I know that a few posts ago I had a little rant about flickr in general and just touched on Explore quickly. I haven’t been checking Explore that much in the past year or so because of how frustrating some of the pictures I have seen on there have been. Yesterday I hit a bit of a breaking point though and just wanted to share some thoughts, get some opinions from some of you and maybe vent a little.
For those of you who are not familiar with Explore I’ll give you a quick overview. Explore is a collection of the top 500 pictures on any given day on flickr, judged by the flickr “interestingness”. Things that influence (or at least used to influence) getting into Explore were views, comments and faves in a short amount of time, not being in too many groups and not having all kinds of flashy rewards. Certain groups were also said to hurt or aid hitting Explore. Then in August of 2009 there was a monumental change to the algorithm that would ban certain users from getting on Explore. Apparently some folks even got messages from flickr saying that they had been “blacklisted” and other people “needed a chance” to get on Explore. While I never got that message, I haven’t had a photograph on Explore since then, and I used to hit it every day or so.
Now, I have a few problems with this. First, if Explore is supposed to be the most interesting, the cream of the crop on flickr, how can you purposefully ban photographers who you previously deemed to have the most interesting photos on flickr? It doesn’t make sense that everyone doesn’t get a fair shake at it. Second, and this is a more philosophical question, why are the editors of flickr deciding what is “interesting”? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get feedback from the flickr community (since flickr is a social network) to give a better overall representation of what people in flickrland find attractive in photography? I know that everyone has different tastes (and that’s what makes photography great) and it would make sense to incorporate that into the Explore area.
This leads into my third and, in my opinion, most important point. Let me first say that while I used to get annoyed that I was not hitting Explore anymore, I am completely over it. I have made some great contacts and friends on flickr that mean much more to me that having my picture be #247 in Explore. What I find completely ridiculous are some of the pictures that are currently on Explore. To call them interesting or some of the best is almost an embarrassment. I have five pictures as quick examples, and although I will not be posting them on here because they all are “All Rights Reserved” images, I will post the link to them.
- First off is Explore #4 for yesterday, March 28th. It’s a picture of someone’s retirement cake at work. Panda bear with green cupcakes taken with an iPhone.
- Next is a Front Page Explore of a rock holding a sign in different positions. Ok, fine, maybe it is remotely creative, but to be on the Front Page to say it is one of the most interesting pictures on flickr? Really??
- The next one is a picture of someone’s vintage cameras and their camera bag. The cameras may be interesting if you are actually using them, but a picture of them? And to be #4 on Explore?
- Next up is a group shot of people in a Lightroom workshop. Again, Front Page. Really embarrassing.
- Finally we have a Front Page from today that combines three pictures of someone’s eyes in a green glow. How is this interesting?
Again, I am not saying that these are not ok shots. Everyone has their own style and I can certainly respect that. What I have a slight problem with is these shots being paraded as some of the best on flickr. What I am not saying that these people are poor photographers. I did take the time to look through all of their streams and they all have some work that I like and am interested in. I’m also not saying that the shots above are bad shots…just curious as to why they made Explore and myself and others have not seen it for over a year and a half. Don’t get me wrong, there are TONS of great pictures on Explore; incredible landscapes, dramatic portraits, breathtaking views and so on. Those certainly deserve to be up there. It’s shots like the above ones that just have me scratching my head.
I know this has been a long post, so I’ll make this quick. Both shots from today’s post are from the Times Square Police Station in New York City. I didn’t get a chance to photograph it the last time we were there and didn’t want to miss the opportunity again. Both were processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting. I had to do a fair bit of masking in both of them to get rid of the people and then added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex.
Big game tonight for the Pens against the Flyers. We got this.