Tag Archives: Brendan Ó Sé

Why do you need a second Instagram account

That’s a question I am asked a lot: Why do I need a second Instagram account?

Truth be told I don’t need one and I probably would be better off just focussing on building my main account. Addition is dilution, as they say. That is true. So, why do it then? Well, I shoot a lot of photos. So much gets my visual interest and over time I build up a lot of photographs which lead a lonely existence in the depths of my camera roll. Back in May of 2016 I decided to create another Instagram account and just post photos there that did not feature people. My thinking was that my main account is primarily for street photography shots with the human element. The second account would let me showcase images that just might not ever see the light of day otherwise. I hate rules, but I do apply just one rule to this account: no people.

So, arriving to January, 1st, 2018, I have decided to look back and choose 12 favourites from that stream. An algorithm chose my best nine, but honestly what the f*** does an algorithm know about photography? A bloody lot judging by the success of platforms like Instagram!

Anyway, here goes in selecting 12 photos from my second Instagram account. I am not going to do this like I did when selecting my fave 12 from the main Instagram account – when I chose one photo from each month. This time, I am going to make it easy for myself and just choose 12. (a little side note – I am trying to get this done in the next hour or so – otherwise it will not get done – actually took me over 90 mins)

I hit the streets of Hong Kong wanting to capture street life and character. I had my camera ready for action. My head was on a swivel seeking out that scene. Then I stopped. Perched myself against a yellow facade and shot the passing traffic.

Hong Kong

Korea

When we are in Korea, one of the things we enjoy most is walking to the river near my wife’s parents’ house. The kids love to play in the water. It is a short walk; takes about 5 minutes or so. Over the years I have shot so many photographs and videos of them playing in the water and also so many shots of things I see en route. This one here is an example of the things you can see on the way. I look at it, the kids look at it, they look at me, they look at one another, and then they run on. The river is waiting.

People love it when I tell them that these are coffee pods. I found these in Brown Thomas in Cork when I was in there with my wife one day. I had to ask the store assistant to step out of the way to let me get the shot. When I showed her the shot she said: “Wow, I see that every day, but I have never seen it like this. That’s fabulous.” That made my day.Cork

Tokyo

Tokyo sees a lot of rain. Hit that up with neon and you get some beautiful reflections. This shot was shot using portrait mode to defocus and accentuate the colours. I edited in RNI Films (if you haven’t got that app, you are missing out. Go get it!)

Bangkok is hectic. An assault on the senses. I love the place. So much going on and the people are just the most photo-friendly you can meet. It can be hard to get a shot that gives the sense of activity without having people visible in it. I think this goes towards it.

Bangkok

Korea

I think the reason I like to shoot abstract images when I am out photographing is because there is control in this. It is not like street photography where, as the saying goes, if you see it, it is too late. There is a comfort in finding scenes which are to a degree permanent, ones you can take time with. Ones you can even manipulate. This shot is from Daegu, South Korea. I was wandering around the city frustrated that killer moments were not happening for me. They rarely do. One way to deal with this to seek out photographic constructions. This scene, while appearing calm, screamed at me.

I was asked once in an interview if I ever had a lightbulb moment and it annoyed me. Annoyed me because to begin with I could not recall any and then annoyed even more when I realised how unfortunate that is. A light bulb moment is by nature an abrupt clout of clarity which shakes you from your trodden and dour path. Why didn’t I ever have one? I want one now, I thought. But you can’t will these no matter how you try. But you know now that I am in the process of reviewing my images and wondering what I saw when I took a shot, I begin to think about a moment when an ex-girlfriend of mine spoke to me about seeing colour. I was about 20 years old and I was bored listening to her. She knew this. But she also knew I was not seeing colour. No, she said, you don’t, you don’t see colour, you see colours, but you don’t see colour. This confused me, but by now I was listening to her; no longer bored. Colours, colour, what’s the difference? She continued to tell me, but what she was saying continued to confuse me until I began to try to see it for myself. And then I did, I began to see colour like I had not before.  No matter how I try to explain this I can’t. I am not going to even try. Perhaps the easiest way to achieve this is just by trying to see colour. It is the same with shapes and lines and layers and distortions. They are all there. You just need to train your eye to see them. This photo below is an example of this.

