Flickr

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated May 13, 2017

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Before you can learn to photograph well you have to know what is good, to learn to look.

Flickr is a great free research tool to help you with extreme macro photography, giving you invaluable insights into techniques, locations and compositions, but is also a great place for friendships. Lastly, don't we all need a motivation boost once in a while? The feedback at Flickr has sometimes kept me going when I thought I'd had enough. I wouldn't be without it.

Flickr for Techniques

Flickr

Flickr, an amazing source of inspiration and friendship.

Flickr has a lot of good insect photographers and groups specialising in insect photography, for example insect studio stacks and field studio stacks. These are both moderated groups.

Everyone likes to have a popular photo and some of the worlds best extreme macro photographers show their work off on Flickr. There's a wealth of technical information in the descriptions, and even more if you learn to read the EXIF information and look at the tags they use.

For extreme macro there are a couple of really high standard moderated Flickr groups, and if you're serious about learning extreme macro then they should be one of your first stops to get an idea of what works and what doesn't, what to use and what not to use.

The Flickr groups in question are insect studio stacks and field studio stacks. These are both moderated groups and only the highest standard images are accepted.

Flickr for Locations

Flickstackr

FlickStackr, an excellent ipad app to organise your image research on Flickr. Use the stack functionality to keep searches and cache into stacks for offline research.

It's a beautiful spring day and you know that the dragonflies will be out in force next weekend. But how do you know where to look and what to look for? Flickr's map functionality to the rescue. On a PC you can zoom into a geographical area and type in the keyword search dragonfly. This will show you the geotagged photos also tagged with dragonfly taken in your chosen area - a great way to find out where some of the dragonfly hotspots are near you. or alternatively, look for the right habitat, for example streams and ponds near me within driving distance. I use this tool all the time. Note it is a bit buggy but the principle is navigate to a chosen area (ie I live here) then use the 'search the map' button to search for a subject. The 'link to this map' link does not always work. But what about time of year? Again, using Flickr, look at the dates on the photos of your target subject. If 90% of your chosen subject is taken in June then it's more than likely that you'll want to set aside June for that subject and get prepared for it by buying in the necessary equipment well ahead of time.

Flickr for Compositions

But how do you know where to look and what to look for? Flickr's map functionality to the rescue. On a PC you can zoom into a geographical area and type in the keyword search dragonfly.

One of the questions I always find me asking myself is whether or not a certain composition or colour combination will work. For example a largely green bug against say a yellow background. The way I deal with this is by going through extreme macro images on Flickr, both good and bad, and using an iPad tool, FlickStackr, to organise images into 'stacks' of images (user-selected groups). So for example I have a green background group, a yellow background group, a headon group... etc etc. Between the 30 or so stacks that I now have I have a very good idea of whether a pose or colour combination of lighting style or insect will actually work as a finished image before setting off. A great time saver for me.

Flickr for Friendships

The extreme macro crowd is quite a small specialist crowd, and at the end of the day we all face the same problems and challenges. Although there is healthy rivalry between people to get exposure for your stuff, there is also a great deal of help that passes between us folk with similar interests, and it's a nice thing to see your friends doing well. It's very nice to be able to ping off a mail to some of the top people in the field for advice, something I do regularly and I also give regularly.

Flickr for Motivation

It's awfully nice to wake up in the morning and find that the pic you submitted late last night is on the front page of Flickr, racking up 10,000 views during the day. This has happened to me a few times and it keeps you going when you think your own work is useless, as we all inevitably do periodically!

Flickr for Equipment

Worth mentioning, if you consider buying a certain lens or piece of equipment, do a search through Flickr for the equipment. It'll give you a reasonable idea if it's up to the job you're proposing it for, and what other people interested in photography make of it.

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