Tag Archives: travel

Why do you need a second Instagram account

That’s a question I am asked a lot: Why do I need a second Instagram account?

Truth be told I don’t need one and I probably would be better off just focussing on building my main account. Addition is dilution, as they say. That is true. So, why do it then? Well, I shoot a lot of photos. So much gets my visual interest and over time I build up a lot of photographs which lead a lonely existence in the depths of my camera roll. Back in May of 2016 I decided to create another Instagram account and just post photos there that did not feature people. My thinking was that my main account is primarily for street photography shots with the human element. The second account would let me showcase images that just might not ever see the light of day otherwise. I hate rules, but I do apply just one rule to this account: no people.

So, arriving to January, 1st, 2018, I have decided to look back and choose 12 favourites from that stream. An algorithm chose my best nine, but honestly what the f*** does an algorithm know about photography? A bloody lot judging by the success of platforms like Instagram!

Anyway, here goes in selecting 12 photos from my second Instagram account. I am not going to do this like I did when selecting my fave 12 from the main Instagram account – when I chose one photo from each month. This time, I am going to make it easy for myself and just choose 12. (a little side note – I am trying to get this done in the next hour or so – otherwise it will not get done – actually took me over 90 mins)

I hit the streets of Hong Kong wanting to capture street life and character. I had my camera ready for action. My head was on a swivel seeking out that scene. Then I stopped. Perched myself against a yellow facade and shot the passing traffic.

Hong Kong

Korea

When we are in Korea, one of the things we enjoy most is walking to the river near my wife’s parents’ house. The kids love to play in the water. It is a short walk; takes about 5 minutes or so. Over the years I have shot so many photographs and videos of them playing in the water and also so many shots of things I see en route. This one here is an example of the things you can see on the way. I look at it, the kids look at it, they look at me, they look at one another, and then they run on. The river is waiting.

People love it when I tell them that these are coffee pods. I found these in Brown Thomas in Cork when I was in there with my wife one day. I had to ask the store assistant to step out of the way to let me get the shot. When I showed her the shot she said: “Wow, I see that every day, but I have never seen it like this. That’s fabulous.” That made my day.Cork

Tokyo

Tokyo sees a lot of rain. Hit that up with neon and you get some beautiful reflections. This shot was shot using portrait mode to defocus and accentuate the colours. I edited in RNI Films (if you haven’t got that app, you are missing out. Go get it!)

Bangkok is hectic. An assault on the senses. I love the place. So much going on and the people are just the most photo-friendly you can meet. It can be hard to get a shot that gives the sense of activity without having people visible in it. I think this goes towards it.

Bangkok

Korea

I think the reason I like to shoot abstract images when I am out photographing is because there is control in this. It is not like street photography where, as the saying goes, if you see it, it is too late. There is a comfort in finding scenes which are to a degree permanent, ones you can take time with. Ones you can even manipulate. This shot is from Daegu, South Korea. I was wandering around the city frustrated that killer moments were not happening for me. They rarely do. One way to deal with this to seek out photographic constructions. This scene, while appearing calm, screamed at me.

I was asked once in an interview if I ever had a lightbulb moment and it annoyed me. Annoyed me because to begin with I could not recall any and then annoyed even more when I realised how unfortunate that is. A light bulb moment is by nature an abrupt clout of clarity which shakes you from your trodden and dour path. Why didn’t I ever have one? I want one now, I thought. But you can’t will these no matter how you try. But you know now that I am in the process of reviewing my images and wondering what I saw when I took a shot, I begin to think about a moment when an ex-girlfriend of mine spoke to me about seeing colour. I was about 20 years old and I was bored listening to her. She knew this. But she also knew I was not seeing colour. No, she said, you don’t, you don’t see colour, you see colours, but you don’t see colour. This confused me, but by now I was listening to her; no longer bored. Colours, colour, what’s the difference? She continued to tell me, but what she was saying continued to confuse me until I began to try to see it for myself. And then I did, I began to see colour like I had not before.  No matter how I try to explain this I can’t. I am not going to even try. Perhaps the easiest way to achieve this is just by trying to see colour. It is the same with shapes and lines and layers and distortions. They are all there. You just need to train your eye to see them. This photo below is an example of this.

