Tag Archives: Beijing

SEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

Flickr Tags and KeywordsSEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

This is something I have been meaning to post for a very long time, but one of the issues that so many of my photographer friends have is not tagging their pictures. Or if they do tag, they are all over the map thinking that a ton of tags are what is going to drive the picture views. If you are using more than 20 tags on your images you are typing too much. Really what you want to do is work out a plan for how you want to tag, keeping in mind the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr will cross over to Deviant Art and 500PX. They should work on instagram but that is a different audience and I don’t really do instagram. They will work on Tumblr, but Tumblr is pretty much so fragmented into communities. So you are going to want to use community specific tags over there for your pictures.

For this article though I am just going to go over the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr. They are the two major warehouses for images, used by people all over the world, and store hundreds of terabytes of data that people are going to be looking through. There are millions of pictures uploaded to both services every day, so you need to be smart about tagging to cut through all the noise. The good part is that Smugmug and Flickr both make it easy to find what people are looking for on their sites, and gives you a lot of information about popular keywords.

Smugmug – Surprise, Smugmug only indexes the first 30 keywords and tags, if you added more than that, Smugmug is going to totally ignore them. Smugmug also has a great page of recommendations here, but the real heart and soul of the system is Smugmug’s own search page. The Keyword cloud is one way of finding out what people are searching for on the Smugmug site. It looks like this, and is really hard to find with the redesign. You can find your own keyword cloud at yoursite.smugmug.com/keywords/ but they might not be what people are really looking for.

Smugmug Keywords and Tags

This is where Flickr comes to the rescue with their own keyword cloud right here. You can see three sets on Flickr, last 24 hours, last week, or all time. I usually use the all time keywords as they are somewhat the same across both Smugmug and Flickr for tagging your pictures with the right keywords. This does not mean that you will suddenly get millions of picture views a day, but it does help Google, Bing and Yahoo find your stuff better. It also helps people who search internally to the picture warehouses find your stuff better as well.

From a user perspective, you want to try to use the same keywords on both sites, and Flickr’s cloud is pretty similar to Smugmug’s hard to find hide and seek keyword cloud. Adding keywords is one of the only ways that a search engine is going to know what your picture is, and what it is about. Remember though, Flickr has the same kind of cut off for keywords, if you are keyword stuffing then you pretty much so are working too hard.

Use the right keywords for your photo or video. If it is not about California, then don’t include it, if it is about Hawaii then use the keyword Hawaii and if traveling use the keyword travel. For example when I am in Beijing every summer I always come back with thousands of pictures. I break each set into their own location, like the Forbidden City, add the year, and then add china, Beijing, travel, and other key words to describe the area I am in.

It is always important to use keywords wisely. Google and other search engines are onto keyword stuffing and other techniques to try to gain page views. Most of your searches especially on Flickr are going to come from other Flickr users. Smugmug is about 50% internal and 50% external users for search. Keywords are the way to have people find your images.

 

 

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The Forbidden City at Nighttime Beijing China

The Forbidden City at Nighttime Beijing ChinaThe Forbidden City at Nighttime Beijing China

Sometimes you really just need to stay up late, and as part of taking pictures of the super moon over Behai Park, I was right down by the Forbidden City by the end of that particular shoot with Beijing Photo Walks. The Forbidden City is just one of those places you don’t really care if it got rebuilt after the Cultural Revolution or not, it has a special place in the world as one of the largest imperial family complexes in the world. At night time it is pretty darn safe, without all the people trying to sell you stuff as you walk out of the tour, or even just walk by. The nice part is that there were many photographers out that night trying to get the super moon over the Forbidden City pictures. The number of people out and about on a Sunday night was pretty impressive because you maybe had about 40 minutes from the time the moon rose to the time it was obscured by the smog clouds over the city.

The Forbidden City was closed so you are stuck outside the walls trying to get the good shots on the north side of the complex. The north side is the best for nighttime shoots because of the moat, and the lighting provided by the neon and the spotlights provided by the controllers of the area. The lighting is good enough that you can hand hold the camera unless you are doing long exposure. Most people can hold the camera steady at about 1/30th of a second shutter speed.

I shot these at 3200 ASA, Full Auto, ranging from 1/30th to 1/60th of a second shutter speed, and F Stop ranging from 3.5 to 4.0. The thing that made this the best was all the extra lighting from the neon and from the street lights and beacons in the area. You can see some of the spotlight beacons in some of the pictures from the south side of the Forbidden City in some of the pictures as an added smear of light in the otherwise dark sky.

The good part is that this is a totally easy photo shoot to do, it is safe on the streets, and there are going to be a lot of people around doing the same thing. Taking nighttime pictures of the Forbidden City is something that a lot of people do, and a good way to stretch your skills as you learn more about your camera and how to work it in low light settings. If you are ever in Beijing, take Subway Number 1 to Tiananmen East, get out, head towards the Forbidden City and start taking a walk north. You will see some other awesome sights along the way. If you have time, stop by the night time market and take pictures of the street vendors while you are on the way over if you get off at the Wangfugin Stop on Subway 1, and then walk north and west to get to the Forbidden City.

