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Plan your next photo shoot or drone trip with Google Earth

A common challenge in photography is being in the right location, having the right equipment and best lighting to capture it. A myriad of tools are available to plan for sunlight as it moves through the day such as TPE and there are apps to simulate lenses such as Field Tools for on-the-go planning. Those solutions work great but what if you want to plan for major landscape features to line up? What if you want the peak of a mountain to align perfectly with the foreground, a freeway to criss cross across the image or other creative decisions that can be planned for ahead of time? You can spend your time walking, scouting and looking for those features but with limited sunlight or limited batteries in your drone it can be really helpful to plan ahead. Using Google Earth and the preset packages below you can plan for what you'll be able to photograph ahead of time and show up knowing what lens to use and where to capture the best shot.

    How it works...

    Google Earth gives anyone the ability to view any part of the planet they want and to even see how the sun will progress through the sky in that location. The only problem is there's no easy "lens" button to simulate what a view will look like with a particular camera / lens combo. By default Google Earth has a default horizontal field of view (hFOV) of 60 degrees. Using saved presets and an image overlay we can specify a specific hFOV to simulate any camera/lens. Once those presets have been created they're easy to re-use every time you need to plan a shoot.

    The presets I've created are based on using a full frame camera / lens or the most popular drones from DJI including the Phantom 3, 4 or Mavic Pro. Numbers below are the horizontal field of view (different from diagonal field of view). hFOV is used because Google Earth only allows overriding the view based on horizontal and vertical FOV not diagonal FOV.

    • DJI Mavic Pro (28mm) - 65.5° hFOV
    • DJI Phantom 4 Pro (24mm) - 73.7° hFOV
    • DJI Phantom 3 Pro (20mm) - 80.0° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 16mm lens - 96.7° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 24mm lens - 73.7° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 35mm lens - 54.4° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 50mm lens - 39.6° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 70mm lens - 28.8° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 85mm lens - 23.9° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 105mm lens - 19.5° hFOV
    • Full frame DSLR / 200mm lens - 10.3° hFOV

    Basic. How to use these KMZ presets in Google Earth

    1. DOWNLOAD DSLR & Drone Lens Pack files for Google Earth here. This includes presets for full frame camera / lens combos at 16mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 85mm, 105mm & 200mm. It also includes presets for the 3 most common drones - the DJI Phantom 3, Phantom 4 & Mavic Pro. If you want to create presets for other camera / lens combos use the "Advanced" instructions below.
    2. Start Google Earth, File / Open & select the KMZ files downloaded above
    3. Navigate to the general area you want in to see
    4. Right Click one of the new presets in the left hand column and select Snapshot View (this stores your viewpoint into that camera setting)
    5. Right Click on the preset you want and select Properties
    6. Move the Properties dialog out of the way and use your mouse / keyboard to align the Google Earth view as you need to align your shot. The rectangular frame indicates the border of the image.
      1. Use your keyboard arrows to move forward, back, left, right
      2. Use Alt + Middle mouse button to orbit the camera
      3. Use Ctrl + Middle mouse button to change where the camera is looking

    Advanced. Customize for your specific equipment

    If you've got a DJI Phantom, Inspire or other drone this could be for you. Maybe you've got a crop sensor Nikon, Micro 4/3 body or something of the sort. This is how you can create your own KMZ preset files for Google Earth.

    Change these 3 fields when creating new presets of your own

    1. Start with a FOV calculator so you can determine the FOV for your sensor / lens combo
    2. DOWNLOAD TRANSPARENT PNG HERE ... An alternate to this would be to create your own transparent image that includes a text overlay with what camera settings you're using. For instance, you could create an empty image with text that says "24mm" along the bottom and use that image so anytime you an image with that preset it'll have visible text in the image showing what lens you should use to recreate that shot...
    3. Start Google Earth, navigate to the general area you want in to see
    4. Select Add / Photo
    5. Name your lens preset, upload a transparent PNG as the image and set the horizontal FOV to match the numbers from the FOV calculator link above. Hit OK.
    6. Right Click your new preset in the left hand column and select Properties.
    7. Move the Properties dialog out of the way and use your mouse / keyboard to align the Google Earth view as you need to align your shot. The rectangular frame indicates the border of the image.
      1. Use your keyboard arrows to move forward, back, left, right
      2. Use Alt + Middle mouse button to orbit the camera
      3. Use Ctrl + Middle mouse button to change where the camera is looking
    8. Hit Ok when you're done.
    Source: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!t...