Tag Archives: iPhone 6S

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

Photography and Technology

Whenever my photography seems to lack inspiration I tend to follow a similar path. I look back at photographs I made years back. Usually I find my answers there. It is funny how images reveal themselves over time. Features which once appeared prominent recede and elements unpronounced now reverberate. Funny how technological advances seem to have shaped my photographic journey. Back in the old days shooting with a Pentax SLR and being careful and considered with each exposure and having to wait to get the film developed before ever seeing what I had photographed to now shooting digitally on a phone (ya, a phone) and being able to instantly see it and within minutes share it on global platforms; wow, how things have changed! And still, perhaps, the basic elements are still the very same: light, composition and emotion.

Shot with Pentax Film SLR (Prague: 2001)

Pentax SLR (Prague: 2001)

Over the past year or more I have done a lot of interviews, presentations and workshops and these have allowed me to reflect on my photographic journey and inspect the path I have taken as a photographer. I cast my mind back to my old film SLR that I had in the 90s and which eventually was traded in for a Nikon S1. The reality is that I probably use the iPhone more in a month that I ever did with that old SLR I had. It spent most of its life in a drawer and was only taken out for holidays and even then I rarely shot more than a few rolls of film. It was just too expensive.

Shot with Pentax Film SLR (Amsterdam: 1998)

Shot with Pentax Film SLR (Amsterdam: 1998)

The first digital camera I got was a small, compact Nikon S1. I brought it on my first ever trip to Asia and I just loved it. Why? For two main reasons: 1. I could instantly see the shot I had made and 2. I was able to shoot until I filled the SD card. The restrictions and limits of shooting with film had gone. Result: I shot much more and like everything in life, the more you practise, the more mistakes you make, and the best thing about mistakes is that allows you to learn.

Taken with Nikon S1 (Peru: 2006)

Shot with Nikon S1 (Peru: 2006)

Being able to see the image instantly freed me from the disappointment of shooting film and discovering that I had messed up the shot and there was no possible way to get back to the location and time to correct it and shoot again. I know there are the purists who feel you need to get things right in camera, and ya, I do try to get it done in camera, but isn’t it OK to make mistakes and learn. Sure it is!

Henri Cartier Bresson’s: Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” is one of the most-widely known quotes to do with photography, and it is one I feel is outdated today. 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.”

Shot with Nikon S1 (Dublin: 2007)

Shot with Nikon S1 (Dublin: 2007)

This supports my belief that very often we can instinctively create something without a technical awareness of how we achieved it. Looking 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.

However, with the new digital technology,  things changed. There was the reduced cost and the ability to store so many images. This resulted in shooting more and more, and like many things in life: The more you practise, the better you become. It’s like most learning experiences I have had. There is no easy route to it. You learn by doing.

As I began to shoot more with the compact Nikon S1, I wanted to get myself a DSLR to create what I expected to be better images with the more technically advanced DSLR. Sure the technology allowed me to make better shots, but still the reality was that I was shooting only on occasion. It really wasn’t until I got the iPhone and as a result that I had a decent camera with me all the time, did I actually begin to shoot on a regular basis.

Shot on iPhone 3g (Cork, Ireland)

Shot on iPhone 3g (Cork, Ireland)

This photo above was shot on the iPhone 3g. I can still recall the time. Here was one of those scenes you encounter that makes you go: “That would make a great photo!” and just walk on by because you had no camera with you. But I had! I had the iPhone. Still I did not think the technology was advanced enough in the 3g to make a good shot, but in reality it is not too bad. There is a storytelling element to the image that I like.

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. I was shooting much more, and enjoying it much more. Technology meant that unlike before where sharing your photos meant passing around prints to friends and family, now you could upload a photo to Instagram or Flickr and you had the potential of it being seen all over the world. And from this came another vital factor in my photographic journey: viewing others’ images.  I am not sure how many photographs I see on weekly basis, but I guess it is in the high hundreds. This accelerated the learning process even further, and in turn inspired me to get out and create more images.

