Author Archives: Brendan Ó Sé

Why I love to shoot with Provoke App

iPhone photography is all about the apps, isn’t it?

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke app)

That is one of the things that gets thrown at me quite a bit. What app did you use for that? My stock response is: “I shoot with the native camera app and do a little editing with Snapseed.”

Busan (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

As a photographer I am very much on the side of those who think photography is about photographs – not about cameras. I tune out when photographers begin to talk about the technical side of things, but conversely I tune in when the topic of new apps pops up. I would tend to download a lot of new photography apps and experiment with them. Truth be told, I have never found a camera app that works better than the native one on the iPhone, and the with all the editing apps I have downloaded there are only two that I use regularly: Snapseed and RNI Films. The other apps live a lonely life in my Photography folder on my iPhone. Things changed a little when I came across Provoke Camera App. From the start I knew there was something different about this one. It was developed by Glyn Evans [the founder of iPhoneography], and as it says on its download page –  it was inspired by Japanese photographers of the late 1960’s like Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira and Yutaka Takanashi. 

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

I came across the app at an opportune moment. I was embarking on a 5-week tour of 5 countries in Asia. Heading out to do photo talks and walks in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali and Hong Kong. But it was on the beach in Busan, South Korea where I first began to play with my new camera app. The lighting conditions – strong, bright and harsh sunlight were perfect to shoot with the app. There are nine different filters you can use but I let it on HPAN High Contrast for the entire trip. I had found a look I liked and I did not want to stray from this. The app itself is simple to use and allows you to shoot in TIFF format, separate focus and exposure, and shoot with or without flash. Clicking on the ? sign provides an easy to follow guide.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Shooting on a crowded Haeundae beach on a hot summer’s day was fun. I had never shot with flash before, but once I fired the first blast and saw the results I knew this is what I wanted to do on this trip. Very quickly I learned that using the flash results in shots being missed. It slows things down. This I loved. Why? Because street photography is not about snapshots. Because I was missing shots, I had to become more alert. It becomes about anticipation; sensing the scene before it occurs; timing people’s movements and reactions. It’s funny in real life I am not a patient person at all. Just ask my wife. But in photography I am. With each little failure – shot missed – it pushed me to get the next one better.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

In the past few months how I shoot on the streets has changed. Why? It’s all down to Portrait Mode on the iPhone. I’ve mixed things up a lot and now will approach interesting characters I encounter on the street and ask can I take their photo (should I say make your photo!?). Invariably, everyone says OK. Like always their reaction initially is one of surprise. But with a smile, a few questions and little telling them of who I am and where I am from, the ice breaks and as I am shooting all through this exchange I sometimes can get good shots.

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Over the course of the trip I was working like this: Interesting characters would get my attention on the street (or beach) and I would approach them telling them I was a photographer and could I take their photo. I would try to explain what it is about them that got my interest – their hat, sunglasses, shirt, tattoos, the fact they were smoking, or that they just looked cool. This led to the ice being broken and we were off. I would start with portrait mode, then power up Provoke and fire off a few shots with flash (works so well for cliche smoke shots), and then whip up the Fuji X100T to round things off. Another thing I did was to shoot extra shots when I felt I was done. This is a little trick I learned from my buddy Eric Kim.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Being summer in Asia it was hot. Being a pale Irishman not used to the heat I quickly learned that it was perhaps better to get out wandering the streets when the sun had gone down. So, a lot of the time the shots I got with the Provoke App was at night, and the results can be quite good. Sure, the quality is not going to match a DSLR or mirrorless camera, but still, I do like the shots I got at night in places like Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Korea.

South Korea (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpar (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

I was lucky enough to be brought to Kuta beach in Bali with Bali’s best moped drive (and a Fuji X photographer) Gathoe Subroto. He may be Bali’s best moped driver, but I sure was Bali’s worst pillion passenger. I had vowed never to get on the back of a two-wheeled vehicle again in my life years back, but I could not refuse Gathoe. But seriously, never again! However, it was worth it for the shots I got with him in Kuta. Where this app using the H-Pan filter works best is shooting into direct sunlight. I like harsh light and shooting contra luz, especially when you get silhouettes like these.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

On my travels, when I was meeting up with friends, each and every one I showed shots this app produced all had the same response. “What’s it called?” they asked as they began to search for it and download it on the App Store. My Android friends were not too happy, though. For now it is only available on IOS.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

How could it be improved?

