Tag Archives: Bangkok

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

iPhone Portrait Mode

“But it’s not a real camera!”

2017, and we are still hearing that.

Bangkok -iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

At the recent 8 x 8 Street Photography Conference in Bangkok I gave a talk on how the limitations of the iPhone resulted in my experimenting and pushing things creatively. It was a fun talk, but a talk that had impact. One that got people thinking, and one that has encouraged people to embrace mobile shooting.

Galway – iPhone 7plus Portrait Mode

For me, moving from film to digital changed the way I shot simply because I was able to review the images immediately and shoot more. Result being I made more mistakes and I learnt more. But once I began to embrace shooting on the iPhone it changed the way I see; it changed the way I think. Why? Again, it is simple I went from a situation of having a camera – a big, heavy DSLR (that I love to this day) sitting in a drawer only taken out on occasion, to one where I had a camera with me 24/7. Gone were the times when I would see a scene and say to myself:

“Oh, I wish I had a camera with me.”

I always had a camera with me. And instead of passively happening upon photographic opportunities, I was now actively seeking them and actively creating them. I began to see, think and create photographically.

Bangkok – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

Sure, there were limitations. Small sensor which meant poor quality images in low light. But this allowed me to experiment and create images like this in low light conditions.

iPhone 5 (2013)

No zoom? Ya, and that meant I had to zoom with my feet and get in close getting the shot. I also began to discover how perfect the small and discreet iPhone was for street work.

iPhone 4: 2012

A fixed lens? Again, this resulted in more considered compositions. More awareness of what to leave in and more importantly what to leave out of an image. When I look back now at the images I shot with the iPhone I can see how particular I was about composing images; the attention I gave to what I was photographing in an image, and what I was not photographing (what to omit) in a frame.

Tokyo – iPhone 6, 2015

No changeable lenses? Well, there are add-ons – great lenses like the Olloclip ones. But again, I did not want to use them straight up. No, I wanted to experiment and see what else they could do. Macro lens portraits? Ya, why not?

iPhone 6: 2016

And the latest imperfection that causes people to say: “But it’s not a real camera, though, is it?”

Portrait Mode is Apple’s attempt to mimic the bokeh effect that real cameras can achieve. It creates a depth-of-field effect blurring out background and making your subject in the foreground stand out. Can a phone camera really do that? Sure it can!

Tokyo – iPhone 7 plus Portrait Mode

Again, it is something I can achieve with so much more ease on my Fuji or my Nikon, but for some reason it feels differently on those cameras. Working in Portrait Mode with the iPhone is frustrating. You get notifications from the camera telling you to move closer, mover further away, place your subject within 2.5 metres until the DEPTH EFFECT in bright yellow appears. I imagine in years to come we will look back at these notifications and marvel at them. For now, it is slow. It is frustrating. It is hard to use in low light. But here’s the thing: because it slows you down, you become more considered about composition paying more attention to what to leave in and what to leave out of the shot. You become more deliberate about getting things in focus to achieve that depth-of-field bokeh effect.

Seoul – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

And it has changed how I shoot on the street. It brings me closer to the those I am photographing. I have to get close and I have to slow down. Where before I was in close but I was on the move, now I am close but I am with them. This has meant a change. Before I would rarely talk with people on the street. Sure, I would exchange a smile, at most a small few words. Now, I find I am engaging, exploring, getting to know the people I am making portraits of. I could not have imagined this before getting the iPhone 7 plus.

Tokyo – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

Take this one encounter from last Saturday’s MojoCon photo walk in Galway. I saw this man approach. Before I would have slalomed towards him, got in close and shot a burst of images, not looked back and carried on to the next character who caught my attention. This time, I went up to him, introduced myself and asked if I could take his photo (I think the make your portrait or take your portrait thing is nonsense – it is not the collocation of words – it is how something is said and the manner it is said). Sure, he said. I thanked him and began to compose the frame. I told him I was from Cork, up in Galway for a conference and asked him where he was from. He was from Oranmore, about 10 miles from Galway. He had come up by bus. Usually did, he said, on a Saturday afternoon. What did he like to do here, I asked. Place a few bets, have a few pints. Today was a bad day, he said. He had lost and he now had time to kill before he headed back to Oranmore, but at least it was a fine day. Did I like Galway, he asked. I told him I did. I showed him the photos. He nodded his head as he looked at them. I thanked him. We shook hands.

Galway – iPhone 7plus – Portrait Mode

It is a departure for me to engage so much with people on the street. I never had much problem getting in close to get the shot, but I was, could I say shy or even embarrassed to engage with people. Shooting on Portrait Mode has caused me to slow down – focussing takes time – it is frustrating and you do miss shots. But on the plus side it results in a new, fresh approach in street photography for me and it is invigorating.

