April 25 2015

Two more shots from the short trip to Tokyo again today. I was there for only four days and it rained so much. The first time I had been in Tokyo it also rained a lot. Being a real Irishman, I never feel the need to get an umbrella. Umbrellas and rain gear are really just for tourists when they come to Ireland. The rain in Ireland comes mainly in showers and having to carry an umbrella around is a pain in the ass, to be honest. But in Tokyo when it rains, it seems like it never ends. Back in 2012, when I met Michael Kistler one of the first things we did together was to enter a convenience store and to my surprise Michael bought me an umbrella – a transparent one. OK, I thought. Why not?

Now when I am in Tokyo I make sure to get a transparent umbrella. Why? Because it allows me to get these beautiful shots of Tokyo through the transparent umbrella. Here is one of those I got in 2012.

This one I am posting today was shot on the Fuji X100t on an early Friday evening in Shibuya. I like the girl making eye contact on the right of the frame.

Keeping Dry in Tokyo

Keeping Dry in Tokyo

The iPhone image was shot on a Saturday morning – when it was not raining – in Ginza, which to my surprise has the main street pedestrianised at weekends. I had been in Ginza a few times, but had never really liked it that much in comparison to other Toyko districts. But being able to wander around the street unencumbered by traffic was a great experience.

I am always drawn to lines (pun intended). I found these diverging lines and I knew how I wanted to compose the image. I wanted a couple to approach and part on either side of these lines. Now, this is much easier to imagine in the inside of my head than to actually occur, what with me lingering on the line waiting to snap the approaching passersby. I had to pretend I was talking on the phone. I saw this couple approach and like so much of photography – patience met luck and as they came to the line they parted and walked on either side of the line. Click! I got the shot.

This divide between us will be filled with love or loss

This divide between us will be filled with love or loss

 

Advertisements

February 8 2015

With each step…

Hearing yourself say it

Hearing yourself say it

Commit to the future

Commit to the future

December 2 2014

Rushing today. I found this old one from Taipei and it really caught my eye. Hope it catches your eye too.

Taipei

Taipei

And this continuing with the theme of bicycles, here is one of a reflection of a bicycle in a dirty window frame in Copenhagen.

Reflections in a forgotten window frame

Reflections in a forgotten window frame

 

September 25 2014

Arrows! I am always drawn to them when I see them. Always looking for direction and what is better than a big arrow painted on the ground or wall giving me indication of how to proceed. To frame a shot, there is nothing better than arrows. They give a focal point and get the viewer questioning the elements of the photograph.

Today’s image has a wonderful red arrow painted on a wall. I found this in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo when I was having a wander around. Naturally, I had to get a few shots of it. The best way to get the arrow in frame as closely as I could was to get down low. So, in an effort to save my dodgy knees I lay down on the ground. I must have been some sight for the passing Japanese to see this foreigner stretched out on the ground with his camera pointing up. But I did not care. I love the anonymity you get being in foreign places. Stretching out on the ground to get a shot is not something I would do in Cork! So, there I was framing the shot, click clicking and looking up to see who was coming so as to frame them in the shot. I saw there was this long-legged woman approaching from the left and a guy in a suit from the right. Great, I thought, I can get the two intersecting under the arrow. I got ready. Looking through the viewfinder I saw what I thought first was a dog coming into view, then I realised it was a human, then I realised it was this beaming little girl running towards me. I instinctively snapped and then looked up. There was this beautiful little girl who had run towards me. She began to speak excitedly in Japanese. Now, I have very little Japanese, but I could not resist smiling back at her. How curious it must have appeared to her to see this guy sprawled out on the concrete with a camera. How natural for her to want to discover and how beautiful that she would run up to the camera and so expressively smile.

As I began to stand up and dust myself down, her mother came over, and with a respectful bow acknowledged me and with a puzzled look questioned what I was doing. She took her daughter by her hand to bring her away, but before she could I showed the screen of the camera with the photo of her little girl. The mother broke into a laugh, the little girl pointing at the screen laughing also. It was a beautiful moment. I imagine that the many passersby who saw this strange foreigner stretched out on the ground would have loved to have run over like the little girl did, but adults cannot behave like this. Can they?

15349388825_52effff4c8_z

Whatcha doing?

 

This is the photograph I am posting to Flickr today. It does not have a background story to it.

