One Man and His Blog: Photography Archives

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February 11, 2014

10 Flickring Years

Flickr is a decade old:

Together we have defined online photo sharing. Currently, there are nearly 2 million groups sharing 1 million photos every day. We were the first significant online community where you could store, organize, tag, and share digital photos. Before Flickr, there was no widespread way to share your photos with friends, family and the wider public.

It's easy to forget that Flickr was one of the early pioneers of embedding - long before YouTube came along - and that many of the photos in the early years of this blog were Flickr embeds, to protect limited storage space and bandwidth on my server back then. Flickr introduced many of us to the power of metadata, as it made it so easy to lag, and then geotag photos.

It's certainly lost its way since then, it was far too slow to the mobile world, and is, in many ways, a shadow of its former self. Yet, I still search it regulalrly for Creative Commons images to use in my work, and am always suprised by the work I find in there. I suspect if I took just a little time to reinvestiagte it, I'd find a lot of life in the service. Maybe the anniversary will spur me to do so. 

As far as I can see, this is the first photo I uploaded to Flickr (after my profile pic):

That wasn't until August, though, so I don't know if I was just unaware of Flickr, or if there was some reason it was hard to get an account in the early days. Either way, the evidence on this blog is that I didn't join until mid-August

Still, more of my photography has been seen on Flickr than anywhere else. I've had 1,002,974 views in the life of my account. That's not anything to be sneezed at. I doubt all my physical photos have had more than a tiny fraction of that number of views in aggregate. This, rather bizarrely, is the most viewed photo, at 16,731 views:

It's one of a series of photos I shot on the day of the London bombings - which collectively make up most of my top 10 viewed photos.

Flickr really made photo-sharing viable for a mass of people, and has opened up more artistic work to more people than we give it credit for.

Flickr is still there, and still growing. It hasn't been "sunsetted" by Yahoo. Given how many other services from those days - and the days afterwards - are now gone, that's still quite an achievement. 

Long live Flickr. 

January 31, 2014

Shooting a video? Use a DSLR

That was quite a week - only three working days, marking to finish, four separate lectures or workshops and a whole day's filming. No wonder I haven't been posting.

Now, about that filming. Several years back, as still cameras started doing better and better video, I was tracking the trend eagerly, as part of my remit in my old job of looking at what tools our journalists should be using.

On Tuesday, I found myself being filmed for much of the day - and this is what the cameras looked like:

Frit's cameras at RealMac Software

I mentioned this to Frit and she said that a significant proportion of serious film-makers she knows are now using DSLRs for their shooting rather than "proper" video cameras.

Convergence is a fascinating thing. Coupling this with the thoughts on the rise of the networked camera - or camera phone - and the fall of the standalone camera, you do wonder if we're going to end up with just two major categories of camera in use for the vast majority of people: the phone, and the serious DSLR/CSC with video capabilities...

January 16, 2014

Want to read your iPad in the bath?

An iPad in a condom

A long time ago, I used to say that the magazine wouldn't be truly dead until we could read a computer in the bath.

It was funnier back then, because we were still largely in the CRT era, and the idea of lugging a huge TV-like thing into the bathroom was more like the cartoon idea of suicide than it was anything practical.

Time passed, as it does, and the world changed. We got flat screens, and laptops, and finally the iPad ushered us into the tablet era.

But I still wasn't reading magazines in the bath. What sort of an idiot would take hundreds of pounds worth of electronics, and sit with it in a tub full of water?

And then...

When John Lewis sent me a waterproof case for the iPad to review from their pretty wide selection of iPad accessories, I couldn't help but laugh. (I normally say "no" to these kinds of things, but, y'know, John Lewis.) Time to read the web in the bath?