Shot on iPhone 4 (Lisbon: 2011)

Shot on iPhone 4 (Lisbon: 2011)

Sure, there were technological limitations with the iPhone back then: 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:

Shot on iPhone 5 (Cork, 2012)

Shot on iPhone 5 (Cork, 2012)

As I look back and see how obstacles like poor performance in low light resulted me in pushing the camera to create, it excites me. Back in April of this year in Tokyo I wanted to produce those type of images on the iPhone 6s, but couldn’t with ease. The technique of intentional camera movement I used with the iPhone 5 just did not work anymore. The technology had improved and unintentional camera shake was now corrected with image stabilisation. I experimented again and discovered that violent intentional camera movement could produce aesthetically pleasing blurred images on the iPhone 6s. I was delighted!

Intentional camera movement with the iPhone 6s (Tokyo, April 2016)

Intentional camera movement with the iPhone 6s (Tokyo, April 2016)

And this brings me back to today and makes me look to the future. Technology has shaped my photographic journey. Had they never thought of putting a camera on a phone, I am sure I probably would have given up on photography. Why?  Because to stay motivated you have to perceive progress. A camera left gathering dust in a drawer for most of the year just does not help. I would still be far from passing those 10,000 photos that Bresson claimed would be my worst. No, having the iPhone with me 24/7 and from that beginning to see and think photographically it put me on a path and pushed me towards reaching my potential. Still not there yet, but still on the path!

Tokyo (iPhone 6s, April, 2016)

Tokyo (iPhone 6s, April, 2016)

Each year the advances that are made in camera technology are amazing. The battle going on among camera phone manufacturers is fascinating to observe. Regular camera brands are struggling to stay ahead, and then throw this new camera from Light – the L16 –  into the mix. Have you seen this? This device is a potential game changer. It combines the fit and feel of a smartphone with the technology of a DSLR using the device’s multiple lens (up to 16 different lenses) to shoot photos at the same time, then computationally fuses them into a DSLR-quality image. Add in its wifi capabilities and wow, it is some camera!

It sure is an exciting time to be a photographer.

Kiss the future…

Varanasi (iPhone 6s. July, 2016)

Varanasi (iPhone 6s. July, 2016)

 

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Jakarta

We arrived at the Jakarta docks early on a Friday morning. The sun was not breaking through the clouds but the air was hot and humid. A guide was waiting for us to show us around. I don’t like being guided, especially when I am shooting. I need to react to what I am experiencing without distractions. I asked Eflie if the guide was going to be talking all the time on the tour. He said he would. Could he stop, I asked. Elfie obliged and the guide and I shared a nod and a smile and I went about photographing.

Jakarta - iPhone6s

Jakarta – iPhone6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: Fuji X100T

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

Jakarta: iPhone 6s

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Little India, Singapore

I really loved this experience of visiting Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple in Singapore with my friend Elfie (Monogram Asia). This was something new for me and I was fascinated by the rituals taking place and the music playing in the temple. The people were welcoming and it was a great opportunity to observe and learn. 

I have put together this little photo essay of images shot on iPhone 6s below. The final black and white image was shot with the Nikon.

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Shoes at the entrance to the temple

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Bells on the entrance door to the temple

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple

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Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple (Nikon D7000)

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iPhone 6S and Nikon D7000

That’s the way it goes most times I post to Flickr. One iPhone 6s shot and either a Fuji X100T or Nikon D7000 image. Sometimes I feel I should just have the one Flickr account and post whatever photograph I want to that account, rather than separating iPhone from non-iPhone. I set up my original Flickr account back in 2007 and then when I first got on to Instagram I set up a second one just to populate it with images taken on Instagram. And ever since I have kept the two accounts separate. In some ways it makes sense.

Today – two photographs. This first one was shot on iPhone 6s and is straight out of the camera. Another for the series of images: Trees need to cheer the fuck up

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Ya know the thing about trees

The Nikon image was taken at the Web Summit back in November. A little bit of fun.

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Vacuuming decimal points

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Photographs

We are making our way through the alphabet for storms this winter. F for Storm Frank has arrived and the rain and the wind is truly wild. This type of weather is so miserable, but then again with all the flooding it does make for some beautiful reflections. Out for a walk, braving the elements, with my brother yesterday we passed the flooded Lee fields and I had to stop to get a photograph of these beautiful reflections of the trees in the water. These images are straight out of the camera with only a flip applied in Snapseed.

