A resident of Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island is now inhabited by the birds and I presume security staff but I think the birds have a better life with all the tourists around hefting lunches and sandwiches from the mainland.

Imagine the scene, me and a few of the others scrambling to get a shot of this seagull. I had my wide angle lens fitted so I had to lean forward for the gull to fill the frame! It’s a sign of how tame they are that we got this shot even if he did eye me suspiciously.

A table at Memphis Minnies

There wasn’t much left after we ate a hearty lunch in Memphis Minnies. Plates, cutlery, cups and sauces.. all eaten! Great place to eat.

On the way out I made a shot of their “low fat=low flavor” advert and I just realised I spelt the name of the establishment incorrectly in my first post! Doh!

Why interestingness just got harder (to game)

It looks like Flickr have changed their algorithm to decide what makes an image interesting. I noticed this a few weeks ago when my number of interesting photos almost halved to 14 photos.

What has happened is that Flickr doesn’t count views and comments from certain groups on the site. Why? There are many critique and comment groups where members are asked to comment, favourite or view a certain number of other’s photos for every photo they add. In the past this has been a great way of getting your photo to the top of the Interestingness ladder but was obviously not always a realistic view of how good a photo is. I expect these groups will become less popular and groups on a specific subject will grow in popularity. New critique and comment groups will appear in an effort to outrun the Interestingness filter but I’m sure there’s a little “ban group” button the guys at Flickr can push so it’s probably a futile effort.

I’m disappointed, but also glad that this has happened because it may stop people dumping photos into groups, leaving short and useless comments and obsessing about popularity. What else can you do?

  • Tag every photo you upload with short descriptive tags. Don’t spam.
  • Upload one photo a day, or make sure the last photo you upload is your best, and/or looks good as a thumbnail. This image may have been so popular because the thumbnail had a strong X form.
  • Join niche groups and contribute photos and to discussions. Don’t dump photos and run. Participate in the group forums.
  • Apparently it used to matter when in the day you posted a photo but not now. I disagree. From the perspective of someone living in Ireland, if you post early in the morning and contribute to groups your photo may appear for longer near the top of that group’s photos. On the other hand, if you post later in the day you may get more immediate eyeballs but more photos will be posted too. It all depends on what time it is in the American continent. If your photo is particularly good then posting later in the day might be better.

Good luck, I’ll update this post from time to time with new tips when I come across them.

PS. I’m helping my brother Donal with spot prizes for his charity table quiz tonight. Can you help?

The pizzeria and the sign

“Skateboard and bicycle riding prohibited on sidewalk”

We went for pizza one night in this pizzeria with the rest of Automattic. It’s possibly on California but I can’t be sure because I was hungry and it was dark, and did I say I was hungry?

Oh, great pizza too!

The Stephen Pierce Gallery Cafe is open

A large sign outside the gallery and workshop of Stephen Pearce Pottery in Co. Cork proclaims that their cafe is open for business. I didn’t go into the cafe because I was walking around with Oscar while Jacinta was inside looking around. It was a beautiful day so I didn’t mind.

Stephen Pearce is very popular and most recently did a deal with a local supermarket chain, SuperValu, offering his products at a discount with stamps. I don’t care for his work much but a lot of people like it and he’s doing well!

It takes more than fancy equipment

Every photo taken today is taken with a more sophisticated camera than classic photos taken years ago that everyone recognises. It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer. Sure, the barrier to entry has collapsed but talent counts and separates a snapshot from a work of art.

If you don’t believe me, then read today’s What The Duck! for a humorous look at this issue and don’t get hung up on buying expensive bits and pieces for your camera. Sometimes though, dumb luck helps.

PS. if anyone is worried that they’re getting obsessed wth purchasing expensive Canon lenses, especially L series ones, then give me a shout and I’ll take them off your hands. No, I won’t charge a penny for this charitable work. I just want you to get back to basics and take great photos!

Thanks Treasa for mailing me about the broken permalinks here!

Looking onto Freedom

A young woman talks on her mobile phone while looking out a barred window in Alcatraz Prison, San Francisco. Walking through the prison was quite an experience, especially as tourists like myself took photos and listened to the audio tour while wandering. It was easy to imagine how awful incarceration must be looking out the windows and through the bars of cells.

This was shot in the prison canteen and I rotated the image on purpose to add a little interest.

No thank you – gulp!

The secret life of the Irish blogger

2006-11-06__mg_6390-m.jpg Haydn Shaughnessy’s article on blogging in Ireland is in today’s Irish Times. It’s a lengthy 3/4 page read and in the Arts section so it covers the artistic side of blogging more than the political or mainstream – photography, podcasting and video blogging are the main aspects of blogging that he treats.

Unfortunately the online version is subscriber only but here’s what he wrote about us photobloggers:

In fact, Irish bloggers excel at photography, and two of the most outstanding are the O’Caoimh brothers. Their record of changing Cork city and county are the kind of document we might look back on in a decade with some gratitude. The photographs of Ryan Whalley, meanwhile (www.glasseyalley.com), logging the Cork countryside and coast, are exceptionally well staged works of art and draw attention from around the globe.

In each case it’s their self-taught skills that make blogging a superior distribution mechanism than, say, the local photographic gallery. Is the Irish blogging scene vibrant and creative, as the photography suggests?

Ryan’s Glassey Alley photoblog, and my brother Donal’s blog are referred to above. One of the photos in the article is this one I shot at the Ceili Mor several weeks ago. If this is your first time to this site feel free to browse around and visit again. There’s a new photo here every day!

New Johnny T

The boat New Johnny T passed by a pier in San Francisco on the same afternoon this shot was taken.

I wonder what happened to Old Johnny T?

Welcome Darragh White to the world and congrats to your parents!