Tag Archives: trees need to cheer the fuck up

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

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

 

Posted in Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Instagram

Instagram is great with numbers. It calculates how long has passed since you posted in minutes, hours, days and finally in weeks. My Instagram feed goes back 238 weeks, which can be more easily understood in 4 years and 6 months. That is a long time of regular posts and a long time swiping up to get to that first Instagram post to establish how long I have actually been using Instagram. There was a big broohaa about Instagram last week when it updated and allowed non-square images to be shared. This was a great update to what already is a fabulous platform for sharing photographs. But here’s an idea Instagram – why not give us a time option so we do not have to endlessly swipe up to see photographs we posted all those hundreds of weeks ago. Wouldn’t it make sense? Put a little calendar icon there for us and let us make that trip down memory lane without exhausting our poor thumbs.

My first-ever Instagram post (238 weeks ago)

My first-ever Instagram post (238 weeks ago)

Instagram, love it or hate it, there has been nothing like it in the history of photography. I could bore you with statistics, but doubt I really would. People love them. Me too. So here goes. Instagram has 300 million active users. 75 million use it every day. I am one of the 75 million. If you are reading my blog, which nearly always has to do with photography, you are probably one of them too. More men than women use Instagram and the second most instagrammed food is Sushi. Now to find the most instragrammed food; well, you will need to google that for yourself.

Here are some of my own statistics as of September 10, 2015. I have posted 2085 images. I have 1840 followers. I follow 266 people, and in the past week or so I have deleted more than 1500 of my photographs. I want, and will, delete many more. Why? Because Instagram is a photography cemetery. Who swipes up for that long to see what you posted 238 weeks ago. Really though, who counts time in weeks?

Despite the tiredness in the thumb, it was great to go back and revisit photographs. So many brought me right back to the moment of the shot – the associated sensation, the excitement,  and immediately I remembered if was I alone or with someone. I found it powerfully provocative swiping though those images; discarding and deleting so many, but some stopped me in my tracks and had me enthralled. In putting together this blog post I could have chosen from many images from hundreds of weeks gone by, but the ones below seem to represent my Instagram journey best.

Photographs of my kids are so special to me. I am very protective of their privacy and nearly all the shots I post of them are shot from behind. I think it is a combination of protection and preparation for when they will be independent of me. This is one of my all-time favourite photographs. One I commissioned a painter to paint and we have it large and framed on our living room wall. Their innocence and intrigue at the passing world outside the window forever captured.

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My children (204 weeks ago)

I was struck recently by this quote from Benjamin Disraeli: “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”  At first, it seems like a contradiction and from that you begin to question it to understand it and then realise how true it is. It leads me to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s quote about memories: “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” 

Looking back over my Instagram images, which are in actual fact only fractions of a particular second, I find they can catapult me back in time to that very moment I shot them. Like this one shot on a rainy, humid day from the passenger’s front seat of a car travelling from Ha Long Bay back to Hanoi. I was listening to The New Yorker fiction podcast of Junot Diaz – How to date a brown girl. I can still hear the low tones of the voice. What should have been a 90-minute journey was taking over four hours. My two travel companions were asleep in the back seat and our driver and I shared smiles and nods as he had very little English and I had zero Vietnamese. Outside the rain fell and fell. The hypnotic windscreen wipers swept back and forth many times before I saw the photograph appear. When I did, I was so pleased. The image shows a fraction of a second of a four-hour journey but from it sparks so many recollections of friendship, fun and shared discovery.

Vietnam

Vietnam (177 weeks ago)

It was from this trip to Asia in 2012, that I really became a photographer and the reason being was that for the first time I had a camera with me all the time. In those five weeks in Asia I posted hundreds of images on Instagram from Hong Kong, Hanoi, Seoul, Daegu, Busan, Tokyo and Kyoto. It was so easy. The whole photographic process was made simple on the iPhone and Instagram: Shooting, editing and sharing all on one device. Back then my brother was in hospital for major surgery and Instagram allowed me to share my travels with him and take his mind off things a little. When I look back at those images now, the sense of distance I had from him was shortened with Instagram. It was hard being so far from home when he was so sick, but I knew he would want me to enjoy myself, and I did. It was wonderful to be able to share what I was experiencing with him on Instagram. Thankfully, he made a full recovery.

Busan (178 weeks ago)

Busan (178 weeks ago)

After having so much fun with the iPhone and Instagram in Asia, I decided that when we went for a short break in Barcelona later in the year that I would only use the iPhone. How freeing it was not to have the heavy DSLR and all those settings to manage. With the iPhone I was able to see and shoot and with Instagram edit and share. Perfect. It may be 159 weeks ago, but I would probably shoot this again exactly as I saw it back then. OK, I probably would straighten it.

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

With the iPhone I moved more into street photography. The camera, which was also a phone, which was also a music player, was perfect for candid street portraits. It allowed me to get in close without drawing too much attention, like in this shot.

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

Barcelona (159 weeks ago)

How did the iPhone and Instagram help me to develop as a photographer? Well, I went from a situation where I would only take a camera out on occasion to having one always with me. Gone were the moments when you would see an image and curse the fact that you had no camera with you. The iPhone was always with me and because of that I was becoming more and more sensitive and alert to photographic opportunities. This image below is a great example of this. Here’s the story behind it. I was having an argument with my wife – as you do. Couples argue. We were at a function in Dublin and arguing over something silly that I cannot recall. While we were arguing these two cracks in the wall got my attention. The lines seemed in harmony and at the same time not. I was struck at how fixed and permanent they were; how distant, but always together. I got the shot and like always the first thing I did was to show it to my wife. That’s us, I said. She said nothing in reply, but gave me a look. We continued to argue for a little while after that, but I remember being very pleased that I had seen the shot and had got it.

