Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Why Vine is my Favorite Travel Photography App

"Vine is the newish social media platform that is what would happen if Instagram and YouTube had a love child." - Spud Hilton, San Francisco Gate (March 2013)

When people ask me what Vine is, I pretty much explain it the same way, only without the San Fran-centric love child reference. Vine is my all-time favorite app for travel videography, and here's why.

Likes and Unlikes

* Like Instagram, Vine is a phone-based visual sharing app, but you share videos instead of still images. You have a profile, followers, and hashtags to find viners you want to follow. You can like, comment on, and re-share content.

* Like YouTube, Vine has themed channels to which you post your vines, and on which you can watch vines. Popular Vine channels include: Animals, Places, Music & Dance, Sports, and Comedy.

* Unlike Instagram, and more like Twitter (who owns Vine), you are limited to a caption of 140 characters. No micro-blogging allowed or necessary. If a picture can tell a story better than a thousand words, then do you really need a long caption for video?

* Unlike YouTube, you only have 6 seconds to tell your story. Start. Count to six. Stop. Publish.

Six Seconds?

Yes. 6 seconds is all you need. That's about the attention span of the media-consuming public these days anyways. Besides, you're recording from your phone, so keeping it short and simple doesn't eat up all your mobile memory. And bonus: it's hella easier to edit a 6-second clip on the road without spending hours downloading and editing footage on a laptop.

So for those short-attention-spanners who landed on this page thanks to SEO, without further adieu, I hereby present:

Top Three Tips for creating Travel Vines

* Hold the camera stationary and record a moving scene. While it's tempting to pan and zoom, the most effective method is to be still and let the subject do the moving.

* Use First-Person POV (point of view). When recording a travel experience, personalize the perspective so the viewer feels they are there experiencing and watching it too.

* See with your ears as well as your eyes. Video means audio, so pay attention to what your hearing before you film. In some cases it will be the reason you choose to take a video rather than a still. Those moments usually make for the most captivating vines.

Here's a 6-second example (note: to hear the audio, hover on the video and click the speaker button):

This particular Vine leads nicely in to my closing point.

Vines grow like...Vines

A good vine never really expires, it just keeps growing, like these brittlestars on vine. The above video is case and point. A 10-second clip of that same musician posted to Instagram got 16 likes, while the still image of him on Instagram got 40 likes. Even the most popular travel instagrammers are lucky to get engagement from 10% of their followers, most posts average less than 1%. Compare that to the 6-second clip posted to Vine, which, as of this writing, has had over a million views (loops) 15.3 THOUSAND likes, 3,539 shares (revines), and 1,132 comments. You do the math. But clearly, Vine for the win in this case study.

Hashtags on Vine

For travel, start with #travelvine and #6secondpostcard. You can hashtag a particular destination, and search by a destination's hashtag for inspiration. For example, I created my own hashtag to share vines from Cuba, which has started to gain traction for those going to Cuba: #Cubavine. After all, a photo just doesn't immerse you into Cuban culture the way music does. Do those vines inspire you to visit Cuba? Good. More on that soon.

So where does that leave Instagram?

In summary, a good vine has a potential shelf life that would put a twinkie to shame. A good instagram post grows quickly, blooms, then wilts away, drowning in the river of images pouring out over the internet like a river emptying into a vast ocean.

But instagram pretty much IS that vast ocean of imagery on the internet - it's not going away - with over 300 million active monthly users, and I'm certainly one of them. Have you found me there? Here, I'll make it easy for you. Just click follow on this "#sunsetgram". I share a lot of them between travels.

And on the subject of apps, and sunsets, I've just started playing with Instagram's new Layout app and I'm LOVING IT!

What's your favorite travel photography app?

Please join me on twitter later today (or night depending on where you are):

Thursday, April 2 at 9pm ET, 6pm PT

for #TNTChats with Techlicious. I'll be co-hosting this fun photography themed tech and travel chat, and we'll be be covering tips for taking and sharing photos (or videos), favorite apps, and more. Plus, someone will win an Amazon Gift Card!

Until then, be sure to check out these other #IGTravelThursday posts:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Space to Sleep - 15 Favorite Hotel Beds

There are so many directions I could go with the theme of "space" for this week's #Frifotos on twitter.

My first thought was looking up. I thought about the skies - the vast emptiness of space that surrounds our planet, but I've already blogged photo-essays about African Skies, Andean Skies, and Amazon Skies.

So I thought about being in space, rather, being in the air flying through space up to 36,000 feet above the planet, but then I've already blogged photo essays about taking Aerial Instagrams, and all the Reasons I Love the Window Seat.

So, with my feet firmly on the planet, I thought about the beautiful open spaces of natural beauty on earth. But yeah, you guessed it, I've already blogged photo essays about such wondrous spaces as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, and probably my favorite "space" to view space from our planet, Namibia.

Then I grew tired, exhausting possibilities and ideas to blog about for "space". I just wanted to turn off the computer and go to sleep. That's when I realized, ah yes, that place where we drift to sleep is a space too. And I've drifted to sleep in many, many spaces. And I've taken many pictures of those spaces - those rooms and beds - so why not share some of my favorites here.

