Darker Skies Decade

A Decade On

Ten years ago today, the Darker Skies photoblog was launched.

A few changes have taken place over the years since that first post went live. Darker Skies was originally just going to feature my black and white landscape work. Gradually I came to the realisation that the blog could do so much more. Little did I know how true that was.

First of Many

Darker Skies was the first blog I set up using WordPress – in this case, wordpress.com. At first, I wasn’t very sure about the content management system. Was WordPress the CMS I was looking for? Did I even need another website? I wasn’t very sure at all that i did!

Ten years and numerous WordPress powered websites later (my own and clients) the answer appears to have been a big yes. Those early steps started a change in my ideas about what a website could do that was desperately needed. A website for a photographer is essential and WordPress is about as good as it gets for creating and running a site. I’ve grown to love WordPress.

Another Ten?

Yes, I think so. The Darker Skies site provides some important services for my main website via the Jetpack plugin linkup. Moreover, in the last few years, it’s taken on other roles including helping out with the podcast. It’s an important part of my website family.

I have a Nikon F3 HP that I regard as ‘my’ camera. It’s not a ‘work’ camera like the others I have. The F3 is for my photography. For me. The Darker Skies blog serves a similar function. I should blog more often but maybe quality over quantity is best. Maybe I just need to try harder.

Favourite Moments

The blog has covered all kinds of topics from travel through to family trauma. Some of the posts have been painful and taken a lot of writing. Others have been a joy. Websites, like life, contain all kinds of moments.

Picking favourite posts isn’t easy so I’m not even going to try. What I would recommend is having a look through the archives list located in the sidebar. I recently looked through and found images I’d completely forgotten about!

Here’s to the next Darker Skies decade!

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Domain Change

My online presence is going through a bit of a rethink at the moment and one element of this includes the Darker Skies domain name that has been running on this website for a number of years.

To be honest, I’ve never really taken to the darker-skies.com domain name so I’ve decided to get rid of it after a lot of thinking. I think a new Darker Skies related domain name is needed – something that fits the blog better. Time to put my thinking cap on!

Next year i will be developing this site further and to do a thorough job the domain needs to go. The blog, however will remain and can be accessed through its regular WordPress address of www.darkerskies.wordpress.com

Testing Polarfox beta

A quick test of the Polarfox beta. Looking good so far. Photo taken at Hamilton service station near Glasgow, Scotland

The End of Pressgram

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Every beginning has an end. Those were the words on Pressgram’s website, summing up the end of the line for the IOS photo app. After two years of development , the impressive Pressgram app was taken off the app store and today the service will totally shut down. It’s the end of the journey. In a post entitled Goodbye Pressgram, the app’s developer John Saddington thanked investors, the community and his team, but provides little detail about the reason for the shut-down. Reading elsewhere on the web, it seems that, unsurprisingly, the decision to close was due to the costs of running and maintaining the Pressgram service.

It looked so promising. After a slightly disappointing app in 2013, version 2 of Pressgram really reached its promised potential this year. It was fast, great to use and looked fantastic –  it even ran well on my old iPhone 3G. So why did i need another app for posting images to WordPress? Well, the official WordPress app is a great way of adding posts to WordPress but Pressgram simplified the process and added photo filters. It was a blogger’s answer to Instagram. The extra benefits of using the app were also convincing. Why send people to some huge Facebook owned website, when you can send traffic to your own website and keep control your work. Personally i just liked the app for its ability to post to a blog quickly, but like many photographers, the aspects regarding controlling your own work were also appealing.

When the Pressgram concept first came to my attention last year, Instagram had been losing angry users due to a poorly worded update to their terms and conditions, that many took to mean a rights grab on images. Pressgram was an alternative, and i like having more than one option for posting my images. Pressgram appealed to those who wanted more control over their photography. Amazingly things worked in Instagram’s favour and annoyed users quietly returned when the dust settled. Trust may have been eroded but certainly no where near enough to start a haemorrhage of users seek out alternative options.

There were a few problems to start off with the first Pressgram; the inclusion of a social network in version one of the app was a big mistake, however, the project certainly had room to develop and grow. Getting things right first time is never easy, especially with a system as complex as this. Pressgram V2.0 corrected many of the problems and improved reliability. It finally became what it should have been from the start. After all that work, hopefully it can be made open source and given another chance… maybe. Maybe not. Who knows.

Currently there seem to few alternatives to the deceased Pressgram app, though the future does hold some hope with an app called Polarfox in development. The website states :-

Polarfox for iPhone and iPod is fast, beautiful, easy to use and lets you post to Facebook, Twitter, WordPress self-hosted, Tumblr, WordPress.com, Facebook Pages, Linkedin, Facebook Groups, App.net and Webhooks.’ 

It will be interesting to see what that app can do. The IOS 8 share options also provide good alternatives. Will any other apps try to fill the void? Possibly, but it’s tough being an app developer as the Pressgram story shows.

Rest in peace Pressgram. It was great while it lasted.

Pressgram Arrives

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So Pressgram has finally arrived, and was the wait worth it? Well it’s early days but I’d say a definite yes from what I’ve seen so far. If you want to post images to your own blog and take part in a photo social network without worrying about terms and conditions or the service stealing your work , Pressgram may be the answer.

I’ve decided to link it into two websites. The main website has it’s own Pressgram section and this website will also feature Pressgram images too. I have the perfect test scenario for it too. Keep watching these websites for more Pressgram images coming very soon!

Lighten Up

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The DS blog has had a bit of a makeover to refresh the layout and feel of the website. I was getting a bit fed up of the dark theme and thought it was time to lighten up. Brighten up.

Another bonus to the new theme was a widening of the sidebar which has also been tweaked to include the new widgets for Twitter and Instagram photos.

I have tried to add my feed from App.net but so far no luck. Looks like it will remain a work in progress. For some reason the widget doesn’t recognise the RSS feed.

So there we have it. I rather like the lighter look and the sidebar is much, much better. 🙂