Re-creating old times: part I

For some reason I happened to re-visit my old website (more my blog than my website, if  you think about it) and like a king would feel looking at the ruins of his city after a battle — all tattered and untended and yet familiarly hopeful — I stood there, staring, turning page after page and feeling vaguely happy yet nostalgic about those times, reading those articles and how I kept writing even when my daily readership was less than 1,000.

Old to new

It is a combination of good writing, even if I say so myself, and emailing readers like they mattered and addressing issues close to me that brought this world from that old blog/site to this one, perhaps a hundred-fold bigger, more vast, deeper and with a readership that has (even if not in comparison to incorporated websites) blown sky-high.

And I cannot say I do not like it this way.

The three photographs

As I scrolled around that old blog I came upon three photographs I had put up on three different occasions.

If not for my good pal, Raghul Selvam, I would eventually (read: currently) never have bothered to organise my photographs offline as I have done now to some extent.

Unfortunately, these three photographs do not fall into that set and I am afraid I may not have even one copy of them offline. In any case, what else I reflected on was that I made these at a time when I made all my photographs with my trusty, tiny, now-hardly-adequate Canon point-and-shoot. (No, I still think Canon P&Ss are awesome, and still not their SLRs!)

A re-creation mission

I would hardly want to touch upon the finer details like the abilities of the camera (but I have blown up parts of those photographs below). And I would like to, symbolically and on a technical level, re-create these photographs with my current bigger, costlier, generally more impressive gear and see how things turn out.

With this in mind, I set out to work this morning (which I think was the same time as these older photographs, as I remember; but I may be wrong) and these are the results. After the three photographs in question are a few more I shot on the way to and back from the railroad spot.

1. “Life”

The old edition:

The new edition:

Life_2013_edition_reduced

The challenge:

What I found most challenging in re-creating this photograph was exposing the various areas perfectly. I had to match the previous one as closely as possible so broke down the photograph into four quadrants.

The top right quadrant was easy enough, but the rest test lay with the top and bottom left: the image had to be just enough under-exposed to get the black regions you now see, but without hindering the top and bottom right quadrants.

What I did not get was the shine on the railroads: the sunlight has to be falling just right for that and the path leading to this section of the railway tracks is not really a path but a trek downhill through the woods behind my house and it is now covered by a thick undergrowth and a good possibility of snakes. So I decided to let that go, but still make the rest of the photograph as best as I could.

The new photograph carries greater detail in well exposed areas and gives the viewer a better sense of presence, which also means it moves out of the realm of the abstract — a sacrifice I had to make. I, for one, am quite happy with the results.

2. “Start today and create a new ending”

The old edition

The new edition

Start-today-new-ending_2013_edition_reduced

The challenge:

It was all about the processing, of course! Understandably, the same degree of cross-processing can never be achieved twice, so that apart, the only obvious difference between these two photographs is their length-width ratio. The old one was cut almost square, but I left the new one as it came out of camera.

You can notice an increased lot of greenery overall in the new photograph, along with a few missing trees on the right, but that, of course, has nothing to do with my work: grass grows whether you like it or not. Further, I did not have as many clouds as I clearly did while making the first photograph, so the sky in the new one is flatter and all the more blank. I tried to use it to my advantage and I like how it turned out, but if I could change one thing about the new photograph, it would be the clouds (or the lack of them).

I also slightly re-composed the trees on the right to increase focus on the tracks. Back then, there was no question of selectively focusing, so the trees’ presence or absence made no difference, but now, it could have very well broken this photograph had I composed it much the same way!

Once again, close as I could get, I do like the results here too.

3. “The tree of life”

The old edition

recreate2

The new edition

Tree of life 2013  reduced

The challenge:

This photograph was a lot more about framing than exposing. New hedges popped up on my frame and obscured part of the tree as you can see on the lower right; but the biggest problem was reducing that blockade by moving about and re-composing, but this was the best I could given that my movement was restricted by other plants and hedges in the garden.