Cork

This photo I love because it is simple and was such an easy shot to get. I like it because when I look at it, I leave it and I am back in Bali. The sky is clear of clouds and the sea is pristine.

Bali

Copenhagen

One of the hardest things I find in photography is to immerse yourself in the scene and to become part of what you are seeing. To allow the viewer feel what you might have been feeling. So often I fail in this. This image here is of a staircase as seen from above. Using a zoom burst I wanted to give the sense of vertigo I was feeling looking over it. I have a dreadful fear of heights.

Vietnam

I obsessed with the future. I struggle so much with optimism. It is like I am on a trampoline. Each time I am vaulted skyward I panic. Enveloping pessimism consumes me. I fear there is nothing under me to cushion my fall. Yet, each time I hit that trampoline optimism is injected and I believe again. What does this have to do with photography? Leading lines, vanishing points, all leading to the future. I stop to examine and caution floods in. But it excites me too. Commit to the future…

Cork

Cork

Trees. They need to cheer the fuck up, you know. Every photographer goes through a phase of shooting trees. They are easy. Stuck there in the ground, unable to make you question the reason why you are photographing them. Snap, snap, snap, they can do nothing. No response. Nothing. Move on to the next tree.

I teach my students how to write. One of the pieces of advice I give them is: Let your ideas control your writing; not your writing controlling your ideas. What does this mean? Well, this blog piece is an example of my writing controlling my ideas. Before I began this piece I had no idea what images I would choose, not to mind what order I might present them in. I even began by telling you that this second account is for photos with no people in them, and now here I am getting to the end of the piece and putting in a photograph with myself in it. I can offer excuses, but they would be pathetic ones like telling you this is my blog and I make the rules. Then, to compound things, I realise this shot is the one I should have used when I was talking about lightbulb moments. Too late. I just could not be arsed going back and reorganising. It’s done!

Anyway, I am choosing this as my last favourite of 2017 from my second Instagram account. Why? Because all my photographs are all about me. I may not be in them, but if you look you will find me. In all of them. Every single one. Even this one.

Not the lightbulb moment shot

Kiss the future….
Posted in Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Favourite 2017 Shot on iPhone Photographs

OK – I have tried to start this so many times in the recent weeks and each time I tell myself I will get it done tomorrow, knowing full well that I will wait until the last moment and then rush it through. But hey – once I get it done, ya?

Choosing my 12 favourite photos was so easy before. All I needed to do was head over to Flickr and see what photos I posted in each month of the year and from that choose a favourite shot. Not so anymore. This year I posted virtually nothing to Flickr until September, so for the first time ever this end-of-year-review is being done via Instagram. Here are my Instagram stats for the year: I posted 272 photos to my main account and 186 photos to my second account (the one I keep for shots without people in them). That is a lot of images, but then I travelled and shot a lot in 2017.

I could do the easy thing and allow an algorithm decide what my best 9 photos were, but you know, they weren’t. You can see them if you wish here and here. I prefer to spend some time with the images, recall where I was, what I was doing and how it felt. That is why we create images, no? To make memories. So here are my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs posted to my main Instagram account in 2017.

So, January took me to Iceland for the first time. Stumbled across this artist’s house on the seafront. The sun was setting and it was freezing.

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

February and I was on my way to Cyprus to open the exhibition for the Mobile Photography Awards in Limassol. I guess it was here that I began to change my approach to street photography. Not sure why or how, but I began to engage more with people on the street as I shot their portraits. Much like candid photography, people’s first reaction when you ask can you take their photo is one of curiosity. What is it that I can see about them that makes me want to photograph them? Self-consciousness smothers that initial curiosity and the task then is to engage with them to get them to relax. I tend to tell people about myself, revealing myself a little, as I shoot. I ask them questions. I am polite and respectful. I shoot a lot in these moments.

This guy here had no English. I smiled a lot. He stared at me. He smiled when I showed him the photo.

