Author Archives: Brendan Ó Sé

Online Mobile Photography Workshop

I had not thought you could transfer a photography workshop to an online setting, but the two online mobile photography workshops I did back in April in support of the ISPCC were such a huge success, raising over €5k for the charity, that in conjunction with the Gallery of Photography in Dublin, we are now planning a workshop for June 29th and July 4th.

Coming from an education background, I am very aware of the need to allow students put into practice what they are learning. These two 90-minute workshops are structured so that in the first week, I will walk you through how to get the most from your smartphone camera. Then in a series of easy exercises I will heighten your visual awareness equipping you to create more dynamic and creative compositions in your photography, all the time relating it back to your own personal style of photography.

We then have a week until the second of the workshops. In this time you have the opportunity to put into practice what you are learning. I will give you guidelines – according to your own photographic style –  of different types of photographs you can get and during the week we will connect and I will provide personalised and individual feedback on the photographs you create, helping you to further sharpen your photographic eye and create images to be proud of.

Jump forward to the second workshop and now the focus will be on editing your photographs to put your personal stamp on your images. I will show you how to use Snapseed (a free editing app) to make your images visually dynamic and captivating to the eye. I will continue to guide you and provide constructive criticism. There will then be the opportunity to share our photographs with the like-minded photography enthusiasts on the workshop.

By the end of the two sessions, you will have photos to be proud of and you will be seeing and thinking more photographically and have developed your own personal style and leave the sessions with a passion and excitement for photography.

Looking forward to seeing you online for a great mobile photography workshop!

To book your place on the course, click here.

We will Zoom for the delivery of the workshops. You can download it here.

All course materials will be delivered to participants electronically.

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Online Mobile Photography Workshop – Saturday, April 25th at 4pm

Really excited to announce that I will be doing my first Online Mobile Photography Workshop in conjunction with the Gallery of Photography in Dublin next Saturday, April 25th at 4 p.m. (note time change)

There had been a workshop planned for Saturday the 25th in the gallery, but with Ireland being in lockdown, there is no way it could have gone ahead. Instead when the gallery asked me if I could do something online, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do something good and I suggested we run the workshop for the Irish Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who really need help at this moment.

We may feel that we are stuck at home at the moment with the restrictions in place, but are we really? We can stay up and get up as late as we want, throw ourselves on the sofa and binge on boxsets, chat endlessly online with friends and family, eat our favourite food, have a few drinks, and when we want, we can slip outside to do a little exercise within the 2km radius. However, for some these restrictions actually do mean being stuck. Many children find themselves in scary situations at the moment stuck in homes suffering abuse in different forms. For them, this lockdown is a nightmare.

So, this online workshop is an opportunity to get creative at home and train your photographic eye as you learn how to get the most from your smartphone. I will show you some tips and tricks to improve your photography and to have fun shooting in and around your house. And some great news – I am really pleased that my friends in Huawei have offered a prize of their fabulous Watch GT2 (valued at €220) for the best photograph posted after the workshop.

How can you enrol: Please click here and follow the instructions on how to make your donation and take up your place on the workshop. The great thing about doing this online is that it does not matter where you are in the world, you can join in.

Looking forward to seeing you next week.

The workshop will be conducted on Zoom.

Saturday, April 25 at 4pm
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Don’t let an algorithm choose your favourite photographs

I could let an algorithm decide what my best photographs of 2019 are, but where is the fun in that? Photography should be fun, and let’s admit it – Instagram can suck the joy out of what should be a fun pursuit.

So, I say to hell with the algorithm and hello to some of my own personal favourite photographs I created over the past 12 months; all shot on iPhone.

When I look back on 2019, it was another great year for me shooting frames. Photography is about memories and this year was a cracker. My travels took me from Cork to Barcelona, Lisbon, Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Seoul, Daegu, Busan, Hong Kong and Beijing. I like to travel. I am fortunate to be able to do so and while in these places, be it for work or pleasure, the objective is always the same: to be ready to get that photo; the one which will be better than all the ones I got before. Never happens though, but still it is such a thrill to be on the streets of big cities trying to see what can be seen and how to see it. In saying that, most of my favourite images of 2019 were shot right here in the People’s Republic of Cork.

