Saturday, January 13, 2007

Not Flockin' Bad...

Flock for Mac: start page (the default search engine is Yahoo!)

The other day I was looking for updates for the Flickr Uploadr and found this; a new browser with a hostage-to-fortune-name and built-in photo uploading features. Based around the notion of making all sorts of blogging, sharing and community activities more streamlined, it seems to be built around the same open-source core as Firefox and Safari. Flock therefore has a load of familiar features including tabbed browsing and web searches from the toolbar (though it seems to favour Yahoo! over Google). The word-processor style blogging tool interface is identical to the one in Firefox.

Uploading photos to Flickr using Flock's built-in uploader
(also works with Photobucket)

The stuff that interested me was the photo uploader and "photo-bar". The uploader will work with Flickr and Photobucket; you just drop photos from your hard drive into the uploader window, after which you can re-title, add captions and tags just like the Flickr Uploadr; once you click "upload" you get a second window offering the chance to add them to an existing set or create a new one*. You can re-order the photos in the list before uploading, a feature not offered by the Mac Flickr Uploadr. When I first tried Flock, I couldn't find a way of adding batch tags, but as of the Flock 0.7.12 update, I can add batch tags by selecting multiple photos in the ulpoader. Whether this is a new feature, or whether I just missed it the first time, I can't be certain.

*this is with Flickr; I don't have a Photobucket account.

Drag-and-drop photos from the photo-bar into blog comments
(on some sites you see the photos, in others you get the html)

Once photos are uploaded, they'll appear in the Flock photo-bar, along with everything else in your Flickr stream; you can then drag and drop the images into blog posts or comments. When you click on a photo thumbnail, three tiny icons appear, allowing you to pick whether you want to add a pic in Flickr's preset small or large sizes. If you want the photo in a different size, you can add a sizing instruction to the html tag (height="xxx" width="xxx" where "xxx" is the number of pixels) - the photo below is a Flickr large image that was scaled down to fit this blog's column width.

Flickr large image dragged and dropped from photo-bar,
then scaled down to fit Blogger column width

Flock impresses me enough that I've started using it regularly, though more as a substitute for Flickr Uploadr than Firefox. The usefulness of the photo-bar means it's taking over for blogging, but for general browsing it's so similar to Firefox that there's no point in swapping over, especially as I have all sorts of extensions installed which might or might not work with Flock assuming I knew how to import them and could be bothered doing it.

  • Firefox-like interface and functions make it easy to get started
  • Runs smoothly
  • Photo upload from inside application
  • You can change order of photos in uploader
  • Supports batch tags
  • Photo-bar very handy

  • Yahoo! search engine

Available from and well worth a go. Like Firefox, it does take ages to self-configure when you first install it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No Added Colours Or Preservatives

Stormy Sky 1

Edinburgh Central Library from Candlemaker Row
Nikon D50 & 28mm f2.8 lens

Sometimes things just fall into your lap - I spotted this terrific sky on the way back from the shops yesterday. One of the few times I've uploaded shots to Flickr without any colour or contrast correction (though I did straighten the verticals and add a bit of sharpening).

Stormy Sky 2

Towards the Grassmarket from Candlemaker Row
Nikon D50 & 28mm f2.8 lens

Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's The Little Things That Count

New Dalek

Tough on Thals, tough on the causes of Thals
Ganon G3 plus adaptor and +4 close up lens, macro mode, f5.6 @ 1/8thsec

After covetously eyeing macro lenses for my D50 on the web, it occurred to me it would be a better idea to rescue my old Canon G3 compact from the loft, since it has a decent macro mode on it (especially when coupled with the lens adaptor and a +4 close up lens.)

This effort's a wee bit blurry, due mostly to my enthusiasm for a new idea leading me to try and handhold a macro shot at 1/8th sec. (never a good idea). The "new idea" was to try using the visualiser on my copy of iTunes as a back projection for my new toy Dalek. The effect worked pretty well, but the need to balance light sources meant that I couldn't use optimum brightness for the toy Dalek without bleaching out the LCD screen behind (you can see some slight light spill at the edges of the frame).
If I had it to do again, I'd shoot the Dalek against a green screen, record the iTunes pattern separately, and composite them in Photoshop. In the time it took me to get this, I could have had a choice of Dalek poses against a variety of backgrounds. Perhaps I'll come back to it.