 

The differences in shooting, mainly, were that the old photographs were shot partly by the camera (semi-auto mode or worse) and the new ones — much like all my photographs lately — were shot in full manual mode. (Although I like the famously good A mode, I have come to favour it less lately and find myself shooting in full manual because M is so much better!) Also, there was nothing to focus on or with before.

Understandably, re-creating shots being more complicated than it seems at first, I also made slightly different or entirely new shots from, and from around, these very locations: more on that in part II.

Do let me know how you like the results privately or by commenting below!

Google+ vs Facebook: 10 reasons why Google+ is far better

As PCWorld rightly pointed sometime out last year, the comparison of Google+ vs Facebook (which the masses generally draw) is an uneven one. Google+ is a far bigger picture for Google than one might imagine: my own way of putting it, as I have said to many of my acquaintances, is that Google is on its way to becoming a Skynet, although in a good way as things now stand.

+You

This is part 1 of a 4-part article series on Google+. Read the others here:

For Google as a corporation, the Google+ Project is a landmark venture where they aim to bring together all their products, most of them the best in their niche, to make each thrive on the other and deliver an infinitely better user experience, centering on a users–you guessed it–Google+ profile.

Therefore a better way to put the tie would be, Google versus Facebook. Google+ simply isn’t one product anymore. In my opinion, it is quite ready to take on the Google Search robe as the corporation’s face on the Web. And the project has seamlessly integrated all Google products to such an extent, Google+, with respect to a given user, is really all of Google.

So let us see ten unique places I have spotted, over my stay on Google+ (and since I bid goodbye to Facebook quite a while ago,) where Google fares better enough than Facebook to convince anybody to switching to it. Personally, though, I recommend people not to switch: right now, only select people who share posts worth others’ while are populating Google+ ((Statistics show 1. most of these are male 2. most are professionally oriented people 3. the users appear to have unanimously maintained a formal ambience around Google+ 4. there is less than even a fraction of the nonsense, cat jokes floating around on Facebook. If asked to put it bluntly, I think I would say, “Google+ is the Facebook for matured people.”))and we do not want this becoming just another Facebook.

Without further ado, let us go through the ten key aspects I have in mind.

1. Google retains your privacy

I recall somebody once saying Zuckerberg (deserves a bravery award because he) values his privacy more than yours.

Facebook has a habit of compulsorily requiring you to make certain sensitive data of yours publicly visible. Google+ has no such strings attached. In fact, all Google requires you to adhere to strictly is that you do not pose as somebody you are not. Understandably, going against this rule will get you banned from all Google products, but I think it is a good thing considering that it will filter out those characteristic Facebook posters (who were probably once characteristic MySpace posters) who waste your time, right at the start.

In short, though, Google+ is designed to allow you to retain absolute control of your privacy at every point of usage, with both specific settings and general preferences.

2. You can say bye with a snap of your finger

No, really. If you have ever tried deleting your Facebook account, you will know exactly what  mean. It is impossible to fully delete your posts and updates. And pictures. And notes. And sensitive/embarrassing talk if any.

On Google+ you can use their Data Liberation tool to download all your data, pack up and leave Google+ without a public trace. And when I say all, I mean absolutely everything: your videos, Picasa web albums, shares/updates, contacts and anything else you can think of.

If you have not done it already, I strongly urge you to try deleting your Facebook account. Do not worry accidentally deleting it; you cannot delete in even on purpose.

3.  Better group activities

If there is one Google+ feature (apart from photo sharing) that beats every other social network hands down, it has to be Hangouts.

Have you seen what Google did with that poor web camera you get fit into your laptop? I have been invited to roughly thirty hangouts so far (not public hangouts, specific invite-only hangouts) and the interaction is just perfect. I will not be surprised if Facebook comes up with a counterpart, but given the present assets, it would not be hard to guess whose would be better–and who has a head start?

4. Professional setting on Google+

If LinkedIn spelled formal and professional social networking up to this point, I am beginning to feel Google+ will take over now.

