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by Greg Downing on Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:14 pm
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Greg Downing
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As you have probably already noticed we have made significant updates to the website!

If you want to see a video introduction to the new site you can find one here:

http://www.naturescapes.net/articles/editorial/welcome-to-the-new-naturescapes/

There are too many changes to list them all, but here are some of the major updates we have implemented:

Front page:

We’ve modernized our front page with a new feature section and a summary of every section of the website including the forums, image galleries, workshops and store. This page will be updated regularly and serves as a portal for the entire site.

Menus:

Menus are structured for quick navigation with drop down submenus to get you where you want to go in a single click.

Forums:

The forums have been re-styled and we have included modern social networking links for personal profiles and topic posts. We also added a “like” button that can be helpful for acknowledging replies without typing a new reply.  We’ve added the right column to feature other happenings on the website (editor’s picks, latest articles etc.)

Image Galleries:

The image galleries are now separated from the forums (though technically they are still integrated, which allowed us to retain all the archived images, comments, statistics etc.).

The galleries have now taken on a much newer look and feel; square user-editable thumbnails are now used throughout the site, allowing us to offer a more aesthetically pleasing user interface. Square thumbnails also encourage people to click on the images to see them in their original composition.

All images are now uploaded directly to our server (including externally linked images.) 

Note on thumbnails: We have created a great deal of thumbnails, one at a time, for archived images - at least the first page of each of the galleries. Past that thumbnails either do not exist or are blurry - we will continue to work on this in the coming days. Of course all new images will have user-created thumbnails.

The gallery home page displays all the gallery images in one place, sorted by date with the newest images showing on top.

Larger images are now allowed in all the galleries for paid members; up to 1280 pixels wide, 1024 pixels tall and 1MB is size. Free members can still link to images that are hosted externally but are limited to 800 pixels on the longest side and 250KB in size.

Gallery images can be clicked to display in a pop-up with the distractions grayed out behind them. If the pop-up images are too large to fit on the screen they will be downsized automatically each time they are opened.

What used to be “Images of the Week” has now been changed to Editor’s Picks – this is where we will display our favorite images. Unlike the Images of the Week we can now choose images simply based on their wow factor and without the restrictions of doing them weekly, or by gallery. Moreover, we have done away with the images of the year awards for the foreseeable future but have some ideas for something to replace it and we will keep everyone posted.

Portfolios:

We simply added some graphics and navigation links here – the portfolios are on our list of major updates that need to be done and will get a major upgrade in the future. Since we will be abandoning the current portfolio software system in the future, we have also disconnected portfolios from the image critique galleries. Members can still access and update their portfolios, add images, etc. We are also not increasing image sizes here since it would break the layout and we don't want to put extra work into something we're replacing in the future. 

Articles:

We’ve revamped this section completely and now offer RSS feeds, article comments for registered users (your existing forum username automatically logs you in for commenting on articles). We’ve added a large right column here, as we have in the forums, so we can keep people engaged. Social networking links and RRS feeds have been added. Images in articles are now going to be larger and pop up like in the galleries. All past articles have been moved and reformatted to fit the new style (a major undertaking in itself).

Workshops:


The workshops page has been completely revamped, and we've added new features like filter by date and region, a new information column on individual workshops for quick viewing of pertinent info, and new registration engine.

Store:

The store remains the same other than removing the flash feature rotation for featured products and adding the sub-menu for quick access. The store is also on our radar for an update in 2013 (it was updated in March of 2010). There are currently some alignment issues being addressed but everything should be functional.

Search:

We are not finished here yet, but we are working on bringing all of the sections of the site into one unified search interface. In the meantime we have a partially working model with links to all of the old section-specific search pages. We will finish this section up within the next week or two depending on how everything else goes.

I realize that everyone will have lots of comments and questions – this is the place to post them   :)

Please remember that this is a MAJOR upgrade all at once and we acknowledge that there is still work to be done and that we are bound to have some issues.

If you DO encounter something unexpected you may post here or email us at editors@naturescapes.net - we will respond to all issues and questions as quickly as possible.