February: Limassol (shot on iPhone)

March was a month at home and not a lot of shooting, bar the Holi Festival in my university, so I was posting shots from previous trips. This one of a bus driver in Seoul I love. I remember knowing that I would stop to shoot it when I was waiting for the green man to appear. I just love shooting into glass and the layered distortion the reflections create.

March: Seoul

April was a full on month for me. I was in Korea and Japan with work and then home for a few days before heading back out to Thailand for the most amazing experience of Monogram Asia’s first 8 x 8 Street Photography Conference. Another highlight of April was the being out on the streets of Cork for the 24-Hour Project with great people. Choosing an image I shot in the month of April is damn hard, but it is not so hard to choose one I posted in that month. Photography is all about memories and connections. My favourite for April is this one shot on the 24-hour Project in late night Cork. May not be my best photo in April, but it is the one which makes me think of the absolute craic I had with Tim, Dee, Judie and Jonathon. 

April: Cork. 24-hour project

And on to May and really there can only be one shot for May. I have written quite a bit about how I began to shoot more asked-for-portraits and how much I began to enjoy it. This one was shot in Bangkok on a very hot morning on a photo walk with Sheldon Serkin and Renzo Grande. Here’s the thing. Once I got the shot I knew it was a good one, but I did not know whether it was better in the original colour or to convert it to black and white. Shel and Renzo thought it was a no-brainer – black and white all the way. I still have a thing for it in colour. What do you think?

May: Bangkok

June: In April in Seoul I stayed in Myeondong. It is probably the busiest shopping district in Seoul and with that comes much activity; perfect for street shooting. My maxim about photography is: Trying to see what can be seen and how to see it. This shot is an example of this. The bright neon lights, the taxis, the taxi drivers. Bringing them all into one frame was not easy. Shooting it on an iPhone at night even more difficult, but I love the result.

June: Seoul

July brought me to back on my travels, back to Hong Kong and then on to Korea again. I shot a lot in this time, but did not post in July. I did share this photo on Instagram though – a photo from Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. A photo which is part of my Rehearsing for a date series of images of people alone in locations where you might commonly find dating couples.

July: Tokyo

August and I am on the beach in Busan stopping people asking if I can take their photo (and they not getting upset that I did not ask if I could make their portrait). Honestly, this is something I felt I would never have been comfortable doing, but now I cannot imagine not doing it. There is something so wonderful about it. I made some really great connections this year shooting portraits. This guy was great fun. He took delight in telling me he knew Conor Mcgregor when I told him I was Irish. Honestly? Conor McGregor?

August: Busan

In Bali, I had Bali’s best motorcyclist as my guide, but I sadly proved to be Bali’s worst motorcycle passenger in this time. I loved Bali. Big thanks to my buddy Gathoe for showing me around Bali on his bike and for bringing me to the kite festival on that first day I was there. I skipped off the beaten bath a little to find these kids playing football.

September: Bali

I tend not to post photos of my kids. This is just a personal thing for me. Probably am too protective of their privacy. But this is one of my little boy that I love. No great timing here to get the decisive moment; no just finger kept on the shutter to shoot in burst mode and then to later select that decisive moment. My little HCB shot.

October: James

November is a bit hard for me. I am torn between this, this and this, but have decided to choose this one in the end. The edited image is a little distant from the original, but I knew that in taking it I would be able to go on many creative routes with the photo.

November: Seoul

And this brings us to the end of a year of shot on iPhone photographs. Life is difficult when there is choice and truly I could have gone in so many different directions with these selections. In the end I opted for all colour, could just have easily gone all black and white as I love many of the photos I shot in black and white this year, particularly when shooting with Provoke.

So, here is it – the final image to make up my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs from 2017. A photograph shot in Dublin, and one which is part of my This gap between us will be filled with love or loss series.

December: Dublin

Thanks to all for your kind support throughout 2017.

Here’s to 2018 and the unexpected, the unimagined it will bring.

 

Posted in A Flickr Year, Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, James, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

HOW TO SUCCEED IN SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITIONS

With the upcoming Mobile Photography Awards competition taking place I was  asked by Tommy Wallace to do an interview with him about smartphone photography competitions. Below is a copy of this interview.