Your profile on Google+ is slick, smooth, minimalist and you are in enough control to take out specific things and entirely hide unnecessary stuff. This, coupled with the fact that Google+ has a smaller user base of select individuals, makes way for recognition, good business exposure, personal/freelance popularity and so on.

If you have not begun to do so already, I recommend you harness the true power of Google+ in this regard.

5. Integration within the Web

Some may consider this to be the most important point so far, but I think fifth is where it should stand: but, yes, it is both important and vital.

When I was invited to try Google+ before it was released to the public, I had already begun using Google’s black bar on top without realising others I knew did not really have it on their accounts! The bar was a tad different then, but the concept remained quite the same even after development: to make your network accessible from any Google product at any time.

The way I see it, this would be over half our time on the Web. Consider Google Search, Picasa, Google+, Analytics, GMail, YouTube and any of the several other Google products you can think of. The slim black bar lets you connect to most of these–with specific focus on Google+–from any other product website.

6. Better network management

One thing I used to despise on Facebook was the way people there had (and probably still have) hundreds of so-called friends. If you  cannot recount the name of every single one of them, you might as well not add them. Friend requests and status updates were making and breaking jobs and relations–too much hold for a robotic binary programme, don’t you think?

On Google+ you can neatly organise your network into any number of categories, call it anything you want and share specifically, without wasting the precious time of those who do not give a damn about that particular update of yours.

This also nullifies my previous question, just in case you are still wondering. Google’s Circles is arguably their finest concept, mirroring daily life: how we make different circles of friends, meet and talk and share differently with each of them and so on. And Google+ allows you to bring that priceless habit onto your second life on the Web.

It adheres to the age old formula: replicate real life for the best results!

7. Better (best?) mobile application

Whether it be iPhone or Android or any other second-tier mobile OS, you have a Google+ application that stamps the rest to the ground.

Unfortunately, I got my Google+ Android app only a week before its public release and I did not have enough special time to appreciate its numerous, rich features fully. Over time, however, there are some things you will notice ((I only speak for Android phones, because I have never used Google+ on any other OS and have little intentions of doing so in the future)).

Given that Android is also a Google product, the commenting, updating and other such features subtly integrate themselves into the design of the OS and make accessing Google+ a breeze unlike Facebook’s app, or instance, which requires you to access the homescreen repeatedly, for a lot of reasons.

8. Easy to search within Google+

Google’s third much hyped feature is Sparks. I hardly took notice of it before public release–and I doubt anybody else did–but the true power of Sparks became apparent only much later when a good lot of content had been shared. It was like a small, but equally intense, Google Search stitched into Google+ that allowed you to search your network with great ease.

While it is clear that Google’s previous stand as a search engine played a major role in this, what is more important is that this feature, which seems all so obvious now, had been overlooked in every other social network prior to Google+; and in my opinion, none–even if they do appear at a later point of time–will be in a position to beat Google’s Sparks simply because of Google’s leverage in the searching world online.

9. Better photo sharing and tagging

It is by no means an overstatement to say Google+ is the new photographer’s paradise. There was (still is) 500px, Flickr and so on, but Google’s policy, Picasa integration, tagging technology, viewing–and the elephantine photographer count that exists here–seems to have beat them all in one sweep.

I know many photographers who are leaving other sites slowly but confidently to back-file their entire work to Google+. As for tagging people, when I was on Facebook, many months ago, I kept stressing on a particular clause in their terms of use that said nobody could tag a user without their consent. But (rather intelligently) Facebook made no attempt to stop such tagging and it annoyed me severely. On Google+, however, tagging a person notifies them and the tag appears only if they concur. So that is bidding goodbye to childish tagging in unrelated and/or compromising photographs that Facebook came to be known for even if not quite publicly.

10. Google listens to you

That is right. Google values user feedback more than any other multinational corporation I have come across.

Know that little grey box that says Send Feedback on the bottom right? It is quite generally known that the only people who value feedback enough to actually change their site are those who run personal websites, blogs and such. But Google has taken things in good spirit, and that feedback form is actually more advanced than it seems at first.

