Instagram Challenger Bokeh Canceled

Around early Summer 2019, a new photo social network was kickstarted. Bokeh was to be like Instagram before Facebook ruined it. With promise and potential built-in, being based upon solid core principles, I was interested and supportive, backing the endeavor on Kickstarter. Sadly, after two years in development, the project has been canceled.

I was enthusiastic about Bokeh and the idea that something like the original Instagram could reappear. I wanted a social media platform more focused on the photo aspect rather than the social aspect. I guess that would have been like Flickr is now, which when I last checked was still pretty nice.

While a bit disappointing to see the project not meet its goals, I understand not all dreams become reality. Still, it was worth a shot; I believed in it.

Now that we’re at this point, though, I’m wondering if maybe it’s best to not have any new social media sites. They simply tend to degrade over time for various reasons. However, there is another new photo/social site up and coming called Glass.

Glass seems to embody similar core principles as did Bokeh, one being that it’s a paid service, so it’s not based on the scammy ad model that sucks up all your private/personal data (meta or otherwise), using it to target ads at you, and possibly using it for other nefarious purposes. The other Bokeh-like feature is no algorithms, just a chronological feed. How quaint! Also no metrics, no likes, and only commenting; I’d like to try that.

So we have Flickr and Glass available for photo/social and maybe others I’m not aware of. Good options exist for something like Instagram circa 2011, but I don’t have the same interest in all that anymore. When the photo bug bites me again, I’ll probably just use SmugMug owned Flickr. But Glass remains on my radar.

Figuring Out Photo Sites Again

Like me, I bet you take lots of pictures. With your phone…er camera. And they’ve gotta go somewhere. You likely just back’em up with the default photo/cloud system on your phone. And the ones that are share-worthy, you probably have your go-to site or service like Instagram. But I’m not sure where I stand with all that now.

In October, something spurred me to reconsider investing in Flickr as my place to practice and pursue photography as a hobby. It’s compelling, but I think the biggest barrier is time.

Then, as I was contemplating Flickr for my photos, a few things happened. One, Google Photos, my oft-enjoyed photo service of choice, dropped a small tactical nuke: no more free photo storage!

Second, I switched from Android back to an iPhone, so I migrated away from Google Photos to iCloud Photos. Because Apple. And I like it.

So, for me and my family, we’re relying on Apple’s iCloud photo library to auto back-up all our cat pics, food shots, and selfies. And the ones that are share-worthy, well, that’s the part I’m unsure about.

One good article that helped me think about this is here; check it out.

Ignoring the lack of time, Flickr would be my first choice because…good reasons. But the limiting factor then would be either the 1,000 photo limit at the free tier, or simply paying money for the Pro tier. I’d like to support Flickr with my money, but that’s another blog post.

Other than Flickr, are there other good options for posting good images? Instagram? No, I said “good options.” IG is just not good anymore as it has gotten worse and worse over time. I can’t believe IG replaced the main photo capture button! That’s a bad sign for sure. Bokeh has less competition since IG has strayed so far from its roots!

For now, I’m not really sharing any pictures except for the occasional one on Facebook. But those are not typically the photo-hobby type, they’re more like what you’d put on Instagram circa 2012.

Are there any sites besides Flickr these days that are worth any investment? Is iPhoneography still a thing?

What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Dumb Cameras Died

Focus On The Facts

You remember point-n-shoot cameras? Maybe you’ve got an old one tucked away in a closet or drawer. It still works just fine, but so does your camera-phone that’s always tucked in your pocket or purse. You’ve probably seen a news headline in the last few years declaring that the point-n-shoot camera is dead. But in case you missed it, yeah, dedicated consumer digital cameras died a while back. Yet digital photography thrives now more than ever, so maybe those old cams could make a comeback.

Photographic Evidence

Two years ago, I accepted the demise of the dedicated point-n-shoot. I had read the articles explaining how and why they were declared dead before then. But while my mind understood, my heart denied it. That is until I was at Grandma’s 90th Birthday Party.

A momentous occasion, celebrating a life only one decade shy of a century, the party served also as a family reunion. Old and young attended on a beautiful sunny Spring day in April. The scene was a rented indoor pavilion/dining hall at a city park in the woods of East Texas. Everything about this event was photogenic.

To help make lasting memories, a professional photographer was hired to take family and group pictures. Of course, I noted she used a mid-range or high-end Nikon DSLR, which is what I would expect. These are dedicated cameras with interchangeable lenses, of which some are even dedicated to one set focal length.

I also paid attention to all the casual photo-takers. There were 130 family members and friends in attendance. And, like the pro-photog, I knew specifically at least three people who owned entry-level DSLRs. But I alone had the only point-n-shoot camera among all! I was the weirdo who dragged out his old-school cam instead of just using a smartphone. In fact, not only did everyone else use a smartphone, at least one used a tablet to shoot pictures!

After I saw with my own eyes how nobody used a point-n-shoot camera or their DSLRs at an event where there couldn’t be a better reason to do so, I was convinced. My heart accepted the fact that the camera was dead.

Back Focus

Why lament the march of progress though? Dumb old cameras gave way to more convenient and more feature-rich smart devices that fit in your pocket. Digital cameras of the past only took pictures. But smartphone cams can immediately edit them and share them with the world! It’s no wonder bulky old single-purpose image shooters are tucked away in closets.

