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Wednesday, 21 October 2020


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I prefer Flickr too, but the number of comments you get is directly related to the number of people you follow (and follow you back) and the number of groups you post your photo in (you will see some people post in 40 groups). I find the best way to use it is to slowly find photographers you really like, follow them, and perhaps follow a few of the people they follow. And don't let positive comments go to your head, because it's social media, not so different from holding up a recent photo at a large dinner table full of mostly friendly strangers and saying "look what I did." You likely wouldn't have anyone criticize it there either.

I have put over 12,000 images on Flickr (40+ years; stuff accumulates) organized into albums for context. I'm not trying to get an award or impress anyone with my "art". I just want to share interesting images that I've found.
I do what I can to edit and improve images without really changing them - reality is amazing enough.
Every day there are a few views by someone, and I feel slightly useful. Luckily I get almost no comments. I like being obscure...

Can't remember what site, or how many years ago, but I recall when someone experimented by posting a well-known photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson.  The internet mob blasted it.  (After all, the bicyclist wasn't in sharp focus.)  So it goes.

"I kind of miss the old culture, though, when less was shared but we all had more of what was shared in common."

I sorta get that nostalgia, but I also think of how many great photographs and photographers never saw the light of day when less was shared because either the work or the photographer did not pass some gatekeeper's preconceived notions, expectations or prejudices. There is more dreck to sort through now, but also far more opportunities for a greater diversity (in every sense) of work to see the light of day.

As another grumpy old man, I will comment too.
The Internet has become a cesspool of bad information and worse behavior, encouraged by amoral entrepreneurs who get rich off the madness. And my day job is helping people build it.

But I too look at a lot of photographs and conclude that most of what I see is not to my taste. If I were a typical Internet lurker, I would probably say "99% of what I see is crap," but I refuse to exhibit the bad behavior of others online.

What irks me is people who think their opinions or art, architecture, music or other arts is superior to others. I usually enjoy reading others reviews but retain the rights to my own opinions. Perhaps it's my training as a scientist that makes me reject definitive statements - I ascribe to the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" of life.

I haven't looked recently but I seem to remember some forums on DPR that were vicious. The KM forum, where I spent most of my time seemed to be strictly for gentlemen and scholars.

Maybe I’m wrong but I often get the impression you don’t filter your email. Apart from the Rules you can apply natively in Apple Mail there is also MailTags (now part of MailSuite from SmallCubed.com) which I’ve used for years and you can set up for temporary or long term projects and so on.

You say you miss important emails but those senders would probably be in your address book so easily filtered.

I'm very glad to hear of someone on the same (old school?) page with social media. I also only use Flickr plus my blog (Wordpress) and can't get on with the tiny format of Instagram and the abundance of pointlessly brief comments peppered with emoticons. Forget Facebook, I left about ten years ago and didn't like how much people shared and the privacy concerns back then! I actually tried to use Twitter at the weekend for a non-photography purpose and it was so littered with ads and spam accounts I found it impenetrable and unusable so gave up after a few minutes. It was so good in the early days six or seven years ago when it was just text, no ads, no spam, no algorithms...

Re email, I use GMail and can't remember the last time I had a spam email come into my inbox. It's even better than my work email, which I would expect to be super secure but still lets the odd spam message through.

Just a gentle nudge... photos on instagram may be small-ish, but how about photos on TOP? Any plans to make it a better experience for folk who want to look at photos?

Would those be bots? The sad truth is social media are all infested by bots.

Social media... couldn’t agree more. Thankfully my immediate family only uses Instagram which is more or less harmless if you keep your account private and don’t subscribe (or whatever they call it ) to too many people. Of course it’s worse and likely more data hungry since purchased be Facebook and as you say, photos are small. Never had a Facebook account and never will. Have a Flickr account but don’t use it much.
I like your idea of posting bad pics. Sounds like a social experiment Facebook would run.

Not being into social media, I have limited access to all the trendy stuff people seem to go ga-ga over. I do hang out at a couple of forums and I sometimes post pictures on The Fuji-X Forum. My take from that limited exposure is that subtlety is sorta dead or, at least, seriously ailing. I think it was Eggleston that said people like pictures of familiar things right in the middle of the frame. That would be about right. Scenics, animals, flowers and portraits seem most popular and gain the most "likes" while a subtle photo of a left field subject is mystifying. Betcha that liquor bottle photo got those likes because some people recognized the bottle or liked the liquor that came in it.

