A year in pictures

One of the things we use in our magic formulas, is how many pictures were taken one a specific location at a certain moment. Pictures tell us loads of interesting things about places. Things like what kind of people take pictures here? What are the other places these people take pictures? At what time do they go here? What is the most popular time of the year?

While playing with the data, we had the idea to visualize how many pictures were taken at a location on a give day by making a movie showing a world map where the pixels of the map light up when there are more pictures taken.

So that's what we did. We made a movie. There was some tweaking involved, since there are more pictures taken in the city of Paris alone on one day that in all of Africa in a year so we corrected for the average. And this is what we got:


It looks interesting, but also seems to be quite devoid of meaning. When you don't pay close attention, it's just a bunch of flashes on a world map. The main reason is for this is scale. With a few million pictures and a world map that's just 640 x 480 (and most of it is ocean) there is just too much going on for our brain to make sense of.

So we made stills and we had a close look at them to see if we could see interesting stuff. And lo and behold: there's method in the madness! Here are some observations, that we think will interest you.


  • January 6 and 7: Orthodox Christmas

    Christmas is celebrated the 7th of January in Orthodox countries like Russia. So at the end of the first week of the year we see Orthodox countries with a lot of flashes. Note that South and Central America are also quite popular; they are not orthodox but they have their Summer holidays.

    Triposo snapshot day 6
  • 26 January: Australia Day

    The 26th of January is also interesting. It's Australia Day and with the great weather Aussies have in January we see a lot of pictures taken, but India also celebrates its national Holiday on the 26th - so we see extra activity around Delhi and Mumbai as well.

    Triposo snapshot day 26
  • Last week January / Start Feb

    The spring festival in China starts late January, in the last week of January and the first week of February a lot of pictures are taken in China.

    Triposo snapshot day 30
  • 25 February

    The Philippines light up during People Power Day. The islands celebrate the end of the autocratic rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Last year was the 25th anniversary. The effect of this one may not be as clear as some of the others, but it's definitely worth mentioning we think.

    Triposo snapshot day 56
  • 21 March - Nowruz in Iran

    Iran and the Kurdish people in the Middle East celebrate new year at the start of spring. The Persian new year is also celebrated in Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan and Nothern Pakistan, so there is some extra intensity there as well.

    Triposo snapshot day 81
  • Start of April

    Easter celebrations in Spain and Mexico are clearly visible in the first weeks of April. Since Easter isn't always celebrated on the same day we see a rather irregular pattern here. We also see that Iran is still lit - there is a two weeks school Holiday after Nowruz so there's no surprise there.

    Triposo snapshot day 93
  • 1 May

    This is probably the clearest example of all: Labor Day celebrations light up Europe and China in a big way. Who doesn't want to take a picture of a nice 1st of May Parade? I think we even see some light in North Korea. Japan is also one big flash, but it's not because of Labor Day. It's because the Japanese have public holidays on the 29th of April, the 3rd of May and the 4th of May. That's three public holidays in one week. So they have the whole week off and enjoy the blosoming cherry trees.

    Triposo snapshot day 122
  • 9 May

    The 9th of May is the official end of World War II. It's celebrated big time in Russia.

    Triposo snapshot day 130
  • 19 may

    Youth Day in Turkey is clearly visible. It's Youth Day everywhere but the Turks have an extra reason to celebrate. In 1919 on May 19th Ataturk landed in Samsun, which is regarded as the start of the Turkish War of Independence.

    Triposo snapshot day 140
  • 12 June

    Russia day sees flares in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the surrounding countryside.

    Triposo snapshot day 164
  • 1 July

    Canadian cities light up during Canada Day. The fact that Canadian cities are mostly close to the US border and that the rest of Canada is well, a bit empty, makes this one a bit hard to spot. But if you know where to find Toronto and Montreal on a world map you see that they are having fun there and taking pictures to prove it.

    Triposo snapshot day 183
  • 4 July

    Independence day shows intensified activity in the USA. Because there are so many pictures taken in the USA year round the effect is less overpowering than the 1st of May celebrations in China and Russia, but you can still see that the USA lights up. Europe starts to get pretty much filled with flares too and will remain so for two months. Those Europeans have really long Summer holidays...

    Triposo snapshot day 186
  • 9 July

    Europa and the USA are basking in the light of many Summer Holiday pictures, but right in the middle of the Argentinian winter, the Argentina National Holiday is also clearly visible.

    Triposo snapshot day 191
  • 13 - 15 August

    During the Obon festival Japan light up like a Christmas tree. Many Obon celebrations include a huge carnival with rides, games, and summer festival food like watermelon. The festival ends with Toro Nagashi, or the floating of lanterns. Paper lanterns are illuminated and then floated down rivers symbolically signaling the ancestral spirits' return to the world of the dead. This ceremony usually culminates in a fireworks display.

    Triposo snapshot day 226
  • 7 September

    Brazil Independence Day. The party is visible from the moon.

    Triposo snapshot day 251
  • 18 September

    Chile takes two days off for its National Holiday and we've got the pictures!

    Triposo snapshot day 262
  • October Holiday China

    The October Holiday lights up China for the whole first week of October. The week starts with the National Holiday on the 1st of October. The National Day is celebrated throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau with a variety of government-organised festivities, including fireworks and concerts. It signals the start of one of the two official week long holidays known as the Golden Weeks.

    Triposo snapshot day 275
  • 1 November

    Catholic countries, such as Mexico, Portugal and Spain show flashes of light for the All Saints celebrations.

    Triposo snapshot day 306
  • 30 November

    It's a camera setting thing, we expect. Loads of pictures have this day set as their date, so in our data the 30th of November has more pictures than any other day, except the 1st of January. Still, we think it's odd. If you have an explantion, let us know.

    Triposo snapshot day 335
  • 1st of January

    New Year's Day! Practically the whole world celebrates. And I guess a lot of camera's have the date set on the 1st of January...

    Triposo snapshot day 1

    There's probably a whole lot to more to see. If you make a nice still and see something special, send us an email and we'll add it.