 

Galway – iPhone 7 plus – Portrait Mode  

But it’s not a real camera, ya? No, it is so much more than that. It’s a wonderful springboard for creativity and experimentation, fun and learning. Embrace its limitations.

Kiss the future…

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Inspiration, iPhone, Photo Talks, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Bangkok: The slow rhythm of patience

Had a discussion with a friend of mine about photography and how we use it to interpret what we experience. I told him that very often when I arrive in a city it overwhelms me and to begin with everywhere I point my camera seems to be the wrong place. I said it takes time to slip into the rhythm of a city, to feel its pulse beat in time with mine and then it just becomes instinctive.

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok was like that. An assault on the senses. The smell of petrol fumes fused with lemongrass. The neon and fresh fruit stalls. The hum of the constant traffic. The swell and sway of people always on the move. The welcoming smile and the 100-mile gaze.

Bangkok

Lady boys’ boutique – getting ready for the night ahead

At every turn there was something which got my attention; something which I had to capture in a frame.

Lady boys' boutique - getting ready for the night ahead

Lady boys’ boutique – getting ready for the night ahead

I had not visited the red light district on my last visit to Bangkok, but this time we were brought on a little tour by a Japanese friend.

Bangkok

Bangkok

Impossible to compute it all. The luxury of photography allows time to reflect.

Bangkok

Bangkok

Let the camera see.

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok

The slow rhythm of patience

Bangkok

Bangkok

 

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

Bangkok

I like writing. I like writing about the background to images, but sometimes it just becomes noise and distracts the viewer. A bit like titles. I used to title all my photos before, but now unless a title pops into my head, I don’t bother.

So, in that spirit, here are three photographs from Bangkok.

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Bangkok: March 2016

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Bangkok: March 2016

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Bangkok: March 2016

 

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

Dressing for dinner in Bangkok

Chinatown: Sunday evening, late March 2016. 
Arriving in a restaurant and immediately the elegant, elderly lady in the leopard-print fur coat and her dark purple hair got my attention. 
I am always fascinated by people who seem to experience temperature differently to everyone else. Here in Ireland, it is so common to see young girls dressed for summer on the coldest of winter’s nights.

And here was this lady on a balmy, hot Bangkok evening in a fur coat as she tucked into piping hot food. 
Love it! 
Had to get a shot of it. 
And as I did, in popped this guy, adding something else to the image.

Love Bangkok!

Bangkok

Bangkok

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

Monogram Asia Photo Lecture Tour

It was quite the honour to be invited to South-East Asia by Monogram Asia to present at the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand and also in Jakarta, Indonesia. In between, I had the opportunity to shoot intensively with some fantastic photographers on the streets of Singapore, Bangkok and Jakarta. All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten experience and one I am truly grateful for.

Presenting at the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand

Presenting at the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand

In preparing my lectures for the two events, I approached it in a chronological fashion, presenting images of mine through the years, both DSLR and iPhone, and framing them around that famous quote of Henri Cartier Bresson’s: Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”  and the widely-used: “The best camera you have is the one with you.”

And I disagreed with both!

The reason being is simple. Bresson’s quote is often used to present the idea that the more you practise the better you will become, and while it is wrong to disagree with that, it does imply a linear, incremental improvement. Coming from an education background, I believe the learning process is never as simple as this, and when looking at it through the lens of artistic creation it seems to suggest that we are incapable of creating something of artistic merit in our initial stages of expression. It brings to mind a couple of  Picasso’s quotes: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” and It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

One of my early street shots: Bangkok, 2005

One of my early street shots: Bangkok, 2005

These two quotes support my belief that very often we can instinctively create something without a technical awareness of how we achieved it. In preparing for my presentation I looked back at images I shot many years back. Seeing these now, with years’ of experience of shooting and viewing images, I realised that back then I was capable of creating photographs which, if I were to shoot today, I think I would be proud of.

It got me thinking further about his quote. 10,000 photographs. Just think about that for a moment. 10,000. Back in the days of film I had an SLR. It was rarely used. I would have shot a few rolls when on holidays and another few throughout a year. Do the math on this and you can see that in a given year, I would have shot about 8 rolls of film. That is 8 x 36, making a total of 288. Continuing with the calculations you can see to get to 10,000 probably would have taken me about 35 years. Or in reality – never.

12a.Hakodate 09

One of my early street shots: Hakodate, 2009

However, with digital,  things changed. There was the reduced cost and the ability to store so many images. This resulted in shooting more and more, and brings me to the next quote: The best camera you have is the one with you.”

This has to be one of the most-often used quotes about photography. I know I have I used it again and again. But it was not until I was mulling my presentation over that I realised that I did not agree with it. Why? Because it implies that we don’t always have a camera with us and if we do happen to have one – then that by default is the best camera.

Untrue!