Cork

This photo I love because it is simple and was such an easy shot to get. I like it because when I look at it, I leave it and I am back in Bali. The sky is clear of clouds and the sea is pristine.

Bali

Copenhagen

One of the hardest things I find in photography is to immerse yourself in the scene and to become part of what you are seeing. To allow the viewer feel what you might have been feeling. So often I fail in this. This image here is of a staircase as seen from above. Using a zoom burst I wanted to give the sense of vertigo I was feeling looking over it. I have a dreadful fear of heights.

Vietnam

I obsessed with the future. I struggle so much with optimism. It is like I am on a trampoline. Each time I am vaulted skyward I panic. Enveloping pessimism consumes me. I fear there is nothing under me to cushion my fall. Yet, each time I hit that trampoline optimism is injected and I believe again. What does this have to do with photography? Leading lines, vanishing points, all leading to the future. I stop to examine and caution floods in. But it excites me too. Commit to the future…

Cork

Cork

Trees. They need to cheer the fuck up, you know. Every photographer goes through a phase of shooting trees. They are easy. Stuck there in the ground, unable to make you question the reason why you are photographing them. Snap, snap, snap, they can do nothing. No response. Nothing. Move on to the next tree.

I teach my students how to write. One of the pieces of advice I give them is: Let your ideas control your writing; not your writing controlling your ideas. What does this mean? Well, this blog piece is an example of my writing controlling my ideas. Before I began this piece I had no idea what images I would choose, not to mind what order I might present them in. I even began by telling you that this second account is for photos with no people in them, and now here I am getting to the end of the piece and putting in a photograph with myself in it. I can offer excuses, but they would be pathetic ones like telling you this is my blog and I make the rules. Then, to compound things, I realise this shot is the one I should have used when I was talking about lightbulb moments. Too late. I just could not be arsed going back and reorganising. It’s done!

Anyway, I am choosing this as my last favourite of 2017 from my second Instagram account. Why? Because all my photographs are all about me. I may not be in them, but if you look you will find me. In all of them. Every single one. Even this one.

Not the lightbulb moment shot

Kiss the future….
Posted in Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

February favourites

February and photography and finding favourites. Ya, why not?

Cyprus. I had never been before. My good buddy Dan Berman asked me to go to represent him and the Mobile Photography Awards in the opening of the exhibition in Limassol.

This was nice. Some sunshine, some good food and the chance to hit the streets of Limassol and make some frames.

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.

Limassol (shot on iPhone)

Truth is that in the month of February this year I did not shoot anything that was not on the iPhone. My real cameras lived an unloved life in a dark drawer. So, I need to go and choose a shot which I posted to Flickr in February, but one which was taken in Delhi the previous July. Is that allowed? Of course it is. This is my blog. I can do whatever I want. (insert smiley face)

This shot is in some way similar to the one above from Cyprus. Neither of the two characters in the frame could speak English and neither seemed too bothered that I wanted to photograph them. I like that the guy on the left posed for me and the guy on the right didn’t. The funny thing is that when I showed them the shot, the guy on the right reacted more excitedly than the other.

Delhi (Fuji X100T)

Delhi (Fuji X100T)

March coming up. Check out January here.

Posted in A Flickr Year, iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Busan in black and white

Busan was the first place I shot on iPhone using the Provoke app. This app is great fun to shoot with. I just kept it simple. Set and forget. I chose the HPAN filter and flash and began. The shots in this post are straight out of the camera. I am just too lazy at the moment to do the editing.

Busan (shot on iPhone)

I have seen some crazy English on t-shirts in Asia. The one below is not as risque as some. In fact, it actually is quite cool.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Shooting in black and white in strong sunlight is brilliant. I love the high contrast results.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Got to love the Koreans and their take on the iconic Little Mermaid that is more commonly associated with Copenhagen.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

I wrote in my other post on Busan about heading out on the coastal walk and getting sidetracked when I came upon a group of elderly Koreans bathing in pools of water among the rocks. I sure did enjoy shooting there.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

And the sun sets in Busan.

