Explore Cork City in Photos

Flickr has a wonderful mapping system that makes it super easy to view photos from a particular location. Unfortunately Flickr can’t automatically figure out where the photo was taken. That has to be done by the user but it’s as simple as opening the map in your browser and dragging it to the proper location. In the future your camera will do this for you like the brand new Canon 1D MKIII already does.

I do offer one warning. There are 17 pages of photos around Cork City center alone. It’s going to take you a while to get through them all but it’s an enjoyable romp around the city. You might even come across a few new sights! Go explore the city!

If discovering Cork isn’t enough, you can also visit Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, or even Blarney. Out of interest, I tried Mallow too but the link given for that doesn’t seem to work unfortunately.

I previously mentioned this mapping system here but it’s worth another look if you missed that post.

This old skool Flickr user doesn’t care

From: FlickrHQ
Subject: Update for Old Skool members

Dear Old Skool Account-Holding Flickr Member,

On March 15th we’ll be discontinuing the old email-based Flickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

It seems that everyone is up in arms about recent changes at Flickr:

  • Flickr and Yahoo! accounts must be merged into a Yahoo! login. If you have multiple Flickr account then you’re logging in and out of Flickr all the time, now do it with Yahoo! Surely you do most of your Flickr work in one account anyway, so why not make that the one your main Yahoo! account?
  • Tags and Contacts are going to be limited. I see that this would affect a tiny minority of the userbase on Flickr, unfortunately for Flickr it’s likely to be the most active (and vocal?) membership. I also feel for Thomas with his Where I’ve Been Lately image because a lot of those tags will be removed but does anyone else have more than 75 legitimate tags on a photo? I’m sure I only have 15 at most on mine. Limiting contacts will hurt the most prolific users of the site such as Thomas Hawk, but others are probably just spamming the system.

Yes, the changes to tags and contacts will hurt a tiny minority but for almost everyone on the site it won’t make any difference. Yes, the change to using Yahoo! IDs will mean Yahoo knows about your photos, but if they know about your email and stock portfolio already what are you worried about? They’ve got more than enough demograpic data to go on to market to you!

Unfortunately I can’t recommend Zooomr either because their service is so slow – images take an age to download, and when they do download, they aren’t cached by the browser. It’s really frustrating using Zooomr.com when it’s so slow as it has so much potential and the people behind it are so smart and full of ideas! Fix the slow connection, caching and add a “blog by email” feature and I’d be over to Zooomr faster than you can say “Flickr sucks!”

There are plenty of pissed off Flickr users, but I’m not one of them. Have a nice day!

Update: Treasa is as upset as I am! Oh Lordy!

Update 2: Richard isnt worried either. Definitely a storm in a teacup.

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?

Have you mooed today?

I wondered earlier when my moo mini-cards would come but I needn’t have worried. The postman delivered them today! Very cute they look too, I’ll have to order more!

If you’re wondering, there’s an easter egg in the Debian apt-get tool. Just try “apt-get moo”!

2006-10-08 – Since I first heard from Thomas Hawk about the moo mini cards, it’s nice to see his cards have arrived!

Making the top ten of Interestingness

The Swan Gang, a photo I posted three days ago, became the 4th most interesting photo on Flickr two days ago.


Nuggets of Gold
Flickr Interestingness uses a secret algorithm to decide what is interesting, but is biased against users who consistently get a lot of attention. Up until last month I would add my photos to many groups in the hope of attracting attention and eyeballs and yes, a number of my photos are in the interesting list but it was getting harder for me to get high results.
Last month I got married, took the month off and hardly touched a computer. Most of the photos published that month haven’t been added to any group so I think that helped me when it came to publishing this photo.

There are a number of photo groups on Flickr where members are encouraged to leave comments on the photographs of other users. If you look at my Swan photo again some of them are listed down the right hand side. That’s a good way of getting attention. Don’t even consider posting to these groups if you haven’t got time to participate yourself. For every photo you post, you may have to leave comments on up to 5 other photos. It’s extra work, but viewing other people’s work is inspiring and always a good way to improve your own technique.

The thumbnail looks good. The swans have these bright orange beaks and are looking into the camera. It screams “Click Me!”

The Swan Gang

I uploaded the photo to Flickr around 10:30am Irish time but I didn’t add it to any groups until much later in the day when the US is awake. I have consistently noticed that photos I add to Flickr groups early in the morning don’t build up the same number of views as quickly as when they’re posted later on in the day.

One other factor that interestingness is judged upon is where traffic comes from. If someone links to your photos from outside Flickr like happened here that will help a lot. I have seen this a few times and each time it made a noticeable difference to how high a particular photo went.

And then add some Flickr magic to finish off!

Further Reading:

Starting Photography, Digital Workflow, Orphans and Amazing Zooming Images

Starting out in Photography
A few weeks back, Tom asked me by email about starting out in photography as he recently bought a Canon 350D and started posting photos online!
Some people are born with a talent and an eye for photography, but for the rest of us, practise makes perfect. Bring your camera with you wherever you go and take photos at every opportunity. This method is scoffed at by many but it works, and by examining everything later you’ll find a few gems hidden among the duds. Occasionally you’ll remember the next time you’re out that a particular shot worked well and use that lesson to improve the composition of a shot.

You must buy “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson.. My understanding of my camera completely changed after I read that. I linked to it on my blog ages ago and I go back to it on occasion.
His Creative book is good too, but not as much of an eye opener!

I went to a meeting of the Mallow Camera Club last December. It was interesting, but for various reasons I haven’t gone back there yet. They meet every Monday night if you’re interested. Cork Camera Club meet in the Garda Social Club on Tuesday nights. I don’t know anything about them however.

Subscribe to the flickr Interestingness feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/InterestingFlickr – it has a lot of saturated/contrasty images but it’s still interesting. Bloglines sometimes quickly fills up with the max of 200 posts!

Digital Workflow
Your digital workflow describes how photos get from your camera to the screen and printed in a frame in your living room. It all depends on your software and operating system. If you’re using Linux, you might be interested in Jason’s one.
My own workflow revolves around a simple directory structure with top level YYYY directories, and sub-directories named after the current day in “YYYY-MM-DD – description” format. The description on the folder is generally good enough to help me find most images quickly. In each folder is another one called “Complete” which is a work and output directory. I save work in progress images in .xcf format, and the final result as 92% quality jpeg files. I use a simple script to copy files off my camera.
Here’s how I name images:

  • Large, original size or only cropped images have “-l” added to them. ie. img_9999-l.jpg
  • Medium size, 700 pixel wide or high images have a “-m” extension: img_9999-m.jpg
  • And anything smaller has “-s” attached to them.
  • Unfinished files have “-wip” appended to them usually.

I like Jason’s “current” work directory idea. I’ll have to modify my workflow somewhat and rename each image with YYYY-MM-DD prefixed to it if I’m going to use a global work directory but it would make backing up files easier.

Before uploading images I always resize them so the longest side is 700 pixels long. Almost all the images on this blog have that contstraint. Resizing an images involves the removal of information and makes the remaining pixels slightly more fuzzy. A straight vertical black line on a white background in a large image may have a ghostly border around it and it will be merged with the background colour making for a grey line. One of the most common ways of fixing this is to use the unsharp mask plugin which gives the illusion of sharpening an image by increasing local contrast. There are numerous unsharp mask tutorials online so I’ll let you find the one that best describes it to you.
Please remember, always resize your images before uploading them. Browsers are completely useless at resizing images!

Orphans, Zooming and Other Links

  • Urgent Call for Your Action on Orphan Works – a law is about to be passed in the United States making it much easier for photographs and visual works to be used without attribution or payment. Peter Marshall has a clear write-up about the danger of this bill while mrbrown describes it as a “possible disaster for all photographers”.
    How do I feel about attribution and image usage? Photographers and artists must be recognised. I have heard that my images have been used occasionally by others as desktop backgrounds or screensavers, and that’s great, but please leave a comment on that blog post if you use a photo. It will encourage me to continue posting!
    Printing my name and url on images is an option but it looks ugly and limits the appeal of a photo. Is it possible to embed those into the EXIF info?
  • Over on Hotwired I spied a very cool zooming image demo that could be built on to create a nice gallery script. I don’t like or browse gallery sites very often but this looks nice. It needs more work to be a polished work but I hope to see someone carry this project on to greater heights!
  • Top 10 Tips for Getting Attention on Flickr – worth a read if you’re a Flickr user. A few tips I hadn’t thought of and new ideas I must put into practise.
  • Fluid Effect – more before and after shots of beautiful people. It’s amazing what can be done!
  • One tip I picked up from the Flickr advanced user guide is the upload by email and and “blog this” function. It works well, but inserts two line breaks into my blog posts for some reason.
  • Shooting action shots in low light is a useful read if you’ve ever wondered why everything was blurry after that night out in the pub!
  • Peter noticed that Digital Journalist turned 100 this month! This magazine is such a good read, but I haven’t had time recently to look at this month’s issue.
  • Canon 5D vs 20D – full frame vs APS-C. What do you need? The full frame sensor wins, but not by much. In a “Practical Photography” magazine review of the NIkon D200 vs the Canon 5D, the Nikon won because it offered the best value for money. If you’re printing at higher than A3 size then buy a 5D but otherwise a 20D or D200 will suffice!
  • A positive review of the Sigma 18-200 lens which is rarely off my Canon 20D!
  • Version 4.6 of Bibble, a RAW photo processing tool available for Linux, Windows and Mac now comes with Noise Ninja included! The press release doesn’t make it clear if Noise Ninja is included in the “Lite” version but I’ll be giving it a whirl over the next few days and I’ll report back here on my first impressions! Later.. Bibblelite for Linux includes “basic” Noise Ninja support but they forgot to include the library file in the 4.6 release! Follow the instructions here to install it. It’s not the full Noise Ninja plugin, but Bibble will use it if available. As Noise Ninja isn’t available for Linux yet it’s a boon to have access to this cut down version!