Flickr Furor

FlickrCameraIt seems that Flickr is once again embroiled in a kerfuffle with SL users.

Many SL bloggers and stores use Flickr to post their photos and promote photos.  The TOS of Flickr states (and has for a while) that only Pro users (paid users) are allowed to promote ‘commercial activity.’  (See here for Flickr’s policy.)

The kerfuffle seems to have occurred because Flickr has started to enforce its policy.  Flickr has been suspending the accounts of SL’ers who have posted Marketplace and store links.  There has been some confusion about what is allowed and what isn’t, and, of course, as with any change, people are frustrated and upset.  There’s a good post over at New World Notes about the issue.

Flickr has been struggling to attract more Pro users and many see this as a way to force people to go Pro.  This issue doesn’t really affect me, so I am perhaps less invested in it.

I think Flickr is a terrific platform and I use it almost daily.  However, when they announced last year that free accounts would now be limited in the amount of photos they could post, I had to decide whether I wanted to go Pro or remove many of my photos so I was under the required limit.

I decided to remain with a free account and I deleted a bunch of photos from Flickr.  I keep my own copies of every photo I post, so I didn’t lose anything by deleting them from Flickr.  I doubt that is true for everyone.

For the last year or so, I generally only blog about destinations, not products, so the restriction on links doesn’t apply to my photos.  (Linking SLURL’s, as long as they are not links to a store, are fine.)  And while the 1000 photo limit on a free account sounded like a huge cut when it was previously unlimited, I have plenty of slots left until I reach that limit.

For people who are creators and bloggers, that 1000 limit may be way too small.  I don’t post every day on Flickr, so it doesn’t bother me.  However, I also understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Flickr could have chosen to do away completely with their free account option.  It seems like most things these days are based on the subscription model anyway.

If they want to limit the free account, whether that limit is amount of photos, or limitations on commercial activity, it’s their prerogative.  The free accounts still incur a cost for Flickr – hosting the photos, maintaining the site, making improvements, etc.  None of the people who work for Flickr are doing it for free, and they shouldn’t be expected to.

So for me, I will continue on with my free account, and respect the Flickr TOS.  If at some point, how I use the service changes, I will have to decide whether I want to pay to go Pro or find another free service.  And really, for what you get, $5 a month for a Pro account doesn’t seem that onerous.

Flickr in Trouble?

FlickrCameraI was browsing through the blogs I follow and saw a post about trouble in Flickr land.  So I hopped on over to Flickr to find out what’s going on.

I have a love/hate relationship with Flickr.  I’ve always hated Yahoo, and when they owned Flickr, I was very hesitant to sign up, especially since they required a phone number.  I finally bit the bullet and signed up.

Then a year or so ago, SmugMug bought Flickr.  Yay! Because then I wouldn’t have to deal with Yahoo.  Or so I thought.  I missed the window to migrate off of my Yahoo account and I still haven’t gotten around to changing it.

Now, it appears that the old saying is true – There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

I wish my kids understood this.  They are GenZ’ers – or the iGen as they are sometimes called.  They think there’s an app for everything – a FREE app.  And if there isn’t, there should be.  I’ve explained about the costs of running a business and the perils of handing over your personal data just to get a free app, but most of the time it falls on deaf ears.

Anyway, it appears SmugMug has discovered that, while people love Flickr, lots of people don’t want to pay for it.  Which, understandably, makes it difficult to keep Flickr afloat.  When SmugMug initially bought Flickr, they made some changes, which included that free account holders would be limited in the number of photos they could upload.

Fine with me – I just deleted a bunch of old photos to put myself under the limit.  I keep all my photos saved on my own external hard drive anyway, so it wasn’t like I was losing anything.  Since I’ve not been in-world as much, I haven’t had as many photos to upload anyway.

I do understand SmugMug’s dilemma.  They want to keep Flickr going, but it takes time and effort and money to do that.  I’m just not sure I use Flickr enough to justify paying for the service.  I am naturally resistant to subscription services – I don’t use Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Adobe CC, or anything like that.  If I want something, I want to purchase it, own it, hold it in my hot little hands.  Which is why I’m still using my Photoshop CS6 – the last version you could purchase.

