Up, up and away!

I started writing this blog less than a year ago with my first post about leaving Flickr. I didn’t like the way new people were being reeled in with offers of free storage, while older customers were struggling to keep hold of their paid, pro status. I may be wrong, but it seemed to me that the idea of customers paying for a service had been turned on its head and now Flickr members were instead being sold to advertisers. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Or free storage!

So now I find myself having just left my friendly photography forum, which wasn’t QUITE so friendly after all. I freely admit to not fitting most perceptions of “normal”. I work four days a week, but we also have over 30 assorted (mostly rescued) animals at home. My work colleagues don’t understand how we do at least another four hours every day over and above what they regard as tiring. My animal rescue friends don’t work and therefore can’t appreciate why I don’t spend all day commenting on their latest videos on Facebook. Last, but not least, my photography friends don’t understand any of it because the animals leave me penniless and I have no interest in buying the latest camera gear.

I take things too literally. The rules I agreed to when I joined seemed pretty standard and with boundaries firmly in place, I felt safe. Unfortunately the rules (or guidelines as suggested to me) have been tested recently in the pursuit of art and I am not comfortable when lines are crossed (or laws are broken, as happened before Christmas). Things blew over for a while, but one evening I stumbled across an obscene image posted by way of a joke. I was appalled and expected it to be removed without delay. Imagine my dismay when a graphic warning message was added and the image stayed put. Concerned about junior members, I spoke out, only to be informed that content like this was going to be allowed from now on. Anything could be uploaded as long as it was legal.

I was transported back to the early 1970s, when I was trying to learn my craft through the wonderful You and Your Camera magazine. It taught me about reciprocity failure, depth of field, hyperfocal distances and panning with moving subjects. The only drawback was that it lived on the top shelf in the newsagent’s, along with the “lads mags”. I thought we had come a long way since then, but it doesn’t feel like it. Not only don’t I wish to view these images, but I don’t want a forum I once regarded as home to be littered with warning signs – graphic nude, likely to offend – and you can see the names of other members commenting in there. To me that would be like my male work colleagues ogling at something in brown paper covers during their lunch breaks.

No censorship has been the cry from a few lately and that is what they now have. Only I walked out a couple of weeks ago looking for something gentler. I found it too in the form of Clickin Moms and although I’m not American and definitely not a mother, they have made me feel very welcome. It’s the largest forum I have ever seen, but very well organised and with a wide range of knowledge from professionals to amateurs. There are literally hundreds of tutorials as well as workshops and even an exam. There is inspiration by the bucket load too. Last weekend someone’s question about levitation images made me read the links offered and I commented that I didn’t have a model and maybe I would ask one of our cats instead. By Saturday afternoon we had the dining room cleared for action and Bubu was called downstairs. Conditions were far from ideal, but I quite like the finished image. This is where I am heading from now on – up, up and away!

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