Standing at the edge of a cliff in Page, Arizona in 2011 with a group of his photography workshop students, Rodney Lough Jr. clutched the shoulders of a budding landscape photographer and said, “stand here.” This is what Lough has always sought: to show people how to locate hidden viewpoints in rarely visited spots.

Lough's Stand Here app, which took six years to develop and released this month, aims to do just that. It allows users to choose their terrain from short and easy trips to difficult four-day explorations in the US and Canada, 16 viewpoints are in Oregon. The active trail app uses GPS tracking allowing users to check-in at trail heads, and track speed, time, distance travelled, distance to go, and even elevation. No Internet connection is needed as the trail information can be downloaded to your app’s “backpack” before heading out.

“There are already all kinds of hiking apps,” says Lough, “but they don’t tell you where to go to see what’s really beautiful.”

Lough, who has won various prestigious photography awards and had a second photo added to the permanent collection at the Smithsonian this year, has received criticism from fellow photographers with concerns about sharing hidden viewpoints, saying the app could lead to damage and human disruption of ecological areas. But Lough says damage is already happening and hiding the locations does nothing for conservation, but education does.

“The concept is that if I can show people these locations and give people the chance to do the right thing they will have the same experience that I had,” says Lough, who admits some of the destinations are weep worthy. “People will be bound by more than legal or ethical values, they will be bound at a human level to protect these places.”

A free version of the Stand Here app was released in July providing hikers with trail tacking, opportunities to meet people who have seen the viewpoints, how to get to the destination, and what to bring. This month, another version of the app was released with tons of additional research information on the locations, fun facts, and more tracking capabilities each for under a dollar.

To increase conservation efforts for these locations, Stand Here will give ten percent of the net sales back to the trails. The destinations visited using the app most often will get the most back.

A forthcoming version of the app will feature a map of the world where users can pin trails completed, share new trails discovered, and even flag areas that need protection.

The free version of the app is available on ITunes, more information at standhere.net. 

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