on the introductory image:
Sphere (TheSphere, formerly TourWrist) is where you’ll find earlier work (of several years ago); nearly 400 panoramas captured mostly within (and some visits beyond) the state of Washington (as the creator now works at elsewhere, his old pano hosting service appears to slowly be losing functionality, but it is fun for me to go back and see past perspectives):
I enjoy doing at least one FREE interactive panorama each month (especially of beautiful or unique perspectives in public spaces). At this time, I focus closer to home (Chelan County within the state of Washington). Do you have ideas in this region of what you believe to be deserving of a photo-sphere each month? Perhaps look up Washington State 360 on Google Maps or elsewhere and share.
Tim Oldfield ~ 360° virtual tour photographer with Washington State 360
Washington State 360
P.O. Box 282
Click-&-Drag on this image to reveal more of this Hobbit House