You are allowed to highlight parts of the page where you plan to give suggestions, point out to errors etc. as well as black out any personal information you wish to keep hidden. Then you type in your suggestion and send it to Google.

Will anything happen? Trust me, they actually listen to you. As I said before, this might not exactly be what one would expect from a company the size of Google but there have been suggestions I have myself made and a number of them I have seconded or chipped into and these have actually been adopted as changes in Google+

It is fun to see your suggestion has been valued and things have been changed for the better. This also keeps with Google’s open-source spirit and makes the network one that is run by its users rather than an unseen body. Good uses people have been making of the feedback box is requesting for slight alterations to the existing Google+ terms of usage and there have been multiple records where Google has brought out changes.

This flexibility is by far the best reason–from a user satisfaction standpoint–to switch to Google+ and dump Facebook for good.

I am not in any way associated with Google or Facebook, and this review has been from a neutral standpoint. Clearly, I state that the scale tips in favour of Google as my list clarifies!

Before you leave, do not forget to join me on Google+ and circle VHBelvadi.com too!

Google+ Daily Photography Themes

A look at how photography on Google+ is organised by its unique daily photography themes. Also a quick list of the active daily themes on Google+. (Many thanks to Ray Bilcliff for the list.) Continue reading

Guide to buying a digital point and shoot camera

Or, how I bought a great camera and how you can too!

There are way too many p&s cameras out there in the market and almost everybody seems to portray their products as more worthy a buy than another. But how much can we bend before we break?

I faced the same problem when I was contemplating on which camera to buy, and after a few weeks’ repeated consideration which required quite a lot of endurance, I finally ordered one. But I learned an extensive lot in the process: terms I never new existed, stuff I never knew mattered and more stuff I never knew meant nothing. And most importantly, what one’s itinerary ought to be on the map of confusion that is the market of cameras. So this is my two cents on what you ought to consider when you buy the next digital camera. Rest assured I have covered everything there is in this brief, yet informative, guide filled with all you need to know. Plus my own experience from a few days ago!

Is what I have now not good enough?

Perhaps the first question one needs to ask themselves is whether they need  a digital camera at all. A few good reasons you can convince yourself is because the images are output digitally, which means they are easier to handle and you do not have to wait for an entire reel of film to run out before you develop it (if you really like to hold it physically.)
That said, and if you already have a digital camera or a mode of shooting digitally  (I had my smartphone) do you need a new one? Again, a few good reasons might be that you need better picture quality than your lousy phone can give you, or maybe you want to pursue photography as a mainstream hobby and cannot afford (or do not want) a dSLR, so a p&s is a better option. Or maybe you have got better with photography and want to explore a world where your camera allows a tad more of those envious manual settings than can make or break an image—and only you are to blame. But it is fun nonetheless.

The main advantage of a digital camera is that it is handy and cuts out all that acutance jargon most people do not understand (and if you did not know, acutance is what the layman calls sharpness.) Even more of a reason would be those preset modes. But these are misleading, as we will later see.

What my camera would need, as opposed to what it would want

So the two main questions before us would be, what are those elements my camera absolutely cannot do without (in other words, would be a waste of an investment.) And those that will not really matter to me.

Megapixels

For new entrants into the camera market, MPs are everything. But the fact of the matter is that they mean nothing unless coupled with a golden leaf. (I will come to that leaf later.)

Megapixels, roughly translating, tells you how big a picture you can get out of a shot you have just taken. Would it be over 4000 pixels by length and height? (About 14MP.) Or just over 1200 either way? (About 5MP, maxed out.) Or, to take it further, will you be able to print out a three foot by four foot framed photograph without losing detail, introducing noise or (to put it loosely) compromising on quality?

[For the curious mind, MegaPixels really means million. Mega is a prefix used in physics, for instance MegaHertz for frequency, Megametre for a million metres or a thousand kilometers and so on. It is one followed by six zeroes and so 6MP really means your image can have up to 6,000,000 pixels—although cameras always have an option to click a picture in any lower pixel density, such as 5 or 4MP, in the settings menu.]

