my flickr photostream

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flickr Pro Account

Fall Creek Falls Detail
© 2011 Simon Hucko

I got an e-mail the other day saying that my "pro" account on Flickr is set to expire in two weeks. Rather than punch in my credit card and shell out another $25, I decided to take another look at the benefits of a pro account and see what I'd be missing if I didn't renew. Flickr kindly provides a summary of the differences on their FAQ page.

In short, I'd be limited to 300MB of photo uploads a month, would only be able to view my latest 200 photos, and would lose my stats tracking (plus the addition of ads and a few other limitations that aren't really relevant to me). So I made the decision not to renew, and if you're a serious photographer and use Flickr like I do, you can probably drop your pro account too. Here's why:

I use Flickr to share what I consider the "better" photos that I've taken. I generally only upload one or two photos a day (or zero, if I haven't gone shooting recently) and I resize all the photos to 1024p before uploading. A typical resized photo that I upload is 500-600KB, so I can upload 500 photos before hitting my monthly limit. No sweat.

The 200 photo limitation is a bit of a drag, but since I'm not using Flickr as a backup service I don't really care to have my entire photo library online. It is nice to be able to dip back into my older stuff from time to time, so I found a workaround thanks to some helpful folks on Flickr. If you make a group and add all your photos to it, you will be able to access them through the group even if they are no longer available to you on your photo stream. I made one for myself and added all my photos, so when my pro account expires I'll still be able to view them all. I'm not 100% certain what will happen to the photos on my blog here that are hosted on Flickr - I think they should stay active, but if they all break I'll have to find another solution for hosting.

Finally, the stats tracking was a nice feature to have, but not an essential one. It was cool to be able to see how people were finding my photos and to keep track of where they were being posted on the web. I'll have to start checking services like TinEye more often to keep an track of things.

So it seems to me that I'll be just fine without a "pro" account. If I change my mind, upgrading will give me access to everything just like if I had renewed.

Who is the pro account for, then? Seems like the only ones who really need it are the people who dump 1000 unedited vacation photos straight from their camera to Flickr, or use it to share the 300 happy snaps from their latest family gathering with Aunt Betsy. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but I generally use Facebook for that sort of thing.

My account expires June 9th. I'll let you know how things go. What about you, do you have a pro account? Why or why not?


[title of blog] on flickr

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just for Fun #4

Walkin' in the Rain

It rained pretty much the entire week last week. I was searching for things to shoot on my walk one day (I've pretty much covered all the interesting sights and no one was out in the rain), and saw a giant puddle. I liked how most of the detail was lost in the reflection and all you could really see was the silhouette of my umbrella.


I have a thing for shapes and lines, so this was a must-shoot when I saw it. I like how the haphazard blinds contradict the neatly ordered lines around them. I don't like the resulting moiré, but I guess there's not much I can do about that.

Manndible Cafe

Like I said, I've already covered a lot of the interesting sights along my route (although there will always be things that grab my attention that I hadn't noticed before). As such, I'm starting to drift over into street photography a bit. A phone camera (especially when held like a phone and not a camera) makes a super stealthy street shooting machine. Not that I needed the stealth for the above photo, but it could lead to some interesting shots in the future.


[title of blog] on flickr

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Photo Routine

Corner of the Sky

Recently, as part of my efforts to lose some weight and get back in shape, I've been taking a walk every day to get a cup of coffee. As part of this routine, I've been pulling out my phone and taking at least one photo per day. Most of them make it to Flickr, some of them make my "Just for fun" posts, but even if I wind up deleting whatever I take the physical act of composing a shot and pressing the shutter keeps my creative juices flowing. It's also a chance for me to experiment a little and take the sort of throwaway shots that I don't usually think about when I'm out with a more serious camera. Just looking down at my feet and finding a composition that works can be fun and liberating. Hopefully this will encourage me to experiment a bit more with my regular Photography (capital P).

In other news, my new (old) tripod came in yesterday, so I'm back in business. It's the perfect drizzly grey weather for waterfalls this week, so I have to find a chance to get out and shoot some.


[title of blog] on flickr

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just for Fun #3

Greenhouse Bikes

I liked all of the lines in this scene. The sky was a beautiful blue, and I put my polarized sunglasses over the camera to darken it down even more (a great little trick, sunglasses make a good ND/polarizer in a pinch for your phone or point n shoot).


A bit of a happy accident - the bulldozer came into the frame during the shutter lag. It looks a bit like the backhoe and dozer are fighting.

Manndible Cafe 2

This one is very "street." I wanted it with just the girl on the left, but the other person walked into the frame while I was shooting. I think it works, not quite as well as it could have, but I like the motion.

Loading Dock

More lines. The random mini-fridge totally made this shot, IMO. Exposure is probably a touch dark - that's the pain joy of shooting with an automatic camera.

I'm liking this "just for fun" thing. Thanks again to Kristan for suggesting I make it a more regular deal. What do the rest of you think? Do you like some commentary on each one, or should I just leave them alone?


[title of blog] on flickr

Friday, May 13, 2011


Note: I re-posted this, since it seemed to have disappeared from Blogger yesterday while they were having issues. If you've already read it, go ahead and skip it. Nothing new here.

In case you missed the buzz on twitter yesterday, photo hosting/sharing service TwitPic has just updated their ToS. The important bit is here:

You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in media Content you submit to the Service terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your media from the Service provided that any sub-license by Twitpic to use, reproduce or distribute the Content prior to such termination may be perpetual and irrevocable.