But the technological shift in photography represents the passing of a short era, a time when digital cameras exploded in popularity and everyone, I mean everybody including your Uncle Bob, was suddenly a “photographer.” Every other person with a camera was starting a photography business. Photo-sharing and organizing sites like Flickr, SmugMug, Zenfolio, Picasa, and too many more to mention drew normal people online who otherwise would have ignored the web. At the same time, Facebook photo uploading was quickly surging in users. Then came Instagram and the rest is history.

A Long Focal Length

In technology, trends move so fast. “Dead” is a visceral word to declare old-tech what it really is: obsolete. But believe it or not, you can still buy a new point-n-shoot camera today; they’re still being made and sold. There is still a place for them, it’s just more niche. Dedicated cameras, despite lacking “smart” features, also still possess distinct advantages over your camera-phone.

For Easter this year, I busted out my 13 year old Canon S5 IS “Bridge type” point-n-shoot. It. Still. Works. I chose it for portraits of my sons because my iPhone 7 with a single lens does not have “portrait mode”; it lacks the second lens needed to do depth perception and blur the background in “Fokeh” (that’s faux-Bokeh). On my Canon, I used the long focal length of my 12x optical zoom lens to shoot from a far distance, getting sharp people-shots with a nice soft blurred backdrop.

Our beloved low-tech cameras of old retain their place in the world for their specialities. But even that may soon be history. This week, I’m expecting the delivery of my new phone, which is my new camera because it has not one lens but three! Wide, ultra-wide, and macro (no tele-photo)! These multi-lens smart-cams gain what was once exclusive to their obsolete counterparts, like portrait abilities.

Instead of mourning the loss of “pure” shooting and “real” cameras, we can encourage the growth of today’s camera kings. More smartphones stand to gain optical zoom lenses and larger sensors among other advancements. They’re great, but they could be even greater.

What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Photo Therapy

Photo Sensitive

You know what I did about a year ago? I drafted a blog post pursuing the idea of using photography as a type of therapy. I never got around to fleshing out that draft, but given our current state of affairs, now seems like maybe a good time to bust this one out.

Can photography be therapeutic as a sort of mindfulness activity where you’re focused on things in the immediate present? Or does looking at your world through a lens remove you too much from the moment?

Focus On Healing

Looking back through my photos over the years, I started to lament the passing of time and good memories, and also how I used to enjoy photography a lot – I was so into it! I’m sad that I’ve lost some of that enjoyment, the passion of the hobby. The few times I seldom focus on photography, I really enjoy it. The embers get fanned into flames again, but for a short time. It makes me consider re-focusing on photography as a more full-time hobby.

I find in photography a tangible way to “get out of my head” and get into nature, the great outdoors. The camera is a tool that causes me to look and see what’s around me. It makes me study a scene, the subject, the lighting, the shadows, the little details. I think you could say it makes me mindful of the moment.

The camera is like a mindfulness tool. It sharpens my eyes while also giving me another eye through which to see the world. Yes, to some degree, I think photographing a moment removes me from it. But then again, I’m still involved with the moment. Instead of an active participant, I’m an observer. And I’d say I’m an active, not a passive, observer. Rather than being in the moment, I’m around or about the moment. I’m seeing it from a different angle, in a more mindful mode.

This mindfulness via camera seems to me like it could help deflect worry because by focusing on external objects – like a flower – I’m not dwelling, brooding, or ruminating on internal concerns.

Let me interject a caveat here about generalized anxiety disorder, which is an order of magnitude worse than worry. While I think a hobby, especially photography due to its inherent trait of observing the world outside of you, can be a good way to decrease worry, I don’t think pursuing a hobby is a cure for an anxiety disorder. Having suffered seasons of terrible anxiety and panic attacks myself, seeing a counselor, taking medications, etc, I empathize with those who suffer likewise. Each person is different, and mental health issues are complex. I can’t blanket cure such issues with a camera. Hope that makes sense.

Having been through debilitating anxiety episodes, I’m all too familiar with worry. For me, among the many aids that carried me through my anxious seasons, I think photography is a nice means to interact with nature and lessen the tendency and severity of worry.

Looking Around

My hope is that this seed of an idea finds fertile ground. Maybe a test or study could be undertaken that offers photo-walks, for example, as a way to introduce people to a potential means of enjoying life more rather than worrying about it. I’m using Rich Mullins’ words here, “There’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see. Everywhere I go, I’m looking.”

Can photography be a form of therapy for some people? I think so. Just being outside in nature is helpful. The camera is a way to focus on nature even more (pun not intended by happily embraced).

What do you think? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Bring On The Bluebonnets

Today is overcast. Gray cloudy skies. I was cooped up in the house until late afternoon. Great time to get out and shoot new bluebonnets. They only come once a year, for about 3 weeks.

The natural lighting was good enough to snap some keepers! The monotone diffused white of the cloud deck provided even white balance for the photos. No bright spots or harsh shadows. Nice even lighting.

I got three pictures I like well enough to star in Google Photos. And share in this blog post. I shared one of them on Instagram and Twitter. But the other two are exclusive to my blog!

At the end of the 2020 Bluebonnet season, I plan to take the best of the best and place them in a new gallery here on the blog where previous years are showcased.

While I’m kind of bummed I no longer have my DSLR to take exceptional photos, I’m glad to have the simple limitation of the iPhone 7. It forces me to try being creative or inventive to get interesting new images. And while the results are not going to win cash prizes, I’m pleased with them, thankful, and dare I say…content.

Please, enjoy!

What beauty have you found outside your door recently? Share below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!