But even these megapixels mean nothing without our golden leaf

Image Sensors

So the image you have before you is not all fitting the LCD Live View screen? Or are those 30MPs seeming like large pixelated tiles while the guy over at the camera store told you it should be smooth as silk, like pictures from an issue of NatGeo? Blame your image sensor.

These little devices have odd looking measurement styles. If you looked at the specifications of any camera, you would find Image Sensors listed as something like 1/6” or 1/5” or moving to dSLRs, 1/1.2” and so on.

While this seems to make perfect sense to any student of photography or physics, the layman might get lost here. The idea is that the larger the Image Sensor, the better the processing is. Take graphics cards, for example: the larger their memory, the better their output. But in case of the Sensors, when we speak of large, we mean it literally.

Take 1/6” and 1/5” for instance: dividing 1 by 6, we get 0.166”; and dividing 1 by 5 we get 0.2”. Clearly, the second one (two tenths of an inch) is larger than the first. Therefore the second Image Sensor is better.

The further gameplan is this: a very small image sensor, like 1/6”, given an elephantine lot of pixels, like 14MP, will be unjust. The tiny thing will not be able to do a good job and the end result will be a noisy photograph. On the other hand, a 1/5” sensor coupled with a 3MP camera is meaningless because the input image itself is not sufficiently sharp. The right combination of these two is therefore extremely necessary.

My Canon PowerShot has a 14.1MP with a 1/2.3” sensor (about 0.45”) which is a good standard. You can perhaps use that to get an idea as to what MP goes with what sensor.

But why do manufacturers still put in such large MPs into cameras? I think it is a marketing gimmick. More than three-fourths of the consumers out there go by MegaPixels and hardly any of them have even heard of Image Sensors. But now you know.

[For those of you who have at some point of time studied electronics and circuitry, the Image Sensors that are of the Charged Couple Device type are generally better. Others might want to look for the CCD marking like ‘1/4” CCD Image Sensor’ on the device specs.]

And the others

You will be surprised to know these are the only things you absolutely must bother about when buying a digital camera. But there are a few optional things which might be interesting to consider should two or three cameras in your budget end in a tie when comparing their MPs and ISs!

Basically, the two points above are a requirement for all; but those hereafter are either optional or are for people with specific requirements. I have them below in the order of preference:

Image Stability: Nobody keeps their camera perfectly still while shooting (although there are a few tricks I, myself, follow to increase stability manually) so a digital (or preferably, optical) electronic image stabilisation feature is an excellent addition for your money.

Optical zoom: If you plan to click pictures from afar, the optical zoom feature is a must. My PowerShot has a 4x zoom in its Canon Zoom (full of awesomeness) lens and I find it sufficient for my needs. However, manufacturers add a digital zoom feature to lure innocent consumers. Find the option that lets you throw it out of the window. Digital zoom merely crops, enlarges and wrecks a part of your photograph so much that you would not even want to take credit for it any day.

Battery type: Often the option in cameras is between two battery types: AA dry cells (NiMH) or rechargable Li-ion. (when I say option, I mean cameras come with either; you cannot choose it yourself!)

The advantage with AA batteries is that there is no headache of charging. Most Nikon p&s cameras adhere to this trend. But, from experience I can assure you that if you do not get the rechargeable AA batteries, you will run out of juice soon. And even if you do, they will not last as long as Li-ion built-in batteries. Moreover, recharging makes no difference with the Li-ion batteries!

The Li-ion batteries are similar to phone batteries and nowadays come with the option of charging them in-camera as opposed to using a second charger to charge them. They also have a USB-charging feature that works best with USB 3.0+ and is considerably fast with lower versions.

Flash: Best if placed on the left of the lens (right, if you view the camera from the front.) This allows for free handling of your right hand which operates the shutter button and prevents your fingers obstructing the flash. Also use Through The Lens flash (or TTL for short) sparingly. Of better use would be the fill flash option if your camera has it, because it uses surrounding environment light as a reflector/intensifier to give you a better picture without clumsy flashes and red-eyes.

