Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Flickr of Interest

I was talking with a friend last night via Facebook messaging about photography and where we share it. He's a fan of Flickr and I'm... not. I found it funny that he, a young fellow, likes Flickr while this old guy likes Instagram. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around!

I'm pretty social online, but I spend the majority of my social time on Facebook and Instagram. I'd like to like Flickr more, because there are some super talented rail photographers on there, both seasoned and up-and-coming, like George PitarysMatthew RobsonGeorge HamlinHal ReiserMichael BerryPhil RossCaleb WentzellMatt Landry, David Gray and Julien Boily.

Flickr on a desktop computer is OK. It's the mobile version that I don't like, and here's why. Maybe I'm just using it wrong...

Comment Nagging

When I see a photo I like, I usually click the "like" or "favourite" or whatever the "this is cool" button is on the site I'm viewing. When I really like it, I'll leave a comment. I think this is a good way to show the photographer that you really appreciate the photo.

On Flickr, like many other platforms, it will notify you whenever someone else comments on the photo after you. The difference with the mobile version of Flickr is that there seems to be no way to turn that off. On Facebook or Google+ you can disable further notifications easily from a mobile device, but there's no way that I can find to do that with the mobile Flickr. You have to remember which post is nagging you, then go to the desktop version and turn it off. Who's going to do that?

What ends up happening is that I don't comment on Flickr photos much, to avoid being nagged by the mobile version. That's a shame, because contributors deserve to get notice, and although my one comment isn't much, every little bit helps.

Multiple Photos in One Post

Like other platforms, Flickr allows you to post multiple photos in one post. The problem with Flickr on the desktop is that only one of them is really visible and the others are tiny thumbnails.

I'll use David Gray as an example, just because he happened to be near the top of my Flickr feed when I wrote this post. Check out his blog, Going Trackside, and his YouTube channel!

Here's a recent post of his on the desktop version (see it on Flickr).

Here if you click on the star icon like I did, you are liking the big photo. You can click on the other photo icons to see them. It works OK. The difference between this and Facebook is that you are liking the one photo, not the post of photos like Facebook. It's a difference in platforms, where Flickr is photo-centric and Facebook is post-centric.

Here's the mobile view of the same post.

The problem here is that there is no way to easily "like" the post or photo. You have to tap "View All 4 Photos", then you see all four photos, then you have to tap one of them, THEN like it, then back out again. Four additional actions.

Compare that to Instagram, where everything scrolls by in one feed. You see a photo, double-tap on the photo itself to Like, scroll on. It's super quick and easy to use.


I know it sounds like I'm whining, and I am, but I want to point out that mobile versions should be designed to be super quick and easy to use or people won't use them.

If you do use Flickr, I'm there as traingeek. :)

Tell me why you like Flickr and why I'm wrong...

PS - good article here: Good Riddance, Flickr


DaveM said...

Hi Steve,

I do agree that there are certain quirks in the usability work flows you mention. I've also found that the map doesn't appear to be very good at showing you all of other peoples images in that area.

That said, I do find that Flickr is a good source of great rail images. I frequently scan flickr before heading to a new city to see where the best places in that city are to railfan. I much prefer it to a site such as railpictures since there are images on Flickr there that wouldn't make the bar for railpictures, but do provide inspiration and ideas for my future shots.

I do like the groups with Flickr since it has allowed me to browse images easier than hashtags with Instagram.


Canadian Train Geek said...

Good points, Dave. I hadn't thought of using Flickr for location scouting but you're right, it would be much better than Railpictures as some locations wouldn't make the cut for RP.

DaveM said...

I've got a set of bookmarks for scouting locations so when ever I see an image in a great location that I may visit in the next year or two, I bookmark it. I took a look at the source of URLs in that folder and found that about 70% were flickr, 15% were RP, and 15% blogs.

I do find that the UI in instagram is good, but none of the instgram pics made my folder of where to take pictures from.


David said...

I'll start with a "thanks for using me as your example" :)

I have always used Flickr for my pictures, and have only recently started to venture into the world of Instagram.

I agree that the mobile Flickr app is quite annoying in the number of notifications you get, and how they group the pictures together into one post. Those really are a pain.

I continue to use Flickr for scouting spots, and to get heads up on trains that may be coming my way by following people in any direction of my location. I also use Flickr to contribute my pictures to the railfan atlas, which based on Flickr images, and is a great tool to use in scouting out locations, and even gathering info on old lines. http://railfanatlas.com/?x=-103.456826&y=49.4230572&z=10

Moving onto Instagram, the thing I don't like about thus far is not being able to post multiple pictures at once in the app, and the inability to upload from a desktop PC/laptop. I know that there are a few options to upload from a PC using other websites, or what have you, but as you said in your own way in the post: "who wants to take those extra steps."

As I said though, I'm working my way to Instagram, and will likely continue to increase my activity there because I've definitely seen a lot more love for my pictures over there.

Canadian Train Geek said...

I'm glad you didn't mind being used as an example, David!

Thanks for the link to the Railfan Atlas web site. I had never heard of that!! I will be adding my photos to it.

You touched on my #1 beef with Instagram, the inability to upload from a PC. I really really wish they would allow that. #2 is allowing scheduled posts.

I agree there is a ton of love for photos on Instagram that is lacking on Flickr and G+, and Facebook to a lesser extent. On FB you get pretty good response if you share it to appropriate groups.

DaveM said...

Steve and David,

Have you guys tried http://gramblr.com/uploader/#home for uploading to Instgram from your desktop? The UI is a bit clunky, but it gets the job done in a few clicks.


Saintjohnrailfan said...

Thanks for the mention Steve! I find Instagram is great if you're trying to be creative and "artsy", changing colors, effects, etc. I tend to upload stuff to Instagram which 99% of the time, isn't the original image. My two photos that have made it into published material have been spotted because of Flickr. Flickr is nice because you can show the true photo (after a small bit of editing), and you see the true quality of the shots. I find you don't get the same photo quality from Instagram shots, mainly because it's mostly viewed from a mobile device.

If I take a bunch of shots, I tend to not upload them all to Flickr right away, I'll spread it out some. If you upload, say four photos, sometimes people don't see the other three because only the first is really visible.

It's always good to have both! The more you can make yourself visible, the better!

-Matt (SJRF)

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hey Matt / SJRF, I agree that Instagram allows/encourages a lot more image manipulation than Flickr does. I don't tend to use it - I edit in Lightroom and don't make any changes when I put it on Instagram - but I know a lot of people do.

I think the main reason why Flickr brings more images to searches is because it's actually indexed by Google. You can't Google Instagram, just like you can't Google Facebook. For example, if I search for "trains in Amsterdam's Centraal train station in 2008" I get my Twitter post featuring an Instagram image, but I don't get a link to Instagram.

I think you're smart to spread your uploads out, both to get one image per post and also to avoid overloading people with too many images at once.

Finally, I completely agree with your last point - the more you can make yourself visible, the better!