Youpic Update

Back in February I signed up to the photo sharing website Youpic to try out another outlet to share my images. In that blog post I outlined what was good and bad based on the user interface. Interestingly the article has been the most viewed page on this website.  

My last posted image on the service was about 4 months ago in May 2015. Comments on the original Youpic blog post pointed out some very valid points mostly around who owns the images once they have been uploaded considering there are no adverts and they don't charge to open an account to support the website. Other services I use such as 500px and Flickr charge for a pro account to remove the ads.

I stopped using the service mostly because the newer updates introduced a ranking and points system which felt to me the service was becoming like a videogame where you would get more points for uploading images as if you were killing an enemy or completing an objective which I don't like. I take images for fun and not for meaningless points or scores. A potential solution if I were to start using it again were to upload in low resolution like 2048px on the long edge with a dpi of 90 to make it not usable in print. I always upload to Flickr and 500px in high resolution, partly as a form of an online backup.

Sharing my images is very important to me which is a core attribute to a photographer and I assume it also applies to any other a artist. Protecting your work is important and with a medium such as photography that is being shared on the internet it's easy to lose control. 

My current attitude as a very keen ameture photographer who is aiming to generate some income with my work is that I have to be prepared for someone to use my images without my consent. I occasionally get enquiries from people and organisations who see my images on Flickr for example that turn into sales which I hope outweigh the risk of people just taking my images. 

Without sharing my images online I wouldn't have build up my relationship with the Wildlife Trust or my local business association were initially I give my time and/or images to be used (non-profit/editorial use) without payment (and I still do) that has lead to paid work.  

Currently I upload almost everything worthwhile to Flickr and being much more selective on what I add to 500px

Please add your thought and comments below or to me on twitter @nealtraf

Sunset At Burnham Overy Staithe

Fuji X-E1 35mm 1.4 with +/- 1 Stop 3 bracketed images. ISO 200 F/16 1/60 Sec 

This image was taken at Burnham Overy Staithe along the North Norfolk Coast on Wednesday 20th May 2015 during a week off work. Typically I focus on a theme for my photography and this time I wanted to focus on sunsets and the night sky and possibly capturing an aurora if there was an opportunity to do so.

Because the sunsets quite late this time of year around 9pm the sky does not get completely dark till midnight which for me it too late especially when I have an hours drive home and ended up just capturing a couple of sunsets during the week.

Keeping an eye on the weather forecast over the week I was looking for sunny spells conditions to see if there were an opportunity of the sun setting and clouds to create an interesting sky with the sun changing the colour of the clouds and possibly breaking through them. Weather that week was perfect for photography with storms creating interesting skies. 

My reasons for choosing this location was for a few reasons. Firstly I had not visited this part of the Norfolk Coastline before so was somewhere new to explore. Secondly it was recommended for night photography. Thirdly I wanted to visit the coast at least once on my week off.

Taken With Nikon D7100 with +/- 2 Stops 5 Images using 35mm 1.8G ISO 100 F/16 1/25 Sec 

Being warned not to park on the dirt/sandy flat further into the quayside as it floods at high tide I parked on the embankment just off the roadside. When visiting coastal areas I typically wear wellies but mine turned out to be useless with one of them being split which meant I had to be more careful to avoiding ending up with wet feet. 

I soon started to walk along the coastal path which I assumes leads to the beach. While walking along I am constantly looking all around to find potential images such as boats and the general shapes and curves of the landscape and taking test shots to see what is possible. At this point the tide was out and all the boats were sitting on the sand, not researching the tide times I had no idea on what the conditions will be once the sun would start to set. 

One thing I have learned in photography is that once you have found something of interest it's best to stay in one spot. Sunrise and sunset is so short you have very little time to set up to be ready for the show which is why I arrived early. It is better to come away with one good image than nothing because you were rushing around.

While waiting for the sun to set I was previewing different angles along the bank of the waterway,moving in either direction avoiding any obstructions such as bushes and signs. In this case there was another smaller craft to the left which I wanted left out of the picture as their is a photographic tip of having "odds". When capturing flowers for example you want 1,3,5 flower heads, it's just one of the many photographic "rules".

Once I had framed the image in the viewfinder I locked down the camera in that position with a tripod to avoid taking a blurry image due to the camera moving. To ensure there was going to be enough information I decided to bracket the images to combine into an HDR file using Lightroom 6 which I will include a YouTube tutorial below. I find using HDR is very useful to landscape images by capturing detail in the sky and the ground. 

Using both a Nikon D7100 and Fuji X-E1 to compare the bracketing features and to see if I could live with just the Fuji to benefit from the lighter weight. The Nikon has much better bracketing features with taking upto 5 images with +/- 2 stops or 3 images with +/- 3 stops in quick succession with the camera in timer mode.