Brendan, I want to thank you for this opportunity. Will you briefly describe your involvement in mobile photography contests?

I’ve been a judge on a number of them now over the past few years. It is great to be on the other side of things after being an entrant before. I guess having been fortunate enough to have won in the major mobile photography competitions (MPAs, iPhone Photography Awards and Mira Mobile Prize), the organisers invited me to judge in these competitions. It’s been a great experience, and also one that comes with responsibility to ensure the best images get the recognition they deserve.

Would there be any advantage to try to guess what a certain juror is looking for and submit photos according to his/her tastes?

From my own experience I know how hard it is to put together a series of images to enter a competition. The selecting is easy. The hard part is deselecting. The thing about the MPAs is that Dan Berman (founder) assigns categories randomly to judges. So, it is very unlikely that I would get the Street Photography category. Also, speaking personally, but I am sure it is the same for most judges, I would be hesitant to select an image which people might feel was very similar to my own style of photography unless it was a stellar shot that could not be ignored.

I probably will repeat myself in this interview, but I really believe you’ve got to go with your instinct on these things and not be guided by what you think judges might like. I know I have entered competitions thinking a particular judge likes a particular style, and entering accordingly. It never works out.

How important is the storytelling aspect of submitted photos in contests?

Photos are springboards for stories. Strong images will connect in a way that the viewer can enter the image and allow his or her imagination to build on what is presented.

How does composition figure into selecting a photo for submission?

Hugely. A technically perfect photograph cannot compensate for a poor composition, but conversely a dynamic and engaging composition can overcome technical flaws. For me, photography is always about composition, story and the moment.

How daring should a photographer be when it comes to originality? Should all caution be thrown to the wind or is it good to exercise discipline according to the “rules” of photography?

I am not really one for rules. Rules can stymie creativity. Again it comes back to trusting yourself. If you are an experimental photographer and entering the MPAs, there are categories there just for you like Digital Art/Photo Illustration, Visual Effects and The Darkness. I think it is a good idea to check the winning shots in the different categories from previous years to get an idea of the types of images that can fit.

What do you find are the most common mistakes people make when entering smartphone photography competitions?

Well, the biggest mistake, one which surprisingly does happen, is to enter an image that is not shot and edited on a smartphone.

Others would be when you have three killer shots of the same person or the same location, but all in essence just variations of the same, don’t enter the three. You are diluting your chances, all three will not be selected.

Take some time to check previous winning shots in the different categories to see if your shot is a match in type. Often entrants will post photos that just do not fit the category. In saying that I must commend Dan for ensuring high-quality images entered in the wrong category do not get looked over.

Do you believe it is helpful to get second opinions about what to enter?

Definitely, but ultimately you’ve got to trust yourself.

So let’s say I go to someone for confirmation of my photo selection. Who would you recommend I seek out?

I have a couple of people who I would trust. My wife is probably the best judge. A simple nod or shake of the head does it for me with her. I would say to reach out to a photographer friend who will be honest with you, but ultimately go with your guts and enter what you feel are your best shots.

Brendan, you’ve been extremely helpful. To finish up, if there is one most important tip you could give someone entering a smartphone photography contest, what would it be?

Prepare for disappointment. You probably are not going to win. I know that sounds harsh, but it is the truth.

But here’s the thing. If you enter a competition, you want to win. You want all others to come after you. There is no other motivation. When you don’t win, you can feel despondent. You examine your work. You hold it up to that of the winners. You cast an overly-critical eye on it and wonder where the hell you are going in your photographic journey. But, this feeling passes. And it passes because the endeavour, the hobby, the passion you have for it cannot be diminished by the choices of a judge or judges. No, the passion, the desire to show what you see and to show how you see it surfaces and you get out and you shoot again. And you enjoy it. You get back to looking at others’ photos and they inspire you and the whole things kicks off again. You want to learn. You want to sharpen and sensitise that eye to see better. And you begin to dream that next time will be your time. You’ll win.

