HDR Photography and More by Dave DiCello

Cloudy flickr future

Yesterday I said I was inspired by Pete Talke of Places2Explore and his recent discussion on flickr and wanted to put my twp pennies in, for what it is worth.  The shots from this post are clouds that I took from our honeymoon.

Back in 2008, right after I got my first dSLR, the Nikon D40X, I was looking up ideas on interesting pictures to take on the internet.  I stumbled upon Trey’s blog on HDR, read his tutorial, started looking into other tutorials on HDR, and well, we know where that led to.  So I had all these HDRs, and my friends and family were fun to show them to, but I wanted a way to share them with a lot more people.  Just by searching “places to post pictures online” I came upon flickr.  Looked cool, so I posted two pictures in September of 2008, then kind of forgot about it until March of 2009.  I purchased my pro account (the first of three) and really started to get hooked.

 I was posting into about 50 groups a day, leaving all kinds of awards and faves on peoples’ shots, Nikon Award, Heart Award, Peace Award, blah blah blah.  I would comment and rate, and then see what people had to say about my work.  I got some good feedback sometimes, but usually it was just the award that was left.  Eventually I started to build up my contact list, and thought “This is awesome”, because I was getting all these comments and faves.  After being on flickr for about a year, I got pretty bored with all the groups.  It was an effort, and I didn’t even really like half the pictures I was awarding.  So, I pared down the contact list from over 600 to around 350, stopped posting in groups, stopped worry about Explore and focused on some of the great flickr contacts that I had made.  Which brings me to today.

Today I usually post one picture a day, and catch up on all my contacts’ work.  I would say I have about 100-150 active contacts, those who are posting daily or multiple times a day, and I try to comment on all of them.  It is about as much work as leaving Flickr Awards on peoples’ work, but I at least give better comments about photographers’ work that I actually appreciate.  But that brings me to a point that Pete brought up.  I comment on some people just because they comment on me, as that is what the flickr commenting community is all about (in my opinion): reciprocation.  You comment on me, I’ll comment on you.  But where does that get me?  I have no problem being a nice guy and throwing a few comments back someone’s way who has taken time to look at my work, but what if I don’t like their work?  I’m not saying that it is bad, just that it is not my style?  I’ve tried to sift through and phase out those kind of contacts, because flickr is a lot of work, especially if you are leaving comments just for the sake of leaving comments.  I’m not saying that this is the majority of my contacts, but it does make up a certain percentage.

I have made some great contacts through flickr, including Pete, and for that I am glad that I joined.  I also made my first sales through flickr from people finding my work.  But I think that it is fast losing its appeal to me.  First off, I have a blog now, where I go into more details about my work and can post larger viewable images.  I also have a website, where I have the vast majority (or will soon) of shots that I have on flickr on there as well.  I enjoy spending time updating my website and writing these blog entries, but flickr just gets so tiresome a lot of the time.

Another thing about the actual flickr site is that it rarely updates.  It looks basically the same since when I first signed up in 2008.  For a photo sharing website, it certainly doesn’t make the pictures very appealing.  The images are small, it usually manipulates the colors somehow or makes the image darker.  The stats don’t really provide that much insight into your views, because a big chunk always seems to be “Unknown Source”, so I have no idea who is even looking at my uploads.  This is important to me, because while I will usually let someone use a picture of mine on their blog for personal use, if they do not contact me and request permission first, I ask them to take it down.  If I don’t know where the incoming links are coming from, how can I monitor who is using my images?

How about Explore.  This is supposed to be the best of the best, the cream of the crop of flickr.  Instead, flickr changes the algorithm so much that I haven’t made Explore in over a year and a half.  Yet pictures of cats can.  I mean, come on.  Not saying I have the best work on flickr, but it’s better than a picture of a cat.

