Well, I got sidetracked. Again. In the middle of posting pictures of the recent Victoria whale watching expedition with Marie, I drifted and have just upgraded the South Africa galleries [1] and [2] with the coolest eye-candy, a 3D photo browser called PicLens, by Cooliris. Now this is going to require a  small effort on your part (so small, really) if you want to enjoy the full experience, but I guarantee that if you bare with me, it will blow your mind!

So what are we talking about here? Well, until now, I’ve used (and still do on the blog because implementation here isn’t yet an option) the awesome Lightbox 2 Ajax script to display my photos in a slideshow fashion. However, web-based applications are evolving fast and more than ever, it’s about user experience and 3D interfaces. That’s where PicLens comes in: you install a plugin to your Internet Explorer or Firefox browser and voila (voila, but as always, the plugin installation is much faster and easier on Firefox than IE. No sweat for you sorry Internet Explorer users though, it’ll just take a few additional clicks and maybe a browser restart); the plugin transforms each photo gallery into a super-slick 3D photo-browsing interface, completely immersive and fluid.

Now, for those of you who are really lazy and don’t want to install the plugin, you will still get a PicLens mock-up, but without the 3D effect which, I think, is the most amazing part of the trick. So be bold, install the little plugin, it’s a matter of seconds, you can always uninstall later if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. Convinced? Cool. (No, I’m not getting a commission. I just love the gadget!) Click on one of the browser links above to get the plugin and see you soon in the South Africa galleries…

I’ve placed an entry link at the top of each gallery (gallery links above) but once on the gallery page, the mouse hovered over the lower left corner of each thumbnail will also reveal a blue arrow allowing you to start PicLens on that image.

Once in PicLens, have fun! Drag the 3D wall with your mouse to navigate along it, roll your mouse wheel to zoom in and out of the wall, click on pictures to enlarge them, navigate in all four directions with your cursor arrows, double-click on an image to get the slideshow in full screen, it’s all very intuitive and mesmerizing.

And of course, if you install the plugin and have Picasa Web Albums, a Flickr account, or even Myspace or Facebook, or Youtube, it’ll work there too! And if you don’t have accounts, you can still do generic searches on those sites and get the effect! Or try a Google Images search.

In case I haven’t convinced you yet, you can watch a video of the 3D effect here. Yeah, I know, I’m biased.

You gotta love Web 2.0. :-)

Update (01-12-08):

I have since overhauled the web site completely and removed the PicLens functionality. The South Africa Gallery can now be found here.