15349082742_a1f0154c69_z

Doubt

I could spend hours in underground train stations. There is such activity there. When I am in big cities and get tired of being on the streets, I know that a change of scene by going underground will always reinvigorate me and get my curiosity going again. Here is an iPhone shot I took in the underground near Shibuya. I am involved in a project with some of other photographers at the moment to do with facial expressions. Doctor Paul Ekman identified that these are universal across all cultures. What emotion do you feel is being expressed here?

IMG_2887

Together in Tokyo

 

September 7 2014

Yesterday, I was struck by a comment a contact posted on my photo. Eli said:

“It is easy sometimes to take for granted just how incredibly talented you are! Such a brilliant series…it is as if you have sketched this!”

And it made me realise that I am the one who takes these things for granted. I take it so for granted people will visit the photos I post. I take it so for granted they will hit fave and comment. Ya, I get generic comments – one word comments – but I have a group of contacts who take time to say something from the heart about what I post. And when I post it is them I am thinking of. It is their comments I look for and read. And ya, I take it for granted.

I get thousands of views, hundreds of comments and faves on my photos each day and I have become so blasé about it. But it is incredible to think that what I am posting interests people. When I started out on Flickr I could not work it out. How did you get people to visit and comment? One way I saw was to post in the post 1 – comment 3 type groups. Funny thing is that they say comment – but it’s not. You just paste a logo in the comment box. And in some of these groups they police things and if you have posted 1 and not commented on 3, they contact you and warn you that this will not be tolerated, that you have to paste that (usually very ugly) logo on to 3 photos or you will be banned. I ran with those groups for a while, but the thing that got to me was seeing how ugly the stream of comments were below my photographs. I used to look enviously at the photos of others who had none of these hideous graphic logos under their photos. No, they had text comments; they had conversations going on. And even more intriguing was these people were getting their photos into Flickr’s Holy Grail – Explore!

How? Took me a while, but then I got it. Flickr – or photography in the new millennium is all about the social interaction and pasting an ugly gif and thinking you are engaging with someone is not social in any way. It is anti-photography – it is anti-social. Most people in these groups do not view the photographs they are viewing, they just rush to hit C on the keyboard (well I hope they know that keyboard shortcut!) and then ctrl+V and click comment and they repeat on the next photo until they reach the safety quota to avoid the group sweeper who will come and email to threaten with a ban. So, I stopped posting to these groups and I did a cull of my contacts. I had hundreds. A few, a very small few were regulars who came and used words instead of GIFS to comment. I kept them. And then with each post of theirs I went and commented about how I felt about the photograph, and you know what, they did the same in return. Slowly, my list of contacts grew and then out of the blue in 2009 I hit Explore! I was super-thrilled. From that my contact list grew again and I kept up the reciprocation.

Today, I have about 3,500 contacts, but I my own contact list is about 250. More than this is not manageable. Of the 3,500, I would say very few are active contacts. There is a relatively small group of people who come visit my stream on a regular basis. Views have increased enormously since Flickr changed how they record stats. Faves also. Now people can rush through a stream double clicking on an iPhone to fave or clicking on the stars under the photos if on a computer. You don’t need to open a photo up to fave, or comment. But comments have fallen in numbers since the new version of Flickr arrived. It is so easy to just click fave – hit F or double click on the iPhone.

That is why the comments mean so much. That is why last night when Eli posted that comment that it stopped me. I really should not take this community for granted. Flickr has allowed me to develop and grow as a photographer so much. It has allowed me to reveal who I am. And I am very grateful!

This relationship goes on!

Yesterday, I posted this shot of a couple making their way across the Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Today, as promised, I am posting an in-focus photograph of the pair. With that then, I will leave Shibuya for a while. Thanks to all for the great feedback on that series of images. It means so much.

14978179950_d85278051d_k

Forever Shibuya [2]

 Have posted lots of photographs from the Shibuya crossing in black and white but here is a colour one from there shot with the iPhone. It is a simple blur photograph of people in motion as they cross. The colour gives it a warmness and is not as harsh as the the black and white can be.