So will I stop using flickr?  Probably not.  Will I drastically reduce the time I will spend on the website?  Yes.  I will be reducing my contacts who only comment after I comment on one of their uploads, I will continue to not post in groups and generally spend less time on the site.  I may start uploading more, because I won’t be as concerned with receiving comments and faves.  I still think that flickr is a great medium to get yourself found, and I do get a fair number of incoming links to my blog from flickr.  But other than pure traffic, I think that flickr may have run its course as a social/photosharing medium, especially with the rise of Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

So that’s my rant on flickr.  I’d love to hear what you guys have to say about it.

For today’s post, we go back to New York.  I’ve posted a shot of the West Side Story billboard at night, but I wanted to make sure that I posted one from during the day as well.  This is a five handheld exposure HDR, processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting.  I had to do a lot of masking of the video sign, the sky and the people on the street.  I also added a slight Tonal Contrast and Cooling filter, as it was a bit too warm for my taste.

Enjoy your Thursday, happy St. Patty’s.


38 responses

  1. I agree with you. Flickr can get very tiresome. I find myself uploading to my Facebook page far more frequently than Flick too. I value the people I have met there, but they too have migrated over to my Facebook page and we connect there just as much, if not more, than on Flickr. I won’t be leaving Flickr, but it’ll still be on the back burner of my photo uploading/sharing workflow…

    Great post, it’s nice to read a good opinion piece from time to time on a photography blog!

    March 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

    • Thanks Zack. I’m a little wary about uploading pictures to Facebook, as I have no idea what they do with them. I may just start using flickr as more of a dumping ground. I’m still kind of torn though. We’ll see. Thanks for stopping by!

      March 17, 2011 at 7:11 am

      • Facebook compresses images pretty strictly. HDR stuff ends up looking pretty messy at times. If it looks especially bad, I’ll upload the same image to Flickr and then link it to my Facebook image. There is an option to upload High-Res, but I prefer not to do that, for obvious reasons.


        March 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

  2. Hi Dave, Thanks for the Flickr Rant today. I think everyone who uses Flickr, probably gets a little tired of it… for basically the same reasons you mentioned.

    I hope you don’t abandon Flickr all together, because it was your work and your writings (on Flickr) that inspired me to get serious about my own photography!

    I know I can still follow you, through your website, and blog. But I doubt I would have discovered you, if not for Flickr. You can take pride in the fact that there are likely many other “newbies” you’ve influenced.

    Take care!


    March 17, 2011 at 7:08 am

    • Thanks for stopping by Bruce, and I’m truly honored that you were inspired by me! I won’t abandon flickr all together, maybe just use it as more of a dumping ground. There are a lot of people who have my flickr site bookmarked who I know don’t read my blog, so I wouldn’t want to completely do away with it. I’ll probably stick with it for another year or so, but I don’t know if I can renew for another year. As always, thanks for your support Bruce.

      March 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

  3. Dave, I have already stopped posting…after about a week…it had no effect on my website or blog. Just gave me more time to work on whats important. It is nice to be Flickr free. I’ll keep monitoring it over the next few weeks and see how it goes before I make a final decision.

    I bet now that you have slowed down..it gives you much more free time! Have fun! Pete

    March 17, 2011 at 7:23 am

    • I’m sure it will, and I’m excited about it! Thanks for the support Pete. Let me know when you are gonna be in town next! Thanks for stopping by!

      March 17, 2011 at 7:39 am

  4. I had a similar journey and came to similar conclusions, Dave.

    This was so well said:

    “So will I stop using flickr? Probably not. Will I drastically reduce the time I will spend on the website? Yes. I will be reducing my contacts who only comment after I comment on one of their uploads, I will continue to not post in groups and generally spend less time on the site. I may start uploading more, because I won’t be as concerned with receiving comments and faves. I still think that flickr is a great medium to get yourself found, and I do get a fair number of incoming links to my blog from flickr. But other than pure traffic, I think that flickr may have run its course as a social/photosharing medium, especially with the rise of Facebook, Twitter and blogs.”

    – I still think Flickr is a good platform, there are many great things about it – but the old ways of using it (posting one picture a day then catching up on comments) doesn’t work for me anymore either.

