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Flickr has made me observe a very interesting issue of SCALE in art. Does a piece of art look the same in one physical scale versus another? In Flickr, an image better look good in thumbnail if it's going to get attention. Certain elements do well in thumbnail: humans, repeating geometry, landscapes, bold colors, flowers, bokeh. Pictures dominated by detail and/or subtlety, on the other hand, really only look good when viewed larger, and thus suffer in popularity.

As McLuhan said, "the medium makes the message". As the visual arts went from the physical to the electronic, it enabled scale. I wonder whether we really think of our images very much in terms of this complex issue of scale of view. In this paradigm, is an image that only looks good in one scale a lesser-quality image than one which, all things being equal, looks good in multiple scales?

Practically, on Flickr, I believe that while the quality of a larger version of an image is what generates faves and "custom" comments, it's the quality of the thumbnail in large part that determines views and "award" comments.

Kelvin Wong (Away), Steve-h, *Megumi*, and 26 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 14 more comments

  1. Txan Cardona 87 months ago | reply

    great shoot!
    and great b&w

  2. Anne Strickland 87 months ago | reply

    I agree with you, Kevin. I know I've probably passed up hundreds of great images. Are you a good ice skater, too? Have a great weekend!

  3. Mary Trebilco 87 months ago | reply

    Great shot... and I'm pleased to say that I saw it on your photostream rather than as a thumbnail. Because, I think you're right, and was contemplating the same thing recently.

    If awards and views through groups are what we seek, then the photo HAS to stand out as a thumbnail. It's competing with so many others on a page to grab the attention of the viewer. I often find that I have to go back over the page several times to choose which photos I want to take a closer look at, because the colourful or dramatic instantly take your eye, but sometimes it's the more subtle that you prefer on a closer view.

    But ... back to your photo! Love the perspective... the sky and light are
    just amazing viewed through this structure!

  4. commonguy 87 months ago | reply

    nice angle.

  5. Tailer's Family - journeying! 87 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called 10 Faves and less than 200 Views (when added), and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

    Congratulations, my Friend, I found this excellent photograph in Explore number #443 on the 8th March.

    May I invite you to Explore my work.

  6. *setsuna 87 months ago | reply


  7. deep shot 87 months ago | reply

    awesome capture! love the patterns!

  8. ABMJG 87 months ago | reply

    Hello, thanks for sharing your work with us.
    I love drinking my morning coffee, and cruising my Flickr buddies

    Have a great day!


    You're on my list

  9. delladawn [deleted] 87 months ago | reply

    Great perspective!

  10. losy 87 months ago | reply

    Kevin... what are you are saying about 'thumbnail' versus large format .... it could not be better said.... bravo! When I was new on Flickr, someone told me, look first at your small version and then decide... Nowadays, I make an effort to look as well at pictures, which do not look special in the thumbnail version but are often a surprise when 'opening' them....

    have a nice weekend too.

  11. LiLi S. 87 months ago | reply

    Great time!-)

  12. SJKen 87 months ago | reply

    Absolutedly goregous for these shadow capture.. very beautiful.

  13. Quinean 87 months ago | reply

    i've noticed this phenomenon with popularity myself though it doesn't affect what I take, just what I upload here.

    stunning shot!

  14. piglicker 82 months ago | reply

    yeah, i've been aware of this phenomena for a while now. it was even something to think about when i was taking and printing ye olde filme photos.

    it was your title that brought me here, though :)

  15. Trinimusic2008 - Stay blessed 79 months ago | reply

    Thanks Kevin, good advice. Congratulations on Explore as well!

  16. Adrian World 77 months ago | reply

    Lovely image ... and you're so spot on about the thumbnail.

  17. Tacoma Art Museum 65 months ago | reply

    Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Tacoma Art Museum . This month we are collecting images of Patterns with a winter touch, urban and natural inspired from our current exhibition Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs. We’d love to have your photo added to the group, tagged TacomaArtMuseum and Patterns

    See our December call for photos for details.

  18. Dawn Woodhouse 49 months ago | reply

    Very true Kevin.

    I have indeed noticed the tendency of pictures that look good in thumbnails to get rapidly promoted in Flickr.

    This is with my own pictures as well as with those of others. The pictures that look good in thumbnail do very well.

    And it does seem to lead to the increased popularity of pictures with simple compositions and big bold colours.

    It's a lot to do with a percentage of people being in a hurry to put their pictures in as many groups as possible. They have to pick some out to fave and if it does not look good in thumbnail they will not open it.

    On one forum I even saw one person post how they were posting the comments without even opening the pictures, or attempting to do this. I am not sure how. But they felt they could make the judgement without even seeing the picture other than in a thumbnail.

    If Flickr doubled the size of thumbnails, even optionally, I imagine it might make a difference to those photographs that become popular.

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