Snap Map

To Ghost or not to Ghost!

Snapchat Map

Brand new features hit Snapchat this week. The term “Ghosted” has a new meaning and if you ever wanted a friend to know where you are right now, then Snapchat has a new tool for you.

Welcome to the Ghost mode. It’s part of the new Snapchat Map unrolled in the latest Snapchat update. To access the map, go to the main start up screen where you take pictures and videos and pinch two fingers together on the screen to open up the new map feature.

It will prompt you right away if you would like to allow GPS to track your location. This is the only way to use the map. Once you’ve succumbed to the peer pressures of Snapchat and agreed to this new TOS, then you will see a map similar to the one in the image above.

This is where the real fun begins. If you’re friends are using the new Snap Map and have not turned on ghost mode, then you will see where they last updated their Snapchat. It will appear as their bitmoji or as a silhouette. As far as I’ve seen, you do have to be friends with the person. Sorry to all of those who are looking to stalk celebrities.

It will also show you where major event stories are happening. Right now I’m seeing stories about parades and baseball games on my map.

You can also click high density areas to watch local Snapchat stories. This is part of the Our Story feature, which allows you to post to not only your My Story, but the Our Story for everyone to see. 

If you do not want to become a part of this map, but want to remain a ghost, and still see your friends who are using the map. Check out these easy steps.

First, you need to click the settings icon on the top right corner that looks like a gear wheel. From there, you will see Ghost Mode, where you can click the check-mark box to green. It should look like the first image below.

Snapchat Ghost Mode

If you want people to see you on the Snap Map, then you can unclick the Ghost Mode and the image below will pop up. From here you can select certain friends who can still see you even when you have the Ghost Mode turned off. If you wish for everyone to see you, click All Friends. You will then appear in the Snap Map for all of your friends to see.

Snap Ghost Settings

Remember that Snap Map only updates from the last time you used GPS with Snapchat. There you go. An easy guide to Snapchat’s new Snap Map and Ghost Mode.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter – Social Media Campaign

Snapchat is growing rapidly and is seeing a lot of growth especially in the college-age market. Since this is our target-demo, Snapchat is a natural fit with us. For those still not on Snapchat, hopefully these stats from our graduation Geofilter will show you the light.

The graduation geofilter below is the one we had created in-house by our graphic artist. We were sent this image from one of our students to our main “midwesternstate” account.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

Since Snapchat now rejects geofilters with hashtags, we had to spell out “Mustang Grad” instead of using a hashtag. We also included a date and because it was a paid geofilter, we could also include our official logo. We then added a transparent maroon gradient at the bottom, while putting a streamers graphic at the top.

Students enjoyed it. We received a lot of comments about the streamers and we talked to enjoyed the idea.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

You may need to click the graphic to see all the small text in it. This is the set up we sent Snapchat for submission. It took us two days before they gave us the approval email. We spent $20.95 for four hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Graduation started at 10 a.m. and ended around 12 p.m. The extra hours were put to give students extra time to use the filter before and after graduation. We also mapped out the Multi-Purpose Event Center and Kay Yeager Coliseum in places we knew students would go, so we didn’t pay extra for space we knew students or family wouldn’t be. This is why the funny shape, but when it comes to saving money, this is the best way to do this. Always eliminate all square footage you know you will not use.

For four hours the filter was used 561 times. This equaled 42,946 views or impressions.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

We used our Twitter account and our Snapchat account to advertise that we had a graduation filter. This is the third time we have had a graduation geofilter, and a lot of the students do expect a filter. This is the first time we have been able to track all usages of the geofilter.

Some things we did learn from using a geofilter. We need to find another avenue to advertise our geofilter besides Social Media. If users do not follow our social medias, they will not know about the geofilter. Since then, we have started using the special geofilter zone placards found below.

2016 Graduation Snapchat Geofilter - Social Media Campaign

They have helped tremendously! On days when we use geofilters, we see our follower count increase by 20. While the graduation filter was fun, our follower increase was steady at nine.

If you are contemplating on jumping on Snapchat, give it a try! It’s a lot of fun and it can really show your creative side. If you have further questions about how geofilters work or Snapchat in general, you can always email me.

A J Lopez III

Humans vs Zombies – Social Media Campaign

Humans vs Zombies is an annual tradition at Midwestern State University. Students begin as humans and are slowly turned into zombies by either being tagged by another zombie, or failing to do a mission. This event is a week-long activity and includes a host of students from all across campus.

We created the campaign to boost the game’s traditional value for MSU. By the end of the week, everyone on campus was talking about it. Faculty and Staff even wanted to be apart of the festivities. Only one student, could come out on top, and after nine days, the game was over and everyone had a great time. This is how we promoted the game and created a zombie culture on campus for a week.

