How to get on Flickr’s Explore

Bokeh time

Flickr’s Explore is a ranking in which the best 500 photos of the day are selected by using an unkown algorithm.

This algorithm (called “interestingness“) doesn’t really select the “best” photos of the day, but getting into explore is a good way to gain visibility on your photos, because when a photo is on explore some of the people which is seeing the explore page (or some other sites showing current photos on Explore) can see your photo (aka more views, comments, etc).
Once on explore, the photo will be moving up or down the ranking (from #1 to #500) during the day, depending on your photo comments, views and other, but also by other photos entering on explore.

To see which of your photos are on explore, there’s the Flickr Scout.

I’ve had 40 explores just this year, so I wanted to share some of the things I’ve noticed. Some may be very obvious but I wanted to share all the steps I usually do:

  • Use as many (useful) tags as you can to gain visibility, not just about the subject of the photo but also the technique and gear used.

  • Add the photo to some of your sets or collections (if it’s a b/w macro you can put the photo on two different sets).

  • Add the photo to a max of 5-6 groups. Not the kind of groups in which commenting is mandatory (like P1A50). Instead, add it to a more general groups (Canon/Nikon..) that aren’t about any specific subject so you can use the same groups for each photo you upload.

  • Getting favorites and notes is also helpful, especially if they aren’t contacts of yours. This is more complicated to control, but I think it influences too.

  • Once the photo is on flickr, you can share the link on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to gain some more visibility.

  • Upload time may be important too. I always upload my photos between 20:00h and 23:00h (GMT+1). If that same night I get about 50 views, 8 comments or so, sometimes the photo appears on Explore the next day.

  • One interesting trick I’ve seen, is that you can change the upload time of photos which already are uploaded, so you can “refresh” the upload when you want, and all the contacts seeing the last photos will see your photo again (maybe they didn’t see it the first time). If you didn’t get explore the first day, you have another chance using this trick. Using this, I’ve had the same photo two and even three times on explore on different days. It can also be boring for your contacts if you do this too much…

  • Of course, uploading a great photo will help too, or at least a subject that a lot of people likes (shallow dof, bokeh, colorful captures, beautiful portraits, cats, landscapes…).

As I said, appearing on Explore doesn’t mean having the best photos, but it helps to get more visibility.




RAW Quality Infrared Photography

One of the typical issues I had when doing infrared photography is that when shooting in RAW format, when we import a photo in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, everything turns reddish again, as if we hadn’t used a proper white balance.

That happens because at least both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom aren’t capable of using temperatures lower to 2000º K, and when we import a RAW file that had a lower temperature than that (which is usual in infrared photography lol), Photoshop sets the temperature to 2000º K because it can’t go lower.

We need a quite lower temperature so even if we swap red and blue channels to get the proper colors, the result will be still much worse than what we could have obtained when processing with the correct temperature.

(See image 1 for bad temperature example)

The solution? Use another software, at least to import the RAW file.

When I saw this problem I tried other applications and I personally like Oloneo PhotoEngine (www.oloneo.com), which is more a HDR Software than a RAW processing tool, but works great to solve the problem with infrared photography (They offer a 30-day trial).

In Oloneo, we just need to import the RAW file and adjust whatever we want, EXCEPT temperature.

As soon as we touch the temperature slider, Oloneo will try to change the temperature to the original and in this case the result will be horrible again, because Oloneo’s lowest temperature is 2500º K, still not enough! Then, do not touch the slider and change whatever you want (I find very useful the detail strength slider, it really enhances a lot of details).

Once done, we export as TIF format.

(See image 2 for good temperature example, exported with Oloneo, imported in Photoshop and then swapping red and blue channels)


Now we can import the TIF file in Photoshop or wherever we want without temperature problems and with RAW image quality!


Here’s a different perspective of the same place, using some split toning done with Lightroom:

Natural leading