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Trees need to cheer the fuck up

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Trees need to cheer the fuck up

This photograph was made on an autumn afternoon in Vilnius. I set out with the sole intention of creating blurred photography. The old town in Vilnius is a great location for this.

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Unpopulating

 

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Goodbye to the iPhone 6: Hello to the iPhone 6S

The Apple iPhone 6 has been such a special camera for me and until this week I was reluctant to trade up for a new iPhone 6s. But eventually I decided it was time and this week I went and bought myself a brand new camera – I mean iPhone. Well, you know what I mean.

I have shot thousands of photographs with the iPhone 6; easily my all-time favourite camera. Even if I say so myself, I believe I have got a lot of good photographs with it in the 14 months that I have had it. It has been with me every day and I have used it in Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Sligo, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Berlin, Porto, Milan and Tokyo. How fortunate I have been to get to travel to those locations.

In writing this blog post I have looked back at the images I shot with the iPhone 6 and there are so many good memories which spring from the shots. No surprise then that the first image is my most well-known image: that Apple shot from Copenhagen taken back in October, 2014. You know the funny thing about this photograph is that it was a shot I was never happy with. In the post-processing stage, I struggled a lot with the tones in the centre of the image. Photography can be a little like home decoration – you do up one area and what does it do? It shows up how in need of redecoration another area is. In the end, I left the image as it was in my camera roll and was not even going to post it to Flickr (I never posted it to Instagram at all until it was on billboards around the world). When I did post it with a conversion to black and white, it got a great response and caught the eye of Apple’s representatives. The rest is history as they say.

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

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

Berlin was next on my travels. It is a city I have been to three times; always in December. I really would love to see it summer time. When I was there I shot a lot with one of my favourite apps for iPhone photography – 1-hour photo. Using this app, you can only shoot in black and white and the novelty aspect of it is great fun. Like the old days with film, your shots are processed in an hour. The results I love. The black and white tones are really beautiful.

The shot I selected for this blog piece is one I shot on a cold night in Berlin, just off Alexandrs Platz station. Reflections are something I use a lot in my photography. I was struck by the melancholic look on this woman’s face as she waited for the bus to drive off. I stood back a little and did not focus the camera to achieve the layered effect.

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Berlin. 2014

In a recent interview I did with 121 clicks I was asked about what photographic experiences I would like to relive. I thought about it for a while; thought about the places I have been, the shots I’ve made and then I realised that the most precious times are the ones spent with family and friends. The shots of strangers mean little, but those of loved ones mean so much.

One of my all time favourite photographs is this one taken in the Glucksman Gallery in Cork of my little boy, James. I often bring the kids to this gallery and they love to run around and from time to time, the art does get their attention – but never for long. This one here shows the split second (and that is all it was) when James’ attention was taken by the photographs on the wall. The shot I got after it shows how quickly his attention moves to the next thing.

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Beautiful James

 

In March, everything changed. My fifteen minutes of fame arrived and I loved it – who wouldn’t? My photograph of that crazy park in Copenhagen went up on billboards and posters all around the world. This was simply magical. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a thing. The excitement I experienced in getting emails and tweets from people who found my image in the wild was just wonderful and this is the thing that will stay with me long after the campaign.

I was fortunate to get to see the shot on billboards in Milan, with my wife, and in Tokyo also. It is hard to put into words the sensation of seeing a photograph I took on a small, little camera up on a huge billboard where literally thousands of people can see it. One of the most beautiful moments of the Shot on iPhone 6 experience was sitting by the window with my wife in a cafe in Milan and looking out at my photo all lit up on a big billboard. It was a surreal and wonderful sensation.

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All lit up in Milan

 

In April, two great things happened: I won my first competition – Mira Mobile Prize and I was invited to London to be interviewed by the great Dan Rubin for Apple’s Meet the iPhone Photographer in their Regent Street Apple Store. Looking back at the year I have had, there have been many accolades and prizes, but this experience was the one I enjoyed most. I was nervous on the day, but Dan made it all so easy for me. I really enjoyed the day we spent together and the hour on stage talking about my photographic journey.

When I was in London, I had the chance to get out and shoot with the iPhone and some of the images I got while there I love. This one has to be one of my all-time favourite photos. I was on Blackfriar’s bridge on a gloriously sunny spring morning. The sun cast a shadowed pattern of the bridge on to the footpath. I waited until someone passed to get a human element and I was lucky. This lady wearing black and white runners walked into my frame. Click!

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London. April 2015

Winning the Mira Mobile Prize was super special. I got the news late at night in Tokyo. It is true what they say about first times being special. Anyone who enters a competition dreams of winning it. Why else enter? When I learned I had won I cried tears of joy. The next day, Irish media picked up on the story and I made headlines news on RTE (Irish state broadcaster). It probably was a quiet news day, but still!

My prize for winning the Mira was an all-expenses trip to Porto. I travelled out there in June (read about it here) and had a wonderful 5 days there. What a great town it is. I spent my time wandering the streets shooting as I went. My favourite Shot on iPhone 6 image from there is this one of this guy sitting on the beach as the waves crashed on the rocks right in front of him. I stumbled upon this guy and was so surprised to see him there. What was he doing?

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Porto

 

In June, I also got news that this photograph (you can read more about the background to it here) won two competitions. The first was Mediteraneo Foto Festival and the second was the Florence International Photography Awards. The same image would later go on to win first place in the Stark Awards. I was particularly pleased with that one because it was not a mobile-only competition.

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Shibuya Nights

In July, we went on a family holiday to the north-west of Ireland, to Sligo. Now, Irish summers are usually disappointing. We crave sunshine but rarely get it. This summer was no different, but we did get to see some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland, and for anyone that has not seen Belbulben, you have to! It is the most impressive mountain in Ireland. You can see it here smothered in the greyest of Irish summer clouds.

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Sligo. Summer 2015

 

My memories of my childhood are happy ones. I recall walking to mass with my mother, hand in hand, and I would be incessantly talking and asking questions. My favourite question to her was: “When will it be my birthday?” Funny how we as kids love our birthdays so much and want them to come sooner and sooner and then as we get older we want them to not to come so damn fast. Each year, I have a little tradition with my two kids. We get the bus in town and sit on the top deck at the very front. Then we have some treats in a cafe and head to the bookshop to get some books. I love it and so far they do too. Not sure how long it will last for, but I do hope it will be a happy memory for them.

Here are two photos of them on their birthdays. First, my little boy, James, and myself on his fifth birthday. 

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James (birthday number 5)

And then, my little girl – Sumi-Anna – on her eight birthday looking over the River Lee in Cork.

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Sumi-Anna (Birthday number 8)

In October, I travelled to Vilnius to shoot the gig of Tomas Sinicki. What a great experience that was. I used my three cameras for it, but the one I enjoyed most was the iPhone. It was particularly good fun to see the reaction of the photo journalists when I switched from the Nikon to the iPhone to get my shots. Tomas is a class act. His mix of punk, rock and folk music really brought me back to my younger days.

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Tomas Sinicki

 

In November, I had mobile workshops in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery , Cork and in the Gallery of Photography in Dublin. What a great experience it is to be able to share my passion for photography with like-minded people. I love the photo walks we go on when we are out and about. This shot here was taken on the doorstep of the Glucksman Gallery and forms part of an ongoing series of images I have titled – Trying to see the good in people.

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Trying to see the good in people

This year had its sad moments too. In February, I lost one of my best friends, Liam, to cancer. There has not been a day pass since that I have not thought of him. The one regret I have about this year is that he was not there with me to share it. He would have loved it. I took this photograph on a morning walk. The sun hitting the tree and casting its shadow struck me. Miss you, Liam!

Liam

Liam

And on it goes…

Am excited to think about the photographs I will get with this new iPhone. Have not had much time to get out shooting with it; possibly will do so over the Christmas break. Here is a shot I got yesterday.

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Kiss the future

 

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