My First Google Tour

My First Google Tour
I started photographing my very first Google virtual tour, seven years ago, in January of 2013 at Totalvision Eyecare Center in Manchester, CT https://www.totalvisioneyecare.com/. The temperature outside was one degree and I was required to prop the door open as I took the first three images. I could barely feel my fingers as I clicked away, not really knowing what I was doing. I produced a new virtual tour of the renovated Totalvision in April 2019, which got me thinking about how I got started with Google.



In 2012, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a Google employee, who was recruiting photographers for their new “Google Business Photos” program. I’m smart enough to understand when opportunity is knocking. Google is an amazing brand and I wanted to be associated with Google.

I agreed to purchase the required photographic equipment and take the training to become certified. It was quite an experience. The entire system reminded me of a passage from Pulitzer Prize winning author Herman Wouk in The Caine Mutiny. The original Google Business Photos program was truly “a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. All the shortcuts and economies and common-sense changes that your native intelligence suggests to you are mistakes. Learn to quash them. Constantly ask yourself, "How would I do this if I were a fool?" Throttle down your mind to a crawl. Then you will never go wrong.”  Google has improved the program dramatically since 2013, including allowing photographers to stitch their own panoramas and edit their own images in Photoshop.

After studying the course materials, I was required to pass a test and produce ten Google virtual tours. The most difficult part was each virtual tour had to undergo a quality control critique by Google technicians in India. Many times I was required to go back and take more panoramas of the same location and spend hours on the publishing software. The Google pipeline that stitched and published the panoramas was very buggy and often was completely shut down. Eventually I passed and became a TIP (Trusted Independent Photographer) and I was able to publish Google Virtual Tours without the quality control critique. What a relief.

The original program had rules against soliciting business outside your geographic area and a monthly quota for published virtual tours of businesses. There was constant pressure to produce tours or get kicked out of the program. Also, improving image quality by using Adobe Photoshop was forbidden.
The next year there was a re-branding from Google Business Photos to Google Business View and all website logos and printed brochures had to be brought into compliance. Then the “see inside” button on Google business pages was eliminated.  A few years after that, the Google desktop stitching and publishing software was phased out and all the strict rules were eliminated. Anyone could now take a panorama photograph with their cell phone and publish it to a Google business page. Every Google Trusted Photographer had to purchase their own stitching software and either use a third-party publishing software or publish their panoramas on the Google Street View cellphone app. Any technical support to Trusted Photographers from Google was eliminated. Wow what a ride! The elimination of all rules was freeing and challenging at the same time.

Producing the new tour of the renovated Toatalvision of Manchester was a pleasure this time. The weather was warm, and I have gotten very good at the new software. I can use Photoshop to improve the image quality, and I now know what I’m doing. You can take the new virtual tour here: https://goo.gl/maps/1RaDapQWZwgLXAn48 By the way, I highly recommend Dr. Alpert, who is an amazing and caring eye doctor.  Dr. Alpert has the latest technology to fit you with glasses or contacts and to evaluate and treat eye problems. Don't put off your eye exam!

Tim Becker

Creative Images Photography

901 Main St.

Manchester, CT 06040

860-528-7818

tim@2cimages.com

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Anjelica

Anjelica


From time to time I am fortunate to receive an unusual photo assignment that challenges my ability as a photographer. As a senior in college I was fascinated by the work of fashion photographers Richard Avedon https://www.avedonfoundation.org/history and Neal Barr https://nealbarr.com/. I tried without success to copy their work using black and white film for my college advertising photography course. Once I started my own photography business, I did photography for a modeling school, and an occasional model portfolio assignment; but I soon realized that there is no market in the Hartford area for fashion photography. That is when I discovered that I am a really a corporate/industrial photographer. Business portraits and photography of machines and metal parts are my main areas of expertise. I consider fashion photography way out of my comfort zone.



In October I received a message from Lori, who I have known for many years, from the time our sons used to hang out together. She explained that her daughter Anjelica had been a runway model in New York City during fashion week and was encouraged to get some photos so that she could get more modeling jobs. Anjelica is currently pursuing an advanced degree in clinical mental health counseling at University of St. Joseph's in West Hartford. She enjoyed working in New York so much, that modeling could become a nice side hustle while in grad school.




Lori agreed to be my photo assistant and stylist for Angelica's photo session.  Since it was mid-October, the sun is lower in the sky and creates a beautiful light; and the fall foliage makes such a nice background, we decided on several outdoor locations. I am not a big fan of photographing without complete control of the lighting, so every image has a blend of flash and natural light. The sunlight that day was spectacular in Center Park and Wickham Park in Manchester, CT. 







Anjelica modeled three different outfits. After taking a few dozen frames; my photographic anxiety was gone, I got in the zone, and took hundreds of photos. I don't plan on doing any more fashion photography in the near future, but I thoroughly enjoyed this photo assignment.  It was another perfect day!