It is hard to separate photography from cliches and in writing this I am going to throw in a few of my favourite photography cliches along the way.

Here’s the first: I remember reading a long time back that at the end of the year if you have 12 photos you are proud of that it has been a good year. Not sure if I achieve this each year, but it is something I aim.

So here goes. 1 photo for each month of the year. 

J A N U A R Y

Every Saturday morning I bring my daughter to her drama class, park the car and for the hour she is in class I wander around the city centre chasing light and trying to make photographs.  In this photo here I like how the sharp-dressed guy contrasts with the dressed-for-the-cold older guy, and can you spot me in the photo?

Cork: January, 2019

F E B R U A R Y

And here is another photography cliche: photographs lie. Looking at this scene from Temple Bar, Dublin you would think the guy was pretty fed up and bored, but was he?

Dublin: February, 2019

M A R C H

The forecast was for torrential rain. Yet, this street photography workshop I had in Cork’s Glucksman Gallery in March was one of the best of the year. We hit the streets knowing we would get soaked, but also knowing that rain adds atmosphere; particularly in creating beautiful natural filters when you shoot through glass. I got some lovely shots of Cork on that photo walk; hard to choose just one favourite, but this one I like. 

Cork: March, 2019

A P R I L

Tokyo continues to be my favourite place to shoot in. One of the things I demonstrate (and repeat a lot throughout the day) in my photography workshops is frame, and then reframe. This shot is the result of reframing. It began with a straight-on shot of the cooks at work in the restaurant, but then I noticed the pots and pans and I worked it until I got the guy’s head as best as I could framed out by one of the pots. 

Tokyo: April, 2019

M A Y

This year was all about light and shade in my photography. You can check out a whole series of these type of shots here. These shots are about framing and reframing and getting the exposure right and then shooting on burst mode and getting your subject clean in the frame. Barcelona has the most beautiful light to bathe your subjects in and so many cool backgrounds to add that little more to the image. 

Barcelona: May, 2019

J U N E

Sometimes you just walk into a ready-made scene and all you have to do is snap. This is what happened on a photo walk in Dublin. This guy was taking a cigarette break and was obliging to pose for a few photos for me.

Dublin: June, 2019


J U L Y

This photo really could be from anywhere but it was shot late evening in a shopping mall in Beijing.  

Beijing: July, 2019

A U G U S T

August brought me to Busan and to the beach. I met these three guys who posed for me and I cropped to fill the frame.

Busan: August, 2019


S E P T E M B E R

September brings me back home to Cork and back to my hometown project. Another cliche in photography is to work the scene. The previous month Cork artist, Shane O’ Driscoll, unveiled his wonderful mural on the former ESB power station in Caroline Street. I had seen a few photos of it and knew I needed to get down there and see how I could see it for myself. This one below required a little imagination to create the reflection. It is great to see Cork getting artwork like this. Hope more is to come. 

Cork: September, 2019

O C T O B E R

Here is one more image where framing and reframing came in. I was attracted to yellows at first but then noticed the lines and curves and reframed to make sure these were set up properly. Then I waited for a passerby – all the the time hoping the sun would not disappear behind a cloud.

Cork: October, 2019

N O V E M B E R

Working that scene in the stairwell of the O’ Rahilly Building in UCC and this cool dude walks into my frame.

Cork: November, 2019

D E C E M B E R

Into the final month of 2019 and fitting I should wrap the year up with another photo of Cork and this time with a view of the wonderful mural of Fintan Magee’s and the northside of Cork in the background.

Cork: December, 2019

So there it is. 1 photo for each month of 2019. I could have chosen 12 different photos so easily but it’s done now. 2019 has been a good year. I am excited about the upcoming projects I have for 2020 and the places my photography will bring me.

