You may not have noticed, but Tuesday's Lea Valley post included my most popular photo ever. I hadn't thought my shot of Waltham Abbey exceptional, merely pretty, but it's been favourited on Flickr more times than any other photo I've ever posted there. And the fact it probably passed you by has made me think about how photos are displayed on this blog, and whether perhaps there's a better way to do it.
So yes, this is a post about photos, and I shall be asking for your feedback. Please make sure you post yours in the right comments box.
Size of thumbnails: When I post photos to this blog, you normally get a small thumbnail-sized image to one side. These photos are usually just under 300 pixels wide, which isn't big, but I think should be large enough to see pretty much what's going on. Equally the dimensions are small enough to allow text to flow easily around the side, no matter how narrow the device you're using. I usually alternate from side to side, first right then left, partly for aesthetic reasons but also so that two consecutive photos don't collide for those of you with particularly wide screens.
Or at least that's how I used to do it. Now more and more I'm posting larger thumbnails, more the size of proper photos, these precisely 400 pixels wide. That's the widest I'm willing to go, so as not to muck up the viewing pleasure of those in narrow browsers, indeed it's been the upper limit of graphics on my blog since I started. I don't flow text around this larger size of photo, I interrupt the flow and then continue with the next paragraph underneath. And that's the more normal way to do it, I think, plus it means you get the photograph in a decent size where you can actually see some detail.
So I just wondered, do you prefer the larger or the smaller photos, or is there a reason why one of those doesn't work well on your device?
Quartered photos: I regularly present photos in a format that I've not seen on blogs elsewhere. I take four photos I'd like to show you, shrink each one down to 200 pixels wide and present all four in one go. What you get is a quartered image, allowing a flavour of the place I'm writing about rather than one larger photo. This might be good, because of the variety, or it might be bad, because the resulting photos are too tiny to discern too much detail. Indeed, maybe that's why nobody else does quartered photos, just me.
I will tell you why I do it though, and it's because of Blogger's auto-pagination penalty for showing too many images. They've set a limit of approximately 20 photos they're willing to show on your homepage - any more than that and they chop off the bottom of the page. If I publish a post with 12 photos in it, and then another tomorrow, that's all that Blogger will allow homepage visitors to see. But by combining photos into quartets, I get to hit that upper limit four times slower, and that keeps me happy. Sorry if it's sub-optimal for you, but I can't afford to litter my blog with photos else I get penalised for it.
So I just wondered, do you mind the quartered photos, indeed do you actually quite like them, or am I wasting my time posting photos that are much too small?
Use of Flickr: I've been using Flickr as my main repository of online photos for almost a decade now. If I'd like you to see a photo in all its glory I'll usually link to it on Flickr rather than displaying it here, for all of the aforementioned reasons. Sometimes I'll make it explicit that I'm linking to a photo on Flickr, perhaps even a full set of 30, to raise the profile of my external portfolio. Other times I'll add a link that says [photo] in the hope that's obvious enough, and you may or may not choose to take a look. More usually I'll merely link to a photo from a word or phrase in the text, and hope you pick up on the image connection. The statistics suggest you generally don't. Only a fraction of you ever click through, especially when the link isn't flagged, so my intended pictorial accompaniment to the day's blogpost is generally overlooked.
And that's fine. Most people don't click on links whatever they are, and links to photos are no exception. Most people are only here for the text, and then only briefly before surfing on, and I have no expectations otherwise. Plus a lot of people don't get on with Flickr, especially since its programmers 'improved' the site by switching to a new clunky browser-intensive platform. I've no intention of relocating my photos elsewhere unless they wreck the site completely, I've invested too much time and effort on Flickr over the years. But perhaps I should be illustrating my posts with additional relevant photos in situ, rather than hiding them where 95% of readers never go.
So I just wondered, do you look at my photos on Flickr, indeed do you even notice they're there, or is it a site you'd never visit and would you prefer more of those photos here where everyone can see them?
A new camera: I used to walk around with a proper camera, or at least a point and shoot. But I don't think I've made terribly good choices in what I've bought, with 2011's Samsung proving visually defective and 2012's Sony rather too basic. So I've gradually edged over to using my iPhone for every single photo I take, and leaving my 'proper' camera at home. The picture quality's surprisingly good, and enlarges well, plus my smartphone's always in my pocket. But the iPhone's zoom facility is rather basic, indeed it took me over a year to realise it existed. And framing my shots well is surprisingly difficult because the phone lacks a certain precision, hence my repertoire of shots has become more limited.
So what I could really do with is another proper camera, one that's proper decent this time, so that I can diversify my portfolio a little. I want something that slips into a pocket rather than a great big lens round my neck, because I prefer to be ready to snap anything and everything at a moment's notice. I'm up for a budget of a hundred and something pounds, but probably not two, especially anything that might be on special offer at the moment. Because if I'm going to go to all the effort of taking photos and sharing them, they might as well be decent.
So I just wondered, are there any small but functional cameras you might recommend within a reasonable price range, or should I just carry on with my iPhone because it's good enough?