Tumblr repost

For some reason a photo I posted to Flickr a few years ago has been reposted like crazy on Tumblr.

I only found out via the stats after a few people faved it on Flickr.

Interestingly, it’s been on Flickr for four years and in that time received 29 favo(u)rites.

Once it was posted to Tumblr It managed 336 likes/reblogs in about a week (not sure how I can check that timespan but it was certainly pretty short).

More grist to the mill for the “Flickr is dying” meme (or I’m just not very popular on Flickr).

Machine tags on Flickr

A friend recently alerted me to this post about machine tagging for film photos.

He suggested I might want to add similar tagging to FilmDev.

I did want to add machine tags to FilmDev (other than the obvious one it uses to link recipes to photos), but I was more interested in adding them to my own Flickr photos.

Because I always add my photos via the photo database webapp that I developed (photodb) it makes it fairly easy for me to add any style of machine tags I want to my photos.

Also, because I always store the Flickr photo id after uploading it makes it easy to re-tag all my existing Flickr photos too.

So I set about implementing it.

Using the really useful flickr machine tag browser (by Paul Mison) I was able to quickly determine the most sensible tags to add to my photos.

I have a mixture of film and digital photos on Flickr so had to come up with tags for both types of photos.

I ended up with this for digital photos:

camera:model=Canon EOS 20D

I didn’t bother with tags for apertures and shutter speeds (even though I hold that information in photodb) as it seemed overkill for my uses.

I’ll come back to the photodb:id tag shortly.

For film photos I have something like:

camera:model=Olympus XA3
film:name=Agfa Vista 100

I don’t necessarily know what lens I used for a particular photo so I don’t record that and many of my film cameras don’t have interchangeable lenses anyway.

As I mentioned above I hold the Flickr photo id in photodb whenever I upload a photo so I am theoretically able to re-tag all my photos.

To do this I wrote the back-end code to set tags on a photo (photodb is written in Java) then hooked up an Ajax action to it.

I dug around for something I could use to show me the status of my re-tagging action (I had about 1700 photos to tag) and found JQuery PeriodicalUpdater so I wired that up to give me a countdown.

The last thing to mention is the photodb:id machine tag – predictably enough it refers to the id of the photo in photodb.

I hacked together a quick greasemonkey script to check for this tag and generate a link to that photo in photodb.

This makes it super-easy to link between the two websites (the ability to do that has been on my todo list for ages).

Oh yeah, as to the request to add them to FilmDev that prompted all this, I am still working on that (along with a bunch of other features).

Unlike photodb, real people use FilmDev so I can’t just hack together any old crap. 🙂

The continuing adventures of my Yashica


I got my film back from my Yashica.

If anyone’s interested, I used Spectrum Imaging in Newcastle (mail order).

They are very fast and very cheap (yay!), but they don’t do B&W (boo!).

Of the 12 shots I took this is the one that I’m happiest with, it’s also the one with the best exposure.

Most of them were a bit over-exposed (nothing that can’t be rescued) but this one was pretty accurate.

I was trying to compensate for what I believed was the meter’s tendency to over-expose (based on a comparison with my SLR) but it looks like I need to compensate more.

Many people who own this camera ignore the built-in meter as it has a tendency to be wrong.

These people then either carry around an SLR or a light meter to meter with; or they guess.

Well, guess is not really an accurate description (although I imagine some people do genuinely guess – but I’m not referring to them here).

I’m referring to a form of educated guessing.

There’s a thing called the sunny f/16 rule that can be used to determine exposure.

As usual, Wikipedia knows all…

In photography, the sunny 16 rule (or, less often, the “sunny f/16 rule”) is a method to estimate correct daylight exposures without using a light meter.

The basic sunny 16 rule, applicable on a sunny day, is this:

Set aperture to f/16 and shutter speed (reciprocal seconds) to ISO film speed.

For example, for ISO 100 film, choose shutter speed of 1/100 second (or 1/125 second).

There’s also an interesting page here about calculating exposure that looks quite interesting.

I don’t want to carry my SLR around with me everytime I use the Yashica so it looks like I’ll be going down the “guessing” route (assuming I can’t trust the meter that is).