Posted in Best of year, Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Upcoming photography workshops

Three photography workshops in the next two months.

First up is a Mobile Photography Workshop in the Gallery of Photography, Dublin on May 18th.

You can book a place here.

The last Street Photography workshop in Cork was nearly called off due to the bad weather, but we braved the torrential rain to get some good photographs and along the way we had great craic. The weather should be better on June 15th. Fingers crossed.

You can book a place here.

Then on June 29th I will be back in Dublin for another Mobile Photography Workshop. This coincides with one of the most colourful days in the year when the annual Pride Parade makes it way through the streets of Dublin. Last year it was a brilliant opportunity to hit the streets and make photos.

Check out my Instagram Story from last year.

You can book a place here.

Read more about the workshops here.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

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This is what I like about shooting with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The first thing I noticed about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was that it fits and feels so nicely in my hand and this immediately tells me that I will enjoy shooting with it. Getting a good grip and being able to use the camera functions on the phone are so important. There is nothing worse than seeing a scene you want to capture and missing it because the you are fidgeting with the controls. This doesn’t happen with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

I have shot with Samsung phones before and have always been struck by the picture quality of them. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is no different. I have been shooting with it for a few weeks now and there are things I love about the device and a few things which frustrate me a little. More about those later, but first off let’s get into what it does well.

The Basics

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a 12mp wide-angle and telephoto lens giving you a 2x optical zoom, while there’s a 8mp on the front camera. I found the camera to be very fast to focus and testing the response as it calculated the exposure I was impressed. Seeing as most people will use their smartphone camera to react to scenes they notice they won’t be disappointed with the speedy response and results of this phone’s camera.

I love quick access to the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. From the lock screen you can pull up the camera by swiping up on the camera icon and a double tap on the home button at any time will spring it in to action too.

I spent most of the time shooting on Auto. Why? Because I find that nowadays the technology in the cameras is so adept at making correct calculations as it examines a scene. Having it set on auto also allows you to focus on getting the shot rather than having to mess around with settings.

The Different Modes

You get the usual array of features that come as standard now on smartphones. There is a pano mode for those landscape scenes you want to shoot (but use in vertically also get great shots of  buildings or waterfalls if you want to experiment), Live Focus (Samsung’s portrait mode), Super Slo-mo, AR Emoji (have some fun creating cool selfies) and Hyperlapse for all those sun setting videos you want to shoot. Add into the mix Bixby Vision and you get a virtual assistant for all things visual. Point your camera at things like food, products, and even landmarks to learn what they are. Should you be stuck in a foreign country, don’t worry; it can even translate text for you.

The Pro Mode

Where the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes into its own is when you slide over to the Pro Mode. I think they should change the Pro part of the name to something else as I feel it taking manual control can be offputting for many casual users and very often they believe this is something only professionals will use. Not the case. The Pro Mode is easy to use and because you are getting immediate feedback to how changing the settings affects what you are shooting, it is quite easy to use. What you see is it what you get and this process is actually a good learning tool for anyone interested in learning the basics in manual photography. I went out shooting in Cork city one evening and I loved that I could manage the available light so well by increasing the ISO and slowing the shutter right down.

The S Pen

I tend to do all my photo editing on mobile using Snapseed and very often I use those pens that have a little rubber top for extra control, so having the Samsung S Pen on board the phone is a bonus. I loved it for getting in close and working on particular details in my images. That it can also function as a shutter release is a fun addition, but not one that I can see myself using that much.

Super Slo-mo

This feature pushed my creativity. I found I was looking for scenes where I could try it out when I was out shooting. I had great fun shooting the water from the fountain and the birds flying in and around it.

Live Focus

Popping up this option you will see a slider appear for background blur allowing you to control how much of a scene you want in focus and not. I liked this. I also liked that in settings you can save two versions of the shot allowing you more options in editing. I would have liked the option to be able to separate focus and exposure to control the light a little more and this is one simple addiction they could add.