I guess what I am saying is competitions are great if you do well, but they sure do suck if you don’t. Photography should not be a competitive pursuit.

My advice to anyone entering a competition, be it photography or not, is to always get back to why you do it. You will find that the answer is because it’s fun. If it’s not then give up. Find another hobby.

Brendan, I want to thank you for giving us all a better idea of how we can remain passionate about our smartphone photography and remain focused on what is important at the same time. I know I’ve certainly learned so much from you in this interview and I’m sure many others will as well.

Thanks to Tommy for doing the interview. Hope these tips help you if you are entering a photography competition. Trust yourself! 

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Interviews, iPhone, iPhone photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Busan in black and white

Busan was the first place I shot on iPhone using the Provoke app. This app is great fun to shoot with. I just kept it simple. Set and forget. I chose the HPAN filter and flash and began. The shots in this post are straight out of the camera. I am just too lazy at the moment to do the editing.

Busan (shot on iPhone)

I have seen some crazy English on t-shirts in Asia. The one below is not as risque as some. In fact, it actually is quite cool.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Shooting in black and white in strong sunlight is brilliant. I love the high contrast results.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Got to love the Koreans and their take on the iconic Little Mermaid that is more commonly associated with Copenhagen.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

I wrote in my other post on Busan about heading out on the coastal walk and getting sidetracked when I came upon a group of elderly Koreans bathing in pools of water among the rocks. I sure did enjoy shooting there.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

And the sun sets in Busan.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Nest stop Kuala Lumpur.

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My talk at ZafigoX

It was quite the honour to be the only male speaker invited to talk at ZafigoX Travel Conference for Women in Penang Malaysia in August.

The premise of the talk was based around two wonderful ideas. The first from Benjamin Disraeli who said: “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”

And the second from a conversation I had in the car with my daughter when she was just three years old: Where do yesterdays go, Daddy? I don’t know, lovey, Where do they go? I know, Daddy, they go into photographs.” The beauty of this idea has stayed with me ever since.

I will let you enjoy the talk.

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, Photo Talks, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Busan in colour

Hitting Haeundae Beach, Busan with the iPhone to shoot some frames. What could be better?

Here goes the first of two posts from Busan shot on iPhone. The first in colour, the second all black and white shooting using the Provoke camera app.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Korea’s second city – a city of almost 4 million people –  is located in the south east of the country. It’s a city I love. Every time I go there I try to stay in the Haeundae area. Why? Because I love the sea and Haeundae is probably Korea’s most famous beach. I am sure you’ve seen shots of it in summer crowded with Koreans. No? Check this so. I had wanted to see this for myself. Did it actually get that crowded? To be honest, when I was there it wasn’t that crowded. Sure there were lots of people, but it wasn’t so bad.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

I got there at the start of August. I had booked an Air BnB for an overnight stay that promised the beach was only a few minutes from the beach and it was. August in Korea is hot, and I love it. Coming from a country where the sun is an unpredictable visitor I just love being in places where sunshine and heat are almost always guaranteed. Of course, one of the main reasons I love the sun is because of the light it brings. And what is photography if it is not about the light.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

I was saying in my Daegu post about older people in Korea. I love them! They’ve got attitude. On the far end of the beach there is this walkway you can take which will bring you out along the coast. I take this walk every time I am in Busan, but this was the first time I was here in summer, only having been here before in early spring when it is not usual for people to be swimming in the sea. Just as I was heading out on the walk I got sight of these elderly gentlemen bathing in these little pools that formed among the rocks. There was this one guy siting with his arms outstretched as the waves splashed in and around him. I stood there for a while just taking it in. How cool I thought. To the left of him were three other guys sitting in a little pool, all chilling in the sea on this hot August summer’s day. I had intended to head out on coastal walk but this was too good a photo opportunity to pass up. Taking great care in my flip-flops I descended the rocks to get closer to them to get some photographs. They were curious at first as to what it was I found interesting, but then they just ignored me and let me shoot a few frames. I spent a good 15 minutes there shooting in colour and also using the Provoke app to get some black and white images.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