Now, I'm not a frequent bather. I shower every day, but parenthood and consulting don't leave a lot of time to lay around reading in the bath - but I got some time over the festive period. I'm not a fool either. It looked pretty safe, but my precious (oh, so precious) iPad wasn't going into that thing straight away. Let's try it with something cheaper like, ooh, my Kindle Fire:

Waterproofing a Kindle Fire

Lovely little device, the Kindle Fire. Responsive, fast, a pleasure to read on. A real enhancement to a long leisurely soak with a book. And much, much cheaper to replace than my iPad if this all went wrong. Two or three times in the tub with not trace of moisture getting into the bag, and I was ready for the big one:

Reading my iPad in the bath

Now, it's not perfect. The responsiveness of the touch screen is noticeably reduced by the giant waterproof sheath you've put around that iPad of yours. The headphone socket can be a little fiddly, but works fine. These are all quibbles, though. It does exactly what you want it to do - allows you to use an iPad safely and comfortably in a water-drenched environment.

Apple's latest adverts have shown people using iPads in all sorts of environments. Funny how it's a nice, sunny day in most of those images, isn't it? Leaving aside the bathtub use case, this actually turns the iPad into a device you can take into all sorts of environments with you safely - and extends its range as a journalistic tool, as a result.

And, my testing proves that you can now, indeed, read a magazine in the bath on your iPad.

Print is doomed, I tell you, doomed.

The terminal decline of the standalone camera

Undersea Selfie This rather excellent feature about the transition from camera to smartphones by Craig Mod was doing the rounds over the festive period:

After importing the results into Lightroom, Adobe's photo-development software, it was difficult to distinguish the GX1's photos from the iPhone 5's. (That's not even the latest iPhone; Austin Mann's superlative results make it clear that the iPhone 5S operates on an even higher level.) Of course, zooming in and poking around the photos revealed differences: the iPhone 5 doesn't capture as much highlight detail as the GX1, or handle low light as well, or withstand intense editing, such as drastic changes in exposure. But it seems clear that in a couple of years, with an iPhone 6S in our pockets, it will be nearly impossible to justify taking a dedicated camera on trips like the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.

Just after new year, the extended family took Hazel to Bristol Aquarium, an experience that filled my newly-minted toddler with absolute delight. But while she was squealing at every aquatic resident she could see, and dragging her grandma around the place, I was people-watching. And it was really clear to me that I only saw one other people using anything other than a smartphone to take photos in the four or five hours we were there. There was one employee with a camera, as well. He didn't get to use it, though, as his job was to sell people portraits shot in front of a tank of colourful fish.

He didn't sell one. People just walked up, took a selfie in front of the tank, and walked off.

Dedicated cameras are rapidly becoming a minority activity - and I say that as someone with two DSLRs and an Olympus CSC within arm's reach of me. The day of the compact is all but done, and the SLR and CSC will only survive for the professional and the most committed hobbyist.

When you can take photos like the one below and share them immediately with a smartphone, that's exactly how the world should be.

Bridge dawning

December 3, 2013

Life through Instagram: the movies

I like this:

Lovely example of both how similar photos taken of certain sights can end up, even when "filtered" by Instagram, but also the creative potential of this vast online wealth of creative material we're building up.

[Found via Neil Perkin's e-mail newsletter]

Here's another example in a similar vein:

October 8, 2013

National Geographic photographer + iPhone 5s + Scotland

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson left his Nikon at home, and has been capturing a trip to the Scotland with an iPhone 5s. It's not all been plain sailing, but the results are pretty impressive:

What surprised me most was that the pictures did not look like compromises. They didn’t look like I was having to settle for second best because it was a mobile phone. They just looked good. Nothing visually profound is being produced here, I would have to say. But it feels good, and I even noticed some of the folks on our tour putting big digital cameras aside once in a while and pulling out their cell phones when they just wanted to make a nice picture.

I've not had much time to play with my iPhone 5s - having been laid up in bed sick for days on end hasn't helped - but I've been quietly impressed by what it can do. It's a huge jump in quality from my old iPhone 4.