    March 17, 2011 at 7:51 am

    • Hi Dani, thanks a lot for stopping by! I do kind of miss the old days of flickr, but with the people who made flickr great spending less time on it, it has certainly diminished the appeal. Thank you for all of your support over the years my friend!

      March 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

  5. Dave,

    You have quite accurately summed up my thinking about flickr. In fact my experience with filckr seems to mirror yours. I am now debating whether to renew again…I probably will….but like you I will reduce my time there….probably by just posting one shot a day instead of two and making a visit a day to comment on my contacts work. I stopped posting in groups over a year ago. As regards explore…..it really stuck in my craw for a while particularly after getting an email from a “flickr staffer” saying I was “throttled” from explore because “I had been too successful”. But expore is what it is and I have moved on. I seldom ever think about it now. I appreciate your thoughts and of course your visits to my site on flickr. John Harding

    March 17, 2011 at 7:53 am

    • John, I never got an e-mail from flickr in regards to Explore, I just never got on anymore. One day I was at like 29 days in row, then nothing at all. I really love your work and will continue to visit your site and definitely appreciate your visits to mine! Thanks my friend!

      March 17, 2011 at 8:05 am

  6. Kurt Miller

    I agree with you. I have your blog in my Google Reader feed, so if either of you go away, I still get to see your awesome work, so that works for me 🙂

    Maybe I need to start a photography blog, and take less time on Flickr. I get a lot of questions from friends/family, and maybe it’s time that I just start posting what I know about lenses and general photography stuff.

    March 17, 2011 at 7:56 am

    • Kurt – I say go for it! I really enjoy blogs, bigger pictures, deeper thoughts, and more fun in general! I appreciate your support, and look forward to following you in the future!

      March 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

  7. I am right there with you guys too. Flickr consumed too much of my time last year, and did not drive any traffic to my blog. I now get the same or more daily views on my blog than on Flickr. In other words, I was getting no benefit other than meeting folks like yourself that I enjoy interacting with. FB works much better and actually drives trafffic. So, see you on your blog and on FB my friend! Jim

    March 17, 2011 at 9:13 am

    • Will do Jim! I am definitely going to start utilizing Facebook more, as it does drive a tone more traffic than flickr! Thanks for stopping by man!

      March 17, 2011 at 9:28 am

  8. Kurt Miller

    Aaaargh Explore: http://www.flickr.com/photos/im_emilie/5531759532/. I just don’t get it. Maybe foreigners have a different opinion as to what’s art? Most of the Explore head scratchers aren’t American. I dunno…

    Every time I look at Explore, it just really annoys me and makes me want to quit Flickr altogether.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

    • Really? That almost irritates me. I don’t even check Explore for that reason, seeing pictures like that. There was probably no time spent on that shot at all. I’m not saying it’s not an artistic shot, just not my style, and shouldn’t be in the top 500 of flickr!

      March 17, 2011 at 9:59 am

  9. You bring up some good points Dave. I didn’t cut back on Flickr because of time constraints…if I didn’t have time, I simply wouldn’t comment. The thing that bothered/bothers me is the amateur mindset on Flickr. Of course, some of the best photographers in the world have accounts, but the vast majority of people would rather be stuck in their habits and refuse to learn or try to get better. I would leave constructive comments on a person’s photo and 20 minutes later they would delete it so no-one else could see it. After that, I just thought “what’s the point”. So, now I maybe post one photo a week, and comment on only the photos I like…I don’t even look at the user name half the time. It’s a good place to get some exposure and see some inspiring photos, but you’re not going to make a living in photography just by using Flickr.

    March 17, 2011 at 11:19 am

    • Matt – I can definitely see where you are coming from. Some people really want to use flickr as an ego booster instead of a photography forum. I welcome all criticism (except for those people who tell me my work is garbage), and the people who don’t, well, then they need to realize that not all the world is going to love their work, and should be happy to those who want to help them make it better. I hope things have been going well for you man! Are you going to be around DC this summer? I didn’t get a chance to go shooting the last time I was there two years ago, and we are thinking about maybe going back this summer.