[As a side note, remember those guys in the middle of the football stadium, flashing away on their cameras? Well, they were wasting their batteries. Flash is useless beyond a maximum of eight to ten feet. Beyond that, it just consumes your battery and makes no difference to the picture. The advice therefore is, learn when not to use your flash. Parenthetically, make sure your camera has the option to turn off flash when it is not required, just like it has an option to get rid of digital zoom.]

Aperture Priority (Av): This is an indispensable semi-manual mode of shooting. If your camera has this and the Shutter Priority mode (we will come to that soon) then it is a one up. In this, one has the option to manually set the aperture size (like f/5, f/2 and so on—my personal favourite is f/8 which I find perfectly suitable to most situations.) This creates, most commonly, a depth of field. I have yet to put up photographs with varying depths of field on my photography website, and I plan to pick up a few of my older shoots and do so soon.

Depth of field is really the amount of your picture in focus (based on relative distances from the lens.) Now follow this closely: a large aperture number means a small aperture opening; a small aperture opening means the amount of light entering your camera is restricted; less light entry implies a greater depth of field where a large number of objects in the scene are in clear focus. This is best for landscapes.

Now doing just the opposite (small aperture number and so on as I explained above) gives us a small depth of field, or all the objects in the scene are not in focus. To be precise, the nearest one (most often the subject) is in focus. This is particularly helpful in macro (shooting up close) or when the viewers’ attention has to be directed to something in particular, regardless of the background (which almost always gets thoroughly blurred.)

I call this a semi-manual mode (actually, quite a few people do) because, while we control the aperture, the remaining details—most interestingly the shutter speed—which we have to set manually in dSLR cameras, is set by the camera itself. In general the formula, quite understandably, is to go in for a slow shutter speed for larger depths of field.

Shutter Priority (Tv): The other important semi-manual mode where you set the shutter speed manually. This is most useful when photographing moving things, like water, over a split second because this gives a surreal effect most commonly found coupled in HDR photographs (High Dynamic Range imaging: those almost artificial looking vivid coloured photographs some people still think are digitally created.)

Automatic mode: I do not have to put this here, because without this, the concept of a digital camera breaks down. If I still have to explain it, it is that evergreen mode some fellows refuse to switch from where the camera does all the work except clicking the shutter button.

Programme mode: This is actually a non-standard semi-manual mode one finds in select cameras which often lets the user make considerable adjustments in hue, tone, saturation, white balance, contrast, brightness, exposure, ISO and so on. (ISO is the International Organisation for Standardisation which used to set the standards for reel films; but the term has remained in use even for digital cameras and simply suggest what reel quality/standard the particular shot is going to be equivalent to if you were using a film-camera in its place.

I call this a non-standard mode because there is no single definition for this mode in the marketplace. There are even manufacturers who merge this with the automatic mode, disregard it or call the Auto mode as the Programme mode.

Internal and expandable memory: The standard internal memory for a camera nowadays is around 30 to 50 MB. Sufficient for a couple of good quality pictures, insufficient for videos. Anything lesser is bad value for money, although not a prime concern because, whether we wish to or not, buying a digital camera always means buying a memory card along with it!

Make sure you get good option to expand the memory of up to at least 4GB. This optimum amount makes sure your older photos do not get buried if you do not have the habit of regularly formatting your card and clicking tonnes of pictures and experimenting. While this is unanimous industrial standard, some cameras sway away from this rule. And you need to stay out of their path.

Panorama and Movie modes: Useful to most, and an added up to some, these give you the option of shooting films (often up to half an hour) and taking a series of pictures spanning 360 degrees. While some cameras allow you to stitch the panorama in-camera, others require a provided software package.

Pre-set modes and effects: If all the three we saw above were semi-manual modes, these pre-set modes are fully automatic. Examples include landscape, portrait, face-priority, smile/wink detection, night, fireshow, discrete, copy and a number of others. These need not all be in all cameras, but it would be a good criteria to look into before buying a camera merely as good value for your money.