May I introduce you to MailWasher. https://www.mailwasher.net/ It actually looks at your email server and deletes spam before it gets to your inbox. It has a free and a pro version that isn't cheap. But it has allowed me to keep my email correspondence coherent and useful. You do have to spend some time training it to fit your personal profile, but it is not hard to do.

Your picture of David Vestal holding up a print and, presumably, offering his opinion on it to actual people who were present and could talk to each other made me melancholy.

Seeking useful criticism on the Internet is an exercise in futility. It's either bland nonsense like, "Nice capture!!", or advice on what you should have done had you been a competent photographer like the person offering you feedback.

". . . it struck me that the picture had about every flaw it possibly could have."

Saying it this way posits absolute standards of good and bad. The history of art, and of the criticism of art, shows that such standards are not absolutes, but cultural values that change over time.

In fact, much art that is now highly valued was reviled when produced, Impressionism, Picasso, or ignored, Van Gogh. The examples are legion.

Perhaps ". . . it struck me that the photographer had managed to include just about everything that I dislike in photographs." would be more accurate, as well as philosophically defensible.

Chacun à son goût

[Moose. Dude. I've looked at hundreds of thousands of photographs in my career. Believe me when I tell ya, this one was just plain BAD. Ain't no goût about it.



Um, Mike. Speaking of badness, the RSS feed for this blog has changed each post (back through 10/13) to only the first 40 words instead of the whole post and some comments. On purpose? Hope not. It was fine yesterday. I, for one (and maybe the only, who knows?) appreciate being able to read the entire post in my reader.



[I'm very sorry Merle, I did have to make that change. I've had some problems with the blog on the back end. I do apologize for the inconvenience. It's possible that it's not permanent, though. --Mike]

So, Mike, are you going to disclose your Flickr username or are you hoping to hide out there. Which would work just fine, because there are 113 Mike Johnstons on Flickr.

[Seriously?! There are something like 40 on Facebook, last I looked (which was a long time ago). Maybe we'll have to have a contest to come up with a new name for me, one that's more unique. Like Eolake Stobblehouse or Englebert Humperdinck. Come to think of it, I've never heard of another "Ansel Adams," either. --Mike]

“A photo on Instagram just creates this nagging itch in my brain—I'm looking at it, while at the same time I'm wishing I could see it.”

This. So much this. It's a little strange and somewhat baffling that so many people have flocked from Flickr to the clearly inferior format of Instagram, until you realize that most people aren't really interested in photography, and never were. It's about the attention they can get from it, not photography or any particular enjoyment of it.

[Well, of course there are many great photo people on Instagram as well. I was only making the point about how some of us choose to use one platform, some another, still others another, until we're all not talking to each other anymore. My Facebook friends think I don't exist, for instance. --Mike]

People don't want to know the truth, about anything. Because at our heart, the truth of our own finality scares the bejesus out of most of us. If there was a political party called (and being) The Truth Party, who's only platform was that it would never, ever, lie to the people it represents... well, people just don't like bad news, or criticism - good, bad or otherwise.

Hey, I'm just the messenger. And besides, logically, there's only one truth. But we've no way of determining if we even accidentally stumble across it.

Remember to vote! :-) PS: Love your work Mike.

There's a broad space between every comment being positive and every comment being vicious. You know as well as anyone I've read how to walk that line.

With some reflection, people can learn when to make a criticism that will help the artist, versus simply informing the artist that the you really don't like what they're doing.

There's a really rich space where someone cares enough to offer their feedback, and does so directly knowing that it's up to the creator to choose whether or not to take the feedback on board.

There's a model called "radical candor" designed to speed up just this thing in working relationships. Couched in compassion "I'm sharing this because I know you want to get better. I don't know if what I'm offering will help you, but I do know that if nobody shares their criticism with you, your growth will be slow."

It's really powerful. Of course seeing critically, and offering criticism are themselves skills that need development. But ya can only try!

P.S. I used to love Flickr. I still love finding someone who makes good pictures, then peering through their favourites to find others, and then repeating the process. I know people in the thread are down on the internet and social media as a whole, but I have found an enormous range of really great work (and bought a lot of books) by following the veins of posts, comments and tags on Instagram.

I had a wonderful time in the old days in the photo club in Denmark, there were talents and the talk was stimulating.
A few years ago I tried a couple of times to visit the club where I live now. I stopped because nobody was talking about pictures. Not even about cameras.
In one monthly contest, the winner was a breathtakingly boring photo of a monkey. Nothing whatsoever to commend it, apart from being correctly focused and exposed.