The Berber Tent, Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco

Shangri-La Hotel, Xian, China

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Ucluelet, BC, Canada

The Taj Bengal, Calcutta, India

The Tribe Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya

The Kahala Resort, Hawaii, USA

Hotel Patagonico, Puerto Varas, Chile

Inn of Five Graces, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Taj Tashi, Thimpu, Bhutan

The Osprey, Beaver Creek, Colorado, USA

Tambo del Inka Resort, Urubamba Valley, Peru

La Mamounia, Marrakech, Morocco

The Sofitel, Xian, China

Kimpton Hotel Alexis, Seattle, Washington, USA

La Mirage Garden Hotel, Cotacachi, Ecuador
I could go on, but I'm sufficiently sleepy now and ready to hit that space of my own bed. Happy Friday, happy weekend....and happy sleep spaces.

Be sure to follow me on twitter @kymri and instagram @kymri, and be sure to share your favorite "space" pics all day Friday using the hashtag #frifotos!

See also:

Rooms, Views, Rooms with Views

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Yosemite Re-Visited: Landscapes by iphone

The iconic and impressionable landscape of Yosemite National Park is one that lingers. Long after the photo is taken with a camera, the photo captured with the mind continues to develop, as fresh as the moment you first set eyes on it. Years pass, and there it is in the mind’s memory - vivid, crisp, and beautiful. Meanwhile, the print photographs have faded, and the slides hidden away in dark boxes have somehow never made it to the scanner. 1986 becomes 2016. Time to return.

When I realized I had not been back to Yosemite National Park since digital cameras and iphones evolved, my heart skipped a beat. I knew it was a popular destination for nature photographers, and as expected, there were hoards of photographers with their backpacks and tripods, all flocked around the same spots taking the same picture at the same time. I avoided these groups. I also avoided doing any research about where to take good pictures in Yosemite. Instead, I found my own vision, and went where others were not. I let my family lead the way, with no set agenda other than to explore. I carried my camera, and iphone, to shoot from the heart whatever moved me in the moment.

Well, no sooner had I stepped out of the room at Yosemite Falls Lodge in the early morning, then I found myself looking up and being absolutely awe-struck. Click. I allowed myself this one first indulgence, without any thought as to who or how many had taken that same shot. All I could think was "this is for Ansel", and that my first instagram shot at Yosemite should and would pay tribute to Ansel Adams. Thankfully, instagram makes it easy to quickly take and share a shot that Ansel would have spent hours setting up and more hours developing in the darkroom.

So with that fait accompli, it was tempting to continue to see the park through a black and white lens. But that's not where my heart lies. I see, and feel, in rich vivid saturated color, so I quickly abandoned the temptation to shoot in b/w, and opened my eyes and lens to the colors all around, even in winter.

A photo posted by Kymri (@kymri) on

With my phone, I captured where I stood...and where my steps would lead me.

I captured trees dancing with water, and trees standing with rock.

I captured rainbows. Expected...

and unexpected.

A photo posted by Kymri (@kymri) on

I captured wildlife that captured my attention.

I captured wide panoramas...

and detailed textures.

I reflected upon reflections - mirrors in nature are mirrors into ourselves.

A photo posted by Kymri (@kymri) on

A photo posted by Kymri (@kymri) on

And what of that iconic trophy shot I took all those years ago, you know, from the Tunnel Road overview, reputed to be the most photographed vista in the world? At the time I thought I'd nailed it with my Canon AE-1. (Cropped square for comparison sake)

1986 - Canon AE-1, Fuji print film
2016 - iphone5s, digital, no filter

Whether it was 30 years of skill, or 30 years of technology, the iphone shot was a definite improvement. The view was pretty much the same. My skill had improved to the extent that now I knew to chase the magic light, and to be there when late afternoon shadows would give the scene depth and texture. And no, I wasn't pioneering with that intention. There were the other photographers all there with their tripods at the same time taking the same picture. Which still, quite frankly, wasn't remarkable, even in the best light of day, right before the shadow creeps up Bridal Veil Falls. Blue sky? Boring. This is a scene that takes really spectacular weather and light conditions to make it interesting enough to stand out from the rest, but there you have it. It's my least favorite of all the shots I took at Yosemite. Yet it resonates with each of us.

When we humans witness such grandeur, it's in our nature, our human nature, to want to preserve it. We take pictures - we freeze that moment in time and place, when our eyes and hearts fill with the wondrous beauty of our planet.

And then, we share them. Landscapes of the heart.

A photo posted by Kymri (@kymri) on

If you enjoy this post, I hope by now you're already following me on Instagram. You may also want to check out more of my videos on Vine. And keep an eye out for my #Vinecations on the Orbitz Travel Blog - I'll be featuring Yosemite next!

Here are more eye-candy travel photo posts for this month's Instagram Travel Thursday!

And be sure to check out twitter this week for the #frifotos theme of "landscapes"!