Three weeks before the beginning of HvZ, we sent this instagram image out along with putting it on our one TV display in the student dining area.

msu hvz insta

We actually received a few questions about the picture through Instagram Direct and Twitter Direct Messages about what it meant. Most knew what it was, but freshmen were unaware of the tradition. On the TV displays, we ran a video with the same image, but with cricket sounds and a small tagline that said “…are you ready?”

After the initial images, we began to throw out 15-second spots on Instagram and Twitter. We would have made them longer, but Instagram limited us to 15 seconds at the time. The clips ended with “The Infection begins March 1, 2016! #MSUHvZ.” We also continued to use the same hashtag from last year, #MSUHvZ. It was an easy way for us to track everyone, plus it was unique to our campus.

We worked with the University Programming Council to set up interviews with past players, which included the person who would eventually be the original zombie. Friends shared the videos and everyone was talking about them on campus. On Instagram we received comments, tagging their friends about the game. On Twitter, as the game grew closer, we saw more retweets and favorites from newer videos.

In total, we did six videos. Players told us strategies and ideas of how to approach the game. The campus was ready for the game. Over 120 students signed up, and the last push was two days before the game began.

We put a lot of media out on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. On Snapchat we had been putting information about how to sign up and where to sign up during the day, but it wasn’t until the night before that we did anything major. We created a video of the transformation of our original zombie, which had been chosen earlier that day. The Snapchat video never showed her face, and had over 367 views by the end of the night, rounding out to 501 views by the end of the 24-hour lifespan.

We also included another YouTube video showcasing the zombie transformation, featuring MSU chemistry professor, Dr. Chris Hansen. The opportunity to get a real professor involved, just gave the game more traditional value, and he was happy to be involved.

This video was sent out earlier in the day before the game began, but it was also shown to the students in the HvZ meeting prior to the start of the game. Using simple science experiments, we created a fun video with some movie magic.

Let the games begin…

The room was filled for the HvZ rule meeting. While mandatory, if you let them know you had class or work, you were excused. If not, then you began the game without some much needed supplies.

The rules were very simple. If you were a zombie hit by a sock, you were frozen for two minutes. If you were tagged, after 30 minutes you became a zombie. There would be missions throughout the week that humans had to complete or be risked turning into a zombie. A zombie also had to eat every two days, or they would be erased from the game. Prizes went to the Original Zombie, who was chosen from a drawing; for top zombie; and top human. The prizes were monetary giving a lot of students the drive to win.

On Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat we unleashed the original zombies name. Kirsten Durr was the first zombie and ready to win. Fortunately, after the meeting, we found her outside the student center and featured her with a personal message on Snapchat. In the first night, only four humans were turned into zombies. This would easily change as the days went by.

Snapchat had just released their on-demand geofilters, so we thought we would try one. This gave us a chance to test out the new tools and do something fun. For five hours and $10.01, we created a filter. While during the first mission, it wasn’t a requirement to use the filter, it was a way to promote the game to the university to let everyone know what was going on. The filter covered our student center and the first site of the mission.

Midwestern State - Humans Vs Zombies

As you can see, we had over 4000 impressions with only 39 uses. The first mission was to run to the university replica Liberty Bell and take a picture with it and tag the University Programming Board. We also asked them to use #MSUHvZ, but this wasn’t a requirement. The first mission was done on the second day of the game, with the mission description sent over Twitter and Instagram. We retweeted UPB and sent another announcement on Snapchat.

From noon to 5pm that day, you had to complete the mission or become a zombie. Those who got there early, didn’t have to face zombies. Students who got there late, had to make a run for it. Some exploited the rules to their advantage. And to add some clarification to these photos. Students who had bandanas on their head were zombies, and students with bandanas on their legs or arms were humans.

Since the replica Liberty Bell is outside the administration building, the HvZ discussion began to spread by word of mouth. Even our staff had to pose with the zombies. We even through it out on Facebook, so alumni and other students would know what was happening.

Midwestern State - Humans Vs Zombies

We were trending in the Wichita Falls area for the day with #MSUHvZ. After the first mission, a lot of students were now zombies. The curfew on the game was midnight, so every night on Snapchat we would show a clip from a famous zombie movie about surviving. This included”Warm Bodies” and “World War Z.” We received quite a few smiley faces through Snapchat messages after each one.

As the days went by, the game lasted a little longer than we hoped. I would actually have to leave for a conference before the last human was found. I relied on University Programming Board’s advisor, Mario Ramirez, to get pics and video of the last moments.

