The past 2 Glastonbury Festivals I’ve tried my best to send a steady stream of photos back to the real world via Flickr. The first time was a complete success – I think I managed to send back about 50-80 photos over the 5 days and a few of them were used on NowPublic. Last year? An epic fail – I managed 2, purely due to mainly technical issues(!) Here I’m going to offer a few tips based on what I’ve learnt in the hope it’ll help anyone else with the same idea.
The key to remember is that the WAP reception is beyond terrible. You see on New Years Eve when you try and text everyone and you get the continuous “Network Busy” message? The reason for that is that the mobile masts are only designed to handle a certain number of connections at any one time. In real world situations, this can be a relatively low number as realistically only a small percentage of people are ever on the phone at one time. But when you squeeze 125,000 people together into an area that doesn’t usually see many concurrent mobile phone calls, the mast is overwhelmed and connections are refused. The same seems to apply to the WAP reception which, I assume, is processed by the same masts. Unless they’ve seriously ramped up the connection speed in that area, you can forget about 3G.
This is why the choice of phone (or, more realistically, choice of resolution) are so important. Aside from the slow connection, there is a good possibility that you’ll periodically lose reception and the download will fail, so trying upload 5 1MB photos will do nothing but hang your phone and drain your battery. So, tip #1 – set your resolution to about 2MP or less. My first year I used a K800i and the email function had a handy little resize function that knocked the photos down to about 100KB – perfect. Last years Nokia N95 had no such function, so to maintain the full quality (which, at the time, I thought was a good idea) meant I was uploading photos 10 times the size of the previous year. Put simply, it didn’t work.
Which leads to tip #2. Why would you want all your photos to be 2MP when you may realistically have a phone with a max resolution of 5-8MP? So – take another camera. Don’t rely on your phone to be your main camera, just use it for photos you want to upload. Sure, this means you may occasionally be left with a photo on your camera that you’d love to send back but can’t upload till you get back, but at least it will be good quality! Changing the resolution back and forth is a possibility, but I guarantee you’ll quickly get bored of that.
Tip #3 – batteries, batteries, batteries. Last year I screwed up – I bought 4 spare phone batteries on ebay 7 days before I left, and they arrived on the 8th. Nightmare. I grabbed one en route to the festival, and I already had 1 spare, but 3 batteries lasted me less than 3 days. The Nokia N95 (and even more so the N96) are notorious for draining battery power, so you want to think about 1 for each day and maybe even another spare. Seriously, you can pick them up for £2 on ebay, so its not a huge cost, and it’ll save you losing the use of your camera (and more importantly, your phone!) 3 days into the festival.
Tip #4 – use an upload service, if possible. Sending the photos attached to emails is simple, but more liable to time out. You don’t want to stare at your phone until its done, so you can end up retrying the same upload 5 times over 5 hours until it works. Services like Shozu work as an upload manager, so you can let the software deal with getting the photos to flickr and get on with your day.
This is what I’ve got planned:
– Nokia N96 (my current phone)
(camera set to 2MP)
– 6 batteries
– Shozu (for uploading)
– Samung ES55
If you are planning on photoblogging Glastonbury in 2009, drop me an email! I’d be interesting to know if anyones thought of anything I’ve missed.