It remains to be seen whether Flickr manages to convince enough people to purchase Pro subscriptions to keep it afloat.

Flickr Frustrations

Image Source: Pixabay

It’s been a frustrating week for me.

I discovered several days ago that my Flickr was suddenly not working.  Now, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Flickr for a long time.  It started when I opened my Flickr account – something I resisted for a while, because they required both a phone number AND a yahoo account.

I didn’t understand (and still don’t) the need for a phone number and I did NOT want to get a Yahoo account given all their privacy issues and data breeches.  However, I finally caved and set it up.

I was happy with it and all went fine until Smug Mug bought Flickr.  Now, I don’t know much about Smug Mug, but of course they made a bunch of changes.

They changed the number of photos you can post on a free account (completely understandable) and they wanted you to migrate away from your Yahoo account/login.  Again, completely understandable.

Except I was absent for a while and I apparently missed the window to change my email/login for Flickr to something that isn’t Yahoo.  So when I discovered I couldn’t log in, I couldn’t fix anything, because I don’t/didn’t/never have used my Yahoo account that was associated with Flickr.

I researched the issue and tried several different things to no avail, so I contacted their support.  I stated my failure to log in and my inability to access the Yahoo email.  I got a helpful reply – telling me to log into my Yahoo email and follow the link to update my Flickr.

Yes, generic angry lady, this is exactly the face I made. Image Source: Pixabay

So, since Flickr was sooo much help, I decided to just try and see if I could log into my Yahoo account.  Maybe the password was a simple one??  I could try several I remembered and see??

Nope.  Nothing worked.  So I tried the ‘forgot password option.’  I couldn’t use the phone text option, because I haven’t had that number in literally years.  I thought I was completely screwed and would just have to start over on Flickr.  Which, likely, I would have just abandoned.

Thank goodness for past me, who thoughtfully linked a back-up email to that Yahoo account (something I generally don’t do, so past me was feeling super special that day!) and I was able to access that email to reset my Yahoo password, which in turn let me fix my Flickr login.

Whew!  All fixed, right?

I wanted to avoid all this in the future, so I thought, I’ll just update my email on Flickr to my current email address and be done.

Not so fast.

For whatever reason, you cannot just ‘change’ or ‘update’ or even add a second/back-up email on Flickr.

If I want to do that, I have to contact Flickr support.  You know, those people who were so helpful in the first place.  In this day and age, what site doesn’t allow you to update your information?  Especially email addresses?!

Copycats – Flattering or Annoying?

I haven’t posted anything to Flickr in a few weeks, but while I’ve been neglecting my own stream, I have been paying more attention to others.

What I’ve noticed is some people who seem to be copying the styles of other popular SL Flickr photographers.  Not that that is necessarily bad, or that they are doing it to cause problems for the other photographer.

I guess I find myself taken aback because when I see a photo, I think it’s by the photographer I associate with that style, and then realize it isn’t.  Doesn’t mean the photo is bad, just that it feels – wrong?

I don’t want to name names or point fingers, because again, I don’t know that there is any malicious intent behind it.  Maybe they just really like a particular photogs style and want to try and emulate it.

But I have to wonder if those photogs are flattered or frustrated by the copycats.  I know in at least one instance, the original photog felt frustrated because the copycat was not only copying the style but the content of the photo.  Which, again, could be a way to build your skills, but certainly comes across as disingenuous.

Have you had anyone copy your photos?  How did you feel about it?

Second question: What is with all the photos that appear to be taken portrait, but then turned to landscape when posted to Flickr?  I end up tilting my head trying to make sense of the images.  Is there a memo I missed somewhere that said this is the new ‘thing’ in photography?

Working out the Timing

Image Source: reallifeinbroomfield.blogspot.com

As I return to blogging and photography, I find myself looking at stats again.

Not my favorite thing. :/  Mostly because I’m not doing this for the stats (thank goodness!), so sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and forget the bigger picture.

Since resuming posting here and on Flickr, I can’t seem to get a handle on when to post things.  Some posts/pics do well with early morning posting times and others do better with a later publish time.

