Where do the photos play?

adults at play

With my recent decision that I’m not taking enough photos, and should do something about it, comes yet another choice: where do I put the photos once they’re taken? I’m not taking pictures to sit on a hard drive, after all.

There are a ton of options out there, and none of them feel quite right …


I’m already there, and have been for nearly ten years. I opened the account shortly before I moved to the UK, so I could share photos with people back home.

A few years ago, Flickr was starting to disappoint – the look, feel, and features hadn’t been updated in ages. The interesting photographers I followed were leaving the site in droves – for 500px, for Tumblr, for places unknown. And so did I … with one exception.

The Maggie-a-day – admittedly, the majority of my photo taking and sharing – continues to live on at my Flickr account.

Since then, Flickr has updated their interfaces and their features. They’ve become a possibility again. But I still feel so-so about the service. Integration to other social media sites to share photos isn’t seamless (it’s actually easier to just copy and paste the link), and the printing service, while great for allowing family to print photos of Maggie from the Maggie-a-day, isn’t quite what I’m looking for, either.

Also, it’s owned by Yahoo!, which doesn’t exactly have a history of getting things right.


I’m already there, and joined in 2012 after I decided that Flickr was starting to be a bit crappy.

Lately, I have not liked 500px nearly as much, and am posting there with less frequency. One of the big attractors to 500px was the built in marketplace — I could make photos available for others to buy prints. They could turn my beautiful pictures into wall art. This was nice from the family-can-print-photos perspective (since matched by Flickr), and from the pipe dream of strangers with my art on their walls, although this was always unlikely to ever manifest.

But ealier this year, 500px turned off this option, and has gone whole-hog into stock licensing. Which is wonderful and all, but I don’t necessarily want my photos used by certain people, organisations, or products to market themselves, and so am not terribly interested in stock photography. Also, I like to take pictures of people, and generally do not believe it’s fair to have a person sign a generic release without knowing how their photo might be used.

500px always left me feeling a bit weird — the photos on the site have a degree of technical perfection to them that fits the concept of selling wall art and stock photos. But there is definitely a lack of creativity amongst much of the more-easily-discoverable content.

On the other hand, it seems easier to explore the work of others on 500px than on other services I’ve used, and it seems that my photos there are always seen by other users of the service (Flickr’s photos are pretty much only seen by people who click through from Facebook, for the most part).


Again, I’m already there. I started my Tumblr around the time that I stopped with the Morning Coffee, and it became my place to post links to things and pictures that I liked and/or amused me from various corners of the Internet.

Tumblr, however, is also a place where a lot of artistic people put their photos, drawings, and so on.

In its favour is that Tumblr is a place for creative people to share their work with the world at large – in that sense, it is almost certainly closer to what I’m looking for than these other services. Against that, however, is that it is not a photography platform, and lacks the organisational, retrieval, and printing features from other services.

Also, it’s now owned by Yahoo!, and they might ruin it any day.


I had not heard of Zenfolio until this morning. But I now have a trial account.

Zenfolio does those extras that I wanted out of 500px – allowing people to buy stuff to put on their walls. Or, apparently, their t-shirts. But there seems to be nothing about it for sharing images, or discovering work you don’t know. So only people looking specifically to be making shirts, calendars, and beer mats of my photos will be able to find it.

Which doesn’t seem right either.

The Big Bad Blog

You might have noticed, I’m already here.

Jennifer Granick’s Black Hat keynote is brilliant, and everybody should read and/or watch it. It is about the end of the internet dream — it points out how personal corners of the internet, like this Big Bad Blog, are diappearing, being replaced by the Flickrs and Tumblrs of the world.

I, of course, have my own site on which to host my photos. I can do it right here, where you can view and comment on my photos.

On the other hand, the Big Bad Blog only has the features I add to it myself. It does not allow you to order your customised Maggie-a-day mugs, or make photos easily searchable. And nobody is going to stumble upon photos here, unless re-directed from one of these other sites.

All of the above

Of course, I don’t really have to choose. I can post my Maggie-a-day photos to Flickr, my nicest photos to 500px, the ones with stories attached here, and everything to Tumblr.

I can take the most popular, and the ones that I think people might want on a T-shirt, and put them on Zenfolio.

And be everywhere.

That might be best, but it also sounds like the most work.

Somewhere else

And, of course, there are all the things I don’t know about, or haven’t considered.

If you were me, where would your photos be?

Finding photos: a camera shortlist

Last weekend, I wrote about downsizing my photo equipment, in an effort to actually ensure that I start to take a camera with me when I leave the house.

Well, we’re a weekend later, and I still don’t know what I’m going to buy. But I think I’ve figured out what I’m going to try.

So without further ado, the nominees:



Candidate one is the legendary Leica.


  • Cost. Leicas are expensive. If I sell all my gear, buy a used Leica with one (used) lens, I’ll probably also have to chip in some cash.
  • Weight. Many online reviews describe the Leica M as ‘a tank’. While it is definitely a less bulky option than my current DSLR setup, it weighs in above the other cameras in the shortlist. (Leica does sell other cameras, but I’m sure they’re not as good. That will bother me.) (I think.)
  • Is it that great? There are a surprising number of articles on the internet designed to convince the reader that the Leica is good branding on a mediocre camera.


