SmugMug Appreciation Sunday — No. 001 (Introduction)

Back in the 2000s, I was using an early Photo Sharing site called Bubble Share. In the late 2000s, it was bought by another company and I didn’t like the direction it was going, so I switched to PhotoBucket. It was OK, but cumbersome to use and I didn’t like the way it shared photos. PhotoBucket is still around, and it may be better than it was, but I never bothered keeping up with it once I found SmugMug.

There were other options, but the layout, features, and interface SmugMug offered were, in my opinion, superior to other offerings, and that’s why I was willing to pay for the membership. That’s right; it’s not free, and it’s not cheap. In January of 2009, I paid the fee and got an account. It began as a $150/year fee, and it’s now up to $359/year. Again, not cheap (it’s meant for pros who charge for their photos), but I don’t have any complaints. To date, my SmugMug account has 54,517 files distributed in various galleries. There are a few videos, but it’s predominantly photos.

By the way, at the time, I’d also set up a Flickr account, which I then hardly ever used, and Flickr has now been purchased by SmugMug. I still have the account, and I’ve uploaded a number of photos to see how it’s changed . . . it’s not bad, but it’s a more “social” site than SmugMug. There are contests, communities, people sharing stuff . . . a regular photographer’s party.

I tried (briefly) spending time there to see if I could connect with the community . . . before remembering “That’s not me, Bob!”

For them interested, my Flickr Account. Fair warning, the photos there are a subset of what I have in SmugMug and that I’ve shared on the blog, so, nothing new. But it gives you an idea of the layout and interface. I may yet try to join a group (they have many) in case I want to “get into a particular type of photography”, but since I’m more of a smorgasbord type of guy, don’t hold your breath. HOWEVER . . . if you’re looking for photos, any kind of photos, you might want to check the site; there are many awesome and talented photographers dropping their photos there (as there are in SmugMug).

Air Force Academy – Flying Fortress model, photographed laying down on the ground. Digitally removed supporting post.

The above was the first photo of the first gallery I created at SmugMug. I was testing the interface and I grabbed random photos to create the gallery (156 photos by the time I was done). Photos of different sizes, and many of the photos are on the small side by today’s standards. Basically, a random sample of the kind of stuff I was photographing at the time (pretty much what I photograph now).

Big enough for the blog, I tell you what. Plus, and I’m sure it’s not my imagination, when I link the photos on SmugMug (as opposed to uploading them to WordPress), the photos retain the original quality. If you click on the photos, it takes you to that image at the SmugMug site.

There are two ways to show the photo, and both take you to SmugMug, but they act differently.

The above is a link to the image file in an Image Block at whatever size I specify (the above is 1280pxls wide). You can zoom on it, but only up to the size I specified.

The other way is to use the SmugMug Block which embeds the file (below), and when you click on it, it takes you to that image, but you’re in the actual gallery, and you can zoom in up to the original file size, and navigate to other photos and even other galleries.

Another panorama (5 or 6 shots) from our 2008 color tour along the Million Dollar Highway.  This is just outside Durango, Colorado

The SmugMug Block has the disadvantage that you cannot see the photo while editing until you preview or publish the post. There is a slight other annoyance . . . if the photo has a caption, it shows up on top of the photo. If you move the cursor outside the photo and wait for a second or two, the caption fades away (it returns if you click on the photo). And, lastly, I prefer that links open in a new tab or window, but the SmugMug URL Block doesn’t have that option.

There is another advantage with using the SmugMug Block; because you land on the gallery, it has ‘right-click’ protection. Meaning, you can’t easily save the file should you wish to steal it. That’s not a perfect security system since there are many other ways to capture the file from the screen, but you’re then not getting the high-resolution (printable) version.

“You got some bal … er … hubris, thinking people are interested in your photos!”

Yup, that’s me! Full of hubris!

“So, what are these weekly posts? What are you trying to accomplish?”

Well, crowcanyonjournal left a comment (LINK) saying something along the lines of how nice the photos looked on his 4K device, and I thought perhaps other people, new and old users, might enjoy a similar experience.

The thinking is that each week I’ll showcase some of my favorite galleries as a slideshow. And by slideshow, I don’t mean here in WordPress. I mean a link that takes you to the slideshow in SmugMug. So, for instance, to experience the slideshow of my first ever SmugMug gallery, follow the link below:

Note: the transition is set to 2sec, but — if you move the cursor anywhere within the photo — there’s a pause button on the lower left, and, once paused, you can use the left and right arrows on both sides of the photo to navigate the slideshow. Note also that the captions are switched off. You would have to go to the actual gallery to read them (not worth it unless you’re as curious as a cat).

Slideshow of the Samples of my hobby gallery (156 photos)

Ironically, in the early days of this blog, I would upload the photos to WordPress and then laboriously link each photo to the corresponding original at SmugMug. However, a few years into me having the blog, WordPress started mucking about with stuff, and many of the links in the old posts got wiped out. Not only that, I would rebuild them, and they would get wiped out again after a few months. After a bit, I put a note on the sidebar and added a note and a link to the appropriate SmugMug gallery in each post. I guess we’re now gone full around.

Ideally, I’d prefer to show the slideshow here, embedded in the post. SmugMug has the option to create an embeddable slideshow HTML code, and if I use an HTML block and insert the code, the slideshow appears here in the post; no need to go anywhere else.

Unfortunately, once I hit Preview or Publish, the code gets wiped and all you see is a blank space where the slideshow is supposed to be. This is a “security feature”, making sure that I don’t insert some malicious code. The only way around it — and have it work — is to upgrade to the business plan. Then, apparently, the security is handled a different way. Too bad that because the slideshow here looks really good . . . but I’m not about to pay for a business plan just for the slideshow.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a link to another slideshow from a Gallery in the “My Photography” SmugMug folder (the above photo is from that gallery). It’s a 68 photos slideshow of the “2011 – My Year in Pictures” Gallery.

Slideshow of the 2011 – My Year in Pictures Gallery (68 photos)

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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