Who doesn’t have a smartphone with them nowadays? And following that through it means we always have a camera with us. And that is the best thing – always having a camera with us. But do we realise the potential of that?

An early iPhone photograph: Cork, 2011

An early iPhone photograph: Cork, 2011

I found looking back over the years of my photography that it was from always having a camera with me, in the form of my iPhone, that led me from a situation of only having a camera in a drawer gathering dust, only taken out on special occasions, to one where I had a camera with me always. I went from a situation of perhaps (and perhaps is true here)  noticing a photo opportunity, to thinking – wow, that would make a nice photograph, to a situation where I saw these situations and I had the camera with me and I got that shot.

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From cameras in a drawer to always having a camera with me and always trying to get that shot

It allowed me to develop my eye, to begin to think and to see photographically. It allowed me to have a camera with me in situations where before I would not have brought one: work, shopping, waiting rooms, in the car, out for a run, around my house and garden, etc. And as a result, I was training my eye, becoming more sensitive to composition, becoming more creative and moving ever-more rapidly to those 10,000 first photographs.

Sure, the quote can be interpreted in different ways. I fully agree with the notion it implies of practice. Shooting with the iPhone meant I was practising more than ever before, but the change was that I was now seeing photographically and committing myself to it. Before a photographic scene may have gotten my attention, but if I had not a camera with me, it would have been allowed to escape, uncaptured. And over time this meant a sensitivity to scenes like this became less and less pronounced and opportunities to train my eye, evolve my style would have been lost. 

In looking back and selecting images to represent my early photographic style it was good to see that elements of composition, style and storytelling were strongly evident in my early shooting, and to see how these evolved over the years was interesting.

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Capturing storytelling images on the iPhone 4

The next part of my presentation was to show that there is not a separation in approach, style or quality between what I was doing in my DSLR work and my iPhone work. With the iPhone I had a camera that was perfect for street photography. It was small, discreet, fast and allowed me to get in close on the streets to capture moments and candid portraits that I probably would not have made without this camera. In turn, because of this new approach, I was becoming braver with the DSLR also and making more effort to get storytelling images on the DSLR.

Similarly, I wanted to show that the limitations of the iPhone: poor zoom, poor image stabilisation pushed me to be creative. I zoomed with my feet, and the poor image stabilization; well it led to this:

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Being creative on the iPhone

And around the same time I was creating images like this on my DSLR.

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DSLR photograph

I also spoke of the community aspect of the mobile photography movement in my presentation. I know that for me it was (and still is) the interaction with fellow photographers who were shooting and sharing on smartphones on a daily basis that really drove me on. Being part of communities like Mobiography, The App Whisperer and iPhoneographyCentral was hugely influential in my development as a photographer. Making the showcases on these sites was a really big thrill for me in the early days and I am so grateful to Andy, Joanne, Bob and Nicky for all they have done and continue to do for mobile photography.

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The wonderful community for mobile photography: Mobiography, The App Whisperer, iPhoneographyCentral

Throughout the lecture, I presented images to showcase my photographic style and to demonstrate the qualities and advantages of the iPhone. As well as showing images from through the years, I also I selected some of my more well-known images.

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London, 2015

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Tokyo, 2015

 

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Tokyo, 2015

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

Copenhagen, 2014

I rounded the presentation off with a demonstration of my favourite app for editing: Snapseed and showing the range of Olloclip lenses available for the iPhone that bring your shooting experience to another level.

There followed a questions and answers session and after the presentations in both Bangkok and Jakarta I was very pleased with the people who took the time to come up to thank me, to hear their stories, tell me they found the talks inspiring and motivating for them to experiment and shoot more with their smartphones. I really enjoyed the opportunity to get some wefies (a new word for me – more than one person is not a selfie no it is a we-fie – wefie) and to take pictures of us together.

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Royal Photographic Society of Thailand Lecture

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Jakarta Lecture

For me, the takeaway points from my lecture were having a smartphone camera with you allows you think and see photographically, heightening your ability to look for and create photographic opportunities; it encourages creativity and allows you to develop your own personal style. With the community of mobile photographers you have the opportunity to share and learn with fellow photographers who share your passion and with the many apps and accessories available you can take your photography to another level. But the main thing: The main thing is that it is PHUN – iPHUNography!

Overall, the opportunity to present my photography in the prestigious Royal Photographic Society of Thailand and in Veteran’s Cafe in Jakarta was a true honour and one I am humbled and grateful for.

Will be doing a few blog posts on shooting in the various locations on the blog in the coming weeks. I shot over 5k photographs on the iPhone, Nikon D7000 and the Fuji x100T. I had the most amazing experiences shooting with a great team of photographers. Stay tuned!

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More to come…

 

 

 

Posted in iPhone, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, Photo Talks, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |