August 20th, 2007

FlickrFlickr is actually my personal favorite of these cool tools (for you real school fools).

If you have a digital camera, or a collection of pictures stored digitally on your computer, you might have considered some ways to store and share those pictures online with your friends and family. For example, if you have a profile on Facebook, you may have taken advantage of their free photo-uploading utilities, and created albums of images to share with your Facebook friends.

Facebook is a great tool, but I think it’s sort of frustrating as a medium for photo sharing, being a student myself. Facebook limits the viewing of photos I have uploaded to myself and other “Facebookians,” which means that my grandmother can’t look at my “wild party pix” from last Friday’s “pong-a-thon.”

Fortunately for myself and others who wish that their pictures could be available to anyone who wanted to see them, while keeping the option of making them private or only available to friends, there is another free, web-based alternative called Flickr. Flickr is owned by Yahoo!, so if you have a Yahoo! Mail account, or use any of Yahoo’s subscription-based services, you already have a Flickr account, you just don’t know it yet. If not, setting up a new account is painless, and takes only a few minutes.

Once your account is set up, you’ll notice that the free account limits the amount of bandwidth you can use up in one month to (x megabytes). That is, once you’ve uploaded (x megabytes) worth of pictures to Flickr, you can’t upload any more for that month. I personally have never hit the bandwidth limit, so unless you take thousands of pictures, you should be fine with the free account. It also helps to make sure your pictures are scaled down to a web resolution, which reduces the size of the images, and also how much of your monthly bandwidth you will use up with each picture. Fortunately, the free Flickr Uploader utility, available on the Flickr website, will help you get your pictures down to a suitable resolution. I do 800×600 pixels, sometimes 1024×768.

Toxic Avenger

By the way, the Flickr Uploader is another tool that gives Flickr an edge over other photo-sharing services. The utility is installed on your computer, and has several options for starting new albums, privacy settings, picture rotation and sizing, comments, etc. Using the tool, you can select which photos go into an album, and upload the pictures to Flickr.

Once your pictures are online, you’ll notice that you can add comments, tags, and notes to your images. Image tagging is pretty sweet, especially if you have a public album. Let’s say, for example, that you really enjoy taking pictures of fountains, and take a good one of the fountain in Palmieri Plaza (in front of Monroe Hall). You give the picture a “fountain” tag, and someone else who enjoys the same thing might do a search for that tag, and discover your picture.

In this respect, Flickr is both a free image hosting/storing site, and a global social networking community. Check it out.