10/05/17 10:30am

Here’s a commandeerable after-and-before flooding shot, taken from a drone hovering 300 ft. above Hwy. 6 just north of the Barker Reservoir spillway. Move the slider at the bottom of the image to toggle slowly between the 2 views, taken Thursday, August 24th (on the right, not long before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey) and Tuesday, August 29th (on the left, after stormwater filled the reservoir and the flooded the area). You can also rotate and zoom the image with your pointing device or finger.

In the initial view, the camera is facing straight down Addicks-Howell Rd.; the wider Hwy. 6 appears to veer off to the left. Addicks-Howell marks the entrance to Fleetwood, the adjacent neighborhood. Rotate the view 180 degrees to see the spillway.

Houston visualization firm Reality Imaging & Mapping Technologies took the panoramic images and stitched them together to create the immersive and zoomable view, which can also be experienced as a VR image. Click here to view the image in its own browser window.

Image: Reality Imaging & Mapping Technologies

Harvey Media
08/25/17 12:45pm

SWAMPLOT WANTS YOUR PRE-FLOODING, FLOODING, AND POST-FLOODING PHOTOS Houston’s first hurricane of the smartphone-carry era is almost upon us. Plus, at least a few of you will have drones at the ready this time (once the winds subside, of course). It all adds up to a grand possibility: Houston’s best-documented storm aftermath ever. Whichever direction you end up hunkering this long weekend, stay safe! But when the hazards recede and you venture out to see what’s up in or around your neighborhood, snap some pics or vids of notable sights and send them to Swamplot! Our tips line is always open. You can also upload photos or short videos to the Swamplot Flickr pool — or send us a link to videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube. We want to see images you’ve taken yourself. Please let us know where they were taken, and whether you’d like to be credited if we publish any of them. What we’d all like to see: high-water marks, low points, sequences; scenes you wouldn’t see unless you were in the middle of a famously flat, low-lying city after a big storm. Tell us a story! Photo of Kirby Dr. after Hurricane Ike: Swamplot inbox

09/13/16 1:15pm

Some of the bloggers and photographers at clothing and trendy-places-to-go blog Wear+Where+Well (based in but not exclusively on Houston) have pulled together a long list of the mural walls found around town, complete with titles, artist names, photos, and the interactive map above. The list is annotated with an eye for photography conditions, as well as info on parking and on the likelihood of “indigents asking for spare change” nearby. The authors say the list will be updated frequently; info on how to submit new spots you think should be included can be found at the bottom of the document.

Map of Houston murals: Wear+Where+Well

Mural Mapping
08/24/16 2:15pm

HOW A FORMER ENRON TRADER BROUGHT HI-RES AERIAL SURVEILLANCE TO BALTIMORE Persistent Surveillance Systems sample screen captureA report from Monte Reel this week reveals that the Baltimore police department has been running a secret surveillance-by-Cessna program since January, with funding from the Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the philanthropic organization owned by former Enron trader and Centaurus Advisors founder John Arnold and his wife. The couple, which has put funding toward causes ranging from pension reform to the KIPP charter schools to police body camera use studies, contacted Ross McNutt, whose company Persistent Surveillance Systems developed out of his plane-based surveillance projects intended to investigate roadside bombings in mid-2000s Iraq. After the company was featured by Radiolab, McNutt “got an e-mail on behalf of [the Arnolds, who] told McNutt that if he could find a city that would allow the company to fly for several months, they would donate the money to keep the plane in the air.  . . . ‘We settled in on Baltimore because it was ready, it was willing, and it was just post-Freddie Gray,’ McNutt says.” The plane, which can grab images over a 30-square-mile area, has been secretly flying over Baltimore for up to 10 hours per day, sending back photos at a rate of 1 shot per second. [Bloomberg] Capture of PSS law enforcement support system: Persistent Surveillance Systems

05/31/16 5:00pm

DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY TO UT: PLEASE DITCH THE PHOTOS OF FLOOD-RELATED CHEMICAL SPILLS WE DIDN’T NOTICE Meanwhile, in Austin: Texas Department of Public Safety officials have recently asked the University of Texas to remove an online collection of aerial photos taken by the Texas Civil Air Patrol during major flooding events, Marty Schladen writes in this weekend’s El Paso Times. The request comes after the Times reported earlier this spring on what appeared to be photos in the database showing a number of chemical spills not captured in any other state monitoring records, including spills along the Trinity river north of Galveston Bay; other photo sets previously on the site reportedly included shots of Houston sewage treatment plants being flooded on Tax Day, as well as possible unreported spills along the Colorado, Sabine, Red, and Pecos rivers since 2014. DPS Spokesman Tom Vinger tells the Times that pulling the photos is a matter of protecting privacy — “for example, there could be pictures of deceased individuals prior to family members being appropriately notified first,” says Vinger. Non-emergency-responders can still ask for the photos via Public Information Act request. [El Paso Times]

04/15/15 1:00pm

Photo by Robert Seale of James Harden in Front of Houston Skyline

How’d the photographer get Houston Rocket star shooting guard James Harden to tower over Downtown Houston’s skyline in that Sports Illustrated spread from February (above)? Careful site selection — plus a plexiglas stage, to deal with the parapet wall:

“The editor already had a specific view in mind,” writes photographer Robert Seale, “and we referenced a rooftop fashion shot I had taken a few years earlier from that same spot. On the plus side when using a parking garage roof, you can control access which is a plus when working with a pro athlete. If we had done this out in the park, we might have gathered a crowd and needed more security guys.”