The best part of the whole game, was the level of involvement we had from our university president. She is very active with the student body and knows us very well. As part of her weekly series, Mustangs Minutes, we did a HvZ feature about the game with Juan Mercados, a student from the University Programming Board as the interviewer.

The video was one of the most talked about video on campus for the next week. Students, faculty and staff were asking how we did this and how we got our president, Dr. Suzanne Shipley to run in the video. We didn’t, she did this herself, and we caught it all on video. This is where as a videographer, it’s best to know where your subject is at all time. Once the video hit, everyone knew about the game and HvZ was the talk of campus for the second week of the game as it was winding down.

While the game is fun, it takes a lot from other social media posts we promote, as they have to compete with one that is trending on campus. With over seven missions throughout the 12 days of HvZ, we succeeded in making this game trend for about two weeks on all of our social media platforms.


On March 2, 2016 we were trending in Wichita Falls along with Texas Independence Day according to Our trending numbers for Twitter and Instagram were the following based off the #MSUHvZ:

  • Twitter Favorites: 546
  • Twitter Retweets: 136
  • Instagram Favorites: 741
  • Facebook Likes: 143

We did not have a way to track Instagram impressions at the time, due to software limitations. These numbers were over 12 days and included a weekend with very little activity. I also included some number from Facebook, which were the second lowest.

Midwestern State - Humans Vs Zombies

While longer were fun, it was the shorter 15-second videos that gave us the most views, plus it was easy to upload them on other social media platforms. The Snapchat geofilter proved that there is an audience for this kind of tradition, and next year, we will utilize it more than before. As for Facebook, we may post a few things on it for the public’s view into the game. When we put out the video and the pictures, we got great feedback and it helped spread the word. Staff and Faculty were asking who was playing HvZ throughout campus.

Our video views were low on YouTube, but we did use it when a room full of people were watching. Video is important, but we could have been better prepared. I think a GoPro or a drone would be a fun addition next year, along with possibly using the app Periscope.

Other things we learned, is that after the second day, we had quite a few zombies. I think we should have done a little more to focus on the zombies as the game progressed, especially when they became the majority. We focused on the humans, but I think focusing on the zombies for a couple of days would have strengthen the game.

This was my second year involved with this. The first year, I was brand new to the university and barely getting my feet wet. I wasn’t able to put much input, but I saw where the potential was for HvZ. The third year, will have more involvement and we will be utilizing the social media ambassadors within the game for a student point-of-view. The students enjoy HvZ, and it gives the campus a fun and exciting spring tradition. If you’re reading this and have questions, please email me at the address below and I would love to talk.

A J Lopez III

Underneath the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge

Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/18, 3 secs

I’m finally back to blogging. After being away for a while and trying to find my way back into the world of photography, I’m here and promise to put more stuff up. I’m back in the Corpus Christi area. After college, I found a job down here and am having a great time living in a city again. I loved West Texas, but for a night photographer, the city lights are a playground. You will be seeing more stuff from Corpus Christi in future posts. I have two pictures in this post. Hope they satisfy you for now.

The Harbor Bridge is the iconic landmark in Corpus Christi. A couple of years ago they re-lit it with LED lights and now it looks as beautiful as ever. Normally you take shots of it from the front, but I’ve done that so many times, I wanted to try something different. The great thing about this area, is that it has easy access and there isn’t much traffic. If you are in the area, I highly suggest you take a stroll down here and snaps some shots at night.

I used a sturdy tripod and I suggest you put some weights or have something that can block the wind because you feel that good-old Texas breeze here and it’s no joke. Of course I used the clarity tool in post-processing to help out with the little bit of movement I did have. It wasn’t much, but I love the new tool from Lightroom. I did leave some of the light trails from the lighting around, because I liked it and it reflected my own personal style.

Since my tripod has a ball-head, I positioned it horizontal to get a different look. The bridge does change colors and since it is silver, the colors respond differently with the sky. It’s industrial down here, so you have a lot of ambient light that gives an orange glow in the sky. I focused on the pink, purple and blue lighting to bring out the best in the Harbor Bridge. Of course, try different colors, but I found those to work best for me. I also suggest white balancing the bridge with the tungsten setting. It makes it easier to get the natural colors you want.

So next time you are here, try shooting the bridge on a different angle. Until next time, keep shooting!

Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/18, 3 secs

Trip to New Orleans…

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/80 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/80 sec

Thanks to a wedding gift from my new brother-in-law, my new wife and I were able to visit the colorful New Orleans for our honeymoon. It is true what they say, it is a party central. We were a couple of weeks away from the beginning of Mardi Gras, so we saw a lot of the decorations being put up for the holidays. There was purple, green and gold everywhere. I will say New Orleans is a haven for photographers. The older buildings with the vast amount of colors are a paradise for any photographer.