Acknowledgements:

Many MANY thanks for Jamie Umak for her impeccible design work and unwavering patience through this process and to Nicholas Clements for his expert coding and also for putting up with all my whims and changes - this has been a long and complicated process and to say I could not have done this without them would be an understatement!

As always thank you for the support!
Greg Downing
Publisher, NatureScapes.Net
Visit my website for images, workshops and newsletters!
 

by ChrisRoss on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:43 am
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Greg,

looks like a huge amount of work, good to see the upgrade in place. Like the Galleries Home screen, has the potential to have people look at images outside their "home" forums. First impression very positive.

I noticed that View your posts is only visible from the forum index, not individual forums like it used to be and currently only from forums not galleries. Be nice to have a means to click there from whereever you are in forums/galleries, probably not high priority but nice to have.
Chris Ross
Sydney
Australia
http://www.aus-natural.com   Instagram: @ausnaturalimages  Now offering Fine Art printing Services
 

by George DeCamp on Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:09 am
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Wow what a huge undertaking! Looks really great so far but only had 10min to look around. Congrats on the new look and thanks for all the hard work!!
 

by Jens Peermann on Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:33 am
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Congratulations on this great looking new website. I too like the Galleries Home page a lot.

However, I am missing the "Return to [category]" button at the bottom of the topic pages. It was just so much more convenient than going back to the top of the page and click on that link.
A great photograph is absorbed by the eyes and stored in the heart.

 

by crw816 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:13 am
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Awesome new site. I have spent quite a bit of time orienting myself to the new look and layout. I really think this was a positive upgrade. Thank you for all your hard work getting this done.

One comment: The site pages load really slowly, and I am on a super fast connection. I have tried it on several PC's and all are the same. Not sure if its a server issue on your end, or too many people checking it out at the same time, but the 5-10 seconds to load a page do dampen the experience.
 

by Scott Fairbairn on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:17 am
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Looks very good so far, love the new gallery look, my pages seem to take a long time to load, I'm not sure if it's my connection or some other reason, but it looks like others are having the same issue.
 

by Greg Downing on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:29 am
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Looking into the speed issue now - it's VERY slow for everyone at the moment.

Also the lightbox is not working on images - looking into that as well.

Anyone else aside from EJ having layout issues (pages falling apart)?

We were up until 3AM getting everything moved over - please stand by :)
Greg Downing
Publisher, NatureScapes.Net
Visit my website for images, workshops and newsletters!
 

by LouBuonomo on Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:50 am
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congrats on the launch... I know it was a long road.

Lou
 

by LHays on Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:12 am
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So far I like the new design.  Two things I've noticed:  1) I have to sign in everytime I open Naturescapes (I have marked to stay signed in).  2) The site seems very slow....but that may be because every page is new. 
 
Question:  When will be be able to post the larger size images and what was finally decided?
 

by Greg Downing on Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:24 am
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Lana,

Larger images are now allowed in all the galleries for paid members; up to 1200 pixels wide, 1000 pixels tall and 1MB is size. Free members can still link to images that are hosted externally but are limited to 800 pixels on the longest side and 250KB in size.

Gallery images can be clicked to display in a pop-up with the distractions grayed out behind them. If the pop-up images are too large to fit on the screen they will be downsized automatically each time they are opened.

Right now the lighbox is broken but you can still upload the image until we get it fixed.

We are also aware that the site is VERY slow right now and we are looking into that issue as well - it's not the server so far as we can tell.

Please check back later as we will get these issues sorted out within the next 24 hours hopefully.
Greg Downing
Publisher, NatureScapes.Net
Visit my website for images, workshops and newsletters!
 

by John Guastella on Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:34 pm
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Quote:
We are also aware that the site is VERY slow right now and we are looking into that issue as well - it's not the server so far as we can tell.

Please check back later as we will get these issues sorted out within the next 24 hours hopefully.

Looks like you already solved the slowness problem.  I'm browsing it on my MacBook Pro and the site is responding quickly and smoothly.

Great re-design.  Modern and clean - really like it.