But I have yet to figure out when the best time to post is for me.

I generally schedule my posts to publish because I tend to write in batches.  I won’t have anything to post one day and then the next I have 3 or 4 posts rattling around in my brain that I have to get out.  So I have been playing around with the posting time to see what gets a better response.

After looking at stats again today, I’m stumped.  Perhaps it’s because most of this is aimed at SL folks, who tend to be all over the world, which means all different time zones.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

Yep, that’s the answer I’m going with. 😛

Time and Space

Time-Flies
Image Source: empower-u-academy.com

The older I get, the more time is on my mind.  I took a hiatus from this blog for a while, and while I was gone, the blog had its 6th birthday.  6th!

I can’t believe I’ve had this blog for 6 years.

When I started it, I had more free time and so I posted more often.  I’d thought that as I got older, my free time would increase, but it hasn’t worked out that way.  However, I’ve missed blogging and writing, so here I am.

Space is the other thing on my mind – I use the free version of WordPress for this blog, so I get a limited amount of space for the pictures I add.  When I was posting reviews of dance shows, I had multiple pics per post.  Same with when I started doing travel photos – multiple pics per sim.  I’ve only used 21% of my free storage so far, so I guess I have another 12 years or so before I need to worry about reaching the limit? 😛

Seriously, though, it’s a real dilemma.  You want pics because those interest people (and drive traffic) but the tradeoff is the space requirements.  I could upgrade to a paid account with WordPress and get more space, but that’s hard to justify right now.

I also used to post my pics to Flickr, but now Flickr is limited as well, unless I pay to go Pro (which I won’t).  So now I’m back to debating what social media I might want to use with the blog.  I used to post on KoinUp back in the day and they’re still around (and still free, I think) or I could use my Ello account.  Any suggestions besides Fakebook and Twitter?  😀

Social Media and SL

SocialMediaReport
Image Source: http://www.convinceandconvert.com

Yesterday I was going through my old SL links/bookmarks and went to visit ASNers.  Apparently the site no longer exists.  Not a surprise, but then I became curious what other SLers are using for social media.

I used to have them all – Fakebook, Tweeter, ASN, Plurk, and a few others, but I don’t use them anymore.  I suppose I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  I love how connected it can make you, but I hate how most of the companies actually work.

I refuse to use Fakebook (see here and here) for SL or RL.  I don’t agree with the policies and practices of the company, so I don’t use them.  I kept using other sites for awhile, but I ultimately decided that it was too much of a time waster – not enough benefits for the returns I was getting.

I was curious, though, what everyone else is using.  Fakebook, Tweeter, Plurk, and Flickr I know, but is there an alternative site out there?  I did some searching and found Avatarbook and Onlinker – are there any others I missed?

The Flickr Fave ★ | The Bergdorf Reports

FlickrCameraThe article linked below is a post from Kate Bergdorf with some funny categorizations of people on Flickr.

I had never heard of Flickr until about a year ago.

When I started doing my LOTD posts, I thought it would be a good place to share some of my photos.

I initially resisted because I don’t like Yahoo, but finally caved and got an account.

I really enjoy looking through photos and seeing other people’s creativity.

However, the site is not really user-friendly.

When you follow individual people, you can view their latest works by going to your ‘People’ tab.

So I can go to that tab and see the latest pictures posted by people I follow.

Great!

There are also a ton of Flickr groups that you can join, both so that you can share your own pics and see the pics of others around certain topics or themes.

I am in several SL dance groups, and several landscape groups.

But there is no ‘group’ tab/feed so that I can easily see the latest posts from the groups I am in.

Supposedly you can create an RSS for groups, but I’ve tried doing that, and it doesn’t work.

So the only way to view items from a particular group is to visit each group individually to look at photos.

If you’re not familiar with Flickr, this makes the process longer – instead of one click (as I would to view the latest ‘people’ posts), I have to go to my groups, wait for them load (which seems to take a while), pick one, wait for it to load, and then click on the ‘photo pool’ button for that group.

Instead of opening Flickr, clicking once, and scrolling through loads of cool photos, I often get stuck waiting for stuff to load.