Again – thanks to all for coming here or to my Flickr accounts.

photo (23)

Seen in Shibuya

 

 

 

August 27 2014

The issue of privacy and intrusion is something I am always conscious of when I am on the street. I think if I am not, then I should leave the camera at home. I imagine these ladies felt I was a nuisance, but as a foreigner they would not have been surprised to seeing me take photographs. I came upon them on my walkabout the local market in my wife’s hometown. It would have been hard for them not to draw attention dressed as they were. These were two ladies who took pride and time in their appearance, and looked a little out of place in the market. They were engaged in animated conversation under their two umbrellas. I approached as discreetly as I could, not wanting to make my presence felt, not wanting to intrude, and I suppose not wanting to lose or convert the candid moment they were involved in. Positioning myself to their right, I set up the camera and shot. I think the little click of the shutter release alerted them and startled them a little. I don’t think I frightened them as instead of walking away from me, they walked towards me. As they did, I took another shot (see below). Then I lowered the camera, gave a bow and bows were returned and one muttered something in Korean to the other. The other nodded her head, then slowly shook it from side to side and glanced back at me still shaking her head. I raised and held the camera to my chest, smiled and thanked them in Korean – Gomapsamida!

Did I intrude here? I certainly interrupted and maybe I provided them with a little distraction and amusement on a wet day.

The two photos are best seen together, I think.

15029424755_4174820ea8_z

Everything there is to know is constantly being revised

15029425175_554a5abaa1_z

We can start again

The iPhone photograph was taken on the streets of Daegu. This man approached and I could feel his eyes on me causing my eyes to meet his. I stopped before him, gave what I thought was a requesting look as I raised the iPhone, nodded a few times and clicked. All the while, he appeared expressionless as he gazed at me. I showed him the shot and slowly an awareness of how he looked dawned on him. He seemed happy and sad in the same instant. He looked away from the iPhone to me and gave the slightest of bows and walked on.

photo (1)

Daegu

August 20 2014

When travelling, much to the frustration of my travelling companions, I am not a fan of guidebooks and maps can be like hieroglyphics to me (I just cannot understand them). I much prefer to ask for directions as I am on the go and when I am given directions, listening beyond the first ‘turn right/left’ is a challenge for me. I just know that I can stop and ask someone after that turn. Or even easier, if I am with someone else, is to let them listen. They can do it much more attentively than me. It can work out well. I have no problem stopping and asking people for directions, while some people prefer not to. So, I ask and they listen.

Same goes for guidebooks. I rarely read them before visiting a new place. But, I love to read them after visiting. Ya, this can result in being in places and missing out on some of the sights. It once took me three days to find the main street in Budapest! Luckily, I was travelling alone.

In many ways, I approach street photography in the same way. When I head out on a photo prowl, I do not have a picture in my mind of what I want to find and photograph. I prefer to be open to what may occur. And therein lies the frustration. Scenes and scenarios can evolve so quickly on the street and so many go missed. In densely populated cities, you can become overwhelmed so easily by all that is going on. In an instant so many things can capture your attention and your task is to isolate those split second scenes.

One of the challenges I face is the camera. Not the iPhone; that is set up for me, but the DSLR. As I like to shoot defocused images a lot, very often I have the auto-focus switched off and when something appears before me that I want to get in all its sharp glory, I miss the moment because the settings are not right. It drives me crazy. I tend to shoot on Aperture Priority mode a lot. I set the ISO to suit the light conditions and besides those two things the only other adjustment I make is whether to switch on or off the focus. What happens then is that I may work on out-of-focus shots for a while, then switch back to auto-focus and work on getting photographs that are in focus. Despite posting many out-of-focus photographs, I also do post quite a few in-focus ones.

The collision of coincidences that must occur for a good street shot is so rare, but the one thing that you have to control is your readiness to click. The one thing you need to develop is your sensitivity to scenes and that is a constant challenge. In many ways cameras can be an obstacle to getting a good shot. Life is difficult when there are choices and cameras, particularly DSLRs have a multitude of options. That is another reason why I like the iPhone. It limits those choices. As you can imagine, if I struggle with reading maps, then the numerous combinations and calculations of settings in a camera can leave me befuddled. With cameras, I am a bit like a grandmother with a TV remote control. Once you can change the channel and adjust the volume, what else do you need?

Today’s photograph is not the best. I would have preferred to have the guy a little more in focus, but then if I had readjusted the focus he would have walked out of the frame. So, I didn’t. I just clicked. That collision of coincidences was a little misaligned in this one. Still, I like it.

14977374752_3ccd92050f_k

This collision of coincidences

 

This iPhone shot is from the street market area in Haeundae in Busan. One of the techniques I use to blur images on the iPhone is to leave the top of my index finger on the lens as I have my thumb of the shutter release. Then I take my finger off and snap. The results can be nice sometimes.

photo (7)

Busan