Evernote for landscape photography scouting



Landscape photography invokes wanderlust in the majority of us, we see a a location on the Internet we want to visit, or a friend tells us about a new place that we must go. For me, seeing and exploring new places goes hand in hand with my photography; but my memory is not always the best, I need to save these ideas somehow to review at a later date. I formerly had a scattered system of bookmarks, written notes, dog-eared guidebooks, notes on maps, and pages torn out of magazines; when it came time to find something, it was a hopeless endeavor.


Ughh. Ughh.


I can finally say that I have found the near perfect solution for keeping all my scouting ideas in one central location:

To some of you this may seem very obvious, but read on as I will show you all the different ways I use it that you may not have thought of.

Saving Websites

Let’s say you learn of a location, you google it to find more information, you find a website that has details on the hike, etc. If you were to simply bookmark this page, there is no guarantee that it will still be there a year down the line when you finally need the information, as websites come and go (I’ve learned this the hard way). The solution is to use the Web Clipper extension for your particular browser. When you click the clipper you can choose to clip the whole page, a simplified version of it, or just whatever you have selected. This will save the page into your Evernote forever. Once you have this saved into Evernote you can then highlight important text on the page so it easy to find that information later. You can also add tags, or more notes to this note.

An example from Road Trip Ryan using the Article options, set to the notebook of San Rafael Swell which coincides with this area An example from Road Trip Ryan using the Article options, set to the notebook of San Rafael Swell which coincides with this area


This website also has a gpx file associated it with it that I want to import into my preferred GPS app on my iPhone, Gaia GPS. Rather than email this file to myself, I can attach it to my note in Evernote, you do this by downloading the gpx file to your computer, drag and drop the resulting file into your note, now that file is also saved forever. I can then open Evernote on my iPhone, go to this note, click on the gpx file and copy to Gaia GPS


Saving pages out of guidebooks or magazines

Evernote has another companion app, Scannable that works exceptionally well for taking photos from guidebooks and saving them in Evernote. The app quickly and easily identifies documents, which includes pages from a book. It automatically straightens the pages and makes the text clear, below is a screenshot taken from John Fielder’s excellent book The Complete Guide to Colorado’s Wilderness Areas.


Ideas from social media

When you see a location on social media that you want to research more, it can be challenging to save this information due to the way smartphone apps work. Facebook and Instagram want to keep you inside their app, so they do not let you export to Evernote. Albeit crude, the best solution I have come up with is to take a screenshot of your phone’s screen (click home & power on iPhone, sleep & volume down On Android), now go into Evernote, create a new note and insert the screenshot you just saved, add notes, etc.

Screenshot of Instagram user @moonmountainman, follow him to see some epic locations! Screenshot of Instagram user @moonmountainman, follow him to see some epic locations!


To simplify the process further, I have created an IFTTT recipe which saves any screenshots I take on my iPhone to a notebook in Evernote called ‘Scouting – Unsorted’ that I can go through and organize later, you can use my recipe here.

Pictures of maps

Saving maps into Evernote is as simple as using the camera function inside the app, after the note is saved you can add markups like text, arrows, and highlights by tapping on the photo to bring up the markup tools. The map below is a screenshot from a Latitude 40 map of the Ice Lakes Basin area in Colorado.


Use with TPE

Most landscape photographers are familiar with The Photographer’s Ephemeris which is infinitely useful for planning out shoots, you can save your plans inside the TPE app, but I find it useful to save the plan in Evernote as well since this is where I always refer back to for scouting. Just tap on the export button inside the app, but rather than selecting Evernote, select ‘Email Shot’, now you can email to your Evernote email, which can be found in your account settings, the email is usually {yourusername}@m.evernote.com. This note will include details about the shoot, an image from TPE, and links to open the plan in the app or your browser.

Resulting note in Evernote, full of information and links to open in TPE again later Resulting note in Evernote, full of information and links to open in TPE again later

On location scouting

I use the app Theodolite in the field to quickly capture information about the scene. When you point your camera at the landscape you get an augmented reality view with a heads up display that shows your bearing, azimuth, altitude, etc. When you click on the MAIL button in the upper right corner you can mail this to your Evernote email, which will save a detailed note with all the bearing information, links to open the location in other apps, along with a screeenshot.


I have gone through many different iterations of organizing my scouting locations in Evernote. Initially I tried to sort everything by tags, and have all the notes in one notebook called scouting. This worked great on a computer, but failed on the smartphone due to limited tag sorting functionality. Finally I settled on a system of notebooks grouped by specific locations. This may get a little messy if you are already using Evernote for other tasks. I used to use Evernote for everything, it was my brain dump, receipt collector, recipe collector, etc. It became a cluttered mess, so I moved everything else to more specific apps (IQBoxy for receipts, Paprika for recipes, OneNote for more general note keeping and brainstorming). Now my Evernote account is specifically for scouting, it does not have to be this way, but it’s what works for me.

An example of my notebooks of Colorado An example of my notebooks of Colorado


Tagging and searching

This is where Evernote shines. When I create a new note I put tags on it that will help me decide where to go later. For example if I know based up the research that this location will have good wildflowers in July, I will add the tags ‘wildflowers’ and ‘july’. now in the future when I look at this note I know when the best time to go is, or I can filter by month, etc. For example if I’m not sure what to do in March, I can quickly filter by the tag ‘march’ and see I have two things that would be good in March


Offline use

If you have the space on your phone, I highly recommend turning on offline notebooks. This will download all of your notes (or selected notebooks) so you always have your information available offline. No longer do you need to carry around a heavy guidebook for information on one hike.


The most challenging part of using Evernote, is of course the initial pain of saving everything. Mine is still a work in progress, saving websites, moving things over from OneNote, saving hikes from guidebooks, tagging notes, etc. It will take time, but it will be a beautiful system when completed. Please share any other ways you use Evernote for scouting in the comments!

About the author David Kingham

David is a professional landscape and nature photographer originally from Loveland, Colorado who is now traveling the American West full-time in an RV with his photography and life partner Jennifer Renwick, and their two cats. David has published an eBook called Nightscape and has in-depth videos on post-processing. David and his partner Jennifer Renwick find joy in teaching others photography in their photography workshops, and through their blog.

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