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Photography app gives virtual WA travel experience while in quarantine

Being stuck indoors doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Washington’s most breathtaking sights. With the help of a photography app, cabin-fevered Washingtonians can now get a virtual travel experience from their living room couch.

The Explorest app features professional photographs of a variety of locations in Washington, from natural to urban, from the most iconic postcard views to spots some may never have heard of. It had previously existed for other locations in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., but the Washington and Oregon photos were just launched.

Michael Matti, a Seattle-based photographer whose work is featured on the app, said this latest roll-out is intended to give those with quarantine fatigue the chance to dream of new places and to have fun planning future hikes or day trips while staying at home.

“It’s for people to use and find and sort of get inspiration for different hikes they could do or different photo spots in the area,” he said.

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And by showing locations off the beaten track, the app could help with social distancing.

“People are going to be itching to get back outside, and so this will be a great way to kind of inspire people to find some new spots … maybe some spots that aren’t as popular,” he said. “So I think it might help spread people out as everyone is starting to get back outside — we don’t want everyone on Rattlesnake Ledge.”

From Olympic National Park to Mount Baker, from Lake Wenatchee to several views of the Seattle skyline, the Washington series includes not just photos, but also information about how to get to the location and what kind of camera was used.

Explorest is a free app, but a paid premium version gives even more information, such as advanced-level photography advice.

The project also gave some much-needed business to local photographers who are currently out of work.

“For me, as an outdoor photographer who shoots products in the outdoors — I can’t go outside … it was definitely nice, all this time at home, to be able to make some income while all of my projects were on hold,” Matti said.

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