Speed. This is probably the main issue. It is slow. Slower when you shoot with flash. As Rinzi Ruiz says: If you see it, it is too late.” I missed a lot of shots with it. But I always miss a lot of shots. That is street. The other thing that needs addressing is editing. When you want to edit an image from your camera roll it is impossible to locate because for some reason the images appear in a random order. With some closing and opening of the app you can correct it, but honestly I gave up. It needs to be fixed. How? Just allow a copy and paste function. Copy from Camera Roll and paste into app. Also, it would be cool if they allowed access to the dual lens system on iPhone.

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

All in all this is a killer app. The very best I have worked with as a native camera replacement, and most definitely the most fun. And that is what it is all about: fun.

So, is iPhone photography all about the apps? No, it’s about the moments you encounter and try to create memories of through photographs. This app, Provoke, does that and it can produce stunning shots.

Kiss the future…

 

 

Posted in iPhone, Resources, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Flickr

Is Flickr past its best before date? I think so. And this makes me sad. Flickr is where I learned and where my love for photography grew. I first opened an account on Flickr ten years ago. This was the very first photograph I posted.

First photograph posted to Flickr

In those early days I would spend hours trawling through the images on the platform and questioning how did people build followings. How did you get people to come to look at your images? How did you get people to comment? It appeared a mystery at first. Then, with time, I realised it was a reciprocal thing. Go comment on the photos of others and they in turn will come and comment on yours. With this I began to become part of a community. And it was a vibrant one. Looking back at images I posted around 2009/2010, I see that comments on images usually outnumbered the faves. This has now changed, meaning there is less engagement. Then it was great. Conversations evolved and built relationships. Friendships formed and I even met some of the people I had as contacts in real life. Some good people.

Flickr’s big thing was its Explore page. Each day 500 photographs were chosen according to their interestingness. If you hit Explore, your views rocketted. Back in the day your image could also hit Flickr Front Page . Your image, along with about 10 others, would be showcased on the main page of Flickr and also on Yahoo pages. This was the jackpot. I remember actually jumping with joy when one of my photos hit the Front Page. This was Flickr box office. Over a period of about 15 months my images would with regularity hit Explore and every few weeks or so one of them would be picked up for Front Page. I was addicted. I was posting every day. This meant I was shooting every day. Shooting with my first DSLR – a Nikon D40 – a great little camera. I was also consuming large volumes of photography and learning at an accelerated pace in a great community atmosphere.

Flickr Front Page

Flickr Front Page

Then an Explore ban came in. I was blacklisted and no matter what I did or how good my images were I could not make Explore. This was tough. I loved Explore. It also made me laugh when others would say they didn’t care about Explore – bit like those who say they don’t care about Instagram numbers – we all do! But this ban resulted in me becoming more serious about photography. I stopped trying to get images that might be to the style of Explore and began to shoot the things that interested me. I had been shooting a lot of blur – but very little of it hit Explore. Appears the interestingness algorithm did not dig the blur. But I did and with the freedom of not trying to chase Explore hits I began to throw myself fully in that direction. Had I continued to make Explore maybe I would not have made shots like this.

Blur

Or this:

Tokyo 2012

Or this:

Drudgery (Tokyo, 2012)

You might think that my interest in Flickr would have waned with an Explore ban but the opposite happened. I created Flickr groups: Superosity, The Superness of Superosity and my favourite Blur Will Save the World (BWSTW). To this day I keep them active. BWSTW is my favourite. There are some really quality images on there. Go check it out.

In 2011 I set up my first Instagram account and with it started another Flickr account. I did things a little differently. For me, Instagram was a camera app, a way to post images shot with my iPhone onto Flickr. I loved it. In 2012, we went on a family trip to Asia. We had this planned for a long time, but the thing with plans is that life gets in the way. My brother fell ill and had to have surgery while we were away. I felt terrible. So far away when he was in hospital. The way I kept in touch was by shooting images on the phone and sending them back home to him. It allowed us to stay in contact. Not knowing it I was on the start of an amazing, life-changing journey with the iPhone.

Vietnam: 2012

When I got home to Ireland I had hundreds of images shot on the iPhone. I was hooked. I had loved how I could capture moments on the street with the iPhone that would have been hard with the bulky DSLR.

Tokyo, 2012

I began to post iPhone shots on a daily basis. I began to shoot much much more with the iPhone. All this practice meant one thing – improvement. I was actively looking for photographs. I was thinking and seeing photographically and I was pushing the limits of the iPhone and creating imagery similar to what I was doing on the DSLR and all the while it was on Flickr where I was sharing them.