Busan (Shot on iPhone)

Nest stop Kuala Lumpur.

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My talk at ZafigoX

It was quite the honour to be the only male speaker invited to talk at ZafigoX Travel Conference for Women in Penang Malaysia in August.

The premise of the talk was based around two wonderful ideas. The first from Benjamin Disraeli who said: “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”

And the second from a conversation I had in the car with my daughter when she was just three years old: Where do yesterdays go, Daddy? I don’t know, lovey, Where do they go? I know, Daddy, they go into photographs.” The beauty of this idea has stayed with me ever since.

I will let you enjoy the talk.

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, Photo Talks, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Daegu

Daegu? Where’s that? South Korea.

It’s Korea’s third biggest city and also known as the oven of Korea as when it is hot in Korea, it is hotter in Daegu. It is a colourful city and Korea’s quirkiness is very much in evidence. It has good restaurants and like most places in Korea it has an an abundance of cafes and food stalls.

Daegu (shot on iPhone)

I love shooting in Daegu. I have this series of images going on of elderly gentlemen in Daegu. I just find them to be so cool. They are snappy dressers and ooze class and attitude. These guys have lived through a lot. I imagine a lot of these men might have seen active service in the Korean war. I love how some of them shout – “Hey, buddy!” or some other American-style greeting to me when they see me. I wish our exchange could extend beyond this and allow me to get to know them a little more.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Young Koreans have their own style. Put one young Korean guy in a room of other Asians and the Korean will stand out. Their fashion style can be unique and geeky. Got to admire that.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Another series of images I have going on from Korea is one focussing on couple culture. I am always struck at how many couples you encounter on the streets in Korea. Very often they will be sporting a ‘couple look’ where both will be dressed in identical clothes. These two are cooler than that though.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

As I said – it gets hot in Daegu and Koreans will do everything to keep themselves protected from the sun. Just wait until you see the beach fashion when I do my blog post from Busan. This guy was cool. He just loved getting his photo taken. His reaction when he saw his image was just too cool.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Cafe culture in Korea is big. There are just so many cafes and while the coffee is good, it sure is not cheap. Anyway, the big glass fronts of these cafes make for good photo opportunities.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

My shooting style changed over the past 12 months. Now, I really enjoy engaging with people on the street. This guy just could not understand what I wanted to do when I asked if I could take his photo. He kept reaching for my phone – thinking I wanted him to take my photo. It was a little battle to get him not to hide the cigarette also. Ya, smoking kills, but they look good in photos.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Recently read an article about street photography cliches. This shot below fell into the category. But hey, I cliche, you cliche, we all cliche.

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

And leaving Daegu…

Daegu (Shot on iPhone)

Next up is Busan. Korea’s second city. Expect lots of beach shots!

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone, iPhone photography, Street Photography, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hong Kong

Five weeks in Asia. Five different countries. Five weeks shooting. Result: I have thousands of images to sort through. While away I was mainly shooting with the iPhone, but I also had the Fuji X100T and Nikon D7000 with me. So, my way of dealing with the images this time is a little different than before. My plan is to go back and organise the images from each location and put together blog posts on each place. This should allow me to work my way through the process of selecting (and more difficultly – deselecting) my favourite images. So, here goes.

Where better to start than Hong Kong. Oh to be a street photographer living in Hong Kong. What an exhilarating place it is. I really would love to live there and get the chance to work more of the series of images I have shot on iPhone there.

