Flickr an’ Me

www.flickr.com

Update 20 September ’10

All that crap toward the bottom of this page about “file naming conventions” is no longer entirely accurate. All anyone really needs to know is that the cryptic number at the end of each pic title on Flickr, combined with the date the pic was taken, comprises a unique identifier.

Update 25 August ’08

Having recovered somewhat from my gripes of a few months ago re Flickr, and having just renewed my “Pro” status there, doesn’t look like I shall be abandoning them anywhen in the forseeable future!

Update 29 April ’08

The rather longish honeymoon I’ve been having with Flickr looks as though it may be approaching its end (sob sob).
Full details of the sorry tale are recorded in a couple of previous posts here and here, but basically the “cooling off” was triggered by a) the possible buyout of Yahoo (and hence Flickr) by Microsoft, and b) Flickr’s introduction of a video upload facility.

Now I’ve nothing against video per se, but one of the main reasons I signed up with Flickr was because it was an exclusively photo-orientated site. With that emphasis now at risk of being eroded it would actually make more sense to sign up with a photo and video sharing site where the video upload section has been better implemented. Which in fact I’ve now done, at Ipernity.

Whether or not I shall abandon Flickr entirely as yet remains to be seen… watch this space!

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Ever since a friend recommended it to me I’ve found Flickr to be an entirely addictive experience (curse him! All I needed was yet another thing to occupy my already over-filled time!).
So much so that I now host virtually all my photos there, including those used on my various websites (saves no end on the bandwidth usage of my hosting accounts!).
The many options Flickr provides for linking to photos there from external sites are superb, and there’s an entire arsenal of third-party APIs that can be used as well.

Plus, with the combination of thumbnails, tagging, sets, and collections I’ve found its a great way to simply organise all my pics as a sort of on-line index for my own local archive.

There’s also the more “social” aspect to Flickr… in fact the raison d’etre for its being; photo sharing!
I spend literally hours sometimes just browsing other peoples’ uploads. Its great to see other folks’ interpretations of a subject, or just simply the sorts of things that interest other people.
And, when I’ve been out on a photo session its become almost an obsession to get back home, weed out the rubbish, then upload to Flickr so I can share my latest productions with my friends and contacts there.

Inevitably one can’t help comparing one’s own work with others. Ok, perhaps its a bit of an ego-trip thing but I’m sure other people must do this too.
Can be a depressing experience though when I see how much better everyone else seems to be at using their cameras than I in using mine. But occasionally its quite inspirational, and on rare occasions it becomes almost an act of self-validation when I stumble across the odd truly atrocious shot or photostream. I find myself asking “Why on earth did they upload that? Can’t they see all the things wrong with it?” (Oh, just listen to me… as though I actually have a clue what I’m talking about! Tosser!)
Then there’s the great buzz that can be had from people favourably commenting on a photo you’ve uploaded, or even adding it to their favourites. Oh joy!

Interestingly, I’ve also found Flickr to be a bit of a learning experience, simply by observing my own reactions to what I find there. Undoubtedly these feed back into the way I compose (and subsequently process) my own shots, and even the subject-matter I choose. So I’d say the entire experience all helps to develop the “photographic eye”.

The only (and relatively minor) criticism I have of Flickr is the absence of their own in-house blogging feature (unique to user as distinct from the main Flickr Blog) for when one wishes to talk about a set of pics at rather greater length than would be comfortably accomodated by their “description” function.

Hence, this current blog which I’ve deliberately integrated as closely as I can with my Flickr photostream.

Although I look with some dismay at the recently announced possible buy-out of Yahoo (Flickr’s parent) by Microsoft and the impact that may have on Flickr users, nevertheless for anyone who hasn’t already got an account there I unhesitatingly recommend Flickr. Even the limited-feature free account is good.

[Edit 9th April ’08: Having unstintingly sung Flickr’s praises, a small note of caution must now creep in. Read this post for details!]

File naming conventions I use on Flickr

In the early days I religiously tried to give each photo a distinct and meaningful/descriptive name.
Bad move! That soon got to be far too laborious and, as I gradually began to use my Flickr account as a sort of index for my off-line archive I reverted to just using the file names as allocated by the camera(s).
But these in themselves can be informative.

For example:

Prefix PICT = shots taken with the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z6
Prefix IMG = Canon EOS400D dSLR
Prefx SG10 = Samsung GX10 dSLR
Prefx SG20 = Samsung GX20 dSLR

Most of my early photos are shot using the sRGB colour space. But where the file name begins with a leading underscore, this indicates shot in AdobeRGB. E.g.:

Prefix _MG_ = Canon EOS400D dSLR
Prefix _G10 = Samsung GX10 dSLR
Prefix _G20 = Samsung GX20 dSLR

And I use the following suffixes:

_pf = shot with a polarizing filter
_nr = photo processed with separate noise reduction software
_edit = customarily used to indicate a different version (either cropped or re-processed some other way) of a photo already in my photostream

Backups

Although Flickr appears to be very reliable and not prone to “losing” peoples’ pics, its still a good idea to keep an offline (“local”) copy of everything you upload to Flickr.

Personally, I retain the original untouched RAW file, a compressed RAW file with embedded processing info, plus a full-size HiRes JPEG of the processed/converted RAW, and the web-optimised version thereof that’s used as the Flickr upload. All these are stored on a networked file server attached to my home network. And (call me paranoid if you like), they’re also backed up to a portable external hard drive! (Just as well digital storage is so cheap nowadays.)

For a more detailed discussion of backup considerations check out this article.

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