Where improvements can be made

The main one for me as a traditional iPhone shooter is the inability to lock exposure and adjust it. Even in Pro Mode this is unavailable. Maybe in a software update they will introduce it. Another minor irritation is that any little swipe on the screen when you have the camera open will result in it switching to the different modes. I do not know how many times I found myself looking at myself instead of the scene I was trying to capture as I inadvertently touched the screen and it switched into selfie-mode.

I also think they try to pack too much in. There is a lot of clutter around the screen. As with so many things in tech, less is more.

Overall, I was impressed with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It felt comfortable in my hand, easy to use, fast and accurate and when I wanted to gain more control over a scene the Pro Mode came into its own.

All in all, if you can can get over some minor irritations the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a very smart camera on this smartphone.

Click here for information on Mobile Photography Workshops with me.

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What can the new Huawei Mate 20 Pro do for your photography?

When Leica Cameras put their name to Huawei’s smartphones you know you that the years of tradition, heritage and prestige that are synonymous with their brand is going to result in something special in terms of photography. The new Huawei Mate 20 Pro has a powerful camera on board, packing three rear lenses and an excellent front-facing one for all those selfies you want to get. I was lucky to have been invited by Huawei to London for the recent launch of their latest phone and when speaking to the Leica engineers about their involvement in the camera it was exciting to see how seriously a market-leader like Leica are taking mobile photography and how much they are pushing boundaries in this field. Earlier this year the Huawei Pro 20 got everyone talking about what the camera could do. The Mate 20 Pro builds on that and with its many new features and improvements takes what you can do with a smartphone camera even further.

Shandon, Cork

What is like to shoot with?

While making the most of the screen real estate, the Mate 20 Pro, is still comparatively small and fits quite nicely in the hand. The edge-to-edge screen does have its drawbacks in relation to using the phone as a camera. For me it is important to have a firm hold of the phone when shooting and to my frustration I found that because the screen display goes from edge to edge, I was inadvertently switching between settings and also the tap-to-focus feature was being activated in places I did not want it to be. As a result, I feel you would have to have some sort of a case (not a wallet-type one) to prevent this. I liked being able to separate the exposure and focus particularly when trying to control light situations.

Colours

I like the straight-out-of-camera results shown in the photographs here in this review. The colours are bright and vivid and level of detail you can achieve is impressive. The ability to separate your focus point and exposure is cool. Touch and hold and you can drag them apart. An exposure slider (sun icon) also appears and sliding up and down adjusts the brightness of your shot. I would like if you could lock in these for subsequent shots. I found it a pain to have to reset for the next shots in a series.

What are the stand-out features?

The Mate 20 Pro is feature rich. It can identify up to 1500 different scenarios and scenes. The night mode is impressive, but it does need a steady hand or better still a tripod. With a f1.8 main camera lens it can shoot very well in low light conditions. This shot of Rearden’s pub in Cork shows how the night mode works. The shutter is open for a full 4 seconds allowing as much light in as possible. This works great if you do not have moving objects in your frame like the shot of Cork’s St. Finbarre’s Cathedral below, but as you can see with the bus in the shot of Rearden’s pub you are not going to get it tack sharp, but still this does allow you get some nice motion blur shots. 

Rearden’s Bar, Cork

Saint Finbarre’s Cathedral, Cork

Using the standard camera in normal mode gets great results in low light and if there is any movement in your frame, you will avoid the blurring of the subjects. I love the neon colours here in this shot of a lane in Cork city.

Cork

Having three lenses at your disposal is very cool. With the Huawei Mate 20 Pro you have a 40MP f/1.8 main camera lens, an 8mp telephoto f/2.4 which lets you shoot at a 3X optical zoom (with image stabilisation) and there is then, my favourite on this phone – the ultra-wide angle lens. This has a 16mm focal length and it is impressive in how much of a scene it can capture.

Ultra-wide

One thing I would like to be able to do is shoot on the highest resolution of 40mp without having to change it in settings. If you want to switch between the other lenses on the device you can only shoot at 10mp, otherwise at 4omp you are working with the main lens only and need to get into settings to switch back to having access to the other two lenses.