The last note heard

With the DSLR I was on a path with my bokeh heads series. Again sharing it on Flickr was so important. The reaction from friends was very inspiring to continue with this project; a project yet unfinished.

The Weight of Other People

Then in 2014 a Flickr post changed everything. I posted this image used a hashtag – iPhone 6 – and to my complete amazement it ended up on billboards all around the world as part of Apple’s Shot on iPhone 6 campaign. Again, all from Flickr.

God will send a sign. When he does, be prepared.

In reality, while this was my true Flickr moment, it probably caused me to stop posting so much on there. Gradually, my daily posts lost their regularity. Following the herd, I began to post more on Instagram. When I did return and post to Flickr I noticed a drop off in engagement. There was a period when they kept trying to redesign the platform. At one point I was thrown onto a beta test version and it was hell.

So, back to my lead in question: Has Flickr passed its best before date? Definitely for me. Over the past two years I have gone from a situation where I would regularly post daily to my two accounts to now probably posting a handful of shots in the year. Why? Because the interaction stopped when it copied Instagram and allowed people to view a thumbnail of an image and click fave on it. This had the immediate impact that people stopped opening up images and engaging with them. I still try to get on to see the shots of friends and if I post I will spend time reviewing, faving and commenting on their photos. But it has lost its charm. Instagram was a mammoth it was not prepared for. Flickr was slow to react and reacted poorly. It has been left behind.

Can it return to its glory days? Not a hope. The world has moved on. But what it can return to is its community environment. I feel people are disenchanted with the format of Instagram. There is not a community aspect. It is solely about the numbers. It is a commercial platform all about viewing; sharing. Flickr can be about sharing. can be about the love of photography. It just needs someone with vision and passion to reinvent it, not try to copy Instagram.

With that, I am going to stay loyal and head over now and post a couple of shots. See you on Flickr!

Hong Kong (Fuji x100T)

Bali

 

 

 

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Mira Mobile Prize Competition

Mira Mobile Prize Competition. What is that about?

What are the entry requirements? This competition is for black and white street photography shot on mobile devices.

How many shots can you enter? 3

When is the deadline? September 12th.

What’s the prize? A week in the beautiful city of Porto.

I am really excited to be on the jury for this competition.

Get your entries in. It is free!

Click here to enter. 

Mira Mobile Prize

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Today at Apple

Today at Apple. Well, last Saturday at Apple in their brand new Singapore store on Orchard Road for a photo talk and walk. It was great fun.

I got into Singapore on Friday morning and after a quick meeting with Apple staff, where I was told that the talk had reached maximum occupancy in 24 hours, my good friend Arik Chan – whose photos populate this post – and I hit the streets to scout for good photo opportunities.

Now in a big city on a busy Friday evening of course you are going to find them. I was looking for shots which could guide the participants the following day when we headed out as a group.

I have been on a new photographic path since I began to shoot in Portrait Mode. Why? Two reasons: 1. It slows me down – which is always a good thing to help you improve. And 2: it means I get to engage with people on the street. I get to talk to them as I shoot.

Singaporeans are a friendly bunch. Here are some of the portraits I shot.

iPhone Portrait Mode: Singapore

iPhone Portrait Mode: Singapore

iPhone Portrait Mode: Singapore

We had been worried that the weather might not be kind to us. The talk was scheduled was 5 p.m. At 3 p.m on our way to the store it was lashing, but I had a feeling this would not last.

The structure of the talk was to give a background to myself and my work and to guide and inspire them as to the type of shots we could get on the one-hour photo walk.

Here we go Reviewing some of my favourite photos Some of the participants

I love photo walks. Everyone walks the same route, passes the same things, but sees things so differently I am always amazed at the shots participants bring back; very often shots I wish I had gotten myself.

Shooting

With a group of 50 people it is not easy to give individual attention to each person. So with the help of some Apple staff we broke up into 3 groups and I spent 20 minutes with each.

Look up

It was a blast. Particularly seeing people putting what they had learnt into immediate practice.

Putting Olloclip into action

When we eventually got back to the Apple Store for a 30 minute review of each other’s shots I found myself exclaiming – “Wow!” – many’s the time. If you check the hashtag #todayatapple you can find some of their shots.

Reviewing photographs

I got to thank Monogramasia for their continuing support in all I do. Means a lot! Thanks to Olloclip also – really appreciate the backing. To Apple’s excellent staff in Singapore and of course, to the wonderful people who came to the event and made it such a fun experience for me.

With some of the participants

And last, but not least, to Arik Chan for these great photos of the event. Check Arik’s work here and here.

