Tag Archives: Brendan Ó Sé photographer

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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MojoCon 2

Mojocon 2!

MojoCon 2016

MojoCon 2016

It is the brainchild of an Irishman – Glen Mulcahy. It brings together journalists from the four corners of the world to showcase how mobile technology is revolutionising how they create and distribute content. This was year two. Last year I helped Glen put together the panel of speakers for the mobile photography session, and this year I was fortunate and privileged to be invited back to give a workshop/photowalk with Nicki Fitzgerald. The event was held in the Aviva Stadium.

MojoCon 2016: Aviva Stadium

MojoCon 2016: Aviva Stadium

Day 1

The conference kicked off in style. Glen Mulcahy is many things, but when he tripped up stepping on stage, gathered himself and told this story about Meat Loaf, my admiration for him climbed a few more notches.

There were so many good talks to attend over the two days. Stand out speakers for me were John McHugh (Verifeye Media), Philip Bromwell (RTE), Conrad Messe (iPhone film-maker), Seán Mac an tSíthigh (RTE) and Molly Svenson (Ryot News). Of these, John McHugh was my favourite. He spoke with passion about what he has done (war photographer) and what he is doing with Verifeye Media – “a technology driven visual news agency for freelance journalists & accidental eyewitnesses.” You can read Irish Tech News article on John here. 

All of the talks of the conference will be posted on MojoCon’s Youtube page in the coming week. Check them out for yourself.

John McHugh: Verifeye Media

John McHugh: Verifeye Media

Of the many companies presenting their products in the exhibition hall, the one that I loved the most was the Samsung 360. Cathy O’ Flaherty was absolutely brilliant in showing the capabilities of Samsung’s phone and its 360 capabilities. Her own 360 video of her cat chasing the red dot of a laser beam was such a scream. She sure did work hard over the two days, but she was just as cheerful and in good spirits at the end of the conference as she was at the start. A great ambassador for Samsung.

Cathy O' Flaherty of Samsung

Cathy O’ Flaherty of Samsung

On the Friday evening, Bord Bia (Ireland’s food board) invited speakers and delegates to an evening of the best of Irish food, music and of course – craic (not that crack! Irish craic – good fun).

Bord Bia - The best of Irish food and drink (and craic!)

Bord Bia – The best of Irish food and drink (and craic!)

Day 2

The photowalk. Last year we had about twenty people who hit the streets with us. I guess this year word got around how much fun it was, but we were not prepared for such large numbers. About 60 – 70 people turned up. Here’s a shot I took – which Nicki later modified and pasted me into it. Big thanks to Paul Moore, Richie Donnelan, Andy Butler and Micheál MacSuibhne for help in guiding people as we moved on.

A group shot as we were waiting for the stragglers to come out of the train station

A group shot as we were waiting for the stragglers to come out of the train station

Many plans were put forward as to where to go. Very often at conferences people only get to see the hotel and the event venue. With this in mind, we agreed that it was best to head into the city centre on the DART (local train) and allow people to see a little of Dublin before they headed home. With such a large number, we needed some way of being recognised. What better than a pink balloon tied to your wrist?

Pink always was my colour

Pink always was my colour

It was such a sight to see all the people trooping down the steps of the Aviva and into the train station to queue up to get their tickets.

Here we go. #mojocononthestreet

Here we go. #mojocononthestreet

Sure, it was a little crazy and hectic,  but everyone was in great spirits. Even Andy:

Andy Butler - Mobiography Magazine

Andy Butler – Mobiography Magazine

But he did cheer up later in the walk:

Andy Butler: Mobiography

Andy Butler: Mobiography

At Trinity College we split up into two groups. Andy and I brought one group up Grafton St. direction, while Nicki and Paul Moore headed to Temple Bar. Here are some of the shots I got on the little walk.

Shot while trying to demo burst mode as the train trundled along. :-)

Shot while trying to demo burst mode as the train trundled along. 🙂

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On we go

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Cliches with the Sony Xperia

One hour later we met back in the college and from there back to the Aviva. The curious thing was that the original 60 or so people was now whittled down to about 20. How did we lose so many people? Are they still out there on the streets posting their shots and hashtagging them #mojocononthestreet? I’m checking….

The photo walk was such great fun and thanks to Olloclip for putting up some great prizes for the competition. Myself and Nicki handed this hard job over to Andy (Mobiography) and Steve Muttram of Olloclip. You can see the winning shots here on Andy’s site. Here is the winning one from Micheál MacSuibhne, and before anyway gets on their high horse about exploiting homeless people – Micheál knows this man. They were talking. He asked Micheál to take the shot.

The winning photographer from #mojocononthestreet 2016 Micheál MacSuibhne

The winning photographer from #mojocononthestreet 2016 Micheál MacSuibhne

And with that MojoCon 2 was coming to an end. It sure was tiring.

MojoCon is tiring!

MojoCon is tiring!

In the closing address Glen told that MojoCon is a strong possibility. That was wonderful to hear.  It was great to meet up with old friends, make new ones, but sad to have to say goodbye!

Myself, Nicki, Sir Cam and Andy

Myself, Nicki, Sir Cam and Andy

Here’s to MojoCon 3 and one last shot from the photo walk:

Always!

Always!

This great video was released by RTE a few days after this blog post.

 

 

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Japan

I was on a business trip to Japan last week and while I spent most of my time in Tokyo, I also travelled to a remote area called Shonai. When I was asked by others in Japan of where else I was visiting very few knew of this location.

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I took a flight from Tokyo’s Haneda airport – the city’s second airport. Now you would imagine that a place that is relatively unknown and, as I would later discover, only have a population of about 11,000 people would not be serviced by regular flights. But no, there are several flights each day and on the outward and return flight, both were full to capacity.

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Flying into Shonai, it was hard not to be impressed by the beauty of the snow-capped mountains. Having coming from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, I was struck by calm and beauty of the location as we made our way to the university, some 20 km from the airport.

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Before returning to the airport in the evening for my flight back to Tokyo, I had a little time to take a short walk to the river bank near the university. The air was fresh and crisp and the only sounds were those of birds chattering and the wind blowing in the trees. When I am away from home, I really try hard to make myself take in the reality of my surroundings. Time passes so quickly and often I find myself looking back and thinking: “Was I actually there?”

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An hour from landing in Tokyo, I was back in Shibuya, back on the crossing. Again, I stopped to make myself take it all in and I could not help but feel that I had dreamt being out in the wilds of nature that afternoon.

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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.

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