Squirrel is a cut-and-paste sensation

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 24, 2009 - 11:02 AM

A Scottish programmer has made it easy to drop the camera-watching squirrel made famous by a Minnesota couple into any photo you'd like.

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Sara Barrow of Minneapolis is one of many people who have used a web-based tool to add to the virtual travels of a camera-curious squirrel made famous for a vacationing Minnesota couple.

Photo: Provided by Sara Barrow,

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A Minnesota couple's captivating photo of a camera-curious squirrel has spawned a European-based Web tool that has been used more than 130,000 times in a week to easily plop the furry creature into various un-squirrel-like settings.

Along with making their own cut-and-paste creations, visitors to www.lutralutra.co.uk/squirrelizer can also flip through the manipulated photos of others who are using the original picture snapped in Alberta's Banff National Park by Jackson and Melissa Brandts, of Watertown. (Please note that this site has received some photos that are not suited for a younger audience.)

"I am so in love with this squirrel picture and sent [it] to everyone I know," said Sara Barrow, of Minneapolis, who has had fun with "The Squirrelizer."

Barrow, 39, has put the squirrel within a "Scream" piece of art and added it to her Facebook page. "I laugh every time I look at it," said Barrow, a staffer for an antipoverty foundation. "I am sure [the couple] would get a kick over how much fun their photo is bringing to others!"

The original photo, taken by remote in May, shows a close-up of the squirrel peering into the lens as Jackson and Melissa Brandts sit in the background on the shore of Lake Minnewanka.

They submitted the photo to National Geographic's "Your Shot" online contest, where its global popularity took root. As of Friday morning, according to Melissa Brandts, the photo is leading all others with an 8.82 rating.

"We continue to get dozens of messages and e-mails from people around the world -- Serbia, Colombia, Chile and Singapore yesterday -- letting us know how much people love the picture," she said.

"The Squirrelizer" was created by Graeme Hawker, who lives in the Galloway region of Scotland.

"I noticed about a week ago there were a few people making their own tribute squirrel images on the Web," said Hawker, 29, "so I threw together a quick tool to make it easier."

Easy, indeed. Hawker reports that the tool has been used to create more than 130,000 images so far.

"I actually work as an analyst in renewable energy, but I do a bit of programming and was just messing about in my free time when I made this, kind of as an experiment," he said. "[I] certainly didn't expect it to take off like it has done."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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