Joe Cornish, the great British landscape photographer, advocates taking most of your photographs no more than thirty minutes from your home. So, here's my blog featuring pictures either thirty minutes drive or walk away from my front door or from the place where I'm staying for a few days. I'll also be writing about photography in general from time to time. Please enjoy!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Online Photography Communities

As you know, I joined Fotoblur in April this year with the intention of improving my photography and bringing it to a wider audience. I think I've achieved that. I have made several good friends at Fotoblur and have been pleased with the responses to my images.

So far I have had images featured in the various groups I'm a member of on nine occasions, been in the top 40 favourite image of the day once, featured in the top 100 a further ten times and received some good and constructive comments from my peers. The way in which I now look at my images, how I process them and select them for Fotoblur has changed radically. I now have a selection process, which has served me well in recent weeks. This provides me with a shortlist of possible submissions and some consistency in what actually gets published.

I've experimented with images instead of sticking with the sharp, perfectly exposed image and I've tried some slightly off-the-wall processing - well, off-the-wall for me! Not only that, but the way I look for images has changed; frequently when I'm out and about my head is on a swivel looking for potential shots to make. Over the past few days I've been inspired by the architectural photography of two folk whose work I follow and took some inspiration from them to produce this image...

Click the image for the bigger picture
It has been and continues to be a very worthwhile way of improving how see, make, process and critique my own work. And, more than any of that, it's got me out of my comfort zone and experimenting.

A good number of the Fotoblur membership are also members of Flickr, probably the most used and best known photo sharing site so I decided I'd create an account and see what happened to my images there. I loaded up half a dozen images that had done really well at Fotoblur and waited for the results. All of these images had either been feature images, appeared in the top 100 favourites for the day in which they were posted, or had received some acclaim from my Fotoblur peers. 

I'd also had a message from a good friend and fellow photographer - hello, Ian - who had stumbled across a website called 5∞. He was so impressed with the images there that he said it was "time to put the camera away". I had a look and agreed that many of the images were pretty amazing. Whilst waiting for the Flickr images to settle down in their new home I had another look at 5∞ and was further impressed the more I dug into the collection of images. Anyway, dear reader, I decided I really needed to challenge myself and see how things went...

5∞ has proved to be a greater challenge. At the moment I have nine images posted, which have been viewed collectively 79 times. Four have been voted for and one has been added to a viewer's favourite image bank. The site is set out much differently than Fotoblur. Here images continue to feature after their day of submission with a scoring system based on the number of images submitted, number of votes and selections as favourite images. This means that as your scores increase there is the potential to move up the leaderboard. I have one image with a score of 42.5, which might make you think I'm doing OK. There are probably 90,000 other photographers in front of me!

Here's the image and yes, I was surprised:

Click the image for the bigger picture

And what of Flickr? Well, after five days only one of my images had been viewed (three times) the others were just languishing there doing nothing. I say were... the account's been deleted! And I doubt that I shall be going back.

So, which is best, Fotoblur or 5∞? They're both excellent; I like the way Fotoblur people interact with each other through comments and suggestions but a "slow burner" image may not get the chance to shine to a wider audience. 5∞ is a more long-term option but with, for me at the moment, less interaction between the members. But it's new and I suspect when I work out exactly how the site works that interaction will grow. Another bonus is that at 5∞ I can submit 20 images of up to 30Mb each per week whereas Fotoblur allow me one upload of 512kb per day.

And just to prove how different the two communities are I currently have an image featured in a Fotoblur group that's only received three votes (promotions) and 10 viewings while the same image on 5∞ has been viewed 37 times but received no votes. Some you win...

In the meantime, if you want to have a look at my Fotoblur and 5∞ sites I'd be delighted. You can comment, vote or promote my images... or not as the case may be.

Fotoblur site...


Thanks to the good folks at Fotoblur and 5∞ for all their work in setting up and administering the communities. It's very much appreciated here!

UPDATE 12 July: I've had considerable success with some new images at Fotoblur in the past few days and that is where my concentration lies right now. The 500∞ site will remain and I shall periodically be uploading new images... 

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