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Ferry to Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I had two short stays there in the summer. The second was extended when a typhoon hit and resulted in a long day spent in the airport. I was never so happy to leave when I did, but now I am longing to get back and hit the streets of Hong Kong again.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I love the vibrancy of street life in Hong Kong. It is a noisy, colourful and fragrant place. What I like most about it is that you can find a location and work it, or if the mood takes you and you do not mind dealing with the heat and humidity you can keep on the move. Both work just as effectively. Also, in Central, the architecture is just amazing. I came across this wonderful yellow facade in Central and spent some time trying to get a shot which might match what I envisaged once I saw this yellow.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

I spent about 20 minutes or more trying to get the shot below. You can’t have it both ways. I love that Hong Kong is so crowded and there is a constant flow of people, but when I was trying to get this shot I was driven mad by the people walking into my frame. For me, when I am shooting I create an image of the shot I want to get in my head before I shoot. This one I had envisaged to have more of a division between the yellow wall and the passing red taxi and yellow of the bus.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

This one, which lacks the red of the taxi, worked a little better. Still, it is not perfect. Is any shot ever?

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Moving up the road from here I found a wonderful entrance to McDonalds – another yellow wall. Another chance to create some fun images. This time I pushed the iPhone up against the wall and hit burst mode to get these split screen reflection shots. Again, in getting this shot I was hindered by the fact that the white van opposite was parked and for the duration I was there shooting did not budge. I had hoped to add more colour to the shot but alas no. Photography is 99% frustration. 99% of the time, or even more, I do not get the shot I imagine in my head.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

That’s me in the corner standing in front of a bus stopped in traffic trying to get these layered reflection shots you get when you shoot into glass. I like the result here with the guy’s eyes framed in the way they are here.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I just love the colours you find in Hong Kong. This intersection in Central is one of my favourite locations. The bright yellow painted markings of the crossing are so vibrant and when you throw in the colours of the traffic and the pedestrians it all adds up to great photo opportunities.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And more yellow.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

And who can resist the cliche shots when you come to Hong Kong? You can’t pass them up really.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

But you can blur it up a little.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

I have been saying how shooting with the portrait mode on the iPhone has changed how I shoot on the street. In Hong Kong, I met some characters, none quite as animated or as colourful as this guy.

Hong Kong (shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Or these friendly guys.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

If you see it, it’s too late. How true this so often is on the streets. The image below appeared to me as I was walking along checking the shots I had just made. Someone using a paper clip as a cigarette holder. How cool. I had to quickly get things lined up to get the shot. Again, it could have been better – crisper, more in focus. But still I like it.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Look up, look up. Hong Kong has great architecture.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

One of the fun things I did this summer with the iPhone was to shoot with the Provoke App. I just love the black and white images it produces. Here are number of those shot in and around Central.

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

Hong Kong (Shot on iPhone)

See you next year, Hong Kong!

Next up Seoul!

 

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

Flickr

Is Flickr past its best before date? I think so. And this makes me sad. Flickr is where I learned and where my love for photography grew. I first opened an account on Flickr ten years ago. This was the very first photograph I posted.

First photograph posted to Flickr

In those early days I would spend hours trawling through the images on the platform and questioning how did people build followings. How did you get people to come to look at your images? How did you get people to comment? It appeared a mystery at first. Then, with time, I realised it was a reciprocal thing. Go comment on the photos of others and they in turn will come and comment on yours. With this I began to become part of a community. And it was a vibrant one. Looking back at images I posted around 2009/2010, I see that comments on images usually outnumbered the faves. This has now changed, meaning there is less engagement. Then it was great. Conversations evolved and built relationships. Friendships formed and I even met some of the people I had as contacts in real life. Some good people.

Flickr’s big thing was its Explore page. Each day 500 photographs were chosen according to their interestingness. If you hit Explore, your views rocketted. Back in the day your image could also hit Flickr Front Page . Your image, along with about 10 others, would be showcased on the main page of Flickr and also on Yahoo pages. This was the jackpot. I remember actually jumping with joy when one of my photos hit the Front Page. This was Flickr box office. Over a period of about 15 months my images would with regularity hit Explore and every few weeks or so one of them would be picked up for Front Page. I was addicted. I was posting every day. This meant I was shooting every day. Shooting with my first DSLR – a Nikon D40 – a great little camera. I was also consuming large volumes of photography and learning at an accelerated pace in a great community atmosphere.

