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Using My Vacation: A Case Study

I have just returned from a trip to Cape Town and Dubai, where I used My Vacation again to create a travelogue. I've exported the journal to Dropbox and you can view it here

I had space to pack my iPad and wanted to use my main camera, so I used My Vacation HD. My camera is a Canon PowerShot S95 which has served me well for the last couple of years, and the successor PowerShot S100 looks to be a good up to date choice too. I did also use my iPhone 4S camera for some shots, especially when the opportunity for a good panoramic photo came about, as you can see from the Penguins photo above!

Using the app I discovered a few little things that can be improved and may also be issues for you using the app. It also got me thinking about the process I go through when using the app, and whether this may be interesting to add as a blog article; a case study, if you like.

Before the trip

I create the trip and set the dates. Things I know at this stage e.g. Fly from Heathrow, transfer to this hotel, that hotel, I put in the title for the day in question. I enter high-level locations, like Dubai and Cape Town

I use the app to create to do lists and add things to pack when I think of them. You can also use notes to keep photos or write reference numbers.

During the trip

I typically update the journal every 2-3 days. It’s best to do it more often but of course, it’s not always easy. In the meantime I’ll be taking photos each day, deleting photos on the camera that I know didn't turn out well.

I’ve purchased an Apple Camera Connection Kit which I insert my camera SD card into, then put the connector into my iPad. The integration is very simple. Photos app automatically loads up and you click on thumbnails of photos you want to transfer. For purists, the RAW images are also transferred, although only the JPGs are handled by My Vacation.

By this stage you have piece of mind that your photos are in two places, so if you lose your camera you won’t have lost those photos.

What I found myself doing was using Photos app to crop photos. I’ll be looking to add this as a feature to My Vacation so this can be done within the app.

Then I go into My Vacation and import the photos. I’ll probably transfer most of the photos I’ve just brought into Photos. With all the photos in place I’ll go through a slideshow of them all. It’s always a nice experience for anyone on the trip to see the photos on a big display before they get home!

Some photos may be slightly wonky and need rotating. Whilst My Vacation cannot crop at the moment, it can rotate. It can also rotate by a single degree each way unlike Photos which can only rotate at 90 degrees.

With the fresh reminder from the photos I’ve just viewed I add the locations travelled to for that day, and then write my journal for the day.

At the end of the trip

After the trip I want to share some photos with friends on Facebook. The easiest way to achieve this with My Vacation is to indicate using the control that you like a photo on the photo view page. Then when you publish the trip you can filter by how much you like the photos and include, for instance any photos with 2 or more hearts.

I tag photos that I wish to export with two or three hearts. If you want to determine which photo is the cover for each day you may want to only tag those with three hearts.

For each of those photos that I give some hearts to I will also make sure the caption is entered and the location is right too. If you are importing photos from a camera that is not GPS-enabled this can be laborious to do for every photo. However each photo can be default take on the location of the previous photo to help reduce the effort placing each individual photo.

In terms of photos, I see the process of creating a good record of your trip is to go through several stages of filtering your photos. I have visualised this in a pyramid to explain what I mean:

Let me know if you approach journalling with My Vacation in a different way, I'd be interesting in your thoughts.

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