Along with this are effects, such as sepia, black&white, vivid colour, red-eye reduction and so on. And additional features such as locking select pictures, cropping them and so on.

Good luck buying a camera!

Tat is quite all I have to say at the moment! Bookmark this and do keep coming back to this post because I might just keep making additions and changes (which I will clearly mark as and ‘update.’)  And if you have questions, do get in touch with me and I will do as much as I can to help.

Good luck buying that envious new camera!

Top blogging niches — a commentary

While on one of my strolls through the Internet I came across an article that boldly claimed to state the top three blogging niches. It began with a declaration and a flaw: that when one is starting a blog, he must chose a profitable blogging topic.

The declaration is pretty straightforward—in fact it is pretty and straightforward—but it could not have been more vague. While the idea of evergreen is fairly obvious, what does it mean to be profitable? A blog that showcases the talents of the writer? A blog that gives great substance, no matter how small the article itself? Or a blog that is a mint for its owner?

Profitable Blogging

Profitable blogging is a funny thing. Indeed, now that I think of it, the very word profit sounds out-of-place when it is in the same sentence as blogging. First of all, it goes against the spirit of blogging, making it seem business-like.

The idea here is that blogging was born with the spirit to be useful (or profitable if you will) to both parties involved: the blogger and their reader. It was to introduce a new form of literature, a cross between reporting and spewing out opinions. Journalism of sorts. This meant the reader, one, could be informed; two, could be entertained; and three, their thoughts could be provoked.

With time, this took on a new form. Blogs could be used to make money. Bloggers (or at least the fellows who called themselves that) sported advertisements, sold products and—worst of the lot—wrote articles reviewing products on what I call a pay-to-praise basis.*

So, when one is speaking of profit via blogs, these days society dictates that we blend in all the above meanings into our general understanding. With this in mind, and hoping this is what the author of the original article also had in mind, let us examine his opinion of the reigning blogging topics.

Health and Lifestyle

I always say it is pointless to chose any such thing as a blogging niche before starting a blog. It only makes sense to start blogging, experimenting and seeing with which genre of topics one feels most at home before diving straight into the blogosphere. Even then, one often finds themselves bumping up for air as they realise the genre does not suit them as much as it seemed at first sight.

That said, the top blogging niche allegedly is health and lifestyle. Weight loss, exercise, diet, acne and the likes are listed as possible ventures in this niche. Very well, but would writing articles on such topics not require some basis or qualification? On the funny end, how many readers would vouch for a blogger who is obese because of a few Macs too many? And, on the serious end, how many readers would love to spend even half-an-hour each day listening to exercise tips from an elementary-school mathematics teacher who has been to the ballpark perhaps thrice all his life? (As for his calories, it is believed that working with numbers is a sufficient calorie burner!)

The reader also goes on to say that these topics ought to be updated regularly as new things pop up and stuff keeps changing—or, to quote, because they’re constantly updated. I believe we were discussing evergreen topics? If a topic needs to be updated and re-written/structured on a regular basis, I would hardly categorise that as evergreen. Or maybe it is just me?

Relationships

All like-minded people out there, reading this, need to be prepared to be quite disappointed. The word relationships here does not refer to elementary or mathematical relationships (sadly,) rather to the human emotions/parenting/dating/conflicts etc. that I seem to be oddly alien to. Apparently they exist and the author suggests them as good contenders for a profit from your blog.

These relationships that have been around—and I quote—as long as humans have been around, are worth writing about. The author says such topics are evergreen as people will always want to improve their relationships in their lives.

I believe I have insufficient grounds to further comment on this topic, so I shall stop here. Now again, perhaps it is just me, but I believe that a person who looks to the internet to help him in this regard has failed as a human being.

Money and Finance

Speak of (monetary) profit! Apparently, a good way to make money from your blog is to write about it!