I loved the burst mode in and was truly blown away by how sharp each individual image was. I am a big fan of burst mode and have used it regularly in my street photography as I try to capture that fleeting moment. In review of the images I was delighted to see that I had not missed anything and that each shot was in focus.

burst

For portraits, it does a good job and will give you that blurred-out-bokeh look that so many photographers crave. I would like if it could be used for other things besides people. For now, it will only work when it detects a face.

Portrait

If you want to take full control of the settings of the camera, the Pro Mode is where you can really maximise the potential of the camera and its various lenses. For me, I feel too much is made of shooting fully manually. I like to set and forget. Technology nowadays has come on so much in recent years, that I find the camera can make the correct calculations most of the time. But if you are old school and want to be master of the machine, Pro Mode will not disappoint.

Unsurprisingly the video capabilities are top class on the Mate 20 Pro. Again it is packed with features. I loved the ability to blur out your background and the All Colour feature will detect a skeleton (yes, that is right – the skeletal structure of a human is detected) keep that in colour and convert everything else to black and white. This has the wow factor!

One of the things I do not like is the beautify feature. As a father of young kids I feel there is enough pressure on them without making them think they need to apply a feature like this to make themselves look presentable in photos. In saying that, at beautify 10 I am looking good! Another feature they are introducing is a calorie counter. Yes, a calorie counter. Point your camera at a food item and it will recognise it and tell you how many calories it has.

All in all, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is a great phone. I am sure on other reviews of the device you have learnt of its reverse charging, its high speed charging and its long-life battery. All of these are very important factors for those who like to use their phones as their cameras. Photography continues to be in an exciting place in technology and with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Leica and Huawei are pushing boundaries.

More colours

Cork

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All-Ireland Hurling Final 2018 Pt 2

Sunday’s All-Ireland Final was the 15th All-Ireland Final I have been to, but the first one that did not involve Cork. Back in May when I set out on this project the dream was that the Rebels would reach the final, win it and that there would be a glorious homecoming back to Leeside for Liam McCarthy after, what is for us, a huge wait of 13 years. Not to be. Not this year. No, this year was destined to be Limerick’s.

I got the Luas into town about 10.30. It was busy, even at that early hour. At each stop more and more fans got on. Hushed conversations about tickets, rumours of injured players and who had predicted what in the Sunday papers could be heard. Getting off at Stephen’s Green and heading down Grafton Street the green of Limerick  began to become very evident and outnumbered the maroon of Galway. Young families decked out in green pushing buggies, groups of young fellas caped in Limerick flags out looking for an early house to settle the nerves and elderly gentlemen with discreet greens walking alone, all killing time, trying to stay occupied until the throw-in at 3.30.

The Lyons family from Kilcormannan

“I’m a teacher. The kids in my class got me this t-shirt last year. It has brought me luck thus far. Let’s hope it continues today.” Vincent Brannelly told me.

Vincent Brannelly

“I flew in from Denmark yesterday, but I’ll tell ya, if we win today, it might be a long time before I get back.” Frank O’ Carroll (on left) told me. Here he is with his friends Tadhg Carey and Liam Horgan. The lads had tickets for the banquet after the match. I can only imagine the craic they had at that.

Frank O’ Carroll, Tadhg Carey and Liam Horgan having a few pre-match calmers

“The two Mannions. They’re my favourite players.” Young Darragh Monaghan told me. “Mine too!” said his brother Cormac.

Edel and Helen Monaghan with Darragh and Cormac Monaghan and Breda Gardiner

“We’ve a Cork lad with us! Look at him!” “Make sure you say I’m 9 years hanging around with these lads.” John Buckley from Cork told me. “I’ll be slaughtered!”

We’ve a Cork lad with us

Gas lads enjoying the craic of All-Ireland Final day.

From left to right: Rob Henehan, Laurence Hogan, Will Hayes, Darrach Skelly and John Buckley – ‘the Cork lad’.