The Fuji can only take 3 images +/- 1 stop which for me limits its use for HDR, however the 35mm lens for the Fuji is the best lens I own over the Nikon and Fuji so I try and use that where I can. Taking bracketed images with the Fuji is certainly possible and I use it all the time but I cannot see why Fuji is less advanced, maybe the newer Fuji cameras are better? 

Using Lightroom 6 I merged the files using the new inbuilt HDR feature which now avoids the interaction with Photoshop which is handy. Using a similar method to the below YouTube tutorial I eventually achieved these results which I think produced interesting images that I am happy with making my trip out worthwhile.

The top image was entered into the Wex Photographic weekly competition held on Twitter by Tweeting an image taken the previous week to #WexMondays which I occasionally participate in with the hope I could win a voucher, most of their entries by other photographers are simply stunning and I have little chance. If anything I enter images to help increase my twitter following and drive traffic to this blog to help promote my work. Wex have requested I write up my experience in taking this image by explaining my process and giving it difficulty rating out of 10. 

Fuji X-E1 35mm 1.4 ISO 200 F/5.6 1/240 Sec, a Single image not HDR to capture the person.

Asking myself on how difficult it was to capture this image and give out difficulty rating seems to be a simple request but It's actually quite difficult. I went out knowing on what I wanted to achieve. I know what combination of setting are needed to capture this type of image and I know the camera's limitations and why an HDR is useful in this situation. After some thought I will rate this picture with a difficulty rating of 6/10 and here is a simple checklist for taking sunset images and landscape images in general.

  1. Get there early and find something of interest to include with the sky. It can be a boat, tree or a building for example.
  2. Use a tripod to stabilize the camera as hand holding the camera will make the image blurry, or a flat surface such as a wall and trigger the camera with trigger release or self timer mode.
  3. Take test shots before the sunset to see if you're happy with the general framing and dont forget to look around the edges of the viewfinder for any unwanted branches that you don't immediately notice.
  4. HDR is not always required, a silhouette image is just as effective.
  5. Try manual mode, remember to use your lowest ISO and around F/16 then change the shutter speed to get the sky correctly exposed as auto modes will probably get it wrong.
  6. Take images in RAW mode, this is very important to capture enough information for post processing later.
  7. Practice, taking good images takes time and experience which can only improve by getting out there and taking pictures.
  8. YouTube is a great resource with tutorials on camera settings, technique and image editing to learn from.   

Initial Thoughts on Youpic

Click to read a newer blog post for my more recent views on this service that I no longer use!

My desire to share the images I take is very strong as I want people to enjoy my work, otherwise what is the point of taking images if no one can see and enjoy them?

Currently I am focusing my efforts on Twitter which has been a slow but enjoyable and fun interacting with organisations who own and manage the places I visit such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Flickr I upload virtually everything to and have been using this website from the start of my photographic journey, and if you go back far enough you can see how poor my first attempts were comparing what I am capturing now.

500px I use much more selectively and only upload images that I consider to be my better images and the social interaction for me has been minimal. 

Google Plus is primarily used to store my images that are synced to my Android devices and occasionally share to communities, social interaction here has also been limited. I need to figure out how to increase the social interaction of my work. 

While looking through my Twitter feed I saw an advert for  that looked interesting and when looking at the website I was drawn in with the clean and simple design and appears to be similar to 500px. The signup process was simple using my facebook account to create my profile and was quickly setup with my first image soon uploaded. 

 Over 6 thousand views in about 3 days on Taken in Cromer

I soon received community interaction in the form of likes and shares on many of my uploads and with one image showing up on the "inspired" page, similar to the explore on Flickr with my Cromer Pier image currently achieving over 6 thousand views. 

My current strategy is to upload an image a day carefully selecting what images I use and to only show my better images like I do with 500px and  galleries on this website as this should keep the up activity on my profile while increasing my exposure which is what I am currently aiming for. 

What I think could be improved with the uploading process is the tagging system to be more user friendly. Flickr and 500px will read the tags from the metadata that is embedded with Lightroom. 

When trying to speedup the uploading process, I tried to copy the tags from Lightroom and paste them into the Tag box on the upload form which turned out not to be as simple as I first thought.

I expected the comma to automatically separate each tag, so if a beach image had the tags "beach, sea, coast, sand" they would be individual words. What happens with Youpic if you paste that in, would be "beach sea coast sand". I have to do tagging the harder way by doing them separately when Flickr and 500px would do it much much easier and quicker. 

Taken in London on November 2014, currently my second most viewed image of a thousand views on Youpic

The lightroom plugin will export the tags correctly but will miss out other steps such as being able to add a title and description before it publishes which I find to be annoying and you then need to find the edit option that took sometime to find.

I want the app to export the image to an preview state and then add in the missing information before making the image public.

Otherwise I have found my experience with Youpic to be a positive and enjoyable experience that I intend to continue with.