Tag Archives: Forbidden City

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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Renee post apocalypse latex and gas mask

 

Renee post apocalypse latex and gas mask
Renee post apocalypse latex and gas mask

Got a little post apocalypse in my last photo shoot with Renee, and had a blast with it. We were down by the Ducati Dealership (if you want to check out the ladies on the bikes – go right here). The place we were taking pictures at was a nearly abandoned warehouse with just one company, and a lot of storage space. Tons of motor cycles, tons of vespas, and some really nice private space with heavy industrial gear, a table, and a wall of windows that had been partially painted over. You can’t get better than that if you are thinking of the zombie apocalypse, walking dead kind of story line.

For magic add Renee, a gas mask, and an awesome latex out fit and let her go for broke. She was totally awesome throughout the whole day, but this is the set I like the best. As usual the things I like the best are the ones that the pundits tend to pass on, but I am cool with that. Sometimes you just have to shoot your own space, your own ideas, and get the images you wanted to get.

I think a lot of photographers are just searching for commercial success, and taking images that they know will sell. Kids, sunsets, sun rises, nature, but there is something awesome about grit. Grit, dirt, the dark places we inhabit, also need to be explored. Subcultures are beautiful, and I am so profiting by the time I am spending learning from Patrick Andraste that this is getting to be more of the kind of photography I want to do. There is something awesome here, awesome in a beginners kind of way.

While I will be spending the next two months doing event photography over at Emerald City Comic Con, The Steampunk Ball, Sakuracon, Norwest Con, and other places, I need to revisit this style. In the mean time – enjoy Renee post apocalypse latex and gas mask.

 

Renee post apocalypse latex and gas mask

 

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798 Beijing China the Arts District

 

798 Beijing China the Arts District
798 Beijing China the Arts District Studio Space

If you ever get the chance to go to China, you have to visit 798. It is one of the most interesting places in modern China that any visitor can go see, because it is a community that has taken over an old munitions complex and turned it into an artists’ colony. This was the first place I really visited outside of the former Olympic Sports Complex, and it is well worth the taxi ride to get over there. It was literally across town, and a metropolis of 22 million people is pretty darn huge to cross. Taxi’s though a cheap and easy to find all you have to do is say 798 and most taxi drivers will know how to get you there. It was almost 40 RMB to get there or something like 6 or 7 dollars in total. The buses are hard to navigate; it is easier to take a taxi. Plan to spend the day there because you will run into some of the most amazing people in all of Beijing there.

There is all sorts of art, and galleries, and tucked away places there. It is a photographers dream to be hanging out there and seeing what there is to see. There are a lot of pocket art installations, some gigantic transformers, and some of the pudgy art that seems to be all the rage lately. Make sure you visit the art bus as well as seeing the industrial rehab of the area. The artists are putting their stamp on everything, and that includes the buildings. Over time as the population pressures in China demand that the territory be used for living space, it is worth checking out before it goes. There was already apartment complexes being built on the land, and as they build out more bus and drive the subway line in that direction, it will disappear.

China is always growing and always something interesting to see. The city of Beijing is always changing, so if you get the chance to go, do it. I spent a month in China and I can say I had a blast seeing all the things you can see in the city.

 

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Blue Sky Beijing China – The Forbidden City

Blue Sky Beijing China - The Forbidden City
Blue Sky Beijing China – The Forbidden City

Blue Sky Beijing China – The Forbidden City

I don’t know if you have been to China ever, but in the month that I was there I only saw blue sky on two of the days I was there. But when the sky is blue in Beijing you can capture some of the most amazing images of the city and the special places that are there. I deliberately frosted this picture to have an older ektachrome look and feel to it, thousands of people over the years sat through millions of slide shows, and ektachrome was the way that it went. Sometimes you have to bring a little old fashioned into this.
This shot is from the North West side of the Forbidden City, where you can see some of the details of the moat that surrounds about 80% of the entire place. There are little streams like the Serpentine that connect the major moat on the North quadrant of the Forbidden City.
In all this is an amazing place to go visit and see what they have going on. When I went it was summer time, and it was overly hot, but one trick to surviving is when you purchase water from a vendor make sure it has been freshly frozen. You can drink what is there, but then you have this huge ice cube you can put on your neck when you get over heated. And watch for the umbrellas. I am 5’11’’ and I was always getting poked in the neck, as many Chinese women were running around with umbrellas to keep the sun off of them.
I am so looking forward to going back there this summer.

 

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