Category Archives: Photography

National Geographic Best 100 Photos of 2018



As the planet twirls to the winter solstice, the “Best of 2018” starts to emerge. Most of these are worthless click-bait, but National Geographic’s Best 100 Photos of 2018 presents truly amazing photography from the world around us.

NatGeo’s great photos aren’t just well composed shots of still life.  For us, they show 2018 through a temporal lens, from the joy of humanity to the tragedy of life; the incredible diversity of our species saddled by the divisions within. For the other inhabitants of the world – the animals, the fish, the birds, the reptiles – appreciate their beauty in increasingly rare natural environments. For some of these, it really is last chance to see.

Take the time to look and take in every single one. It’ll be worth it.


Flickr sheds the Yahoo login requirement



Flickr has become one of the top photo sharing services online since its founding in 2004. It’s extremely popular with pro photographers and bloggers. The company was sold to Yahoo and began requiring a Yahoo account to log in, but since April of this year, it has been owned by Smug Mug.

There was a problem there — many people don’t have a Yahoo account, especially the younger ones. More importantly, many didn’t want one.

Now that Flickr is out from under that umbrella, it is doing away that requirement. The photo-sharing service says it had many complaints about the proprietary login even stating the CEO had been locked out during some confusion.

“Here at Flickr, we’ve long wanted a simpler login solution that would allow each member to use the email address of their choice. And since SmugMug bought Flickr from Yahoo, we’ve been working toward this goal,” says Flickr

This won’t roll out until early 2019 and it will work Amazon AWS to add an extra layer of security to your account.


Google’s Live Albums Keeps Families In Touch



Google’s Pixel 3 event today didn’t bring too many surprises on the hardware front: most had been leaked well in advance of the presentation. What caught my eye was not a device but a new a new software feature called “Live Albums”.

Dave Loxton, Google Photo Product Manager, explains, “Many of us share the same photos with the same people over and over, whether it’s photos of your children to their grandparents, or cute pics of your pup to your best friend. Every time, we have to find the photos, select the ones we want to share and send them to the right people. And that’s if we even remember to share them at all.

Live albums start out as ordinary albums – you select the special photos of friends, family and pets. Here’s the clever bit…once tagged as a live album, freshly taken photos will be scanned by Google’s AI smarts and if they include people in the live album, they’ll be added into the album automatically.

This is fantastic for those families wanting to share photos with far-flung relatives. Instead of constantly having to remember to send photos to granny in Edinburgh, create a live album of the grandchildren and share it with her. New photos of the children will be added in as they’re taken, and granny gets to see the photos straightaway.

Google touts its Home Hub as being the ideal picture frame to display live album, though it’s only 7″, which I think is a little small for a photo frame. Priced at US$149 or UK£139, the Home Hub is competitively priced against wireless photo frames from the likes of Nixplay. I can see the Home Hub taking market share this Christmas.

The updated version of Photos with live album support will be rolling out shortly, so wait for it to appear on your smartphone.


Death by Selfie



Research published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care reveals that taking selfies can be a dangerous business. In a six year period from 2011 through to 2017, 259 selfie-related deaths are recorded worldwide.

That’s likely to be a considerable underestimate, too, as death “by selfie” isn’t an official cause of death, whereas drowning (70) and falling (48) are recorded on death certificates. In order to come up with a figure, the researchers relied on selfie-related searches to find articles confirming that people died while trying to take selfies, either in the instant or on adventures to get that perfect selfie shot.

The paper looks at the actual causes of death (usually drowning), age group (mostly 20-29 years) and gender (three times more likely to be male). The study looked at whether the selfie-taker was engaged in risky behaviour at the time. For men, risky behaviour resulted in more selfie deaths (115 risky v 38 normal), but surprisingly, more women died engaged in non-risky behaviour (27 risky v 31 normal). The paper is an easy read, so take five minutes.

Compared with many other forms of premature accidental death, such as road accidents, the figures are minuscule in comparison. For 2017 only, there were 40,100 motor vehicles deaths in the US alone. Considering a notionally riskier sport, skydiving suffers from around 20-25 fatalities per year in America.

Assessing statistics like this can be cold. One death is too many and it’s particularly sad to realise that every single one of those deaths was avoidable. Without the pressure of social media, it’s very likely all these people would be alive. And to end this sad tale, I’m reminded of Narcissus and a myth that goes back at least two thousand years. Nothing is new.

Photo by Tuce on Unsplash.


SmugMug has Acquired Flickr



SmugMug announced that it has acquired Flickr. SmugMug believes “You are not our product. You are our priority.” Those who are current users of either SmugMug or Flickr should read SmugMug’s FAQ page.

According to its FAQ, your SmugMug and Flickr accounts will remain separate and independent for the foreseeable future. Users will continue to log in with their current credentials and have the same experience they are used to.

If things change in the future for Flickr, SmugMug says it will be as transparent as possible about the process and give users as much notice as they can about the issues that matter to you.

Users will still be able to access their Flickr or SmugMug photos, and those photos will retain the same URL. Over time, SmugMug will be migrating Flickr onto SmugMug’s technology infrastructure, and user’s Flickr photos will move as a part of that migration. However, the photos themselves will remain on Flickr.

It is important to know that Flickr users should read over SmugMug’s Terms of Service. You will have 30 days (from the date an email about SmugMug’s terms was sent) to either accept SmugMug’s Terms or to opt out. If you do nothing, your Flickr account will transition from Yahoo’s Terms to SmugMug’s Terms. If you don’t want to make that change, you can delete your Flickr account.

SmugMug says that it will continue to offer Flickr’s free accounts, stating “We are not making any changes to Flickr plans or rates at this time”. SmugMug will let Flickr Pro customers know if that changes.

Those who currently have a Flickr Pro subscription will continue to enjoy all the benefits of Pro membership. SmugMug does not offer a free account. Plans range from $3.99/month to $29.99/month.


Photobucket is Charging a Subscription Fee



You might have noticed that some of the photos people have posted on social media are “broken”. Meaning, of course, that what is supposed to be a photo looks like a blank space or a question mark icon. The reason for this is because of a recent change made by Photobucket.

On June 26, 2017, Photobucket posted the following statement on their blog:

At Photobucket, we are committed to providing the best experiences and services for all of your photo image needs. We have updated our Terms of Service, effective June 20, 2017. Please take a moment to review our updated terms and policies as they may affect your account.

The post included a link to their Terms of Service. It is unclear why Photobucket backdated when the new changes would take place. People who use Photobucket, and found that blog post on the day it posted would learn that changes had been made about a week before. This certainly doesn’t leave any room for feedback about those changes.

Part of the Photobucket Terms of Service has details about types of accounts, pricing, and limits. Anyone can visit Photobucket for free. Anyone can register as a Member for free.

A Free Account provides a Member with 2 GB of free storage or space available for their original photo files or videos that are under 10 minutes. A Free account does not allow any image linking or 3rd party image hosting.

That’s fine for people who are brand new to Photobucket, or who have less than 2 GB of content on it. The change affects people who already have been using Photobucket and who have put more than 2 GB of content on it. The Terms of Service says that Members who have Free accounts, and who exceed their content limit, will have their account immediately suspended and will need to become a “Paying Member” in order to continue accessing their account.

This explains why so many Photobucket images “broke”. It also explains why people are upset about this new change. Petapixel included some tweets from disgruntled Photobucket users in their article about the situation.

Photobucket Members who have more than 2 GB on Photobucket will need to pay money for a subscription plan. There are three plans to choose from.

PLUS 50 costs $5.99/month (or $59.99/year). It gives you 52.0 GB of storage. It does not allow linking or 3rd Party Hosting.

PLUS 100 costs $9.99/month (or $99.99/year). It gives you 102.0 GB of storage. It allows Unlimited Linking, but does not allow 3rd Party Hosting.

PLUS 500 costs $39.99/month (or $399.99/year). It gives you 502.GB of storage. This Plan allows both Unlimited Linking and Unlimited 3rd Party Hosting.

In short, some Photobucket Members found that their photos were “broken”, and then discovered they could not access their account until they spent money. Those with more than 102.GB on Photobucket are looking at having to pay about $40.00 a month for a service that used to be provided for free.

Photobucket has every right to charge for their service, but this was not the best way for the company to go about doing it. This situation is a good example of why you shouldn’t host your content exclusively on a site that you do not own.