September 26, 2013

First test of the iPhone 5s camera

Cloudy AdurRather to my surprise, I took delivery of an iPhone 5s from 3 yesterday. Why surprise? Well, according to the last e-mail from them, it wasn't due for another 12 days... Still, I'm certainly not complaining, and it's a huge improvement on my aging iPhone 4, which is somewhat sluggish under iOS7. 

The thing I was most excited about, though, was the camera. So much good new stuff in there, from burst mode to the slowmo video camera, all of which strike me as useful for mobile reporting. I've been somewhat busy over the past 48 hours, so I've only had a few brief moments to play with it. Fog was rolling over the Adur yesterday, which seemed like a pretty good test of the camera, as it's challenging light to get right. How did it perform? As you can see from the above image, pretty damn well.

Seemed churlish not to follow-up with a panorama...

Cloudy Adur panoramaClick for the full-size version. (Same applies to the top image)

OK, serious impressed now. I'm going to have a lot of fun with a camera this good in my pocket...

July 19, 2013

A final farewell to film

Flowers in our balcony window boxes

For the last couple of years I have been slowly - very slowly at times - working my way through the final few rolls of photographic film I possess. On Sunday, finally, I exposed my very last film frame, finishing off a roll of Kodak T-Max 100. I packed it up, sent it off for dev and scan (I don't bother with prints any more), and the results arrived back this morning.

The image above is what I expect to be the very last image I ever take on film. I do love some qualities of film - the grain and the way it makes you focus on exactly the image you want, because you have so few exposures to play with. I even enjoy the process of loading a camera with film, leaving you ready to go. But I don't love the time it takes to turn things around, the extra costs involved and the lack of embedded metadata.

Something like 38 years ago, I took my very first photo on film, using my Mum's camera, while toddling round the streets near our house in Hazel Grove. It was of a flowering plant in the border of a neighbour's garden. To honour that moment when my three-year old self discovered something that has been an obsession for the whole of my life since, my last film photo was of flowers, too, this time in the window box on our balcony.

Thanks, film. I had great fun with you. I enjoyed shooting on you, and developing you, and printing my own photos on my own enlarger in a spare cupboard at home. I enjoyed running the school darkroom, and quickly turning around prints for college magazines. But we're done. From now on, it's digital all the way.

Farewell.

July 11, 2013

The secret of iPhone photography: simplicity

While we're on the subject of phone photography, here's a really excellent guide to taking great photos from your phone.

There's plenty in there that's applicable to any photographic situation, too.

May 29, 2013

About the new Flickr...

A glimpse at the new FlickrSo, I wrote a long thing about the new Flickr elsewhere. The TL;DR version is:

  • Evidence suggests that the new Flickr is successful
  • Many old users aren't used to change
  • Not significantly evolving your service for half a decade was probably an error
  • It's all down to what they do next...

You all busy hating it still?

January 29, 2013

Flickr is growing again

Flickr on iOSThe Next Web:

On its earnings call today, Yahoo reported that its Flickr product has enjoyed a resurgence in the mobile space, with iOS usage spiking a full 25% in terms of uploads and photos viewed, measured on a daily basis, since the company revamped its app for Apple's mobile devices.

Not quite what the headline promised - which suggested that the app was resposible for a 25% growth of the site - but this is still interesting news. Flickr has had an app for years - but get the app right, and you can see genuine growth. Can they keep building on it? I hope so. Flickr's fine-grained privacy controls and robust searching are a far more interesting photo medium than Instagram. They just need to keep making it easier to use without losing the sophistication. 

November 22, 2012

The link between photography and curation

Natalie Lloyd:

Seeing through another’s eyes is one of the perennial wonders of photography. Between the frames of an image, we are invited to consider a constructed reality offered by the photographer; what they chose to include, exclude and deem worthy of record or consideration. For those very same reasons, the art of curation often shares the same point of interest: the chance to explore someone else’s vision.

Exactly

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