Great Flickr add-ons

It’s little wonder that Flickr has become the photo-sharing Web site of choice for so many digital photographers. In a matter of minutes, you can set up a free account, upload photos, and invite friends and family to view your masterpieces. Add tags (descriptive keywords) to those photos, and anyone can find and enjoy your images. Guests can add comments, offer suggestions for improving your shots, and even include you in their contacts list, creating a social network of like-minded users.

But if you think you’ve seen all Flickr can do, you may be in for a surprise. An abundance of Flickr add-ons and related Web sites make the photo-sharing experience faster, nimbler, and more fun.

E-mail photos to your account

Why wait until you get back to your Mac to add photos to your Flickr account? If you have a camera phone with e-mail support, you can upload your latest shots simply by sending an e-mail. This trick is particularly handy for iPhone and Treo users.

To set it up, make sure you’re logged in to your Flickr account, and then go to Flickr’s Tools page ). Click on the Upload By Email link, and Flickr will provide you with an e-mail address specifically for your account. The next time you capture a photo with your mobile device’s camera, just attach it to an e-mail addressed to the Flickr account. The subject line of your e-mail message becomes the photo’s title. You can add a caption by typing a description in the body of the message. To add tags to your photo, type

tags:
in either the subject line or the body, followed by the tags you want to apply. (iPhone users should note that you must add the caption and tag information below the image that appears in the body; Flickr won’t read any information above the image.) By the way, if your phone automatically applies a signature to all outgoing e-mail, you may want to remove it before sending photos—otherwise it will be included in the photo caption.

Speaking of using Flickr on-the-go, a mobile version of Flickr works great with smart phones. It doesn’t load images initially, but instead presents you with relevant links so you can quickly navigate to the area you’re interested in—such as photos from your contacts. If you’re working off a cellular network instead of Wi-Fi, you might want to try this bandwidth-saving route.

Edit photos online

If you decide you want to touch up your photos after uploading them to your Flickr account, turn to Picnik. This free online image editor includes essential tools—such as cropping, color adjustment, red-eye reduction, and sharpening—and connects seamlessly to Flickr.

Once you sign up for a Picnik account, you can access your Flickr photos from Picnik’s interface, perform your edits, and then save the corrected version back to your Flickr account. You can either replace the original or upload the altered version as a new image. The whole process works wonderfully. However, you’ll need to have both JavaScript and Flash enabled in your browser—so that means you can’t edit photos via your iPhone.

Add Flickr images to your site

Wouldn’t it be nice to include a slide show or preview of your favorite pictures on your blog or personal Web site?

One solution is Admarket’s flickrSlidr, which lets you embed custom Flickr slide shows on any Web page. Just provide flickrSlidr with the URL of the photostream, photo set, or group from which you want to grab photos, or enter tags to create a thematic slide show. Then specify the height and width of the slide show, and in return you’ll receive the HTML code to paste into your Web page.

If the slide-show format takes up too much room, or if you prefer something simpler, take a look at Flickr badges ). You can create either a static HTML badge showing just a couple of photos or a Flash version that’s in constant motion. Because Flickr provides the tool, you must be logged in to your account to create your badge. You can select your photos by tag or set, and choose the layout. Flickr will generate the necessary code.

Strip out tags

If you were overzealous in applying tags to your photos—or later discover you misspelled a few tags—you’ll find correcting the problem one photo at a time a tedious affair. Thankfully, there’s a better way. First, make sure you’re logged in to your Flickr account. Then point your browser here. Replace tagtodelete in the URL with the tag you want to strip out. Confirm your decision, and the tag will be removed from all your images.

Create a comic strip

Want to say something with your photos? Bubblr can help. This online tool lets you create comic strips using images from Flickr. The Bubblr site lets you pull in photos from your personal photostream, or search the entire Flickr site via tags. Simply drag images into your comic strip’s frames, and then add dialogue or thought bubbles filled with your own text. When you’re done, you can publish your masterpiece on the Bubblr site, where others can enjoy it. To download the strip to your Mac, click on the Print link at the bottom of the page and choose Save As PDF from the Print dialog box.

And plenty more

These Flickr tools represent merely a fraction of what’s available to adventurous Flickr users. For a list of other plug-ins and tools, check out FlickrBits.

Uploading your photos

If you’re still uploading photos to Flickr via the site’s Web interface, it’s time to find a better way. Here are a few of my favorite upload tools for Mac users:

From the Finder Flickr offers its own Mac-compatible upload software, Uploadr, which you can download for free from the Flickr Tools page. Once you’ve installed it, authorize Uploadr to access your Flickr account, and then start dragging pictures into the Photos column. The program lets you add a title, a description, and tags to your photos. If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to type metadata for each image individually, a Batch function lets you add a group of tags to all the images at once.

From iPhoto For iPhoto users, I recommend Connected Flow’s FlickrExport For iPhoto (£12 [about $23]), which lets you upload photos directly from Apple’s popular photo-management program. FlickrExport will automatically turn your iPhoto keywords into Flickr tags, mark photos to include as part of a group pool, and even add geodata stored within the image.

From Aperture Connected Flow also offers two Aperture plug-ins for Flickr. The Lite version, which is free, lets you alter the image’s metadata and turn keywords into Flickr tags before uploading the images. A full version, which costs £14 (about $26), offers additional features, such as the ability to download photos from Flickr directly into Aperture for editing.

From Photoshop Lightroom Although there is currently no upload tool designed specifically for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you can use Flickr Uploadr for the task. Here’s the trick: First, designate Uploadr as Lightroom’s additional external editor (in the External Editors preference pane). Select the photos you want to upload, and choose File: Export Photos. In the Post Processing section of the Export window, select Open In Flickr Uploadr from the After Export menu. When you click on Export, Uploadr will appear with your selected Lightroom images.

[ Derrick Story is the digital media evangelist for O’Reilly Media (digitalmedia.oreilly.com). He also runs a camera club featuring weekly photography podcasts, reader-submitted photos, and pro tips at thedigitalstory.com. ]

Touch Up Photos: Picnik lets you beautify your Flickr photos in the blink of an eye.Custom Comic Strip: Bubblr lets your pictures do the talking.

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