Dandelion Land


The green that creeps from beneath is a steady process. Warming the eyes along with the flawless blue of the sky with its cotton wool clouds. Blue and green, that is spring for me. It is without saying a relief to welcome the colourisation of the country after the death of everything in winter.

I can’t say that I would like spring as much as I did if I didn’t dislike winter. When I was in Korea it was the dry and arid air, the biting cold winds, and the white bright sunlight pitching rays constantly. Winter in Korea is a time when snow storms were a relief from the constant squinting.

For my first winter in Ireland I expected the long days of wind and rain, a grey and lifeless landscape, and the damp that seems to find everywhere. But it was the darkness which caught me off guard. The sun setting at four o’clock in the afternoon swallowed the evening in absolute night, and leaving myself, Herself, and +1 staring at each other at home, expecting something to happen.

Much like Korea, Ireland’s winter swallows up all the visible life. But for the crows hovering overhead, perfectly silhouetted in any weather but more so in the overcast of December and January, little signs of life persist. Waiting for the world to awaken after winter follows a similar pattern in Ireland and Korea. Snowdrops show first, white exaggerated in the damp mud of flowerbeds. Then the shoots of daffodils break through the earth.

In Korea at this time of year you can’t take a step left or right without seeing a cherry blossom tree blooming. Even in the most sun deprived thoroughfare hectic with traffic, a much desiccated looking tree will be blooming as resplendently as its excessively pruned bows will allow. I’ve always thought it to be a bit over the top.

Yet a few weeks ago I was driving into Dublin’s city centre and at Cabra Cross, just by the McDonalds and Tesco the traffic stopped. This is one of Dublin’s less dynamic traffic spots, and it certainly is not an attractive part of the city – but let’s not be too harsh as there are worse place to be stuck in traffic. I looked out the window, and much like those very deprived looking cherry blossoms, at the base of a tree were some frail and gutter mud splattered daffodils, attempting to be as resplendent as their situation allowed.

 

Now the daffodils are slowly dying off, but the trees have gradually been warming our eyes as first the hedges and now the trees start to green with spring. It’s not long after this that the dandelions come out, yellowing in a peppered splay across any grassy patch. A sure sign the warm weather has returned is dandelion seeds tumbling carelessly in the breeze of a sun splashed afternoon.

We call these piss-in-the-beds because if you pick one you will wet the bed, or so we were told as children. But I wonder would the dandelion be as common if it weren’t for children blowing their seeds at every opportunity.

I wake up early most mornings to the new sound of spring, as thousands of different noises come through to my room. Birds singing, mostly, but the leaves rustling in an April gust comes frequently enough. There’s also the silence of morning, something I can’t remember from Korea. Where no noise from the street permeates the walls, and looking out the window all I can do is really imagine the sound.

More so than before I appreciate my new domain in Ireland. The garden, green, and all the other colours it presents, and the breeze and the birds, it’s a long way from my old position watching for glimpses of life on the twentieth floor in Suwon. They are two different places, and nowhere can either be compared. Ask me if I prefer one, I’d probably prefer to not answer that but I would say that I’m happy where I am for now. All I need now is for someone to cut the grass for me…

A Year in Instagram


Here is my Year in Instagram. 508 Images, I believe, and over 9 minutes of wonderful filtered goodness.

Just in time for the new year I’ve come across a neat little app for the iphone called Flipagram. Essentially it collects all your photographs and allows you to organise them into a very simple slideshow, which you can then share across your various social networks, or whatever.

I had been looking for something like this to share my past year of photographs taken on Instagram, an app I’ve a lot of time for and one I enjoy not only posting but also looking at other people’s photographs. Of course it has it’s critics, but it also has its avid users (such as myself) who have taken amatuer mobile photography to a different level. For me, I use it as a photo-blogging or daily-photo tool (not that I post every day), as well as a convenient way of sharing photographs across multiple platforms.  I’ve spoken about Instagram a bit before so I’ll try and break new ground here.

You can read other Instagram related pieces here:

Instagramming My Environment October 2013
Italian Students Speak August 2013
In the Evening on the Twentieth Floor September 2012

What I’ve managed, eventually it has to be said, is to put together a slideshow of every instagram shot I’ve taken over the past twelve months, totalling over 500. I say eventually because this only came about after a number of mishaps which can probably be blamed on my slowly aging iphone 4, my dodgy internet connection, and faults with the app itself. I know there are faults because the person who made me wise to this app also expressed frustration with the actual processing.

It turns out that you can’t leave the app during the creating process, so I had to keep tapping the screen and to watch the percentage dial gradually progress towards 100%.  On more than one occasion my vigilance failed me and it was back to the start with my slideshow creation game, and by back to the start I mean all the way back.

That being said, both of us have created an almost 10 minute long slideshow with over 500 hundred shots, so perhaps it isn’t easy to actually develop an app capable of doing this fluidly. I think sometimes with the over propenderence of new tech and apps we just expect outright for things to work to our incredibily far reaching and rigid expectations. Nothing is ever really perfect, is it? But the more we see new things our expectations seem to spiral further beyond a reasonable level.

I could go about doing it the way I was actually considering doing which is to go through my folders on my computer and copy and paste all my backed-up instagram shots from the past twelve months. This would not only be frustrating, but undoubtedly one hundred times more tedious and prone to mistakes than this newer means of accomplishing the task at hand. Equally handy is the ability to go through Facebook albums to create a similar experience, and it is something I might do next.

