Thumbnails for explore

The Instagram algorithm is often blamed for not giving your photographs sufficient exposure. In reality it is how you engage with Instagram that brings success. I find the Flickr algorithm just as fascinating. This year I have had three pictures “In Explore” compared to the same number for all of 2020. All algorithms require you to constantly interact with your social media feeds. Flickr Explore is no different. In Instagram, the algorithm relies on several easily identifiable factors. Searching the web will immediately provide tips on how to improve your Instagram likes. They are not rocket science and are generally in relation to timing of posts and the interest in your photograph. Of course this is social media and the secret is keeping your audience happy with liking and commenting on their pictures as well. That is not a secret I hear you say! The Flickr Algorithm is just the same and it is about interacting with the people who are posting the photographs. They term the algorithm interestingness and on many occasions it is not necessarily a great photograph that gets into explore. However taking good photographs does help to get your photograph noticed in the first place. Amassing a large number of likes is so intoxicating and being on Explore is a popularity contest. I find that with the Flickr app my phone starts flashing first thing in the morning and then continues during the day with all the likes tumbling in. It is not uncommon to receive in excess of 40k likes for a highly placed picture in the Flickr top 500 of the day.

20210124-Snow on the canal

The three photographs featured here received around 4k in likes plus invites into different groups. Someone told me that Flickr is dead in the water. I tend to disagree as when a picture gets into explore it feels like the site is truly alive and kicking. The three pictures featured offer nothing different to my other photographs on my Flickr feed but each has its own story. The first one featured this year is a canal boat in the snow and is a particular favourite of mine. I deliberately took the picture side on and wanted to layer it so that the lower third featured the boat and then the eyes move upwards to see the snow covered trees. It provides that snowed in feeling and it also looks very cold. The question is whether there are people living in the boat and are they feeling the cold as well? There is a sense of isolation. This picture was taken during Lockdown #3 so isolation is very much on the viewer’s mind.

20210208_Knowle Park in the winter

The second picture was in Knowle park. The back story was that there have been many dull days during this third lockdown and on this particular evening I was desperate to get a great sunset. Early in the afternoon, it looked promising when I set out and then when I reached the park the clouds closed over. I was so annoyed and started to make my way back home. Suddenly and to my joy, the clouds parted once again for around a minute. I saw a walker and aimed to catch him in the image but by the time I had lined him up he was far to the right of the picture. When I got home I was still not impressed with the photograph so I went to work with the sliders. I was a bit slap dash in my approach although it did look pleasing to me. The Flickr algorithm picked it up and the likes and comments followed.

20210303 – Clowes wood

Once you have been on Explore you cannot get back on for around 9 days. If you are in favour with the algorithm then after this time you can anticipate when the next selection is about to occur. I had a large spike in likes for one picture but no explore and then two days later this woodland scene went into explore. I took the picture in Clowes Wood near Earlswood reservoir. All the trees in this part of the wood were straight and in the foreground there was this one crooked tree. It had eventually found out how to be straight when placed against its siblings in the background. Again I played around with the photograph in post production and whilst it was misty, the fog was not that evident. I went for a Silver Efex Pro 2 filter and used the Hi Key feature. It looked good so I posted it on Flickr – once again there was a great response to the picture.

Clowes Wood in Black and White

I have done a colour version and for this one I used the Skylum AI filters which also gave a nice effect. You can judge for yourself which you feel makes the better picture.

Many people now look down on Flickr and have drifted off to Instagram but the SmugMug team have updated the Flickr algorithm and made it more relevant to present photography users. Therefore I would advise, people to give Flickr another chance.

I will leave a discussion on the Instagram algorithm for another blog as it is slightly different approach but again the key as with Flickr is interacting with your audience.

So you want to know more!
Here are the Flickr Explore links
Flickr Explore which is the official link for the top 500 photos of the day
– Although I do like the Fluidr display which is retro and cool
Here are all my pictures that are in Explore

Some previous posts on my activity on Explore
– In Explore from 2019
“In Explore” from 2017 (I have been blogging for some time!)

Finally if you want to get yourself noticed on Flickr then have a read of this article by Jeff Sullivan

My take on Instagram will feature soon!

Red post and telephone box in the snow

It snowed! Furthermore, we had several centimetres of the white stuff. I missed the beautiful sunrise as the weather front came across the region. For a time it looked like the sky was on fire and it only lasted around 10 to 15 minutes. However that was only a prelude to what was to fall from the sky. It snowed most of the morning and the decision was to plan my walk whilst it was snowing. Also getting out earlier meant that I missed the crowds in the park. The village looked beautiful in the snow and one of my favourite places to take pictures is Knowle High Street. The red letter box and the old telephone box are bright red. They make a great contrast with the white snow.

Knowle High Street in the Snow
Knowle High Street in the Snow
The high street in the snow
The high street in the snow
Knowle Church in the snow
Knowle Church in the snow
Snowman with a facemask
Snowman with a facemask

Heading up the street, there was a snowman outside the One-stop convenience shop. The shop assistant had made the snowman just outside the entrance. She was putting on a face mask for the snowman but it could not cover the carrot nose :). Knowle church looked wonderful in the snow and then it was down Kixley Lane to the canal.

Gate in the snow on Kixley Lane
Gate in the snow on Kixley Lane
Kixley Lane Canal Bridge
Kixley Lane Canal Bridge

The water was frozen and the branches of the trees were white and made for some great photography. I walked up the canal to Knowle locks to take pictures of the area. The boats were covered with snow that had blown onto their sides giving a rippled look to them. The contrast with the trees gave them an ethereal look.

Canal boat with snowy trees behind it.
Canal boat with snowy trees behind it.
Trees along the canal in the snow
Trees along the canal in the snow
Knowle locks in the snow
Knowle locks in the snow
Overlooking the canal in the snow
Overlooking the canal in the snow

I lingered around the locks for a while and then traced my steps back through the village making my way back home through the park. By now it was 12 o’clock and the place was full of snowmen and people enjoying themselves 🙂

Knowle park in the snow
Knowle park in the snow

Photographic tipFor snow I put my camera on manual and checked the exposure dial to ensure that the snow did not overwhelm the sensor. I shot the pictures in RAW so that I could play with the sliders in Lightroom and PSP. I was able to reduce the blue colour but made sure it was not to yellow either. My camera was weather proofed so that it braved the snow and water with no ill effects. A very enjoyable walk and the photographic experience of shooting in the snow was enjoyable.

Other snow links
Take a look at my last post on the Snow in Knowle back in 2017
Remember the week of the beast from 2018?

Snow Photography
Here are some tips if you are interested in learning more

Finally you can always come and Visit Knowle to see a beautiful English Village at its best.

A cold week for the UK in general.  Personally, I picked up a bad cold which coincided with the onset of very cold weather. Keeping motivation at work was the main priority. Initially the week started with clear skies and cold nights.  There were some lovely sunsets and exciting sunrises but then the cold and grey set in.  The snow showers were insistent and the final part of the week was snow and cold weather.  It is at this time that you also find that there are many other very good photographers.  I enjoy watching the television or reading the papers and seeing some of the pictures that people have taken around the country.  

It is the start of spring and it is difficult that we have such bitter cold weather to contend with.  Hopefully in the coming weeks, the cold weather will be largely forgotten and we will be able to enjoy the start of spring.  I did manage a few pictures that will serve as a reminder of the week for me.

The Beast is coming

A lone figure in the Birmingham Markets

A cold entrance to Selfridges

Spring is trying to break through

One of the most photographic structures near me is the Windmill at Chesterton.  I had visited it for the first time earlier in the year and I wished to plan another trip where I could have my tripod with me.  I contacted a good friend of mine, John Bray, and we planned the visit between Christmas and the New Year.  To really appreciate the Windmill you need to have good weather especially if you are looking for a memorable sunset.  As luck would have it not only did we pick a good afternoon, it had snowed the night before which gave an added plus factor to the photographic outing.  John and I spent an hour and half at the windmill taking photographs as the sun slowly left the sky.

Many people gathered for the sunset

A lone sail against the sunset

Starburst against the Windmill

The sunset was a good one and there were lots of opportunities for pictures.  Even the moon got into the act.  The temperature dropped and whilst it was cold there was little wind.  We took lots of pictures and soon it was time to leave as the sunset was nearly finished.  Just as we were walking away John turned around and said look at that view.  It is the old saying always look behind you when you are walking away from the picture.  John is really quick on getting his pictures out on social media and they were excellent producing much reaction.  Here are my views of Chesterton windmill on a cold yet ultimately rewarding photographic session.

A high key view

Afternoon light on the snow

Light through the centre

Shadows of the sails on the Windmill

Looking towards the Sun


The sentinel looks towards the sun

Another moon shot

The end of the day

Two figures walking towards the Windmill


John’s Photographs are on his Flickr account.

It snowed.  Also it was very considerate that it snowed on a Sunday morning as well.  It was a heavy downpour and I donned many layers before I set off for a journey through Knowle Village.  There were many people in the park and activities ranged from sledging to snowball fights.  There were very few cars around and several had been left on the side of the roads.  Even with my polariser lens filter, snow is very difficult to photograph.  My favourite picture was of the red letterbox and mailbox.  They have been in Knowle High Street for a very long time and were there when I arrived.  Hope you like the pictures and it is starting to look a lot like Christmas now.


Outdoor play

Tree shapes

More Trees

The Snow turns to Slush

Knowle Church

Red boxes

Detail in the snow

Snowy hedge

Cracks in the Pond

Spot the man in yellow