How often do you see a cutout cop perched on top of a public toilet and changing area? Not very often. This was just too cool to pass by. I spent quite a bit of time there trying to get the shot I imagined in my head when I first saw it, and like so many times the mental picture is much more vivid that what you can capture.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Part of my ongoing series of images – Photographic Punctuation Photo Booth – I have been stoping and engaging with people on the street and taking/making their portrait. Haeundae was a brilliant location for this and I had a lot of fun with the people I met. One of the funny things was to see the shift in things people immediately associate with Ireland when they learn I am Irish. Usually it is Guinness, U2, Roy Keane, maybe an Irish writer, and the odd person who might mention the IRA. I was a little taken aback when one guy started excitedly exclaiming Conor McGregor. I am not sure what to make of that guy, to be honest.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

8 guys gathering for a late-evening picnic.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Not usually a sunset photographer – but could not resist this.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan in black and white coming up. Stay tuned…

Posted in iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Street Photography, Summer 2017, Travel, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Daegu

Daegu? Where’s that? South Korea.

It’s Korea’s third biggest city and also known as the oven of Korea as when it is hot in Korea, it is hotter in Daegu. It is a colourful city and Korea’s quirkiness is very much in evidence. It has good restaurants and like most places in Korea it has an an abundance of cafes and food stalls.

Daegu (shot on iPhone)

I love shooting in Daegu. I have this series of images going on of elderly gentlemen in Daegu. I just find them to be so cool. They are snappy dressers and ooze class and attitude. These guys have lived through a lot. I imagine a lot of these men might have seen active service in the Korean war. I love how some of them shout – “Hey, buddy!” or some other American-style greeting to me when they see me. I wish our exchange could extend beyond this and allow me to get to know them a little more.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Young Koreans have their own style. Put one young Korean guy in a room of other Asians and the Korean will stand out. Their fashion style can be unique and geeky. Got to admire that.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Another series of images I have going on from Korea is one focussing on couple culture. I am always struck at how many couples you encounter on the streets in Korea. Very often they will be sporting a ‘couple look’ where both will be dressed in identical clothes. These two are cooler than that though.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

As I said – it gets hot in Daegu and Koreans will do everything to keep themselves protected from the sun. Just wait until you see the beach fashion when I do my blog post from Busan. This guy was cool. He just loved getting his photo taken. His reaction when he saw his image was just too cool.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Cafe culture in Korea is big. There are just so many cafes and while the coffee is good, it sure is not cheap. Anyway, the big glass fronts of these cafes make for good photo opportunities.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

My shooting style changed over the past 12 months. Now, I really enjoy engaging with people on the street. This guy just could not understand what I wanted to do when I asked if I could take his photo. He kept reaching for my phone – thinking I wanted him to take my photo. It was a little battle to get him not to hide the cigarette also. Ya, smoking kills, but they look good in photos.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Recently read an article about street photography cliches. This shot below fell into the category. But hey, I cliche, you cliche, we all cliche.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

And leaving Daegu…

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Next up is Busan. Korea’s second city. Expect lots of beach shots!

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Seoul Reflections

Continuing my blog posts of cities I visited this summer. Seoul is a great walking city and fantastic for shooting street photography. In putting together this blog post I am going to cheat a little and put up photos of shots I got in a short visit I had there in April of this year too. But a little different from the Hong Kong post – this time I am grouping together reflection shots.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Being there two times this year did allow me to get back and try to improve on shots I had got the first time in April. However, I was not able to improve on the photograph above I got on iPhone in the Myeondong area of Seoul I got the first time around in April. When I got back there in July I tried to replicate this shot on the iPhone but found it really hard to control the light of the reflections of the neon advertisements and at the same time to get the taxi driver’s face exposed.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

On both trips, I stayed in Myeondong, which is one of Seoul’s main tourist and shopping areas. At the end of its pedestrian shopping area you can find the taxi rank. Directly opposite this you have a huge advertising screen throwing these wonderful reflections on to the taxis parked on the other side of the street. When I first noticed this I came alive and excited and the beautiful light show this created. On both nights, I stayed there for about a half hour trying to get the best shots I could on the iPhone. I got to say the taxi drivers were great fun and I loved seeing their surprise when they realised what it was I was photographing. Funny how people don’t see what is right in front of them, though.