Today though I went for a walk in the park and I did have my SLR with me so I used that to set my first reading.

The light didn’t change for a while so I left it at that.

Later the sun came out so I metered again with the SLR.

I’ll find out when I get the film back how it all worked out.

As I’m shooting negative film I can afford to be a bit lax with my metering as corrections can be made at processing time – if I shoot slide film I’ll have to be more accurate as it’s much less forgiving.

I’m not sure if that matters too much with scans though.

The above was shot with Fujicolor Superia film.

I have another 3 rolls of that.

I’ve also ordered a selection of black and white film too.

Some Ilford HP5+ which I’ve heard good things about and some Kodak Tri-X.

Now I just have to hope that I don’t get bored with it all before I run out of film!

Me and my Yashica

I’ve just bought this camera on Ebay; it arrived yesterday.

It’s a Yashica Mat-124G and shoots 6×6 medium format film.


So, today I wandered around Covent Garden at lunchtime to take a few shots.


What a world of difference from using a digital SLR.

Having to check and set exposure for each shot and wind the film on kept throwing me (predictably).

I’m shooting colour negative film which has decent exposure latitude so hopefully it won’t matter too much if I under or over expose.

Manually focusing the camera also made a change, but it was so easy with such a massive bright viewfinder – I manually focus with my SLR too sometimes but with the tiny dark viewfinder I often struggle to see if my subject is sharp enough.

It’s so much easier with this camera.

Those are all big changes sure, but the biggest change for me was the way that I held the camera and shot with it.

With my SLR I hold the camera to my eye and use the viewfinder to shoot.

The Yashica though is on a strap around my neck and I look down at the viewfinder.

It may not seem like a big deal but it’s a crucial distinction for me.

I enjoy street photography but often feel very self-conscious when I raise my camera to my eye to shoot a street scene – I guess I’m paranoid that someone I’m shooting will take offence.

But when shooting with the Yashica there’s no obvious sign that I’m taking a photo as you don’t move the camera at all.

It makes all the difference for me.

I know I’m probably making myself sound like some sort of sneak who is taking pictures of people without their permission and it’s true that I don’t ask permission when taking street photos.

But I’m not exactly invading privacy, my photos tend to be from a respectable distance and often you can’t make out people’s faces.

As I walked around Covent Garden today with the camera around my neck I got a few curious looks from people who were close enough to me to see what I was carrying, but the vast majority of people didn’t look twice at me.

At one point I stood in the middle of the crowded central market and took a photo of some people browsing a market stall. I couldn’t really imagine myself doing that with my SLR – hard to define why, just natural shyness I guess.

As it was, nobody turned a blind eye to me.

So, I managed to shoot about half a roll of film (around 6 shots) – I need to go out again on the weekend and shoot the rest of the roll, then get it developed and scanned.

Hopefully the camera works fine and I didn’t mess up too much and I’ll get some half-decent shots.


New photoblog

I’ve put together a photoblog for occasional photo posts.

It’s called ‘diminishing horizons‘ and it has an RSS feed too.

It’s quite a minimalist design, and is also my first pure CSS driven design, no more HTML tables for me.

In other news, my programming project is still going ahead and should be nearing completion soon, I’m just working on design, layout and copy at the moment.

City Hall photographers

City Hall was open to the public on the weekend so I went along on Saturday.

Whilst there I saw many people with cameras so kept my eye out for any fellow Flickr people.

I didn’t see anyone from Flickr, but did bump into one of my friends from work.

Today though a friend sent me a link to a photo on Flickr.

Someone who I had never met had taken a photo of me and posted it to Flickr.

Cool Flickr coincidence.

And here are the photos that I took.

Photographic impunity

My new mobile phone, a Sony Ericsson K750i has a very nice 2 Megapixel camera on it that takes halfway decent photos.

Unfortunately, it also makes a very loud noise whenever I use it, the sort of noise where everyone in the room stops what they are doing and looks at you when you use it. Which makes it kinda useless for taking photos in public.

I asked around and found that my friends who had the same phone were able to make their cameras silent by setting the phone to silent. This didn’t work on mine.