With my good friend, Arik Chan

Until the next time, Singapore…

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Street Photography, Workshops Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Clare versus Tipp

Down the pairc again. Been a while since there was a match in Cork, but today saw the newly-refurbished stadium packed as Clare and Tipperary battled it out to see who would qualify for the All-Ireland semi-final. The game was no classic. Clare squandered chance after chance and Tipp without ever really hitting the heights managed to get over the line with an impressive 28 points.

Enjoyed the afternoon down there. Here are some shots.

Tipp yahoos not sure where the hell they are

Larry Mackey

A steward with the right idea

In we go

The new Pairc Uí Chaoimh

Stop phoning my camera

Girls

Tipperary

A mother’s nightmare

All to play for

Or maybe not

Tipp win

Home we go

Some bedtime reading

 

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, GAA, iPhone, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Rebel Street Photography

Met up with the good folk of Cork’s Rebel Street Photography group on Saturday to give a street photography workshop to their members.

In preparing for the workshop it was fun to look back through images I had made here in Cork. Made me think I need to get out more and shoot in my hometown.

CORK

CORK

I have given talks and workshops in various parts of the world and shared the stage with some big lights in street photography, but for some reason I was very nervous for this workshop. Maybe because it was in my own backyard. But like most things in life that you get worked up about, it never turns out to be as bad as you have made out in your head. 

Hitting the streets with Cork’s Rebel Street Photography group

I’ve been working on putting together a series of portraits shot on iPhone. This has led to a change in approach for me. Instead of looking for candid moments, I am now enjoying engaging with people, getting to know them a little as I make their portraits.

Linda and her dog Bud

A man from Tyrone

Kofi from Ghana

Andre from Italy

Cork

Cork

Nothing but the truth in this, boy

The People’s Paper

Bam Artist Artiste

Bam Artist Artiste

Bam Artist Artiste

You can learn more about Bam Artist Artiste here. 

Big thanks again to all in the Rebel Street Photography group, particularly Stela who was absolutely brilliant in making the workshop happen!

Rebel Street Photography Group

Kiss the future…

 

Posted in iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Workshops Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Cork: Munster Hurling Champions 2017

A Sunday in Thurles in July. The Munster Hurling Final. The hurlers of Cork and Clare ready for battle. The sun breaking through the clouds. The crowd anxious and excited. The unknown awaits. This is the stuff of dreams.

Cork versus Clare. Munster Hurling Final 2017. (shot on iPhone)

I fell asleep as a child dreaming of the stories my father told me at the foot of my bed of the glories of the Cork hurlers. From these stories and from going to matches with my dad through the years, Cork hurling has always been one my greatest loves in life. In recent years we have had to watch from a distance as our great rivals Kilkenny and Tipp racked up All-Irelands. This has not been easy. Yesterday, in Thurles was a chance to put things right. I’ve travelled to many’s the game through the years and Cork supporters travel in large numbers, but yesterday was one of the best. Walking around Thurles before the game it was amazing to see just how many Cork people had made the trip up from Cork for the final.

Up for the match

A few pints before the game

Thurles before the match

What way will the game go?

Taking it easy before throw in

Taking it all in

Rebel support

Thurles before the match

The Rebels

The Banner

Getting into the stadium and seeing it awash with red and hearing the rebel roar was electrifying. We were back, but we had to win. The Cork minors set the tone with a great win, beating the Clare minor.

Cork support in the stadium

Ready for action

Cork management team: Kieran Kingston and Diarmuid O’ Sullivan

The game itself was no classic, but it was not short on excitement. Both sides will look back at this game and think they can, and need to, do better. Cork led throughout the game. The early goal from Alan Cadogan and a string of points from Pat Horgan saw Cork lead at half-time and even though Clare got to within two points of Cork when Conor McGrath scored a great goal, Cork had enough to rally and run out five point winners at the end.

Getting close to the final whistle

The Cork line waiting for the final whistle

And there it is! The ref blows it up and Cork are Munster Champions for 2017.

And with that and with thousands of other jubilant Cork fans I stormed the pitch.

Champions!

Champions!

Champions!

Champions!

Champions!

Champions!

Champions!

Alan Cadogan

Man of the Match: Alan Cadogan who still had time to sign autographs for fans

Cork goalkeeper: Anthony Nash

Champions!

Clare fans still flying the flag

 

And on it goes. Five weeks to the All-Ireland semi-final. The dream continues….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, GAA, iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Mobile Photography Workshop in Hong Kong

I am very excited to announce a Mobile Photography Workshop in Hong Kong in conjunction with the Maritime Museum on Saturday, August 26th from 1 to 5 p.m. You can register for it here.

