Google Earth

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John Martin
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Google Earth

Post by John Martin » October 19th, 2018, 10:38 am

Another cry for help :roll: I remember reading somewhere in the past that someone, or several of you, used an app to scout local areas for terrain, old buildings, trash piles, etc. Was that Google Earth, or something else? I've never used it or any similar apps but would like to give it a go. Thanks in advance for any help!

OkanaganSFLT
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Re: Google Earth

Post by OkanaganSFLT » October 19th, 2018, 11:14 am

Not sure if it's what people have mentioned in the past, but I can certainly vouch for Google Earth. It's an awesome program. I use it to scope out new areas, rocky slopes, old buildings and large artificial cover objects will be visible as well. Also, I use it to mark locations of where I found different herps.

Here in BC there is a program that plugs into Google Earth that shows areas of private, public, and other types of land as well. That way you know exactly where you can and can't just go. Perhaps something exists for your state as well.

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Jeremy Wright
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Re: Google Earth

Post by Jeremy Wright » October 19th, 2018, 7:15 pm

Hi John,

I use google earth on my computer, laptop, etc, and the standard preinstalled maps app on my iPhone. I've found the maps app to be almost as good as google earth, with many of the same features, including switching between satellite and map view, adding place marks, and getting exact gps coords for a location. I have used it to scout rock piles, trails, etc, and will often do it in the field. The only thing it doesn't show to my knowledge is elevation.

Jeremy

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John Martin
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Re: Google Earth

Post by John Martin » October 20th, 2018, 8:17 pm

Thank you both very much! I was thinking it was Google Earth :thumb:

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technoendo
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Re: Google Earth

Post by technoendo » November 3rd, 2018, 12:48 pm

In 2014 and prior Google Earth Pro used to cost $300 for a full license, then in 2015 they made the app completely free. Not only can it be used interactively but you can also make little fly-by animations/videos (output resolution was bumped up to 4k in 2017!). These tours are handy free visualizations and can even be used commercially for some use cases with a few conditions (like keeping the watermark intact). Another thing I like about Google Earth Pro is I can set a date/time and accurately visualize how the sun casts light into a particular canyon/region. I can also draw polygon shapes overlaid onto the 3d map for things like drawing range maps for herps and studying the terrain where two species overlap.

If you already use Herpmapper it takes less than 5 minutes to dump some/all of your finds into a kml file which can be imported into Google Earth Pro. You can spin the earth around and see pins for every animal you've ever reported and when you click on a record you'll see the herpmapper record details inside of google earth pro (including the photo voucher associated with this record).

Also, there are a ton of mapping devices and mobile apps out there that can save a path you hike as a kml file which can be imported into google earth pro if you want to visualize exactly where you hiked.

Its too bad there is so much secrecy around herping locations as these are some really great tools for sharing sites. The situation requires broader locations like the county-level or region within a state like "South Georgia". Pretty awesome for personal records/research though.

A few years ago Google released Google Earth VR for a few VR systems and I still use this software today to scout for herp sites. Just a couple weeks ago my friend Saunders was in town and I told him that Google Earth VR had gotten Street View support. Then we went and looked up a this FHF discussion thread about a Gila monster found in Street View somewhere in Arizona and pulled up this area in Google Earth VR and stood next to this gila monster. Can I count it as a lifer?

A couple years ago I did this video about herping with Google Earth VR.



I also wanted to add something else that might help more people that don't have any specialized VR hardware and want something more lightweight that doesn't require installing the Google Earth Pro desktop client. Google Earth Web. It doesn't do tours/viewshedding and some of the more advanced features of Google Earth Pro, but it does the satellite/terrain visualizations pretty nicely. You do have to use the Chrome web browser (Firefox/Safari will not work). Here is a link to Half Dome at Yosemite.

dthor68
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Re: Google Earth

Post by dthor68 » November 4th, 2018, 5:23 am

Google Earth can help you find some good locations. However, it also helps poachers and collectors find the same locations.

DRDAN
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Re: Google Earth

Post by DRDAN » November 6th, 2018, 4:22 pm

Google earth is a very useful tool indeed but I am curious about the “poacher and collector” comment. Are they being viewed as the same? Collecting is how many older folks got started with reptiles, which in turn led to understanding about captive husbandry and breeding of many species. 40 years ago collecting was not frowned upon per se but it seems the newer generation believe it to be a negative. Interesting.

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: Google Earth

Post by Bryan Hamilton » November 6th, 2018, 4:52 pm

dthor68 wrote:Google Earth can help you find some good locations. However, it also helps poachers and collectors find the same locations.
Such is the paradox of technology. Used for good and evil, right and wrong. Can there be light without darkness?

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technoendo
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Re: Google Earth

Post by technoendo » December 12th, 2018, 9:59 pm

Just a few days ago Google very quietly released a preview version of Google Earth Studio. Its not open to the general public but you can request access. They had me fill out a little form that asked me my profession, what I plan to do with the tool, and then they emailed me that they will get back to me on whether I'm deemed worthy of access or not.



Google Earth Studio Official Site

Introducing Google Earth Studio article by Computer Business Review

Google Earth Studio Documentation

Google Earth Studio FAQ

3 tutorial videos:







What am I most excited for? In addition to higher quality tour animations I'm intrigued by the 3D Camera/Tracker Export feature. I'm already seeing people on YouTube importing animations + tracked marker data into software like After Effects and Blender to do even fancier things with maps. I've done some experiments with repeatable flight paths using the "Litchi for DJI Drones" software and if I can get access to Google Earth Studio I'll be able to create animations like this much better than before. Boss! Note that this particular kind of video completely outs this location to the public (fine in this case), but as herpers we'll want to be extremely mindful about drawing attention to sites with sensitive animals, dens, or habitat. Its still a great tool for highlighting a region like "southern california", showing an outline of a herping trip that crosses 7 states, or showing viewers where Grant and Chelan Counties are in the state of Washington.

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SurfinHerp
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Re: Google Earth

Post by SurfinHerp » December 13th, 2018, 9:13 am

dthor68 wrote:Google Earth can help you find some good locations. However, it also helps poachers and collectors find the same locations.

Here's a story about poaching in California....

In 2016 and 2017 some dicksmack used Google Earth to locate as many boardlines as he could in San Diego County, then visited them during the peak season and flipped over every board. He apparently collected mainly alligator lizards, but also perhaps CA kingsnakes and some invertebrates. He purposely left every board turned over and out of place, just to spite local herpers. He was caught after trying to sell lizards to pet shops in AZ. I heard he was a repeat offender, and after being caught this time he was put behind bars.

Moral of the story...be careful about placing large cover items out in the field! They can be found on Google Earth and might be hit by a poacher some day.

I prefer to use smaller items (2 feet by 4 feet, or less), and I try to partially cover them up to make them harder to see from the sky.

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Fire Drake
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Re: Google Earth

Post by Fire Drake » December 13th, 2018, 5:01 pm

And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!

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