John
 

by Tim Zurowski on Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:37 pm
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Site looks great Greg, and I am sure it must have been a ton of work! I hadn't posted images at NSN for quite some time and was waiting for the larger allowable image size. Very disappointed to see that the larger image size is not allowed for non-paying members. Can I ask why that is the case if the images are posted off site?
 

by Greg Downing on Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:44 pm
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Tim - I'm sorry you're disappointed.

The main reason that we have added this as a benefit for paid members only is to encourage support of all of our hard work and significant monetary cost that membership dollars help to support. :)

P.S. all images, even those hosted off site, will be copied to our server from now forward - this is reflected in the new site guidelines and is done for a number of reasons one of which is to prevent spam after the fact and the other is so we can control the content more tightly.
 

by Peregrine on Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:49 pm
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Was quite surprised when I clicked on my bookmark and I have to say, even though I hate change, It does look very nice and clean. Congrats
I have links to over 400 Bird Photographers from around the World at the following link
http://www.peregrinesbirdblog.blogspot.com
 

by Bill Lockhart on Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:09 pm
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Thank you for the new NSN!

There is nothing more challenging than to migrate from an old website to a new one. I have done this a couple of times myself and suffered through the agony of hours and hours of work to bring it about.

Your efforts and those of your team are to be commended.

The new interface is simply awesome to view and makes it so much more enjoyable to explore.

My compliments.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:07 pm
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Neil, sorry you feel that way but please consider this...   Any image you post on any website anywhere is copied to every PC that is used to view it and every server that distributes it anywhere in the world.  It has always and will always be that way if you use the Internet.  It resides in the cache of the web browser in use and is easily retrievable by any computer owner that wishes to do so.  Simply by posting an image, you give permission for the entire world, to retain a copy of any photo you post on their computer perpetually.
 

by ronzie on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:17 pm
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I don't think Neil read the complete terms of use section regarding the use of images on this site. The copying to servers here is not a release of ownership or copyright by the contributor and exists for technical reasons only. It does allow for being copied basically in a discussion reply or modified for purposes of discussion only in that original thread and forum.

Those concerned can always insert a watermark and copyright watermark within the image. Terms of service states copyright notices in the image are not to be removed.

This is a public forum, after all, and once an image is posted in these public forums or portfolios viewing rights are granted.

New site design works very well, thank you.
 

by ronzie on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:21 pm
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For those looking to insert links or upload images who happen to be dpreview.com users, note a full reply or original post has a very similar menu bar with the same type of functions for image upload, links, etc., using just about the same icons.

Don't think dpreview users will need much instruction.
 

by ronzie on Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:28 pm
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It was nice seeing an icon on a forum thread index header that indicated I had created a post or reply on that thread. I am not seeing that now. Am I missing something?
 

by Tim Zurowski on Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:29 pm
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Greg Downing wrote:
Tim - I'm sorry you're disappointed.

The main reason that we have added this as a benefit for paid members only is to encourage support of all of our hard work and significant monetary cost that membership dollars help to support. :)

P.S. all images, even those hosted off site, will be copied to our server from now forward - this is reflected in the new site guidelines and is done for a number of reasons one of which is to prevent spam after the fact and the other is so we can control the content more tightly.
Thanks Greg and for the most part, I agree with you. You guys have done a ton of great work and NSN is probably the best Nature Photography site out there.

I was actually thinking of joining awhile back on my own accord, but when I read the benefits for a paid member not one of them were of any interest to me. So since any non-paying registered person can post at NSN, it makes me feel like I am having my arm twisted to join only for the feature to be able to post full size. I suspect you will have some current non-paying members that will join now, others that will just continue on as normal and only post at 800 pixels and others that will totally leave. It would be interesting to know what those percentages are. BPN has a similar thing where you can post full size, but you cannot have a thumbnail generated for your post. Posts without thumbnails get way less viewing traffic and way less comments. So it costs money to post full size here and to get an image thumbnail there.

I think you might be better off making NSN a paying member only forum. It would allow anyone to view and read the forums and website, but you would have to be a paying member to post images or comment. That way it avoids all the grey areas and makes it "you pay . . . . you play". I also suspect you would get more paying members that way.
 

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