 

 

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Bell and Drum Towers in Beijing China

Bell and Drum Towers in Beijing ChinaBell and Drum Towers in Beijing China

You want to take Subway Line 6 to get there directly, but if you don’t mind a little walk, take Subway Line 2, and you will get to walk along a couple of really nice lakes right in the heart of Beijing. People fish for critters in the lakes, although I would not eat anything from an urban lake no matter where it is. Like all places in Beijing, the two lakes, The Quanhai Sea and then North of that along Gulou West Street are really quite the treat for a nice long multi-kilometer hike through Beijing. If you take Houhai Alley you can end up at some of the less visited places and monuments like the Former Residence of Soong Ching Ling (no English language support but interesting) the turn into the Xaioshibei Hutong for some awesome shops before hitting the Drum and Bell towers. If you are really intrepid and want to walk all the way down to Jingshan Park, walk directly south of the Drum Tower down Di’anmen Inner Street and take a left when you get to the park. Going left you get to avoid all the hucksters, and they were really aggressive when I was there.

In all it is a beautiful walk, but long, plan on walking about three miles in total if you are doing the scenic route long walk. There are a ton of rickshaw drivers and electric scooter drivers, all I can tell you is be very careful and avoid them. They will rip you off and they are a classic Beijing scam talked about on Lonely Planet and other travel sites. They were still active as of June 2013, and will probably always be there. Don’t believe a word, don’t get in the rickshaw, far far better to take a taxi, there are tons of them around.

This photo set takes in both towers and the long walk down to the north entrance to the Forbidden City. Unfortunately the pollution levels were in the 250 to 320 range during the day, and walking around with a mask, and the heat was a pain. There is a lot of good food on Di’anmen Inner Street, from the ever present KFC and McDonalds, to some of the more traditional Chinese fare so you won’t go hungry. Lots of mom and pop stands as well to pick up water or a ice cream to help keep your core body temperature down.  In all this was a really fun walk to do, I hope you enjoy the pictures. Feel free to make comments or offer suggestions on other cool places to go in Beijing.

Bell and Drum Towers in Beijing China

 

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RawArtists Seattle September 2013 You are Invited

RawArtists Seattle September 2013 You are Invited

RawArtists Seattle September 2013 You are Invited

Huzzah it is my first showing in many many years, I got invited to RAW Seattle to show off the stuff I like the most. I’ll post ticket information when I have all the data to get it to you. I have been trolling my pictures to see which ones the public has liked the most and using that as a way to determine what non-nude pictures I can use. Racy is cool, but I think in going through their web site that nude/semi-nude is not on the buffet for this one. Not that I mind, I have some awesome non-nude pictures  and have been building up the list of interesting things to show off from the collection of 50,000 thousand pictures that I keep on line, winnowing them down to 25 or so that I really love, and the audience loves has been a challenge.

Overall though this one should be interesting to approach. We will be going to the one on the 27th of July at the Trinity Night Club to check it out and see what the show is all about. I’ll take some pictures to see what others are doing and what the standards are going to be like. If anyone knows what passes for cocktail dress now a days please let me know, I have no clue. I am more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of person, heck we are lucky if I am wearing pants some times.

I do think that this will be a lot of fun either way to see what the process looks like, the last time I was at a gallery show was in the 1980’s. I am sure that gallery shows have changed since then, and getting inside the Trinity is just going to be a lot of fun in the longer run. The club is wonderful, and a pretty cool place to hang out. I like the idea that this is a multi-modal show, fashion, art, music, everything, kitchen sink. That should keep things all the more interesting as they go through the process of finding people to show stuff off and add to the collection of artists that they are supporting by offering them an audience, a space, and time to get to know others in the community.

If photographers are not doing their best social media, it is really super important that you do so. The only reason I think these folks found me is that I am posting a lot, and that is what keeps this all interesting, and fresh in people’s minds. Hope to see you there, it should be a riot. September 28th, hope to see you there.

 

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Grid Girls at Evergreen Speedway Set One

Grid Girls at Evergreen Speedway Set One
Grid Girls at Evergreen Speedway Set One

Grid Girls at Evergreen Speedway Set One

Sometimes you just hit it right on all the numbers, and a good friend of mine over at Femme Photo LTD was doing a race track shoot over at Evergreen Speedway. Femme Photo LTD is one of the cooler groups to work with for both learning models and learning photographers. It gives everyone a good chance to learn, grow, and get better at what we are wanting to do with our lives. If you are in the Seattle area, you really should check them out.

I was working with Model Madison along with one of my favorite photographers Chris for one segment of the photo shoot. Chris is great for posing people, which is one of my hardest things to do with a model. While Chris ran the poses, I was able to ride side saddle with him and get some amazing shots of Madison as a Grid Girl. Yes this is a black SS and a black bikini, along with some amazing clouds off in the distance, which reminds me of the idea that there is a storm coming. The way the model is posed and the framing of the clouds, the car, and the rest of it just adds to the idea that yes indeed there is a storm coming. Riding a SS, and dressed to kill.