The Flipagram app just about to process another slideshow,

The Flipagram app just about to process another slideshow,

In the end the final product came out rather well, and if I had some nice long piano concertos uploaded onto my iphone it would have been ideal. As it turned out I had no music at all. So once the slideshow was finished processing I had to save it onto dropbox, and from my laptop upload it to youtube where I used some of their ad supported music – the only free music they had was the Funeral March, which was not what I was looking for.

Do you use Instagram? Why not make your own Year in Instagram and share a link in the comments. 

Also, a big happy new year to all my readers!

Archiving


Over the past couple of weeks I have been busy going through old photographs from travels long since finished and uploading the to my flickr page.

Derrynane, Co. Kerry, Ireland, July 2013

Derrynane, Co. Kerry, Ireland, July 2013

It started accidentally, with me uploading a huge number of images from my summer in Ireland, mostly from Kerry on the south west coast. After this, I realised that I still had at least a memory card or two worth of photographs from our most recent visit to Thailand, in February of 2012, and Malaysia in July of the same year. While I’d uploaded some of my photos from Malaysia, I think the Internet still deserved a few more.

Further inspiration for uploading more photographs came when a package with around 250 photographs from our Honeymoon to Turkey in 2008 arrived on the doorstep. I had finally taken the initiative to put together a photo album from that time, and it only took something like five and a half years.

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Hierapolis, Turkey, July 2008

Now this really was an amazing collection of photographs, not just of the memories myself and Herself shared, but also of a very spectacular and scenic country, one which we’d both like to return to again in the future. I think I was quite selective in the photographs I chose to develop in that they reflected our experience together and the memories we’d like to look back in in the future. That being said, that I left out so many due to this is a perfectly good reason to trawl through the folders again and share some of these images here.

It’s interesting to watch how my style and quality of photograph has developed. With travel photography, there’s always the necessity to capture as much of the scene or the action as possible, and to present a sense of how it actually feels to be there. I think that as I’ve taken more and more photos, both every-day and travelling shots, I’ve become more capable of doing this. Of course most of my early shots are simple point and shoot efforts, regardless of the quality of the camera (back then mostly a Sony DSC-H5, which I still have back in Ireland), I still had to do my best to take as good a shot as possible, a skill which I kind of had to learn myself.  With time I spent more and more effort composing the photo, taking time to frame it, and to snap at the right time. With my DSLR now I am starting to see how this is even more important than ever, considering I know so little about light, shutter speed, aperture, and eveythign else bar pushing that little shiny button on the top.

Before I begin to share photographs here on mass, I should add that I’ve just uploaded a small set of photographs from a brief stopover in Hong Kong we made on the way to Seoul from Dublin in the same year. I am also beginning to dig into other folders saved on my hard drive and on CDs of visits to places like China, Japan, more Thailand and Malaysia, France, the UK where myself and Herself lived for a year after getting married, Ireland, and of course Korea. It’s is an exciting project ahead for myself.

Hong Kong and the Star Ferry, May 2008

Hong Kong and the Star Ferry, May 2008

When I think back over the countries I’ve visited I don’t think I’m that well travelled (I base this assumption on the amount of countries I still want to visit), but when I look back at the many different experiences and locations I’ve been to I can be proud of myself in this regard. I still know that I have many journeys ahead of me, and along this way I plan to have my camera, Herself, and for the foreseeable future, +1.

To view the sets on my flickr page, including recent uploads from Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, please click on this link.
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One Month and a Bit: photos from Korea, August to October, 2013


As I said, I’ve been back in Korea for a little over a month and a bit. Plenty has happened, including Chuseok, the IAK ceili, a trip to Herself’s grandmother’s farm, walks into and out of work, and a little bit of a trip to a theme park.

Here is a simple photo update of the past 40 odd days. Some have had some editing, others go up in their natural state, so to speak.

All photographs copyright Conor O’Reilly, 2013

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In the evening on the 20th floor


I live on the twentieth floor of a regular apartment building in a fairly inconspicuous looking neighbourhood in Suwon, South Korea. It can be quite an ordinary day-to-day existence here. I walk to and from the local supermarket, my work, and a few relatively decent restaurants. It could be termed suburban bliss but with out the bliss, perhaps.

All this is forgotten somewhere between the hours of six o’clock and eight o’clock, depending on the time of year, when the sun starts to go down and is silhouetted magnificently by my fellow apartments, the construction work in the huge Samsung Digital City Complex, and the mountains and city beyond that. There are usually some nice clouds with compliment this display also.

About two years ago myself and herself were running a small café down the road from our home, and every evening we would get home at around ten o’clock to a night darkened apartment. I knew that we were missing the beautifully bright evenings and long mornings of sunshine, and it wasn’t until our catering career was kind of cut short (I won’t go into the reasons but will warn you to know your business partner well if you ever do decide to go into business with someone) that we could return home and spend the evening enjoying the daylight bright living room.

I take a fair amount of photographs out the window, hanging over the rail and stretching to get the best possible angle. Herself is convinced I’m going to drop my camera or my phone, which is how I take most of my photos.

Not all my photographs from the top are of sunsets, and not all are taken from the camera on my phone (although these ones all were). Here is a selection of some of the better ones for you to enjoy. These were taken between January and now, although with the exception of the first two and last one, I can’t really remember what order they were in. Mostly from summer though.  Many were with Instagram, although not all of them (follow me on Instagram: conzieinkorea).