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities and I have loved shooting there over the years.

Mobile Photography Workshop – Maritime Museum – Hong Kong – August, 26th

Hong Kong street life is electric, be it during the day or at night. Such a wonderfully vibrant location. Here are a selection of my favourite photographs from Hong Kong over the years.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

You can register for it here.

Look forward to seeing you on the 26th August.

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, Workshops Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cork versus Kerry

I won’t get into the match. The less said about it, the better. Suffice to say the little boy in me who dreamed of Cork beating Kerry in Fitzgerald’s Stadium yesterday left the stadium with about 10 minutes still to go in the game as Kerry strolled past an awful Cork team.

But winning isn’t everything as they say. Usually they say this only when you lose. I never say it when we win. But, no, yesterday was about being with friends, catching up. I drove down with a good friend who was home from Australia and who wanted to bring his two kids to their first Munster Final. It was great just to be with them.
Down in Killarney I met up with Tim Bingham and we shot the streets for about an hour before the game began.

Thirsty supporters need their beer. (shot on iPhone 7)

Two confident Kerrymen. (shot on iPhone 7)

(shot on iPhone 7)

Two Kerry lassies. (shot on iPhone 7)

An always-confident Cork fan. (shot on iPhone 7)

A cheerful Cork fan. (shot on iPhone 7)

A barber’s delight. (shot on iPhone 7)

Another delight for a barber. (shot on iPhone 7)

A Kerry fan. (shot on iPhone 7)

A Kerry lassie. (shot on iPhone 7)

Beautiful red hair. (shot on iPhone 7)

Making memories. (shot on iPhone 7)

Some of the crowd. (shot on iPhone 7)

Careful now! (Shot on iPhone 7plus)

That is a big plaster. (shot on iPhone 7 plus)

The lads. (shot on iPhone 7plus)

Shot on iPhone 7plus

An 99. (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Some pre-match entertainment (shot on iPhone 7plus)

Some food before throw-off. (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

A family day out. (shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Game on! (shot on iPhone 7plus)

All to play for. (shot on iPhone 7plus)

The crowd. (Shot on iPhone 7plus)

Kerry lording it over Cork. (Shot on iPhone 7Plus)

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, GAA, iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Make or take a photo

Can I take your photo? Can I make your photo?

 

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

There is that debate in photography about whether you take or make a photo. I think far too much is made of it to be honest.

Basically the idea is that if you make a photograph you are inclusive of those being photographed in the process, and with them, you as the photographer adds something to the scene.

The idea of taking a photo is that you are extracting something; perhaps not inclusive of those being shot. I understand the ideas and agree with them.

But coming from a language-teaching background, I feel much is overlooked in this dynamic.

The first thing is collocation. What it that? That is commonly-occurring word partners. Example: take and photo most frequently go together. This means that the vast majority of people use this phrase when talking about photography. And from that the expression make a photo can be a little jarring for them when they hear it. It just does not sound natural. 

The second thing is requests like Can I take your photo? are so much more well received if accompanied by a smile and if you can display honesty when you make eye contact. Who cares if your phrasing is make or take a photo if you look like a prick who just wants to exploit someone.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

This brings back to my winning photo in the recent iPhone Photography Awards and its subsequent media appearances all over the world as the press features the winning photographs of the competition. I was fortunate to have an interpreter with me that morning when I wanted to photograph the man’s hands and feet, but still I believe that despite the language barrier I could have connected and communicated with my subject through body language, smiles, a tilt and a nod of the head and eye contact.

But the curious thing is that with this win and the subsequent media attention I cannot help thinking about the guy whose hands I photographed.

Those hands tell a story; one of hard labour. The photograph also tells another story; one of privilege and good fortune. Of someone who has time and the means to travel and to get excited about the dirt encrusted on a labourer’s hands in a, to-him, exotic part of the world.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

So did I make or take this portrait? If I made it, what did I add?

I recall when I showed him the photographs I had shot, he nodded, raised an eyebrow to me and nodded acknowledgement again. I thanked him and his co-workers with my limited Indonesian. My friend Elife gave the workers some cigarettes and we left.

I would love to be able to give something back to this man. I cannot imagine him being interested in a print of his hands. Vanity is not something I would associate with him. But what to do? The time has passed and I doubt I could ever locate him.

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

Kiss the future…

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s portraits, photograph posts, Street Photography, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |