The Liberty Home Gets The Google 360 Treatment

Keith Howard | Monday, July 27, 2015

In 1969, I was 10 when the moon landing occurred. With no real understanding of its import—after all, color television seemed like a bigger deal to me, having just come to our neighborhood and not to enter the Howard household for another three or four years—I watched the landing at my parents’ feet, knowing they thought it was a big deal, but not knowing why.

Likewise, in 1984, when the Apple Macintosh was being introduced in a Super Bowl ad filled with Sturm and Drang, I was in graduate school, milking my GI Bill benefits and lusting after an IBM Selectric, the typewriter with a variety of fonts on replaceable metal balls. Who needed glowing cathode rays when you could have the reassuring plink-plink-plink of the Selectric.

This time, I’m not going to be a Luddite, not going to cling to the old while mocking the new. I’m going to be thoroughly up to date, at least for now. Last Wednesday, I caught a glimpse of the future, thanks to Curtis Lloyd of CJL Photography. Let me explain.

Curt is a photographer (duh), but in addition to doing traditional picture-snapping, he is also a Google 360 photographer. Google 360 is a way of taking photographs that truly encompass the area being photographed—360 degrees of it. Thus Curtis’ portfolio shows exquisitely lighted and detailed tours of various hotels, restaurants and other businesses, allowing the viewer to mouse over everything from the floor to the ceiling and get a real sense of the space. Amazing!

Curt heard about the Liberty Homes Project and contacted me a couple of weeks ago, wanting to give the Google 360 treatment to the converted cargo trailer Lucy and I live in. This was very exciting, but also very nervous-making, because the camera doesn’t lie, and it would capture every imperfection, every unfinished project, every dog hair in the place. Once Curt agreed this would be part of a series of shoots, so we could demonstrate improvement over time, I breathed a little easier. A little.

Last Wednesday, Curt appeared at the Liberty Home with camera equipment belying its worth—although different from other cameras, it didn’t look otherworldly or bizarre. He set it up inside the trailer and began the shoot, in which he took thousands (millions? Gazillions?) of pictures, each with different lens settings and timings so the final product will look as though the trailer is lit by a Hollywood film crew and able to defy the laws of optics as described by Newton—the trees through the window are as clear and perfectly lit as the interior!

This miracle is available for viewing on Curt’s site, Google Maps and the Liberty House site by the end of this week, and you, too, will be able to see what we’ve accomplished so far, what remains to be done and how you can help complete the project. Me? I’ll be able to see the first time I didn’t get snookered by technology.

-Keith Howard

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