About Me

"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Friday, 10 January 2014

The fickle world of flickr stats

I've been posting photos on flickr for about 6 years now and have accumulated up a solid group of friends and contacts around the world. We check out each others' photos and as often as not click on "favourite" and often write a comment or critique.

There's a real core of mutual loyalty, and some of my "flickr" friends would certainly be real friends if they lived a bit closer. In fact I've met several of them and hope to continue with this.

In all this time I've posted over 650 photos which together have received 77,000 views, a modest enough total in the internet world.

But this time last week I had had less than 65,000 views. Just one photo, posted on Monday, has been viewed nearly 11,000 times in three days.

Normally I am very pleased if a photo gets more than 50 views, and  if two or three people, usually those reliable old friends,  add it to their favourites, I am even happier. Some pics get no views and no fans at all.

But this picture already - which you can see here -  has over 100 "favourites"- most of them from people I have never encountered before.

So, what is so good about it? That is what puzzles me. It is a scan of a black and white photo of a railway station (Sanderstead, near Croydon, 12 miles south of London) I took back in the late 1970s. The station was near my father's house and I had gone to help him (and his dog) get the train to Uckfield in Sussex, where he was visiting old friends.

The photo shows the train just driving at the platform, with, in the middle ground, a large middle-aged lady with a middle-aged lady's hair-do seeming  quite oblivious of the approaching train. Just behind her another lady, also in middle-aged drag, is reaching for her bag.
This rather unexciting photo got me 11,000
views and 100+ favourites on flickr. Why?

The train itself is uninteresting to me - an old diesel-powered four-car unit of the sort that British Railway's Southern  region used for commuter routes that had yet to be electrified.

It's not a particularly good photo technically - it is self-developed and bit too contrasty, and just not as sharp as I would have liked. It is also, as I now realise, slightly crooked.

But there's a bit of detail and the composition is easy on the eye.

Also, I think, it has a slight air of mystery, and of belonging to a lost past, so I posted it in that spirit.

I must have been Tuesday evening when I noticed it had over 700 views - the most I'd ever had for a photo, and all in a day. There was a message from a railway enthusiast and that struck me as the clue. One of my more popular early photos was of Stockwell Bus Garage (a beautiful bit of modern architecture just down the road) - and it was then I realised that transport enthusiasts of all types are among the most enthusiastic internet users.

I even had a message from a former train driver who actually worked this routed back in the 80s, another indication of the brilliant reach of flickr.

And all that without even tagging the pic or offering it to asny of the relevant groups.

I all happened (I soon realised) because th epic was selected by flickr staff (I suppose) for its "Explore" feature, a gallery of what the manamgement think are the most interesting pics of the day. But the time I realised this my pic was already deep down under a pile of hundreds of other explored photos - but sure enough, there it was.

And soon I had a request to add it to an "explored photos" group, which I did.

Today, it has all gone quiet again. This massive flurry of visitors disappeared as quickly as it arrived. Not many of them, judging from the stats of surrounding photos, looked at much of my other work - but why would they?

I was touched by how friendly and appreciative so many total strangers seemed to be - and no, it turned out the majority were not train buffs at all, just people interested in slightly strange, oddball,  unusual photos.

Well, I suppose it makes a change from the sunsets and the cats and dogs.

For all of what to me seem retrograde developments of the website, I still love flickr, mainly because of the people I have met there.

I've used other photo sites but always come back here, and will until they make it physically impossible for me to post my scratchy dusty old pictures. Thanks.

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