Tim Becker

Creative Images Photography

901 Main St.

Manchester, CT 06040

860-528-7818

tim@2cimages.com

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A visit to the Bushnell Performing Arts Center

A visit to the Bushnell Performing Arts Center


This spring I was invited to submit a bid for producing a multilevel Google virtual tour, and still images of the Bushnell Performing Arts Center in Hartford, Connecticut. I was awarded the job in July and I produced a three level Google tour that includes over 40 panorama images. You can view the tour here: https://goo.gl/maps/HNhM19aXRsUbnkoEA
My portfolio of Google virtual tours now includes several Hartford landmarks including the Hartford Convention Center, the Hartford Science Center, and the Hartford Yardgoats Dunkin' Donuts Statium.


 According to the Bushnell website: “Designed by the highly respected architectural firm of Corbett, Harrison, and MacMurray - the same architects responsible for New York City's Radio City-The Bushnell is regarded as a world-class facility and one of the great Halls of America. In 1930, The Bushnell opened, being heralded as ‘beacon of hope,’ in the midst of the Depression – such it has remained for over 80 years.”  The Art Deco style of the main theater; the William H Mortensen Hall, especially the ceiling, is truly amazing.


There is also a smaller 900 seat theater called the Maxwell M. and Ruth R. Belding Theater, which opened in 2002. According to the Bushnell’s website “The ceiling mural, created by Evergreen Studios of New York City, provides a dazzling modern interpretation of the original Hall's sun, moon, and stars Art Deco motifs.”


The Bushnell has hosted almost every major artist of the 20th century. It was also the site of a national Presidential debate in 1996.  There are many additional rooms in the Bushnell that are available for rent for weddings, parties, meetings and classes including the Autorino Great Hall with the large chandelier created by artist Dale Chilhuly and the Seaverns Room which is the official Memorial room to Horace Bushnell, the 19th-century minister and theologian whose daughter Dotha Bushnell Hillyer, conceived and built The Bushnell as a permanent tribute to her father.

                                                          

One of the fun aspects of this job was photographing in the old green room just off the stage that is filled with autographs of many of the artists who performed at the Bushnell.


Photographing at the Bushnell brought back great memories like seeing the “Young Rascals”when I was in High School, attending a Joan Baez solo concert, PV O’Donnell’s Irish Concert, and my daughter Maureen’s High graduation ceremony.  I feel honored and privileged to have been chosen for this job. 


Tim Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818



Big Cranes in Boston

Big Cranes in Boston
For the folks that are receiving my email blog for the first time; I'm Tim Becker, a commercial photographer based in Connecticut. About once a month I share an interesting photo assignment or my thoughts about photography. 


Last July I was asked by a long term client: Fred Smith and Associates, to photograph cranes in operation lifting steel sections of a Massachusetts Turnpike overpass, for the Empire Crane Company https://www.empirecrane.com/. I asked how long I would be photographing; I was told to stay until I got a good variety of shots.


I have been on many construction sites over the years including a summer job as a plumber’s assistant, right after I graduated from High School. I was excited about this assignment. I got my hard hat, steel toed boots and Day-Glo safety vest out. One thing I learned working on construction sites, is that you need to look out for danger in all directions, including over your head. I drove for about an hour and a half to Boston and I was extremely lucky to find a parking space on the street. I found my way to the construction site and started photographing a large crane that was lifting steel sections of highway, that were then being bolted into place by iron workers. The fast pace and skill of the iron workers was amazing.


I learned from one of the workers that the entire steel highway structure had been put together in a aircraft hanger over the winter, as a rehearsal to make sure that every component fit together perfectly. I made the mistake of standing inside the red taped area to take a photo, and got yelled at. I learned that was the area that the crane swings around in, and no one can stand there. I was also challenged by a representative of the general contractor. I had to give him my business card and show him the assignment e-mail from the Empire Crane Company on my phone, to avoid being kicked out. I imagine he was the safety officer just doing his job.


Below at the level of the Mass Pike, I photographed a crane that was lifting counterweights onto itself. In the distance on a flatbed trailer was an immense steel beam, that was to span four lanes of the Mass Pike. After a long wait, the crane lifted the beam into place, guided by one iron worker. As luck would have it, the Boston Prudential Center happened to be in the background.


This was the money shot that I had been waiting for. An entire crew of iron workers bolted the beam in place as I kept snapping away. By this time, it was late afternoon and my assignment was complete. I left Boston as the sky was becoming overcast. I welcome assignments where things happen, and value is created. Whether I’m on a ladder, in a crane bucket, or in a fork-lift aerial cage, I always want to photograph from the best angle to capture the action.

Timothy Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818

I Got Hacked

I Got Hacked
On Monday 07/29/2019 my email was hacked and a bogus message was sent to all of my contacts. If you received a message from my email entitled "Proposal from Connecticut Commercial Photographer" please delete it. I sincerely apologize for this issue. I am still perplexed as to why my email was targeted.

Monday I was photographing a Google virtual tour at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, CT https://www.bushnell.org/ which I will share in a future post. When I got back to my office I received numerous phone calls from friends alerting me that my email had been hacked. I immediately called my email provider GoDaddy,  https://www.godaddy.com . Their technicians guided me through the process of changing my password and logging out of all devices. Then I purchased an email security package, that will prevent this from happening again. I have a penchant for learning things the hard way, especially when it comes to computers. Thank you for your understanding.

Enjoy the hot summer weather. I will send more photography related posts in August!

Tim Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818
 
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