Here’s a view of the roof at the Marquis Lofts on Sabine at 150 Sabine St. just south of the Old Sixth Ward, where Seale set up the shoot:


Houston Rockets and Towers
02/13/15 10:45am

Houston Skyline Photo by Visual Contrabrand

Alice Barr and her KHOU camera crew spend an authorized-by-building-management evening on top of an unnamed Downtown hotel to feature the photography and highrise hijinx of the “rooftopper” who goes by the name of Visual Contrabrand. The photographer (pictured above) tells Barr he’s afraid of heights, and that even after climbing down, glances at some of the images he’s taken “still make my palms sweaty.” But that doesn’t stop him from finding a way to access various tall structures around town (“without destroying any property,” he says) and snapping daredevil pix with his Canon 70D.


Night Pix
01/30/15 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW YOUR PHOTOS TOO CAN OOZE THAT SLICK BUT OTHER-WORLD-Y REAL ESTATE LOOK SLR Camera1.) Get a wide lens 2.) Shoot with a 7 stop bracket 3.) Comp exposures and tone in 8 bit 4.) Crank up to 32 floating point because you read somewhere that was good 5.) Boost your shadows as far as the dial will take you 6.) Compress, no, demolish your highlights 7.) Huff on nails and polish on thy hairy chest. . . . You’re now a big time real estate photographer.” [Toby, commenting on Catch All the Angles on a $1.1 Million House on a St. George Place Corner]

06/24/14 11:30am

COURTLANDT MANOR SITE PHOTOGRAPHER: GOOGLE PLUS ATE YOUR ‘G’ Future Site of Courtlandt Manor Townhomes, 411 Lovett Blvd., Avondale, Montrose, HoustonThe reader who sent in pics that Swamplot posted yesterday showing a banner announcing the new 14-townhome Courtlandt Manor development at 411 Lovett Blvd. — where developer Croix Custom Homes had a 1906 mansion in fine condition torn down earlier this year — writes in to apologize and explain why they inadvertently made it look like the developer’s sign had a prominent typo. Having examined the originals and discussed the issue with one of the firms marketing the project, Swamplot can now confirm that Courtlandt Manor is indeed “pre-selling,” not “pre-sellin” units for $875K and up, and that the actual sign spells this out accurately. “I feel really bad about this,” writes the photographer, who didn’t notice anything wrong with the photo until it was posted. “My phone automatically uploads all the photos I take to Google+ for backup. When it sees several images taken side by side, it ‘auto-enhances’ them into a panorama.” That’s more of an explanation for a missing letter than Croix had provided publicly for the site’s now-missing mansion, but the spelling-oblivious auto-panorama mechanism in Google+, apparently, is a little more complicated. Original, unstitched photo of sign at Lovett Blvd. and Taft: Swamplot inbox

04/03/14 11:45am

Photos of 11718 N. Kathy Ave., Fondren Park, Houston

If you’re as impressed as we are by the free-rotated and seemingly free-spirited snapshots attached to the listing (see actual screenshot of the entire HAR photo gallery, above), you may be interested in the curious for-sale history of the property at 11718 N. Kathy Ave. in Fondren Park — as recorded by the MLS, at least. The 3-bedroom, 2-bath 1967 home is currently marked “pending,” but records show it’s had that same status since April 18th of last year. The current listing appears to date from September 2012, when it went on the market for $70,000. That’s still the current listed asking price. And $70,000 is also the amount the 1,771-sq.-ft. home on a 12,280-sq.-ft. lot sold for in 1999, according to MLS records.

Still Pending
02/03/14 10:30am

From the self-described “guy with a quadcopter” behind Skyhawk Videos, here’s new aerial footage from high above the brand-spanking-new intersection of I-10 and Houston’s latest orbiting ringroad, the Grand Parkway. The view is primarily to the southeast, with a few tilts and glances in either direction; the new section of State Hwy. 99, aka the Grand Pkwy.’s Segment E, begins in the upper right of the initial image and extends to the lower left, across the Katy Prairie to the outlet mall in Cypress, running over an ancient burial ground in the process. The highway is carrying the last of its free traffic; tolls kicked in on Friday, about a month and a half after the segment opened and just a few days after Skyhawk’s drone shot.

In the lower right of the image is the new 151,600-sq.-ft. Katy Costco and gas station, scheduled to open to the public this Thursday. Its 14-acre site is the focus of its own separate video as well, filmed on January 25th:


Grand Parkway, Costco, Cars!
09/20/13 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SIGHTS UNSEEN “Pictures don’t sell homes. People don’t buy sight unseen. At best, high quality photos will give you a few more showings (by people who were enticed by the photos, thus not likely your buyer). List a property in Montrose, and take 6 photos of various homeless people, old-man armpits, and urinals, and it’ll still sell in a day.” [Cody, commenting on Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Back Carpet] Illustration: Lulu

08/28/13 4:30pm

Who says Houston isn’t fast-paced and funky when the sun goes down? If you’ve got a minute, check out this time-lapse video made by Spenser Harrison. It takes in all the lit-up hotspots in H-Town: Main St., the Galleria, Reliant Stadium — heck, even the Pierce Elevated!

Video: Spenser Harrison