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/250 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/250 sec

The charm of the city was everywhere, as you can see by the sign above. Everywhere there were delicious restaurants and fun bars to check out. Plus, the shopping was different, including all the markets. Of course we were near the famous Bourbon street, where we stayed a few nights. And no, we didn’t stay in the bars, but some condos on the same street. It was away from the partying and near the neighborhoods.

Nikon D90, ISO 1000, f/5.3, 1/60 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 1000, f/5.3, 1/60 sec

Above is a photo of a stained glass window found in the historic St. Louis Cathedral in the famous Jackson Square. All of the stained glass in the cathedral had the stories of St. Louis, the king of France. The cathedral is open during the day, and yes, you can take photos when there are no church services going on.

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/11, 1/640 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/11, 1/640 sec

We were able to see a lot of the area, but not as much as we would have liked too. We were only there for about three days, and there is just too much in New Orleans to see everything in that amount of time. I would suggest maybe one to two weeks if you make plans to visit the area. I will say, you could still see some of the effects of hurricane Katrina. The city is doing better, but it still needs help. They are doing a great job of restoring this beautiful city though. And last, here is a picture of a Mardi Gras mask. It wouldn’t be New Orleans without one. And don’t forget to check out a few more photos at the bottom.

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/160 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/160 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/160 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/160 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/11, 1/500 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/11, 1/500 sec

Corpus Christi Bayfront Scenery…

Nikon D90, ISO 200, f/20, 4" sec

Nikon D90, ISO 200, f/20, 4″ sec

I am back in the Corpus Christi area for a little bit, and I have had a lot of fun shooting in the area. I have wanted to get back into this area to shoot this fun location inside the Bayfront Science Park. Here our a few images for you to check out. I hope you like them. As usual, I have put the information about the photographs below each one. All of these are low-exposure pictures with minimal Photoshop. I did mess with Kelvin settings in White Balance, and no matter what anyone says, they can really help your photography if used properly.

Nikon D90, ISO 200, f/18, 2.5" sec

Nikon D90, ISO 200, f/18, 2.5″ sec

Nikon D90, ISO 200, f/14, 2.5" sec

Nikon D90, ISO 200, f/14, 2.5″ sec

Hope you like them! If you know of any areas in the Corpus Christi area that would be fun to photograph, please leave your ideas in the comments!

Scenic View of January travels…

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/1000 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/1000 sec

I have not blogged in over a month. It has been a crazy few months for me, as far as getting ready to move and planning for a wedding. So hopefully a few eye-catching images will make up for my blogging absence.

And per request, I am starting to put my data file on the image. I don’t think you were able to see it before, but now instead of me saying it in the blog and confusing everyone to death, I’ll just put it under the picture.

The Christopher Columbus statue underneath the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge is a gorgeous statue. It’s kind of hidden away in a nice area of Corpus Christi I had never seen. There was a lot of construction in that area for the longest time, so I avoided it. It seems that all of the construction is officially finished and it offers a nice scenic view of the bay and under the Harbor Bridge. If you are in the area, it’s a good place to take some shots of your visit to Corpus Christi. There is plenty of parking and it is right next to the Museum of Science and Natural History.

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1000 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1000 sec

Near by, I was also able to take a few pictures of the Heritage Village. I have done a few photo shoots here, including my most recent back in August. This is a nice place for pictures. If you need family portraits or senior portraits, this place offers a number of background options. And if you are not satisfied with those, there are plenty of other places close by that offer just as many backgrounds.

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/2000 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/2000 sec

In the midst of all my travels in Corpus Christi, I also payed a visit to Rockport, Texas. Rockport is about a 30 minute drive from Corpus Christi and is a small coastal community that centers around fishing and shrimping. It also has a large art culture. I went there to work on wedding stuff, as our reception will be at the Texas Maritime Museum. This is a beautiful building and I wish I would have taken more photographs, but here is one to check out. Anyone in the area, I urge you to visit this place and admire the gorgeous architecture of the building.

Nikon D90, ISO 800, f/13, 2.5 sec

Nikon D90, ISO 800, f/13, 2.5 sec

And finally, here is an image of the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. I had to take a picture for work, to use in advertisements for an event we are having here in February. I got a great shot on a Sunday evening with the hustle and bustle of people going back and forth from the historic hotel. I was also blessed with a deep blue sky, which are normally my favorite natural backgrounds to use.

Of course the challenge was lighting everything evenly, and it still is darker at the top, but I think I got some great light out of the photo as a whole.