Quality. There are endless articles detailing how [insert other camera here] is superior. They show you specifications. The other camera will have more megapixels. Or a tiltable screen. Or autofocus. They’ll tell you that it’s a less pleasant experience.

And then they’ll show you pictures. They will talk about the technical superiority of the non-Leica image. They’ll zoom in on something that you couldn’t see in the original photo to make their point. They’ll show you more noise at ISO 12800. They’ll claim the colour is more accurate on the other camera.


In every single picture in every single article, where the reviewer attempts to compose and take the same photograph twice, once on a Leica, and once on something else … and the picture taken with the Leica is better.

It’s crazy. It might not be sharper (it usually is). It might have more noise. Or ‘less accurate’ colour. But it’s always better.

I mean, what the hell. If it takes better pictures, it’s the better camera. That’s how these things work.

And I constantly prefer the images from the Leica.



Candidate number two is the full frame mirrorless Sony.


  • The look. I know. It’s not supposed to matter. But look at the other two candidates. Then look at this candidate. Yeah.
  • The size. The Leica might be heavier (barely), but the Sony is bigger — smaller than a DSLR, but the largest of the available bodies. Sony lenses are also bigger, on average, than their Leica or Fujifilm counterparts. If the goal is to go small, Sony might not achieve that.
  • Lenses. Size aside, Sony has the weakest choice of made-for-the-camera lenses.


The specification. There’s no doubt about it — the electronics in Sony’s cameras are superior. It performs more tricks, and performs them better, than other cameras. Hell, other camera manufacturers tend to use Sony’s parts. Sony gets them first.

Sony wins every side-by-side stat comparison hands down.



Candidate three. Fujifilm.


  • Sensor size. The Fujifilm X-series cameras do not have full frame sensors. (Some Leicas, to be fair, also do not.) (But they are inferior.) Full frame looks better.
  • Mixed reviews. These cameras have excellent reviews. Across the board. But comparisons always seem to have a but. With Leicas, the ‘but’ is the price. Sony cameras don’t get a ‘but’. The ‘but’ worries me. Adobe doesn’t handle the RAW format well. The colours look off. And so on.
  • Not the best camera. There are arguments that the Leica is the best camera in this list. There are arguments for the Sony. Fujifilm simply does not stack up, side-by-side. It may be the best value for money of the three. It may be the best fit for me. But it sure ain’t the best camera.


  • Cost. It’s by far the least expensive option here. I’ll be able to fully kit it, or pocket some money (probably) after selling my current Nikon gear.
  • Size. It’s smaller and lighter, by a fair amount. There’s a trade-off in sensor size and specs. But, it’s there.
  • Updates. Fujifilm has a reputation for releasing firmware updates that add new features and make huge improvements to their cameras. Sony and Leica only fix bugs, and leave the user to buy the next camera if they want the latest features.

The verdict?

Is yet to come.

Now I have to spend silly amounts of time playing with cameras in shops, while fending off salespeople.

Photos, where art thou?

Lately, I have been pondering the photographs I take.

Or, rather, the photographs I don’t take — as much as I love photography, it seems that my camera spends most of its time on a shelf these days. The Maggie-a-day is too often an old, out of sequence snap. And if I’m not on holiday or on some kind of a specific photographic mission, it’s a safe bet that I do not have a camera with me.

No camera, no photos. And it’s all about the bulk.

When I moved to the UK, I bought a cheap (but decent) digital camera. Because I was moving to Europe, and I was going to want to take pictures, naturally.

And I did. And I loved it. But digital cameras that were not DSLRs pretty much sucked at the time. So as I realised my love of photography, I moved to a DSLR. I own a giant magnesium beast of a thing. After six years, it still takes great pictures. I have great lenses for it. They too are great beasts of things. I carry around this mass of magnesium and glass when I carry my camera with me. It’s heavy.

So …

Going to work? No camera. Too heavy.
Taking Maggie to drama class? No camera. Too heavy.
Heading out to the pub with friends? No camera. Too heavy.

Every day, every situation … I don’t have my camera. And I miss it, but not so much to constantly have a giant weight hanging off my neck.

But things have changed

In 2011, Pentax came up with their mirrorless system camera, a first. And five years later, they’re pretty much as good as my DSLR — the best of them are arguably on par with any DSLR. And they’re smaller. Lighter. More portable.

And I miss taking photos.

So I’ve made a decision. I’m ditching my camera.

My DSLR, and all my lenses are destined for a shelf of a used camera shop, or an eBay auction. And I’m going to take the money, and buy myself something smaller and more versatile. Something that can take up little room in my bag, but be out on a moment’s notice. Something that won’t give me back problems carrying it around.

The question is … what?

Ultimately, that will depend on my budget (unknown – I haven’t started to shop around my current kit), and my taste. But there are so many options out there.

Fellow photo enthusiasts … what would you buy, if you were out looking for a little camera. For a little bit of street photography, portraits, urban exploration, and travel. I need a list of things to play with.