Tag Archives: black and white photography

Why I love to shoot with Provoke App

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

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke app)

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

Busan (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

Haeundae Beach (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpur (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

South Korea (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Kuala Lumpar (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

How could it be improved?

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

Bali (Shot on iPhone with Provoke App)

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

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

Kiss the future…

 

 

Posted in iPhone, Resources, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Make or take a photo

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

 

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

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

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

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

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

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

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

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

Jakarta. April 2016. Shot on iPhone 6s

Kiss the future…

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

Delhi

Objective for January is to create a gallery of photographs on my website for India. I have been so lazy in getting this done (apologies to those who have been asking me to put one up).

It seems so long ago that we were in India. When I see the photographs and see the light and sunshine in so many images, it looks so distant to me, viewing them now in winter.

These two photographs were both shot in Delhi within the first hour of being there. I don’t think I had ever travelled somewhere with so many imagined images of what I might see. But as soon as we stepped out of the air-conditioned airport into the heat of the Delhi night, I knew one thing was not exaggerated: How hot India is. I felt the legs of my trousers cling to me as I began to sweat. Pulling my suitcase along we crossed this little road. I stopped in the centre and with one hand on my suitcase and the other on the iPhone; I snapped.

Delhi Airport (iPhone 6s)

Into the Delhi night in our air-conditioned car we went with our driver Manpreet. I sat in the back of the car. My friend sat in the front. This was to become the norm as the trip went on. About twenty minutes on we were stopped in traffic and this rickshaw pulled up behind us.

Delhi, June, 2016 (Nikon D7000)

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, iPhone 6s, iPhone photography, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Colour or Black and White

Sometimes I am stuck. Both look good, but you dilute by posting both. Choose one. Black and white more often than not wins out.

Here are some recent shots that I loved both in colour and black and white, but ultimately only posted one version. All shot in Shibuya, Tokyo on a Nikon D7000.

Which do you prefer?

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Shibuya: April, 2016 (Black and white)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Black and white)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Colour)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Colour)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Black and white)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Black and white)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Colour)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Colour)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Black and white)

Shibuya: April, 2016 (Black and white)

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A mother’s love

We all want to be seen and still we all want to conceal, distort and control what we reveal. It happens on occasion that people will come up to me and want me to photograph them. It is not something I like. I prefer to see something that attracts me in a person and try to capture that in a candid, unguarded way. It works better for me. I understand more from this.

But this character in Varanasi, India intrigued me. He approached me on a crowded and chaotic street and with gesture indicated he wanted me to photograph him. In the time it took to understand him we were locked in eye contact. When I hoisted the camera he shot his eyes to heaven and for the three or four frames I shot he did not look into the lens.

A mother's love [2]

A mother’s love [1]

A mother's love

A mother’s love [2]

A mother's love [3]

A mother’s love [3]

(I have been asked about the title. I find titles can detract much from images and rarely add to them. Addition is dilution and all that, but in this case the title came to me and I ran with it. Apologies if it deflects)

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

Shibuya, Shibuya

I read once, that those you see in your dreams are those you have seen in real life. Those passersby whose faces may never have registered with you, but somehow make their way in and resurface in dreams. Makes some sense, doesn’t it? The shutter of the eye snapping relentlessly and searing them to memory and they seeping into dreams.

Tokyo

Tokyo

How many people have I passed in my life, I wonder? How many faces? Millions perhaps. Sufficient stock for endless dreams, no doubt.

Shibuya

Shibuya

Tokyo is a bit like that with the Shibuya Scramble Crossing. In any given time up to two thousand people cross. Two thousand faces. There is about a four to five minute interval between the red man and the green man at the crossing. With the green man, there are two minutes for those two thousand people to hurry across. The waiting crowd swells and surges as soon as the green man signals. It is an electrifying feeling to be amongst it.

Shibuya

Shibuya

It is endlessly engaging in Shibuya.

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

So many faces.

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

Shibuya

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

M i n e

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

Two photographs

Getting to that time of year when I look back and choose my favourite photographs posted to Flickr over the past year. I began to do this last night and the thing I noticed was this year I posted far fewer images to my two Flickr accounts than 2015. Last year, between the two accounts I posted close on 700 photographs. This year between the two it will just be over 200. Over the next few weeks, I will be choosing an iPhone photograph and a non-iPhone photograph from each month of the year and writing a little background as to why I have chosen those images.

For today, I am posting two shots. One DSLR, taken in Vilnius – part of a little series of images. The curious thing about this is that I had not a title ready for it, but when I uploaded to Flickr, from some reason the title I gave it was the same as the Apple shot. No reason why and not even sure why. But you have to go with these things at times.

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

 

The iPhone image is from my trip to Porto back in June. I shot a lot from this scene. I like this particular one because of the bird in the scene. Hope you like it too.

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Porto

 

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Apple iPhone 6 TV Advert

My Shot on iPhone 6 story continues. This time I have a photograph of mine, which I shot in Berlin last December, in the latest Apple iPhone 6 TV Advert, which aired the U. S last night. Apple is really promoting the camera on the iPhone 6 and  it makes me excited to think how great the camera on the new iPhone will be if they are pushing this one so much. You can see my shot in the centre of the screen from the 7th to 9th second. 2 seconds!

 

This shot is one of a series I got back in Berlin last December on one of the main shopping streets. I was in Berlin for a technology in education conference and had been at it all day and the only time I could get out to shoot was in the evening. Berlin in December is cold. The sun sets early in the evening. I can still recall the biting wind. I headed out wrapped up, but without gloves, as I needed to be able to use my fingers to control the cameras. Usually, when I set out on a photo walk, the first while is frustrating. You are ready, super alert and willing with all your might for that photograph to appear. It rarely does. Patience is required.

I was about an hour out when I passed this magnificently lit up store front. I had never seen anything like. The brilliant white lines of light against the black of the building. Beautiful. I had found my location. Using the Nikon D7000 I shot some motion blur images of pedestrians and cyclists passing the store. It was OK, but not what I had imagined. It needed something else. I head off, a little despondent. About twenty metres up the road, as I was walking along, I passed this parked,highly-polished black van. A few steps passed it, I stopped and said out loud: hang on, hang on. Nodding my head in excitement, I knew I had to go back. And I was right. There on the side of the van that flanked the road were the reflections of those brilliant white lights. Yes!

Click, click. Review – meh! It needed a human element and it needed me to be careful. At times, when I am out shooting I can find myself lost in the moment, unaware of my surroundings or who is around me. Here I was standing at the side of a parked black van on a busy Berlin street at night dressed all in black. Did I want to get myself killed? No! But I did want to get that shot. I waited and using the Nikon, I shot a few frames with cyclists passing and realising I had ridden my luck, I left. Two or three minutes down the road, I stopped again. I had to go back. I had to get some shots with the iPhone. I did not want to be in a position later regretting lost opportunities. I got back to same position, hung in as close as I could to the van and again waited. In the distance, I saw this guy approaching on a bike. I readied myself and hitting burst mode as he came and passed I got the shots. I could leave.

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Berlin – Shot on iPhone 6

The iPhone does reasonably well in low-lit conditions. I am sure the new release will see great improvements in this area. Comparing it to the Nikon D7000 shot, it does stand up well.

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Berlin – Shot on Nikon D7000

 

 

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