The End of Flickr?

I have been using Flickr for six years, I am a fan! Thanks to its community I have learned a lot about photography. However since a year or two ago I have been noticing how the activity on Flickr has been decreasing. Users are leaving and using other services. It is not something surprising because its development has been completely stagnant; they have failed at developing smartphone apps and at giving the website a more socialmedia-timeline look. It is something I struggle to understand, Flickr was the last hope that Yahoo had to compete as a social network and they are letting it die.

  • In 2007-2008 Flickr was one of the few options available for users that simply wanted to upload “casual photos”. Right now they are using Instagram, Twitter, Hipstamatic or Facebook, where they can have a lot more feedback and an immediate conversation with their social graph. Almost all casual users of Flickr have been inactive during several months, they have forgotten it exists.
  • In 2007-2008, for more professional users Flickr was also one of the few options available. Now they are starting so use other services like Google+ where they can upload BEAUTIFUL galleries or also 500px where you can set up a minisite with your portfolio

In conclusion: within the current social network ecosystem Flickr has stopped being necessary for both casual as well as for professional photographers. I have the feeling that right now we are using Flickr only photographers not really casual but not really professional that paid for their PRO account and we are still using it out of habit.

Before, I was using my Flickr account for almost EVERYTHING: for hosting images of my blog, for personal photos, for artistic photos, for funny pictures, etc. Now for personal photos I use Facebook and Google+, and for more artistic photos I still use Flickr but Google+ as well. For the last 3 months I have been using 500px to see if I find it useful or not.

However, something that still nobody can do better than Flickr is search! My Flickr account is something indespensable when I need a specific photo for a blog post or for my next book; for example if I need photos of toriis&#8230.
Where do you upload your photos? What is your experience with Flickr during the last few years? Any recommendations?

9

Kenrokuen Garden – 兼六園

At the beginning of this year I had the opportunity to visit Kanazawa for the first time. Kanazawa is a city located in the Sea of Japan coast and it is a quite popular tourist destination but considerably less visited than other places like Kyoto or Hiroshima because it can’t be reached by bullet train. From Tokyo it takes between 5 and 6 hours to arrive to Kanazawa, half of the distance in Shinkansen and the rest in a normal train. Even though it is far and it was much colder than Tokyo, it was totally worth it!

Before going to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art where we could go inside the fake pool, on the morning we visited Kenrokuen garden (兼六園). It is one of the “Three most important-beautiful-famous gardens in Japan” (日本三名園) according to the Japanese government, the other two being Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito.

The name of the garden “Kenrokuen (兼六園)” could be literally translated as “the garden of the 6 characteristics” and it refers to 6 aspects considered to be important when designing a garden: serenity/isolation, old atmosphere/respect to ancestors, beautiful views from almost every spot, refreshing (it should have water flows), attention to detail, and spacious.

These are my impressions regarding the six different aspects during my visit to the garden:

  • Serenity/isolation: even though it is located in the center of the city, while strolling around the garden you feel like you are in a distant and calm place just after entering the garden. You can’t hear the traffic noise and you can only hear the murmur of the water.
  • Old atmosphere/respect to ancestors: construction started in the 17th century and after several expansions it reached its present state at the end of the 18th century. It is connected to the Kanazawa castle, in the park you can find several tea houses and the oldest artificial fountain in Japan can be found still working in the garden.
  • The oldest fountain in Japan. 金沢
    Supposedly this is the oldest fountain in Japan.

  • Beautiful views from almost every spot: you can get beautiful pictures from almost every place in Kenrokuen but there are popular spots to take the best photos. This one is considered the most beautiful view of the garden next to Kasumigaeki lake:
  •  Kasumigaeki lake 金沢
    The tourou on the right is famous because it only has two legs. They normally have three.

  • Refreshing (it should have water flows): it has two main lakes, several water streams that connect them both and a waterfall. I guess in Summer it will be refreshing :)
  • Kenrokuen gardens. 金沢

  • Spacious: all walking paths within the park are wide and the areas with trees are very spacious. Moreover, as the two lakes are on a different level, you have the sensation that the park is bigger than it really is. When you have walked all over the park it seems like you have been to many different places, you have gotten lost and then you realize that you are back at the entrance of the park.
  • Attention to detail: the girl that served us tea in one of the rest houses told us that all trees and bushes that we were seeing through the window had been carefully chosen according to their size, proportions, color of the flowers, etc in order to create a unique landscape depending on the season.

Each different season the garden stands out for something in particular. In winter what grabs your attention are the ropes and bamboo canes arrangements called Yukitsuri (雪つり) that are used when it snows to hold the tree branches and maintain the trees in the same shape.

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Trees protected with Yukitsuri (雪つり)

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You can see in this picture how the bamboo canes are used

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Same for small trees.

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If you visit the garden make sure to visit one of the tea houses (Shiguretei is the most beautiful) where you can have an excellent matcha for 500 yen.

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Detailed map of Kanazawa castle and Kenroku-en and website of the Ishikawa government

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CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012

Last Saturday my friends CaDs, Lapastillaroja and I decided to go to the CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012 to be able to have the privilege to see for the first time, as a world exclusive, the Nikon D800. When we arrived we went directly to the Nikon booth and after almost one hour lining up….

CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012

CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012

Nikon D800 - CP+ CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012

Yes! we also visited Canon’s booth! It was the largest booth at the show along with Nikon’s booth. The main Canon novelty were the LEGRIA video cameras that showed the visitors a girl dressed in a miniskirt playing tennis.

CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

Injet printer by Canon. CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012
A new inkjet printer by Canon!

Canon and Nikon had the largest booths, however Sony and Olympus also had a large presence at the show.

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
Sony’s booth was full of beautiful models

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
Olympus’ star product!

We walked around the rest of the show. Tamron, Sigma, Casio and Fujifilm booths were also quite big. There were also many other companies, from tripod manufacturers to complex lab equipment brands that for example were showing products to test the proper operation of cameras (image stabilizing testing, etc)

CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2012
I wanted to try it, but after seeing the huge line I bailed out!

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
According to this… 5 times faster!

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
This Casio camera has a function to help you correct your swing!

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
A seminar to learn how to use the Nikon 1… you can clearly see the target user of this camera ;)

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
Casio girls had an iPad hanging on their neck

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
Antonio trying a Hasselblad with a zillion megapixels

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
Carlos checking Tamron lenses.

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012
Snipers equipped with Sigma!

And where there are cameras and geeks… there’s also lots of models to photograph!

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

CP+ CAMERA & PHOTO IMAGING SHOW 2012

2

Covering your body in clothespins to obtain 1,000 retweets

The president of the small Japanese web development company Omocoro challenged one of his employees Mr. Sebuyama to obtain more than 1,000 retweets with his personal Twitter account of 2,000 followers. He just put two conditions: he couldn’t tell his followers that it was an experiment and he couldn’t go home until he obtained 1,000 retweets. The purpose of the experiment was to try to understand better the Twitter ecosystem and to know what kind of tweets are able to obtain more retweets.

Sebuyama on Twitter
Sebuyama starting the experiment.

Sebuyama spent the night at the office experimenting with different tweets and seeing how his followers reacted. One of the tweets that had more retweets (around 50) simply asked his followers to retweet it. After several hours he even uploaded some photos of him naked that barely obtained two or three retweets… it seems like nobody wants to retweet pictures of naked men.

The tweet that changed everything was this one:

For each retweet I will stick a clothespin to my body and I will post a picture.

He felt asleep and after some hours he had 1,815 retweets!

Sebuyama Twitter clothespins

Everybody wanted to see @sebuyama covered in clothespins! More than Twitter, the Internet, new technologies and so on, what he really had to understand was the human psychology. Nobody wanted to see Sebuyama naked, but people wanted to see him naked and covered in clothespins! Why? Are we naturally attracted to see people humilliated in a funny way?

Sebuyama

Sebuyama

Sebuyama

Sebuyama could finally go home and wrote a report explaining to his boss how he had been able to obtain so many retweets (in Japanese, includes pictures of Sebuyama naked).

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Ginnan – 銀杏

Shortly after arriving to Japan for the first time I went one day to Shibuya to have dinner and I ate this:

Ginnan

My Japanese friends told me that they were Ginnan, a fruit of the Ichou 銀杏 tree, known in the west as ginkgo biloba. I had never heard anything about this, so I was curious to know more. They explained me that the first kanji means “Silver” and the second “Apricot”. The tree is originary from China and it is very special because it doesn’t have any close living relatives. In Japan and China you can usually see ginkgos in parks and streets.

In Europe it’s not easy to find ginnan in supermarkets. However many products and medicines have gingko extract as an ingredient. It turns out it has many interesting properties, for example it is good for blood circulation and it has a lot of antioxidants. If you look at the ingredients of energy drinks or vitamin supplements you might find it contains some kind of ginkgo extract.

In addition to eating raw ginnan, there are also many recipes that use it, for example chawanmushi which is made mainly of egg and ginnan.

Ginnan
Chawanmushi, one of the main ingredients are ginnan (ginkgo seeds).

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11 Months Later

It’s already been 11 months since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis (which still hasn’t ended) in the Tohoku region. The following pictures show the advances achieved in the reconstruction efforts.

This first picture was at the moment one of the most dramatic and it quickly spread all around the world. Photographer Yukio Sugimoto came back to the same place and this time he could take a photo of the same woman smiling with her five year old son.

Tohoku
You can appreciate that it is exactly the same place. Notice the traffic lights and the trees in the background.

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Tohoku

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Tohoku

Source: NationalPost, via @aasiain.

8

Kites in Enoshima

I have been a few times to Enoshima, a wonderful place which makes a perfect one day trip from Tokyo. The first time I went there I was surprised, and at the same time a little bit scared, by the amount of kites that were flying very close to our heads.

Kites in Enoshima

Enoshima kites

It seems like these birds of prey are very common in Enoshima and they cause some problems. This is one of the signs that warns about them.

Kites in Enoshima

The sign explains that kites have a sharp eyesight, they can see the food that you are holding in your hand and they can attack you from behind. The sign advises you to wear a cap or a hat and to use an umbrella if you are lying down at the beach.

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