The author says that if we could help people get wealthy be writing content that helps people increase their earnings (profit) or reduce their losses (savings) we would earn a significant income online. Those last three words—straight from the original article—make it clear that the profit in this regard is, indeed, monetary.

Now, if we could actually provide people with such content, would we not have used it to get wealthy ourselves without dousing the spirit of blogging in the process—like we would be doing if we actually wrote something like this?

So what is missing?

This naturally brings to one’s mind a question targeted at me: if these do not work, what does? What are the truly reigning topics?

My short answer would be, the mob is fickle minded.

Now, we can sort out blogging based on the nature of the posts rather than the nature of the content. I shall expand on that, if I have not been clear already. My own list of three evergreen blogging posts would be (based, as I said, on the nature of the writing) opinionated, factual/reporting and pictorial.

Opinionated

Opinionated writing is always a welcome read. The same monotonous set of sentences have probably already been spoken a hundred times in a hundred different ways. Can you give your readers a different perspective on that? Can you write something thought-provoking? In short, can your writing be dubbed as different with sufficient grounds? An introduction to the current state of things sprinkled with the bloggers own opinion will make way for a worthy read, time well spent and possibly a healthy discussion.

Factual blogging/Reporting

Reporting/Factual articles are truly evergreen. However, there is a little catch here: what really is a fact? It is important to understand that not all researched and declared statements are facts if either their results are open-ended or leave room for doubt. In these cases, our scenario would be like that of the health and lifestyle niche above.

A fact would be saying an average human has 32 teeth. It is safe to say that so long as we do not evolve into an altogether new species overnight, the fact stands. However, one can run out of facts.

Reporting is a good alternate route along the same lines. However, note that reporting is not an entirely advisable option because, let us face it, newspapers are far more trusted, and have more reasonable stances, than bloggers. And you cannot possibly write anything that some media-source has not already reported, especially considering the fact that the blogger’s own research material was among these sources of mass media!

The only situation when reporting/blogging is a good idea is when you are a local and you personally visited the site/were at the incident you are reporting about and it is something the rest of the world would want to read about.

It is therefore a valid conclusion that this second idea is not as good as the first. Factual blogging or journalism-via-blogging is a good once-in-a-while option and it ends at that.

Photoblogging

The last one is photography as I stated above, or, to use the right jargon, photoblogging. This, again, is quite a narrow stream if your photograpy skills are not at least easy on  the eyes. While it is surprising how many people underestimate their camera skills, even if only with a point-and-shoot digital camera, it is also surprising how many overestimate it.

If you are camera happy and truly believe the world will want to see what you see through the view-finder, it would be a good idea to put up at least one picture a day and run a successful blog, sans words!

And by successful I mean a blog with a large readership and one which allows the blogger to express himself without strings attached.

My opinion

You can skip this section without weighing down on your conscience because everything I say here is biased.

I would love to see a period when science—especially physics—becomes a raging blogging niche. I frequently explore the annals of physics here, often writing to popularise it and at times to reproduce something new I have learned simply so that I can come back and explain it to myself—because nobody can explain to oneself better than themselves! Science is something that intreagues every human—although I am acquainted with a few who outrightly lay false claims that it does not. As humans we question just as easily—and unknowingly—as we breathe, and, science being the answer to everything, an occasional blog article in science—and this is the voice of experience speaking—throws up readership like nothing else possibly could!

So what are your ideas of everygreen blogging topics? Do you believe in my varied approach via the nature of writing? Or do you have another explanation altogether? Share it below!

 

 


*In my own opinion, perhaps the one, unadulterated, place where blogging—although a relatively new idea, at 17 years young—has unarguably achieved is the lack of gender bias. While other streams are apparently approaching an increasing loss of the male-dominance-psychology, blogging, for some reason never took that gender-bias foundation. To some extent, I think this is because early blogs did not carry the images of the authors; and—owing to the lack of both sexist language, and the need to mention the blogger’s name anywhere—the writing itself could not possibly help identify the writer’s gender, unless specifically mentioned.