First world problems, I know, that it takes 3 or 4 clicks instead of one, but if the goal of the site is to make it easy to share photos, they’ve missed the target in this area.

In addition, I don’t understand how the number of views are counted on photos.

When I am looking at recent photos, when I scroll down, my stream seems to constantly refresh itself – it’s not adding any new photos to the list, just constantly refreshing.

Are my involuntary refreshes being counted as multiple views?

Sometimes that is the only explanation I have for how some photos have thousands of views and hundreds of likes, when other (in my opinion, better) photos don’t.

I only ‘fave’ photos I actually like.

Perhaps I’m in the minority?

Source: The Flickr Fave ★ | The Bergdorf Reports

Running Out of Space?

RunningOutofSpace
Eeep!!

I am a very organized person.  I don’t like clutter and I am a big fan of only keeping what you need.

Until it comes to pictures and my inventory. 😀

Years ago, I bought a portable/external hard drive for storing photos.  It was 700 GB and I was sure that it would last me forever.  10 years later, I suddenly realized it is almost full.  Yikes!

I keep all my family photos on it, and with my youngest very involved in sports, I have a ton of videos from games and meets. I also keep all my music on it, and when I was moving files around a few days ago, I noticed that it was almost at capacity. 10 years is a pretty good run for a hard drive, and I’ve never (knock on wood) had an issue with it.

My wonderful husband ordered me a new one so that I could retire this one.  The new one is 4 TB, and once again, I am certain that it will last me forever. 😛   Now that I have been taking more and more photos (in SL and RL), I need more storage.  Because when it’s just pixels I’m saving, it doesn’t seem so bad. Right?!

I must say, I am really liking our Amazon Prime membership.  Things that used to take weeks to get here are now here bright and early on Monday mornings, before 7am.  That’s pretty amazing, imho.  Which means that my brand spankin’ new hard drive is now sitting on the counter, waiting to be installed. 😀

Even though pixel/digital storage is relatively cheap and plentiful, it isn’t endless.  For example, with my free WordPress account, I get 3GB of storage for photos and videos.  After blogging for about a year and half, I’ve used 11% of that 3 GB.  I could probably continue to upload my photos to WordPress for some time without worrying about hitting that limit.

However, since I’ve been taking more photos and sharing them here, I recently started uploading my photos to Flickr and then embedding them into my blog.  Flickr gives me 1 TB of free storage with my free account, and again, it doesn’t seem likely that I will ever use it up.

I’m not sure that embedding my photos from Flickr saves me all that much time (maybe 30 secs of upload/clicking time?).  I guess that does add up over the course of a year or so. Except that, of course, as soon as I started doing that, Flickr changed their embed code to include an obnoxious script that plasters unwanted and unnecessary information all over my beautiful photos!  Good thing I figured out how to get rid of the annoying script. 😀

So today on my to-do list is installing my new hard drive, my new wireless mouse, and spending some time sorting out the black hole my inventory has become lately.  I need to free up some space for more shoes. 😛

Blogging and Photography

Blog PosterYesterday there was a discussion in a blogger group about uploading photographs to blogs and other places, like Flickr. When I started this blog, I didn’t have a Flickr account, and I wasn’t taking many in-world photos. As I’ve gotten more into photography, I’ve added things to my workflow. I’m sure, however, that sometimes the way I do things isn’t the cleanest or fastest or easiest way.

Uploading Photos

The discussion turned to not uploading your photos multiple times. I have always uploaded my photos directly to WordPress. As I said, when I started this blog, I didn’t have a Flickr, so embedding photos from Flickr wasn’t an option. After some research, I began resizing my photos (making them smaller) and saving them as .jpeg’s for uploading, because .jpeg’s load faster than other types of files. And in this day and age of ‘immediate satisfaction,’ making people wait an extra 2 seconds for your photo to load can kill your traffic – quite literally. There are always tradeoffs, however; although you get a faster loading time from .jpeg’s, they are not as high quality as a .png, for example. (For a more in-depth discussion of file types, see here.) That means, however, that I also have to spend time uploading each photo to Flickr.