Flickr Front Page

Flickr Front Page

Then an Explore ban came in. I was blacklisted and no matter what I did or how good my images were I could not make Explore. This was tough. I loved Explore. It also made me laugh when others would say they didn’t care about Explore – bit like those who say they don’t care about Instagram numbers – we all do! But this ban resulted in me becoming more serious about photography. I stopped trying to get images that might be to the style of Explore and began to shoot the things that interested me. I had been shooting a lot of blur – but very little of it hit Explore. Appears the interestingness algorithm did not dig the blur. But I did and with the freedom of not trying to chase Explore hits I began to throw myself fully in that direction. Had I continued to make Explore maybe I would not have made shots like this.

Blur

Or this:

Tokyo 2012

Or this:

Drudgery (Tokyo, 2012)

You might think that my interest in Flickr would have waned with an Explore ban but the opposite happened. I created Flickr groups: Superosity, The Superness of Superosity and my favourite Blur Will Save the World (BWSTW). To this day I keep them active. BWSTW is my favourite. There are some really quality images on there. Go check it out.

In 2011 I set up my first Instagram account and with it started another Flickr account. I did things a little differently. For me, Instagram was a camera app, a way to post images shot with my iPhone onto Flickr. I loved it. In 2012, we went on a family trip to Asia. We had this planned for a long time, but the thing with plans is that life gets in the way. My brother fell ill and had to have surgery while we were away. I felt terrible. So far away when he was in hospital. The way I kept in touch was by shooting images on the phone and sending them back home to him. It allowed us to stay in contact. Not knowing it I was on the start of an amazing, life-changing journey with the iPhone.

Vietnam: 2012

When I got home to Ireland I had hundreds of images shot on the iPhone. I was hooked. I had loved how I could capture moments on the street with the iPhone that would have been hard with the bulky DSLR.

Tokyo, 2012

I began to post iPhone shots on a daily basis. I began to shoot much much more with the iPhone. All this practice meant one thing – improvement. I was actively looking for photographs. I was thinking and seeing photographically and I was pushing the limits of the iPhone and creating imagery similar to what I was doing on the DSLR and all the while it was on Flickr where I was sharing them.

The last note heard

With the DSLR I was on a path with my bokeh heads series. Again sharing it on Flickr was so important. The reaction from friends was very inspiring to continue with this project; a project yet unfinished.

The Weight of Other People

Then in 2014 a Flickr post changed everything. I posted this image used a hashtag – iPhone 6 – and to my complete amazement it ended up on billboards all around the world as part of Apple’s Shot on iPhone 6 campaign. Again, all from Flickr.

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

In reality, while this was my true Flickr moment, it probably caused me to stop posting so much on there. Gradually, my daily posts lost their regularity. Following the herd, I began to post more on Instagram. When I did return and post to Flickr I noticed a drop off in engagement. There was a period when they kept trying to redesign the platform. At one point I was thrown onto a beta test version and it was hell.

So, back to my lead in question: Has Flickr passed its best before date? Definitely for me. Over the past two years I have gone from a situation where I would regularly post daily to my two accounts to now probably posting a handful of shots in the year. Why? Because the interaction stopped when it copied Instagram and allowed people to view a thumbnail of an image and click fave on it. This had the immediate impact that people stopped opening up images and engaging with them. I still try to get on to see the shots of friends and if I post I will spend time reviewing, faving and commenting on their photos. But it has lost its charm. Instagram was a mammoth it was not prepared for. Flickr was slow to react and reacted poorly. It has been left behind.

Can it return to its glory days? Not a hope. The world has moved on. But what it can return to is its community environment. I feel people are disenchanted with the format of Instagram. There is not a community aspect. It is solely about the numbers. It is a commercial platform all about viewing; sharing. Flickr can be about sharing. can be about the love of photography. It just needs someone with vision and passion to reinvent it, not try to copy Instagram.

With that, I am going to stay loyal and head over now and post a couple of shots. See you on Flickr!

Hong Kong (Fuji x100T)

Bali

 

 

 

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

8 x 8 – Street Photography Event – Bangkok

Shooting street doesn’t get much better than on the streets of Bangkok. See it and you’ve missed it, is one of the old sayings about how quickly things happen on the street, and how easy it is to miss that moment. The great thing about Bangkok is that there are just so many moments.

