Instagram Finally Addresses #Hashtag Abuse

Instagram cracks down on hashtag abuse

Instagram cracks down on hashtag abuse

Today, Instagram made a giant change in the way hashtagged photos are displayed, and in doing so took a huge bite out of users’ hashtag abuse. Previously, a user could (and many did) add hashtags to their photos hours, days, even months after a photo was originally posted. This allowed for an entire new round of “likes” from people searching a hashtag and clicking on the photos most recently tagged. Now, you can still add all the hashtags you want after posting your image, but your photos will no longer appear at the top of the search. That means adding 25 fresh hashtags, 3 weeks after you posted your photo, won’t show up unless the searcher is willing to scroll through 3 weeks’ worth of images bearing that particular hashtag.

Yes, hashtags have their place. But after seeing so many users game the system by continuously deleting, then adding, new rounds of hashtags, it’s nice to see Instagram taking steps toward rendering this tactic useless.

The Donald planning to add beacon to help illuminate Trump Sign

Trump Sign Beacon

Trump beacon at the very top of Trump Tower

Trump Sign Beacon

Trump beacon mid-height.

I took these photos from the L a few days ago, and had a brilliant idea: Why not take the beacon from atop the Palmolive Building and affix it to the top of Trump Tower? Palmolive has Vince Vaughn (for now) so they certainly don’t need to draw anymore attention. And since the Donald didn’t have the foresight to place his infamous Trump Sign higher in the Chicago Skyline, why not make sure everyone within a 25-mile radius knows exactly where to find it.

As you can see in the photos, there’s a decision to be made as the whether the beacon is most effective at the very top (I think this works best) or about two-thirds of the way up the building. The tippy-top option allows the furthest reach, and would be less likely to blind passing architecture tour boat captains on the Chicago River. But this isn’t a decision I’d be making; this is up to Mr. Trump and his minions.

And don’t bother taking credit for this idea; I’ve already printed a copy and mailed it to myself.

Replacing The Chicago River Barge


This gallery contains 9 photos.

When a good friend moves away, leaving you with no forwarding address, no means of contact, and no promise of so much as a post card, it’s hard not to wander back to the scene and relive those precious memories. Continue reading

My Year in Photos: Stalking Aqua

Stalking Aqua

You’ve seen them, right? The Instagram videos showing the 5 most-liked photos you posted over the past year? Well, you didn’t see one from me for 2014. Why? Because all five were the same subject: Aqua.

It comes as no surprise to me. I, along with the rest of Chicago, love that building, and I can’t walk by without snapping photos like a tourist on a 3-hour layover. This marvelous brainchild of Chicago Architect Jeanne Gang (not this one; this one’s a monstrosity), with its unique wavy balconies and window “lakes,” is most appealing on sunny days, when those pools of glass reflect the blue skies. As with most photos I share, I’ve whittled my collection of Aqua shots down to a reasonable few for you to see. You’ll notice just how different this beauty looks from each angle and perspective.

What’s missing? Photos from inside Aqua, looking out over Chicago. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to go up there someday soon.


Framing the Grand Canyon

The Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Washington State

The Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Washington State

It started with this Instagram photo. A reflection of the Sears Tower in a building, and the thought that it lent itself well as a frame. I revisited this natural framing concept again on a trip to Washington, and this lighthouse photo became one of my favorite shots.

Fast forward to the first vacation of 2015 and my first trip to the Grand Canyon. As forewarned, I wasn’t ready for the scale of magnificence. Nor was I ready for the imminent danger of visiting the Grand Canyon. While I hadn’t given much thought, if any, to safety precautions for tourists, I was surprised at how close we were to the canyon’s edges. Sure, there are railings at the overhangs and main lookout points. But there are also a multitude of wide-open accesses to shear drops and gorge openings.

I, admittedly, have a paralyzing fear of heights. Or, “unprotected heights” as I like to call them. I’m fine in skyscrapers where I know a window won’t give way if I lean on it. But put me on a ladder, or the edge of a 1000-foot drop, and my knees weaken and stomach churns. Add in treacherous footing from the snow and ice of winter in the Arizona mountains, and it was even harder for me to stand close to the unprotected edges of the canyon. Further exacerbate the problem with the absolute certainty, in my mind at least, that I’ll drop my camera(phone) if I so much as consider holding it out over the railing, even if one exists, and I’m admiring the sky behind me instead of enjoying the spectacular beauty in front of me.

Which leads me, eventually, to the following photo gallery. Framing the Grand Canyon was just my way of not having to get too close to the edge. And certain death. Standing back from the canyon’s edge, I took several photos using trees and limbs as framing, with canyon walls in the background. I got brave a few times and managed to get shots down into the canyon too. But many of these “framed” shots are my favorites from the trip.

My Year in Photos: Looking Up

I bumped into a lot of strangers this year. I probably passed by a fortune in dropped change, too. Not because I stare at my phone sending text messages when I walk, but because this was the year I learned looking up was the best way to walk through Chicago. Skyscrapers are wonderful beings, but to fully enjoy them, they must be seen from the base, not just by admiring the skyline.

My Instagram hashtag #UpChicago never took off the way I’d hoped, but I’m over it. I still have fun capturing images of Chicago’s high points from street level. Here are a few of my favorite Looking Up photos:

I had a REALLY difficult time deciding what to include here. Sorry, there a lot of pictures. I hope you’ll take the time to scroll through them all.