@Merle. I have just tried this site in Newsify (my usual RSS reader) Feedly and Feedly Classic and all three show the full text plus Featured Comments, which I think has always been how it displayed — not sure because I almost never read sites within the RSS reader but add them to a browser reading list (Safari).
In Newsify I have choice of “full text” with Featured Comments or opening in a browser with Feedly for the full content. Hope this helps.

The Internet attitude about photos in a nutshell.


I occasionally go to Flickr, have even posted some pics there but what drives me nuts is the overwhelming amount of pics by The Bob Ross School of Photography.
Blardy boring.....

flickr is the only one that seems made for those who like photography

Seems like a perfect moment to re-introduce a classic TOP article:

Great Photographers on the Internet, Part II

(I can't find Part I.)

It's a wonderful classic, Mike.

Mike, you know there were two Engelbert Humperdincks, right?

[Hansel and Gretel, right? --Mike]

In the UK we have a car (automobile) magazine called Car. They used to have (maybe still do?) an Art Director who was seriously keen on photography and for a couple of years they published an 'annual' to showcase the work of photographers who had worked for the magazine.

There would be a picture of the photographer at the start of the section displaying their work.

Richard Davies did a selfie (long before they became a craze) and had the proverbial telegraph pole sticking out of his head in a blank sky and an out of focus intrusion across the bottom right hand corner of the photograph.

Ian Dawson managed to produce a Polaroid with blocked up shadows and that also included his face but not his rather 'wild' shirt.

Dougie Firth had a shirt pocket stuffed with £5 notes while looking at the camera with a puzzled look, holding an open book titled 'Shooting Your Way to a Million'.

Various others demonstrated qualities in their 'bio pics' - whether selfies or shot by assistants or friends - that might meet something of an 'Exemplary Badness' requirement.

My conclusion?

Car photographers all have a great sense of humour.

They almost certainly need it in the UK.

Thanks, @Richard. I use Liferea and if that option is there, I've not found it. I would think, and Mike indicated, that it's a setting on his end, not something that I can control. I'm not familiar with a "browser reading list", though I know some browsers have the ability to work similar to a RSS feed reader. But then I would think they'd get the same result.

Appreciate the thought.


I guess I generally agree with the sentiments expressed here, especially the complaint about how instagram limits the quality and size of the image presented. I'll warn everyone that *probably* the tricky part of social media is who you're lucky to find and to connect with. On Flickr I was never suggested photographers I'd want to follow, not in the way Instagram seems to have done for me. Also, Flickr users mostly just *dump* all their photos there.

Case in point on the later TOP post with the link to the Kiev photographer: No offense meant to them, but I personally don't want to thumb through their 50000 street photos. I'd like to only see their hits. *Maybe* they are also selectively posting to Flickr groups. But then I find Flickr groups only offer photos that feel self-same, unprovocative, because people are motivated to get a certain look in a photo just to get it included in a group.

I find that on Instagram people curate their photos carefully, sometimes constructing narratives, or sometimes working to develop their "voice" or their "look", their schtick, whatever you want to call it.

And it's been really cool to find good curators on Instagram. For example there are directors of photography that highlight up-and-coming photographers' individual photos on the DP's feed. I enjoy feeling part of the action, and I get to see new work. And these same folk will often feature older artists' work that I've not seen before.

Maybe I was lucky to be steered to these DPs. Maybe other folk's experiences are the opposite of mine. Maybe they've settled into a nice pattern surfing Flickr and failed to get a foothold on Instagram. Definitely Instagram is a huge mess of all sorts of other things, mostly noise and crap. But I myself struggle to find good curation on Flickr.

I read 2/3 of the way wondering when you were going to get to the topic of baldness.

I used to show people whose opinion I respected work by saying "what's wrong with this?" just to get to the interesting part of the conversation faster.

Gave up on Flickr after many years and 8,000 photos. I post some teasers on Ipernity, which is a genuine club devoted to showcasing photos. Yes, it has good and bad there, too, but there are real people. (Flickr seems to now have a lot of fake photos or stolen photos. I stop looking when a member has only 100 images...)

This is indeed an advertisement for Ipernity. Do visit. I've sent several of their members over to this blog, most had never head of it. (!)

Flickr lost me when they stopped putting any money and time into maintaining their website and phone app. From a photo point of view, interesting. From a software point of view: useless garbage.

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