That is what makes this event – 8 x 8 – in Bangkok, organised by Monogram Asia, so exciting. Combine the dynamic, cinematic streets of Bangkok with some of the best street photographers currently shooting and you have a killer combination. I must say I am honoured to be on the line up with photographers whose work I admire so much. It will be a thrill to get to know people like Eric Kim, Gathot S, Xyza Bacani, Chatchai B, Sheldon Serkin, Olly Lang, Rammy Narula.

Bangkok. March, 2016

Here’s how it works. First, there is a three-hour photo walk around the highly-photogenic streets of Bangkok. Each of us will take a group of 8 people on the walk, along the way sharing tips, guiding the participants, and heightening that sense of photographic awareness –  to get that shot

With me, we will be shooting on mobile. That could be an iPhone like me, or a Samsung, a Sony or any one of the great cameras that are on smart phones these days. And you know what? We will be the lucky ones. Why? Who wants to lug around a heavy DSLR? Who wants the world to know you are taking a photograph when you raise that big camera up to your eye? I know I don’t. Sure, I like to shoot with a Nikon DSLR and I also use a Fuji X100T, but the best shots I get, the most fun I have in photography is with the iPhone. It is the perfect street camera. It is fast – one swipe and you are ready to shoot. It focuses correctly and quickly on auto. It’s discreet and allows you to get in close to your subject without startling them to get great candid shots. I could go on and on, but let’s keep the tricks for when we meet in Bangkok.

Bangkok. March, 2016

One of the things I am really excited about is all the conversations about photography and street shooting we are going to have. Lots of this will be informal, but there are two days of formal talks and lectures planned. Big names like Take Hayo (Big Head Taco) Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) and Paul Yan are pencilled in to speak. Then there’s the photo exhibition of the guest artists which is open to the public, as are the stands for all things photographic that will be on display on the same day.

So there you have it. 8 x 8 Street Photography Bangkok. This will be the street photography event of the year. Want to be a part of it? Click here for all details. 

See you in Bangkok.

 

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

Bangkok. March, 2016

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

Iceland

Where to begin with Iceland? Well, I guess a good place to start is the place you start from: the airport.

A good friend of mine told me have my camera (in this case my iPhone) ready as I travelled on the bus from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. He was right. The landscape on this slowly-darkening Iceland winter evening was unlike anything I had seen before. The colours, faint in the low and diminishing light were oranges and browns, whites, yellows and greys; ones I had not seen before. Their texture dimpled and bumpy as little mounds of volcanic earth and rock stretched out along the road. In the distance were snow-capped mountains.

The view from the bus from airport to downtown Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

The onboard announcement switched from Icelandic to English. The voice was calm and pleasant and stated it hoped I would enjoy my time in Iceland, and to return. Most certainly, I thought. It took about 50 minutes from the airport to arrive in the centre of Reykjavik on the Flybus. As you edge further into the city a skyline of mountains appears in the distance and as you approach the sea appears at their foot.

When I got off at my stop, retrieved my suitcase, zipped up and turned east (as I had been directed by my AirBnb host who for some reason preferred cardinal directions more than my requested, and more easily understood, left or right turn ones), the sharp wind shot at me causing me to speed up and find my apartment. Once installed, I ventured out to see that seafront and those mountains.

View of Mount Esja (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Reykjavik is small. Iceland is small. As capital cities go, it is probably the smallest I have been to. It is quaint and yet modern. It has grim, grey streets of uniform council-type housing and other streets of striking modern designs. The main street, Laugavegur, has no big-brand shops. The first time I walked along it I did not realise it was the main street. From there I strolled up to iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, and from there a walk back down to the parliament area and then across to the stunning new opera house: Harpa. Walking back along the seafront as the sun began to set on my second day in Reykjavik, I felt I had seen the town. It is that small. As the week would go on I would return two more times to Harpa. I am a big fan of modern architecture and this building is just simply delicious when the light streams in and throws shapes and shadows which strut and cut the sharp angles and fluid curves of the vast interior. I loved this place.

Harpa Opera House (iPhone 7 plus)

Harpa Opera House (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Hallgrímskirkja Church (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

The week would go on and I would be busy with teaching at the University of Iceland. In time off before or after classes, I tried to walk as much as I could and Reykjavik is a city which is perfect for that. The weather was not too bad when I was there. Below zero temperatures, cloudy skies, a biting wind, but no snow. The cloudy skies meant that I did not get to see the Northern Lights. This, I must say, was a real disappointment, but as I told my hosts, it means I have a good reason to return to Iceland.

When Friday came I had the afternoon  free and one of my hosts, Toka, kindly offered to bring me on a little tour of the Reykjanes penisula which is a short trip from Reykjavik. We headed west with the low-lying Icelandic sun breaking through the clouds. Sitting in the passenger seat seeing the road opening out in front of us, the sky seemed vast. Snowy mountains flanking us on all sides, I braved the icy wind and holding my iPhone with great care I shot little video clips as we made our way around this beautiful peninsula.

The highlight of this short tour was the stop we made at the Blue Lagoon. Earlier in the week I had tried to arrange a visit to this iconic location, but was disappointed to learn it was fully booked out. Toka delighted me when she told me, that while it was not possible to bathe in the lagoon, you could still wander around. Perfect! The stark contrasting colours of the greyish black volcanic rock and the neon blue of the thermal water is stunning. As the steam rises from the heat of the water it gives it an ethereal feel and adds to the experience. One thing that shocked me was to see people sipping on beer and cocktails while bathing. While disappointed I had not the opportunity to fully experience the Blue Lagoon, there was some compensation in being able to use thermal pools in the Laugardalslaug public baths, which within walking distance of my apartment. They may not have the magical feel to the Blue Lagoon, but it was something else to shiver in the freezing cold as I tipee-toed from the changing room to the outdoor swimming area. It’s bliss once submerged in the hot water.

Bathers enjoying a drink in the Blue Lagoon (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Renting a car in Iceland is best done online and make sure to shop around as prices do vary a lot. I got a Citroen C3 from rentalcars.com and paid an extra €20 to get a GPS and a WiFi router.  It was money well spent and made my tour of the Golden Circle so much easier to navigate. The Golden Circle takes in some spectacular Icelandic sights: Þingvellir National ParkStrokkur Geyser (yes, that is where the word geyser comes from, and the jaw-dropping Gullfoss Waterfall. I left Reyjkavik at about 8 in the morning and got back to the car rental depot a little later than 6 in the evening. Taking in the three stops, stopping for the many photo opportunities, and spending about 45 minutes for lunch, the day flew past, but still I felt I had seen a lot of the spectacular landscape and some of its famous inhabitants – the beautiful and gentle Icelandic horses.

Icelandic Horses (iPhone 7 Plus)

Icelandic Horses (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Pingvellir National Park (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Geyser Erupting (Shot on iPhone 7 plus)

Gullfoss Waterfall (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland is not cheap. I can safely say it is easily the most expensive place I have visited. It really cannot be done cheaply. Eating out is expensive and even supermarket food in the budget supermarket Bonus is costly. I paid about €15 for a cup of coffee and a sandwich in a little cafe in Reyjkavik city centre.  A beer is about €10, and an average main meal in an average restaurant is north of €20. However, the food is great and must be sampled. Check out Cafe Loki for some fine Icelandic food. It is easy to find; just look for the big church and it is directly opposite you.

From May, Wow Air will offer direct flights from Cork to Reykjavik to go along with the existing direct flights it offers from Dublin. Tourism is booming in the country and the infrastructure to cope with the increasing number of visitors is being stretched. New hotels are being built, but more and more locals are offering their apartments on AirBnB, and I reckon this is the best option at the moment.

All in all, Iceland is not to be missed.

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Iceland (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

 

Posted in Brendan Ó Sé. Brendan Ó Sé photography, iPhone photography, photograph posts, 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , |