American in Spain

Migrating to Flickr

June 5, 2007

I've been debating for a while how to, and whether or not to, switch to host all of my photos on Flickr. After one year of photo-heavy blogging, I am currently hosting 530 MiB of jpegs on my server. This is with every photo being sized down to 1024x768 and having a 450x338 thumbnail that is included inline on the blog. My employer is kind enough to lend me the server space, but it's clear that if I continue for a few more years, which I hope to, then there will be issues. Plus, if I host my photos on Flickr, then there will be much higher resolution versions available to you, my dear readers, for the photos that particularly interest you.

The way I have been publishing my photos is:

  1. Drag them from iPhoto into a folder
  2. Run a program that I wrote in java to resize the photos
  3. Make the appropriate directly for the post id on the server
  4. Securely copy them to the server
  5. My program then prints out the HTML code that I paste into my blog, complete with empty paragraphs for the witty captions

This has been very convenient, but every few months, my Photoshop Expert friend, Alan, complains that the quality of the photos is crap. He's right, of course. The resampling algorithm that sizes them down in my java program does a pretty miserable job. I would complain if he posted images of that quality on his blog, too.

I've been investigating various applications to help blog with photos from Flickr. The new browser, Flock, that I think has a lot of promise to be better than Firefox, lets you drag pictures from a bar that shows all your Flickr pictures directly into your blog post editor. But it doesn't put the image sizes in the tags. Just before embarking on writing a Wordpress plugin to do this, I found this plugin called iMax Width that does just that. It even does the extra trick of sizing them down to fit within your blog layout (the standard 500-pixel wide images from Flickr woudn't fit in my blog design).

But what really sealed the deal was finding what must be the Mother of All Flickr Wordpress Plugins. It was commercially developed and then released into the open source community. It's called, rather blandly, Photo Album. It does what Flock tries to do, but from directly within your Wordpress post editor, and provides more sizes than Flock does. Not only that, but includes a sidebar widget. It completely rocks!

So I've decided to spend some mindless hours converting all my previous blog posts to host their images on Flickr. Because I'm such a perfectionist, I'm having to find all the images in iPhoto so that I can upload the huge 4 MiB, 7 megapixel, versions, so it's going to take me a little while. If things are a little slow around here, that's why. I'll be spending my normally budgeted blogging time on this task.

What's beautiful about this is that, when I'm done, my blog will be nothing more than a database of text that can be moved to any server with ease. I've had to suck it up and buy a Pro Flickr membership. I had been operating on the free account up until now. My idea was that Flickr would be for my best pictures only, but that's going to have to change now.

To test the process, I have already converted my first post with any hosted pictures. It was relatively painless. You will thank me later, my dear readers.