This shot was done in natural light, with the camera set to 100 ASA, Aperture Priority on my Nikon D5100. We were also using a reflector using the Gold side to help capture what little sun there was involved with the photo shoot. It was nice to see the highlights show up by using natural light and adding some extra color to the skin tones by using the gold reflector. I have one of those 5 in 1 42 inch reflectors that works wonderfully in light where it is variable, and I want to add color, or just add neutral light by using the white side.

Overall I think this set turned out really nicely, and displays some attitude to go along with what we were trying to do. I learned a lot along the way especially with lighting and how to manage getting the expressions that you really do want to get while posing someone. I think that for beginning and even intermediate model photographers, posing ends up being one of the hardest things to do. We generally don’t like to “boss someone around”, but to get the shot you want, sometimes you have to, and when you do you might just end up with something very cool.

Grid Girls at Evergreen Speedway Set One

 

 

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798 Arts District Beijing China June 2013

798 Arts District Beijing China June 2013
798 Arts District Beijing China June 2013

798 Arts District Beijing China June 2013

798 is changing, so much of it was missing from my 2012 trip that it was very sad to see what is happening to what is singlehandedly the most amazing place in China if you love modern art. In so many ways Beijing can be a crowded sterile city with small pockets of live amidst the high rise buildings. 798 defies everything you thought about china from the time you walk in the area, to the time you leave every sense from touch to taste (awesome food and drinks) to visual art to everything that surrounds you invades your mind and you will leave changed. 798 is a unique place in Beijing, there might be other places like it, but 798 is a legend.

The interesting part is what you can find there. Everything from all art forms are there. The wall art is the most special and amazing to me. It is simply world class, and would not be surprised to find a Banksy or other world class street artist working out of the spaces there. The other interesting part is that there is art there that can be found on the streets of Seattle. When you see a slap tag on a wall in 798 on a USPS priority mail label, you know that there is communication and sharing between Chinese slap taggers and American slap taggers. I almost fell over to see something like that, and would love to know more about how they communicate and how they share stuff happens. I would love to see some Chinese slap tags floating around Seattle.

It does look like the area is subcuming to the pressures of urbanization. Significant portions of 798 were abandoned this year. Pressure of high rises and other mass housing are everywhere in the area, and that has to be putting pressure on the galleries and artists that live and work there. I have no idea where they will go once 798 is gone, but I hope to find it when they do finish moving to their new digs. China faces incredible population pressures that Americans can only guess at. In a land that is 5000 years old, in a culture that has seen a little bit of everything, 798 manages to stand out as unique. It would be a shame if the area was eventually bulldozed for more high rise housing that few people can honestly afford. (One of my Chinese friends was telling me that it is 50,000 RMB per square meter of an apartment in a high rise, and you only own it for 50 years not forever. $8,000 roughly for those who want to do a quick conversion in your head).

798 deserves to live, but that is up to the Chinese government, and the artists that need to be there to help the community thrive. In all though, for as long as it exists, this is a vibrant and amazing place to go visit, you should soon, because it might not be there for very much longer.

798 Arts District Beijing China June 2013

 

 

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Super Moon over Behai Park in Beijing China

Super moon over Behai Park in Beijing China
Super moon over Behai Park in Beijing China

Super Moon over Behai Park in Beijing China

So I got fortunate with my last trip to China to meet up with the amazing people over at Beijing Photo Walks (check out their facebook page if you are in the area). We decided to head on over to Behai Park next to the forbidden city and coal hill to catch the super moon as it traversed the park. The good part is that the pollution was down enough to get some awesome shots of the super moon, and the park along the way. We were not the only people, there were a lot of photographers all over the park, and reaching to the east side of the forbidden city to catch this once a year event.

I took my trusty Nikon 5100, and an 18-105 lens for this, and did not use a tripod to hold the camera still. Rather used the tree or other object to brace myself when taking the pictures. I also had the camera up to ISO 3200 for this to help offset the jitter that is going to happen when you free hold the camera in low light conditions. I really wanted to get good vista pictures, pictures of the beauty of the park, and the super moon at the same time. So the moon does not look huge, nor did I do any special techniques to bring the moon closer by playing around with the F stops on this one. It was really more about catching the beautiful moon at a unique point in time to show off the beauty of Beijing China, and the super moon.

The interesting part was the number of people who were out there with every kind of camera imaginable from the cell phone camera to one intrepid person who had an 8X10 large format camera. I would dearly love to see the pictures that he was taking once they got developed, but we didn’t have a chance to swap photography cards.

I highly recommend Behai Park as a place to visit. Get off at the West Tiananmen subway and walk north from there right from the subway station. Take exit B to get on the right street. There are no people trying to sell the tourists anything, so it is a very nice walk to the park. Beijing has all these special little pockets of space to get away from people, enjoy some amazing history and grab some amazing pictures along the way.

 

 

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