In other words, TwitPic is saying that anything on their service is fair game to them and any subscribers, copyright be damned. This is the result of a few lawsuits from people who's images got taken from their service and used without permission, most notably the iconic image of the flight that went down in the Hudson river. They wash their hands of it, and want no responsibility in protecting your copyright. They could even license (sell) your images to news corporations or other companies if they wanted to, and you couldn't do anything about it under these terms.

My suggestion? Time to switch to yfrog. Their ToS is much more friendly, no rights grabbing, and they will honor any takedown notice you give them.

If you are an Android user, you can change your default picture sharing service in the official twitter app. Go to Settings -> Photo upload service and select "yfrog." I'm not sure about iPhone users, perhaps one of you can comment here with how to make that change. If the iPhone twitter app doesn't offer anything but twitpic, I suggest finding a 3rd party client that does.

I'm not a huge copyright avenger or anything, but this is a pretty big slap in the face to twitpic users. I settled on yfrog, but if you have any other recommended photo sharing services I'd love to hear about them in the comments.


[title of blog] on flickr

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

4x5 at last!

Buttermilk in 4x5
© 2011 Simon Hucko

So, after much talk, planning, gear acquisition, changing bag panic, back strain, missed exposures, a broken tripod and a botched night of developing, I finally have an image to share with you guys from the 4x5. I'm not particularly thrilled with it, but it was the best of the 4 sheets I shot, and I felt like I owed you guys *something* after all the build-up.

Long story short, 4x5 is hard. There are a lot of ways to screw things up, and I managed several of them. But, learning is part of the fun (and the reason I rushed out to shoot a few sheets in less than ideal conditions), and I'm excited to keep trying and get a handle on the process. Once I'm finally competent, the payoff will be amazing. As badly as these shots came out, the level of detail I was able to get in some of the images was stunning. I still have to work out my exposure and development (something I've been struggling with all along this film journey), but once it gets there I expect to make some of my all-time favorite images with this camera.

Unfortunately, I broke my tripod on day 2 of shooting with the beast, so no more photos from it for a while. Double unfortunately, it's prime waterfall season and I'm stuck here without any tripod, so I have to rectify that asap. That seems to be the way of things, though.

Once I have a more solid and reliable workflow in place I'll do a post about the process beginning to end. For now, enjoy my blurry, scratched, low-contrast shot above. Certainly more to come in the future.


[title of blog] on flickr

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Just for Fun #2

Time for another "just for fun." Again, some snaps I took with my phone just playing with composition.

"Look down"

Look Down



"One of those days..."

One of those days...

Finally got everything I needed to shoot and develop 4x5, so look for a post on that coming soon. Here's a teaser shot I took when I was playing around with it a few weeks ago (before I had film for it):

Bridge TTV

More to come.


[title of blog] on flickr

Monday, May 2, 2011

OT - My two cents

This has nothing to do with photography and everything to do with the US military strike in Pakistan yesterday. If you're tired of reading about it, I don't blame you, feel free to skip this one. I know this is a photography blog and talking about the death of Osama bin Laden is pretty far off topic, but I couldn't help but write about how I feel about the situation. Sorry.

I totally missed the news last night, so this morning I was greeted by a storm of reports in my RSS reader and on twitter/facebook. After I had figured out what happened, I watched President Obama's speech. Say what you want about the man, he is an excellent speaker, and delivered what I believe to be the perfect reaction to this situation: a somber recounting and rememberence of the lives lost, a "yes we can" moment about Americans accomplishing what they set out to do, and a few cautionary words that the war on terror is far from over. No "Mission Accomplished" banner, no gloating, no overtly political agenda.

Listening to him speak dragged up memories of The September 11th. The principal coming on the PA to announce what had happened. The deafening silence through the school. TV's being wheeled out. Watching the second plane crash into the towers in real time. Reports of other planes being hijacked. A smoldering wreck at the Pentagon. The panic and fear that I felt at the time, wondering where and when the next attack would come. Sorrow for those who lost friends or family members in the attacks. Gratitude that I wasn't directly affected.

I remember the silence in the skies that week while all the planes were grounded. When flights resumed, my heart would race a bit every time I heard the sound of a jet engine in the sky. I remember an incredible surge of patriotism, and seeing American flags flying on every porch. I remember George Bush announcing our invasion of Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and put a stop to al Qaeda. I remember a government and a people moving forward as one.

10 years later, the military finally found and killed bin Laden. Am I happy that he's dead? I think so, but I feel like it's a bit of a hollow victory. I'm happy for the closure that it must have brought to people who were affected by the 9/11 attacks, but I know that in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't change anything. I'll still get groped on the way through airport security and have to put my shampoo in a little plastic bottle inside a little plastic bag. Our troops will continue operations overseas, and more Americans will die. Even if we manage to completely disrupt al Qaeda, new terrorist groups will emerge and threaten our people. On top of that, we're still battling our way out of a recession, dealing with violent natural disasters, almost shutting down our government due to political posturing and indecision, and facing a looming energy crisis.

Killing bin Laden is an important and certainly historical event, but I don't feel the urge to celebrate in the streets and yell obscenities about it. I think it's an opportunity to remember those who were lost 10 years ago, and to move forward with determination onto the next issue. And the next one after that. To gain back a bit of that unity and citizenship that we felt 10 years ago. To put aside some of the petty squabbling and focus on the bigger issues.

What do you think?


[title of blog] on flickr