“Don’t kill me now, but for the life of me I cannot remember your name.” I said. “That is Sir William O’ Dea.” his match day friend John Lillie told me. Willie was too young to remember 1973 but his two friends John Lillie and John Keating did. “What stands out for ye about the day?” I asked. “The bloody rain. The rain and the ink from the paper hats running down my face!” John Lillie said.

John Lillie, Wille O’ Dea and John Keating

“What do I remember from ‘73? The rain! It was torrential. That and the pitch invasion afterwards. It will stay with me forever but I hope today will be better.” Bill Chalk told me.

Bill Chalk

“They were asking me in check in in Gatwick if it was March 19th. No, March the 17th is Patrick’s Day and no, it’s the All-Ireland. Limerick are in it. Sure they didn’t have a clue.” David Lysaght told me. “How’d ya get your ticket?” I asked. “Would you believe I promised a Wexford man in London I’d buy 50 cases of his gin off him. I work in live music venues. Ya, he got me the ticket. 50 cases of Bonak Gin now. But it will be worth it if they win. “

David Lysaght

“Oh, we’re friends now, but come five o’clock we mightn’t be!” Breen Doris from Galway told me. “Ya, he might have to take the bus and I’ll get the train!” Colm Woods said.

Breen Dorris from Galway and Colm Woods from Limerick

Over the course of the past three months and sixteen games I’ve gotten to see familiar faces at the games.  Always been a pleasure to meet Galwayman John Ward at the games. Always up for a chat and to display the colours.

John Ward from Galway selling matchday colours

“OK. I am confused. That’s a Kerry jersey, but you have a Limerick flag and Limerick hat. What’s going on?” I asked. “Well, I wanted to get a Limerick jersey but they were all sold out. So, the only one that was left that was green was this one.”Luke Fox who was heading to Croke Park with his dad Ger told me.

Ger and Luke Fox

“I’ve been going to All-Irelands for every year for the past 20. I haven’t missed one in that 20 years.” “I’m a Kilkenny man.” Tom Corcoran told me. “So, you’ve seen great days here at Croke Park. What has been the best for you? “2010.” “Tipp won that.” I said. “It was a brilliant game of hurling.” Tom said. “But ye lost?” “Still, it was the best.” “What about 2009? The 4-in-a-row; that was a great game?” “It was, it was that.”

Tom Corcoran

“Galway girl!” Ji Jay told me. “Ye’re following Galway girl because of Ed Sheeran?” I asked. “Yes. Ed Sheeran. Galway girl!” he replied.

Ji Jay and Kelly Lo from China

“We won!”

Karoline McKeogh and Tommy Rehilane

“We lost!” “But we both saw them win last year, but it is still very hard!”

John and Aaron Fahy

“You got married last week? The All-Ireland is your honeymoon?” “No. We postponed when Limerick got to the final. We will go now in October. But this is better than a honeymoon.” “Where’s your husband now?” “Inside in Gill’s getting us drinks!” “That’s the way to have it.” I said.

Pat O’ Brien and daughter Martina Burke

“We did it!”

Joanne McCarthy Colbert and Kadie Colbert

Big gang of delighted Limerick supporters

And so it comes to an end. This has been the most wonderful experience for me. Sure, Cork did not make my dreams come true, but I am very proud of them. They played some magnificent hurling and won out in Munster. We will look to next year. I got a feeling it will be Cork’s year. For now, it is all about Limerick. So happy for the great people I met from Limerick over the summer that 45 years has been bridged. Congratulations again!

I cannot finish up here without thanking Bord Gais Energy, in particular Conor Barron who was so supportive in getting the project off the ground. Ellen Mackessy was fantastic to work with throughout and am really grateful to her. Thanks to Karena also and all at Bord Gais Energy.

To everyone who stopped and chatted and shared their stories with me – a huge thanks. I will never forget it.

Here’s to dreaming it all up again for 2019. Here’s to hurling!

The heart of hurling

 

 

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