A little further up from the taxi rank are the bus stops. I love how the neon light and colour reflects on the bus windows at night and how it creates these lovely layered and distorted effects. Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

There is something I love about shooting through glass and the effect it creates.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

I like finding myself in these shots.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

In some shots, I am easier to find.

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Seoul (Shot on iPhone)

Next stop – DAEGU…

 

 

Posted in iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hong Kong

Five weeks in Asia. Five different countries. Five weeks shooting. Result: I have thousands of images to sort through. While away I was mainly shooting with the iPhone, but I also had the Fuji X100T and Nikon D7000 with me. So, my way of dealing with the images this time is a little different than before. My plan is to go back and organise the images from each location and put together blog posts on each place. This should allow me to work my way through the process of selecting (and more difficultly – deselecting) my favourite images. So, here goes.

Where better to start than Hong Kong. Oh to be a street photographer living in Hong Kong. What an exhilarating place it is. I really would love to live there and get the chance to work more of the series of images I have shot on iPhone there.

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I had two short stays there in the summer. The second was extended when a typhoon hit and resulted in a long day spent in the airport. I was never so happy to leave when I did, but now I am longing to get back and hit the streets of Hong Kong again.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I love the vibrancy of street life in Hong Kong. It is a noisy, colourful and fragrant place. What I like most about it is that you can find a location and work it, or if the mood takes you and you do not mind dealing with the heat and humidity you can keep on the move. Both work just as effectively. Also, in Central, the architecture is just amazing. I came across this wonderful yellow facade in Central and spent some time trying to get a shot which might match what I envisaged once I saw this yellow.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I spent about 20 minutes or more trying to get the shot below. You can’t have it both ways. I love that Hong Kong is so crowded and there is a constant flow of people, but when I was trying to get this shot I was driven mad by the people walking into my frame. For me, when I am shooting I create an image of the shot I want to get in my head before I shoot. This one I had envisaged to have more of a division between the yellow wall and the passing red taxi and yellow of the bus.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

This one, which lacks the red of the taxi, worked a little better. Still, it is not perfect. Is any shot ever?

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Moving up the road from here I found a wonderful entrance to McDonalds – another yellow wall. Another chance to create some fun images. This time I pushed the iPhone up against the wall and hit burst mode to get these split screen reflection shots. Again, in getting this shot I was hindered by the fact that the white van opposite was parked and for the duration I was there shooting did not budge. I had hoped to add more colour to the shot but alas no. Photography is 99% frustration. 99% of the time, or even more, I do not get the shot I imagine in my head.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

That’s me in the corner standing in front of a bus stopped in traffic trying to get these layered reflection shots you get when you shoot into glass. I like the result here with the guy’s eyes framed in the way they are here.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I just love the colours you find in Hong Kong. This intersection in Central is one of my favourite locations. The bright yellow painted markings of the crossing are so vibrant and when you throw in the colours of the traffic and the pedestrians it all adds up to great photo opportunities.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And more yellow.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And who can resist the cliche shots when you come to Hong Kong? You can’t pass them up really.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

But you can blur it up a little.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I have been saying how shooting with the portrait mode on the iPhone has changed how I shoot on the street. In Hong Kong, I met some characters, none quite as animated or as colourful as this guy.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Or these friendly guys.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

If you see it, it’s too late. How true this so often is on the streets. The image below appeared to me as I was walking along checking the shots I had just made. Someone using a paper clip as a cigarette holder. How cool. I had to quickly get things lined up to get the shot. Again, it could have been better – crisper, more in focus. But still I like it.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Look up, look up. Hong Kong has great architecture.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

One of the fun things I did this summer with the iPhone was to shoot with the Provoke App. I just love the black and white images it produces. Here are number of those shot in and around Central.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

See you next year, Hong Kong!

Next up Seoul!

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, Street Photography, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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…

 

 

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