      March 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

  10. Hey Dave
    I caught Pete’s write up as well but did not have time to comment. I think we are the same on our Flickr path, the groups and the awards deal, then you get sick of that once you do get some good contacts. I have done the same and eliminated about 200 contacts that were worthless. You know the story.

    From the looks of allot of folks, everyone is getting a bit bored with Flickr as of late.

    I am a bit torn, as I too have met great people in several other states through the site, including yourself and several who have commented here.

    I used to be just as you described, whether I posted once a day or not I would always comment on contacts. I don’t think I am gonna totally bail just yet, as my blog is not as well visited like Pete’s. But I am going to limit my activity as it really is a non value added activity every day, it gets to be like work. I am going to try to hit more blogs as I move forward and Maybe more into the Facebook deal. Seems that is the Wave right now. I have a question, I see several like you, Jim, Pete all have seperate FB pages for your photography, do you find this drives more traffic to the blog? Anyone can chime in there, I only have my regular facebook page, not a photography page?

    Thanks for listening
    When ya want to shoot again?

    March 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

    • Thanks for stopping by Wiz. Totally agree on meeting people, definitely a big plus in terms of my flickr membership. I don’t want to get rid of it completely either, just limited the mindless commenting that drives me crazy. I have been trying to pay more attention to peoples’ blogs, as I put a lot of work into mine, and want to give others the same respect. As for traffic, I get a fair amount from FB. In fact, I get more traffic to my blog from FB than I get traffic to flickr from FB. Every now and then someone must repost a link to my blog (haven’t found out who), because my Facebook traffic will literally go through the roof for a few days, and then dies back down. Plus, it touches a lot more people than flickr, and people who may not be into photography but are into the Pens, or Pittsburgh, or something like that, that I try to appeal to.

      As for shooting, I’m good to go most weekends! Kind of crazy this weekend, but I should be able to next if you are available. Where were you thinking? Out your way or in the Burgh?

      March 17, 2011 at 11:58 am

  11. Kurt Miller

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/corn-flakes/5532280016/ – LOL. Wow… Show people some bokeh and they lose their minds.

    March 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    • I mean, wow. I’ve noticed that flickr seems to love phones. I should just start shooting my phone all day.

      March 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm

  12. Dwayne Draper

    Yes, Dave. I think you make some valid points about Flickr and its community of people. The big thing for me on Flickr is being able to look at other styles and shots for inspiration. I continually shave down my contact list (currently under 100) and I could give a shit less about making explore. I just want to make improvements in my work. I will always consider you not just a contact but a friend. Perhaps one day I may just roll into Pittsburgh, and we could go do a shoot. Great post, man.

    March 18, 2011 at 4:50 am

    • Dwayne, definitely agree with you about inspiration. I have found many new things that I’d like to try on flickr, and I will continue to use it for that. Just the day to day stuff, it just really got old. I definitely value all the people I’ve met (including yourself), so for that I am glad! Definitely let me know if you are ever in town!

      March 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm

  13. I commented on Pete’s post regarding Flickr, and am encouraged that there are a lot of people with similar feelings. I continue to post there, perhaps once a week, but the enjoyment has long since departed. Too much time spent, with nothing much in return. I am glad for the contacts I’ve made there, but we now have Facebook, and I have a list of blogs I follow, from photographers whose work I enjoy. Barring an unforeseen, and unexpected major change in Flickr, I’ll be gone when my current account expires.

    March 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

    • Van – I’m with you. I just found your blog and started following it, and I look forward to continue following it in the future. I actually think that I am going to be posting more, just so that I have a place where I have all my work that’s easy to find. Take care man, and thanks for stopping by.

      March 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

  14. Tom Leparskas

    Dave: I enjoy your work, and wouldn’t have seen it unless you were on flickr.
    I’ve felt the ebb and flow of flickr involvement as well. When I stay away for a while I haven’t missed anything.
    I’m adding your blog to my favorites and have to get started on one of my own I guess.
    Over on facebook my radio work account is: http://www.facebook.com/charlieobrien


    March 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

    • Tom – Thanks for stopping by. Like I’ve said, I definitely will still be posting, but my level of involvement in the flickr community will definitely decrease. One reason I will continue to post is because I have so much of my work there, that I don’t want to lose that. Just visited your FB page too! Have a great weekend!

