Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Finding the best photographs on Flickr

I've started to use Scout to find the very best work of any photographer on Flickr. My favorite Flickr toy at the moment is Scout. Scout is a toy that allows you to enter your Flickr ID / e-mail into a web page and then return back to you all of your photos that have appeared in Flickr's public Explore/interestingness stream, this stream is the top 500 photos each day according to some kind of magic monkey that works down with the Flickr team. The Flickr team have yet to divulge the algoritham that determines a photo as 'interesting' and worthy of a place in the explore hierarchy, but I think it has something to do with colours, number of comments, views and favorites, it does seem to prefer macros too. Anyway, Interestingness is a great place to start for finding great photography because beyond seeing your own photos that have made Explore, you can also see the photos of others. You can put any photographer that captures your eye into Scout and see what turns up.

Here are some of my favorite photos on Flickr:

Monday, October 30, 2006

The perfectionist in me

Last week I uploaded a moody Ansel Adams-esque picture to Flickr and posted it to a number of constructive criticism type groups. I got great comments with some good suggestions about how I could improve the picture. In my quest for perfection I've taken these on board and re-tweaked the photo. I've re-cropped in a way that adds more sky, lessened the dark-light contrast and also, joy of joys, discovered the 'sharpen' filter in iphoto which I'm going to apply to quite a few of my pics now, especially the macros.

So here is my first attempt:

And here is my more recent:

I'd love to hear what you think so if you have a spare minute please go to the picture in Flickr and comment!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

If these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it's this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture.

(One Hour Photo)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Not a daffodill in sight

After studying literature I have always associated the Lakes with the likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. Disregarding the whole tourist industry that has built up around it's Literary heritage (we do not 'wonder lonely as a cloud' but rather passively as a sheep around the tiny rooms of Dove Cottage, dine at the Wordsworth hotel, drink at the Southey Arms), The Lakes, I'm sure, have not changed that much since their poets filled their notebooks at the turn of the 19th century. The scenery is still sublime, the air ripe for contemplation, and the mass of water (rain, river and lake) makes everything thing seem a little melancholy, suddenly you are a poet, a writer, an artist, a philosopher!

After I got over the initial moment of awe and sense of my own humble existence (Wordsworth will tell you all about that) I remembered that the Lake Poets and the Romantic Movement were never really a great favorite of mine and became thankful that I made my visit at a time of year when there were no daffodils for people to quote 'that' poem to me. But it was easy to see why they chose here to write. Thomas De Quincey calculated in his 'Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets' that Wordsworth must have walked 175,000 to 180,000 miles in the area as inspiration for his poetry. The lakes is an almost prehistoric return to nature to nature, simply walking just as the poets had done I saw the constantly changing harmonies of water, hills and sky. The nights were silent, the air clean(er), I wondered around on hills with no one else in eye sight, the Herwick sheep, took great pleasure in hot drinks made on a camping stove overlooking the expanse of Windermere...so simple yet so rare in the hustle and bustle of modern life. It brings you back to yourself. It makes you re-evaluate everything you do when all it takes is a cup of tea and a view of a bit of water, some mountains and some rain to make you feel peaceful again.

More photos of the Lakes can be found in my Flickr Gallery

An aside: Prefer the Liverpool poets myself, check Roger McGough's version of 'that' poem

Wandering along the road
by the lake, I saw a load
of golden daffodils
Ten thousand, give or take.

Now and then
I think of them again.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Something for Everyone

Time for a bit of promo. Something for Everyone is the new album from Ben Walker. Revolving around the theme of naïvety and miscommunication it weaves together a mixture of songs that really do strike familiar cords with something everyone has experienced at one time or another. This album works fantasically well as an Internet album, accompanied by a clean crisp website. The generous guy is giving all the songs away for free, quote - because, until I invent an amazing new system of collective ownership, it just seems right - end quote. Each song has its own web page with some commentry by Ben, the lyrics, and best of all a quirky picture to accompany it.

My favorite tracks on the album are "making eyes" and "without you", mostly 'cos I like the lyrics. I think "i call it me" has great accoustic riffs, but I also love "the cutest fish in the sea" in a smiley-ahh-Beach-Boys kinda way. And frankly the concept of "oxford by the sea" should be made a reality.

Good one Ben, I like it! Will spread the word.

An autumn holiday

Just spent 4 days relaxing in the hills near Carcassonne, France. It was chilly and rainy, but a beautiful setting. More holiday snaps in my flickr album.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Sea


I've just had my first play with Flickr's new (well newish - it was released in August) 'geotagging' software. And in summary - it's pretty damn good! The software is tied into Flickr's organizer tool and the way it works is pretty simple. You simply find a location using Yahoo! Maps (you can enter an address, postcode, street name, city, etc. or just navigate around the map until you find where you want to go) and then from the organizer's thumbnail bar below you simply drag and drop your photos on to the map in the appropriate location and you are finished. Like a lot of things at Flickr, simple and elegant.

Why do I love this? It open's up a whole new world of possibilities! I could create a city map with pictures of where I like to hang out, a world map of places I have been to - zoom in on my favorite resturants and art galleries. However the big downfall is the limitations of Yahoo! Maps which is especially week in terms of street detail in anywhere other than America. In New York and San Fansisco I can zoom down to the level of the actual building and stick my picture ther; but in Oxford all I get are the Banbury and Woodstock roads. You can make an educated guess by viewing the city through the satillite map (for instance it's easy to spot port meadow). But putting a photo on G&Ds in Little Clarendon Street is pretty impossible. However the potential is there so come on Yahoo! get it sorted soon so I can play some more!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Little boy on the rocks revistited

Interesting. The black and white version of this picture, with the further zoom has received more positive comments. Although a couple of Flickr users still call for it to be cropped, which I think would defeat the whole purpose of the photograph. Many commented on the feeling of lonliness within this picture and I think expanse of the wall behind works to make the boy seem small and fragile. I still think I prefer the colour version though, to me it's a bit more captivating.