Embedding Photos

A reason that people give for embedding photos from Flickr is that if you are using a ‘free’ blogging platform (like WordPress or Blogger), there is a limit on your storage. I have been blogging for over a year, and to date I’ve used 11% of my storage limit with WordPress. So, in theory, I could continue doing things as I have been, and in 3 more years, I would be nearing the 50% limit.  (My photos are generally around the 640 pixels wide mark when I post them in my blog, in case you’re curious.) I’ve noticed that many other bloggers embed their photos from Flickr, and I’ve wondered why. I thought it had to do with encouraging people to click through to their Flickr accounts, thus giving them more views per image (many blogger applications require a views-per-image quota). Some said it was because of the storage limit on blogs.  A free account on Flickr gives you 1TB of storage.  So clearly Flickr has an advantage when it comes to storage. It turns out that embedding from Flickr meets a few other needs as well.

Feed Needs

I didn’t know this, but apparently some feeds (blogs which aggregate posts all in one place) have a limit on the size of photos (around 640 pixels wide was the general consensus).  So if you are syndicated (i.e. – your blog is linked to a feed), you need to limit the size of your photos.  When you embed a photo from Flickr, you can specify the size that you would like to embed, thus ensuring that you are within feed guidelines.  It also means you can upload a larger sized photo to Flickr, and then put a smaller version of it on your blog.  So if someone wants to view your work in more detail, they can simply click through the link on your blog and go straight to your photo on Flickr. There are a ton of SL photography tips and tricks out on the web.  I did spend some time yesterday looking through a ‘photography tips and tricks’ section on a blog, but most of the posts were old – some as old as 2009.  Things change quickly in SL because of changes in technology, thus information that was relevant in 2009 isn’t that helpful today.  So I thought I’d share with you a few things that I do when I take photos.  I am no expert, so feel free to use what works for you, and discard what doesn’t. 🙂

Basics

There are a few basic things you should know about photography in general.  One of the most basic rules is the rule of thirds.  You should also familiarize yourself with some rules for composition.  These links are for RL photography, but the rules apply to SL photography as well. You should learn about lighting – there’s a ton of information out there, but it can be very specific to what effect you are trying to achieve, so I would encourage you to play around and see what works for you.  I also look at my photograph critically before I take it – is there anything that is positioned oddly?  Is there a tree branch or a light post that appears to be sticking out of my subject’s head or body? Is there anything around the perimeter of the photo that seems off/odd?  Taking some time to apply these basics will save you a ton of time later.

Graphics

I use the Firestorm Viewer to take a lot of my photos.  There’s a great explanation of how to set up your viewer to take high-res photos by Harlow Heslop here.  Taking high-res photos means that you can resize them without losing a lot of detail.  I also love using the Black Dragon viewer to take photos.  It seems to be less taxing on my computer, even at the high/ultra graphics settings.  Again, play around and find out what works for you.

Extras

There are lots of things you can do to add to your photos.  You can use tools to help with lighting, or make your own projectors.  You can use windlights to get different effects.  You can use things like depth of field to change how your photos look.  You can use photography tools like the LumiPro hud or others.  Again, don’t be afraid to experiment.  I learn more from my mistakes than my successes. 🙂  There are also lots of things you can do once you’ve taken a photo.  You can edit it – I use Photoshop, but you can use GIMP, or a web service like PicMonkey.  You can apply filters or actions to your photos to get certain effects (On1 has a free editor called Perfect Effects that has a ton of filters/effects you can use.)

Just Do It

Be bold – try something you never thought you could.  Even if that is just taking a photo at all.  Look at other people’s photos and try to figure out how they did what they did.  The photo I am currently using as a header is one I took after experimenting.  I wanted to see if I could make the water look like a mirror.  I knew it was possible, having seen it in other’s photos.  But I didn’t have any instructions, so I just played around with the windlight settings until I got the effect I wanted.  I could have just searched on the web and found the instructions, but doing it myself was much more satisfying.  Now I have a mirror windlight I can use whenever I want, and I have a better understanding of how windlights and water work in SL.  🙂