      March 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

  15. Well, speaking as a person who doesn’t have a Blog, Website, Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter account I still enjoy Flickr. Of course, I only have 35 contacts, also. It’s not as overwhelming for someone like me who doesn’t have a large Internet world to maintain. I have my peeves such as “contact collectors”. You know, those people who have thousands of contacts. Obviously they have no intention of commenting on anyone else’s pictures. It’s all about them, you know. =)

    I fell into photography by accident as I’m a writer first and photographer second. I write a lot of poetry, songs, and various articles. One day I thought about attaching my poems to beautiful nature pictures. So, I purchased my first camera in March of 2008. I had no idea what I was looking for. I ended up with a cheap point & shoot but it seemed to do a pretty good job. I became addicted to photography very quickly once I started to use it, though. Then a friend told me about Flickr. He showed me all of the features and I thought it would be a great way to share my pictures with friends and family. So, in October of 2008 I purchased my first “pro” account. The rest is history.

    I believe in the “photo sharing” concept. I have put all of my landscapes into the creative commons. Because of this my pictures have been published in newspapers and magazines like the “New York Times” and “Atlantic” and blogs in several different languages all over the world. Do I get paid for this? No, but I’m fine with it. I do, however, get paid for pictures used in Getty Images. Flickr gave both of these fulfilling opportunities to me. I haven’t had a picture in “Explore” for over a year and a half, which kinda annoys me because I know it was due to the “sour grapes” of a select few complainers. Hence the big change in the algorithm late August of 2009. Oh, well.

    I really hope Flickr stays around for years to come. I think if it’s used right it can still be a positive experience, especially for the amateur photographer like myself. Great post, Dave. I enjoyed throwing my opinion on here, today.

    March 18, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    • Kurt – That’s great that you have had so much success with flickr! I haven’t been so lucky, however, I don’t put the creative commons license on mine. I think that flickr can certainly be a great resource for photography, just for me, right now, it isn’t really do a whole lot for me. I don’t think that I will ever officially leave flickr (well I mean one day I will, but not anytime soon), I’m just done playing the flickr “game”. I am drastically reducing all my contacts too; 35 would be so nice!

      Thanks for dropping a line man, and enjoy the tourney!

      March 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

  16. I share a lot of your sentiments. Flickr can take a huge amount of time to stay up on! I’m not nearly as active anymore. I post to some groups, more for organizational purposes in hopes it might help someone find one of my images. I don’t and never have participated in award groups. Lately, I don’t spend much time perusing my contacts’ photos. There are definitely a few that I follow, but I just don’t have the time to browse. I still reciprocate when someone leaves me a good comment. Flickr is really just another venue to display work. I remain out there in the hopes it will help people find my stuff. I’d like to get some good constructive criticism, but we all know that rarely happens. It is useful still as a sort of proving ground to me. I post to Flickr and see how interested people seems to be in a photo before placing it on my portfolio site.

    You’re one of my best contacts on Flickr, Dave. Hope to see you out there still from time to time.

    March 19, 2011 at 12:21 am

  17. Love the graphic illustration look of that Times Sq. shot.

    March 19, 2011 at 7:41 am

    • Sorry. Hit the ‘Enter’ button too quickly. Meant to continue to say that I saw this article linked from Places2Explore and am not surprised that seemingly a growing number of photogs are becoming less than content with Flickr.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:48 am

      • Thanks for the mention on your site, will head over to check it out! Take care Bob!

        March 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

  18. Pingback: RF-Photography - » Robert Fisher Photography – The Fading Flickr

  19. Wow Dave,
    You seem to have a real knack for getting a thread started!

    March 19, 2011 at 8:34 am

    • Haha, it seems to be few and far between Bruce!

      March 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

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