Further investigation revealed that the firmware on my phone was for Hong Kong. Apparently, over there it’s the law for camera phones to make a noise when taking pics. I wonder why…..

Anyway, I did some further digging and found my way to some software that could patch my phone for a one off fee of 10 Euros.

The software is far from user friendly and I was quite nervous about it completely knackering my phone but eventually, after reading the instructions about 10 times or so, I went for it.

And I’m happy to report that it worked a treat.

Expect more photos like this.

iPod Traveller

I met the hosts of the iPod Traveller podcast, Nick and Opal today.

This is by far my favourite podcast – officially it’s a travel show, and it’s informative enough at that but it’s also absolutely hilarious listening.

I had read on their site that they were doing a trip to Paris on Eurostar and as I walk past the terminal on the way in to work I dropped by to say hi.

Sadly they were running late so we could only chat for 5 minutes before they had to check in.

I didn’t even have time to take any photos.

They tried to persuade me to join them but some combination of no passport and having to go to work stopped me.

Next time I’ll be a bit more organised and join them for sure.

After they went I wandered around and took some photos before heading into work for the day.

Admiring the view
Admiring the view

My digital workflow

I was listening to the Tips from the Top Floor podcast and there was an interview with Randal L. Schwartz (of Learning Perl fame) and he was talking about his digital workflow.

Randal is of course a geek, so his digital workflow is typically geeky, lots of custom scripts and use of Unix tools to automate stuff etc.

After he’d described it all I realised that my workflow was quite geeky too.

So I thought I’d describe it here for fun.

It can be broken down into 4 stages.

Transferring photos, post production, Web processing and Flickr interface.

Also, some of it is done on Linux, some on Windows and some on the Web.

Stage 1: Transferring photos (Linux).

I use a Canon EOS 20D which in turn uses Compact Flash. To get photos onto my camera I have a short script that copies files from a compact flash card reader onto the PC. The only interesting thing that it does is to create date-stamped directories and store photos according to the date of their timestamp.

It also simplifies an otherwise fiddly task.

Stage 2: Post production (Windows).

Once all the photos are copied across, I can access them from Windows via a samba share.

As I shoot RAW, the first step is to convert them into a universal format.

For this I use Capture One.

I quickly go through the images, deleting any that are obvious rubbish.

I tend to keep the majority of what I shoot though.

Then I run through in more detail and fix any exposure and white balance issues. Capture One makes this very simple and allows me to do stuff in batch mode too.

Lastly I convert them all to TIFF format.

For any that I want to do some further work on I open the TIFF in Photoshop and do some additional work there.

Stage 3: Web processing (Linux).

I then process the images for displaying on the Web.

Firstly I use an app called Exiftool that generates thumbnails from the RAW files.

The reason I do this is that Exiftool maintains all the Exif data from the images – (Capture One loses any Canon-specific tags).

The next step involves a perl script that creates 3 JPEGs for each image (small, medium and large) then copies the files to this Web server.

Once the files uploaded I can then import them into my Photo database (a custom Web app written in Java).

First it display the thumbnails on screen where I can set location info and add any tags or titles to the photos.

Next it imports the photo information (made up of the Exif data and file sizes) into the database.

Stage 4: Flickr interface (Web).

The final (optional) step is uploading photos to Flickr.

As Flickr provides a comprehensive API it’s straightforward to code my app to upload photos to it.

I decided against using flickrj as it was more fun to roll my own code and learn the Flickr API.

The API also lets me set the tags, title and description that will be used on Flickr.

One of the nice things about doing it this way is that I can read some of the Exif data and set it as tags on Flickr. Stuff like the camera and lens used and location information is all picked up from my database and automatically added to my Flickr tags when I upload.

So all I do is view a photo in the Web app then click “Upload to Flickr”.

It appears in my Flickr photostream a few seconds later.

So, there it is; convoluted, idiosyncratic, geeky in the extreme and probably only of interest to me.


Couple in Richmond Park
Couple in Richmond Park
Winter Walk in Richmond Park
Winter Walk in Richmond Park
Tree in Richmond Park
Tree in Richmond Park
Richmond Park
Richmond Park