Disagreement (120 weeks ago)

Disagreement (120 weeks ago)

Then there are ones of trees and how those trees need to cheer the fuck up. Sitting in a crowded hall at an education conference in Berlin my attention was drawn to the high glass windows and those trees that shivered in the cold and rain outside. I had not been in Berlin for 6 years. The last time I had been there I had a series of telephone calls that would change my life forever. As I sat lost in those thoughts, I was staring into the distance watching the rain run on the window and the trees shiver ever so gently a little beyond. I broke myself from that melancholy and photographed the scene.

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Berlin (144 weeks ago)

The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”  (Alain De Botton)

Swiping down through the thousands of images I have posted to Instagram over the years, photographs from my travels dominate the stream. It is funny, but the ones that convey the sense of excitement most are shot in airports. Is there anywhere as exciting as an airport when you are about to head off on another great adventure? Although airports are never as exciting when you are making your way home.

Sometimes things just line up for you and you are compelled to see and shoot. This is one of those instances. I was on my way to Germany, via Amsterdam, queueing to board a plane in Cork airport and as we snailed along I saw the passengers embark at the far end of the plane. With the queue trundling along at no great pace, I had time to frame the shot.

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Cork Airport (126 weeks ago)

When I got to Amsterdam, I was snap-happy and shooting a lot with the iPhone. Airports are so often such magnificent examples of modern architecture and have so many elements a photographer looks for like great light and there probably is no other place where you can find so many people from so many cultures. For this image, I crouched down on the travelator and set up the shot. I shot a lot of images from this perspective as I waited for my connecting flight to Germany, much to the bewilderment (and sometime annoyance) of my fellow travellers.

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Amsterdam (126 weeks ago)

Instagram is much more than a photographic document of the past 238 weeks of my life. As I swipe down through the images I am drawn in and swept off to reacquaint myself with past adventures. I see my two children growing up. I see how I want to see and show and share the world around me. I see my photographic style emerge and evolve. I see me.

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Brendan (99 weeks ago)

Kiss the future!

Posted in iPhone, My own favourite photographs, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

April 3 2015

Things on my mind today:

How love changes like a song heard in the wind; sometimes faint, sometimes strong, but always heard;

Believe – achieve! Kiss this future…

Committed to the future

Committed to the future

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

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

March 12 2015

Have been so taken up with the Apple ‘shot on iPhone‘ experience that I have not posted new photographs on here for a while. Since buying the new Fuji x100t, I have been out a few times with it. I still need to get control over this camera but I am happy with some of the shots I have managed.

This first one is one I got on Cork’s Grand Parade (what a fancy name for a street – I would guess when they were giving it its title they had images finely dressed ladies and gentlemen sauntering along on sunny summer days in mind). The building the guy is standing in front of has been derelict now for a long time. I like that we cannot see this man.

This future is now. Kiss it!

This future is now. Kiss it!

The second photograph is another Fuji one and part of the ongoing series of images of reflections I am working on. This was shot into the venetian blinds of the windows of a bank opposite a church in the city centre of Cork.

Cork

Cork

And on to some iPhone images. Advertising works! Inspired by some of the landscapes shots on the Apple World Gallery I found that when I was out I was framing landscape shots and thinking could I do that? Don’t know if I want to, but I do know I like trees. And we all know what trees need to do.

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

The most recent iPhone shot is one that was lying in the archives until it popped out when I was looking through them. Not sure how I missed this one from Taipei last year. I love the colours.

Taipeie

Taipeie

I will post an update to ‘The story of my ‘shot on iphone’ photograph’ on Monday.

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

January 31 2015

Things on my mind: A friend; A farewell; A laugh; A wish.

This Tokyo Night

This Tokyo Night

This Tokyo Night

This Tokyo Night

unnamed

unnamed

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

January 27 2015

What they say about leaving images marinate can be true, in that images you might initially overlook seem to transform with time and you find yourself thinking how the hell did I not see this before. Conversely, an image that gets your immediate attention can also transform with time and elicit a similar ‘how the hell did I not see that’ reaction.

This is an image I had lying in iPhoto and once I clicked through it I knew I had to do a little work on it. This was taken in Tokyo last year. Late night Tokyo. Is there anywhere better in the world to shoot late at night?

Thing is here though, that I cannot decide to leave the image in colour or to leave it in black and white. What do you think? I posted the colour one on Flickr – but I do like the B+W as well.

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This Tokyo Night

This Tokyo night

This Tokyo night

 

 

 

 

And one more in the Trees need to cheer the fuck up series.

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

January 24 2015

Blank pages, blank screens. Fingers perched on keyboard, ready to go, like a child waiting to jump over a skipping rope.  But nothing comes. Take the easy way out and bullet point things. Be lazy and don’t elaborate.

Things on my mind today:

I need to get out shooting. I need for the new camera to arrive and to get out. It is an excuse. I have cameras. Any one would do to get out and get new photographs. I am just lazy.

Organisation: I need (there’s that word again – need) to get things organised. I need to get things organised so I can move forward.

Fun: I need to rediscover what fun is.

Final image in the series of three from Tokyo.

Tokyo night [3]

Tokyo night [3]

When I first took up photography, I was drawn to photographing trees. Still am in a way. But, fuck! They need to cheer the fuck up!

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

January 23 2015

Things on my mind today:

The things we fear most, rarely happen.

The things we dream to achieve, we rarely achieve, but in trying we achieve things we cannot dream.

There is only one road to travel and with each step we take we create a new one and destruct the used one.

 

Two photos today:

Tokyo Night

Tokyo Night

 

 Trees need to cheer the fuck up


Trees need to cheer the fuck up

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |