Tag Archives: Iceland

Favourite 2017 Shot on iPhone Photographs

OK – I have tried to start this so many times in the recent weeks and each time I tell myself I will get it done tomorrow, knowing full well that I will wait until the last moment and then rush it through. But hey – once I get it done, ya?

Choosing my 12 favourite photos was so easy before. All I needed to do was head over to Flickr and see what photos I posted in each month of the year and from that choose a favourite shot. Not so anymore. This year I posted virtually nothing to Flickr until September, so for the first time ever this end-of-year-review is being done via Instagram. Here are my Instagram stats for the year: I posted 272 photos to my main account and 186 photos to my second account (the one I keep for shots without people in them). That is a lot of images, but then I travelled and shot a lot in 2017.

I could do the easy thing and allow an algorithm decide what my best 9 photos were, but you know, they weren’t. You can see them if you wish here and here. I prefer to spend some time with the images, recall where I was, what I was doing and how it felt. That is why we create images, no? To make memories. So here are my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs posted to my main Instagram account in 2017.

So, January took me to Iceland for the first time. Stumbled across this artist’s house on the seafront. The sun was setting and it was freezing.

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

February and I was on my way to Cyprus to open the exhibition for the Mobile Photography Awards in Limassol. 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.

February: Limassol (shot on iPhone)

March was a month at home and not a lot of shooting, bar the Holi Festival in my university, so I was posting shots from previous trips. This one of a bus driver in Seoul I love. I remember knowing that I would stop to shoot it when I was waiting for the green man to appear. I just love shooting into glass and the layered distortion the reflections create.

March: Seoul

April was a full on month for me. I was in Korea and Japan with work and then home for a few days before heading back out to Thailand for the most amazing experience of Monogram Asia’s first 8 x 8 Street Photography Conference. Another highlight of April was the being out on the streets of Cork for the 24-Hour Project with great people. Choosing an image I shot in the month of April is damn hard, but it is not so hard to choose one I posted in that month. Photography is all about memories and connections. My favourite for April is this one shot on the 24-hour Project in late night Cork. May not be my best photo in April, but it is the one which makes me think of the absolute craic I had with Tim, Dee, Judie and Jonathon. 

April: Cork. 24-hour project

And on to May and really there can only be one shot for May. I have written quite a bit about how I began to shoot more asked-for-portraits and how much I began to enjoy it. This one was shot in Bangkok on a very hot morning on a photo walk with Sheldon Serkin and Renzo Grande. Here’s the thing. Once I got the shot I knew it was a good one, but I did not know whether it was better in the original colour or to convert it to black and white. Shel and Renzo thought it was a no-brainer – black and white all the way. I still have a thing for it in colour. What do you think?

May: Bangkok

June: In April in Seoul I stayed in Myeondong. It is probably the busiest shopping district in Seoul and with that comes much activity; perfect for street shooting. My maxim about photography is: Trying to see what can be seen and how to see it. This shot is an example of this. The bright neon lights, the taxis, the taxi drivers. Bringing them all into one frame was not easy. Shooting it on an iPhone at night even more difficult, but I love the result.

June: Seoul

July brought me to back on my travels, back to Hong Kong and then on to Korea again. I shot a lot in this time, but did not post in July. I did share this photo on Instagram though – a photo from Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. A photo which is part of my Rehearsing for a date series of images of people alone in locations where you might commonly find dating couples.

July: Tokyo

August and I am on the beach in Busan stopping people asking if I can take their photo (and they not getting upset that I did not ask if I could make their portrait). Honestly, this is something I felt I would never have been comfortable doing, but now I cannot imagine not doing it. There is something so wonderful about it. I made some really great connections this year shooting portraits. This guy was great fun. He took delight in telling me he knew Conor Mcgregor when I told him I was Irish. Honestly? Conor McGregor?

August: Busan

In Bali, I had Bali’s best motorcyclist as my guide, but I sadly proved to be Bali’s worst motorcycle passenger in this time. I loved Bali. Big thanks to my buddy Gathoe for showing me around Bali on his bike and for bringing me to the kite festival on that first day I was there. I skipped off the beaten bath a little to find these kids playing football.

September: Bali

I tend not to post photos of my kids. This is just a personal thing for me. Probably am too protective of their privacy. But this is one of my little boy that I love. No great timing here to get the decisive moment; no just finger kept on the shutter to shoot in burst mode and then to later select that decisive moment. My little HCB shot.

October: James

November is a bit hard for me. I am torn between this, this and this, but have decided to choose this one in the end. The edited image is a little distant from the original, but I knew that in taking it I would be able to go on many creative routes with the photo.

November: Seoul

And this brings us to the end of a year of shot on iPhone photographs. Life is difficult when there is choice and truly I could have gone in so many different directions with these selections. In the end I opted for all colour, could just have easily gone all black and white as I love many of the photos I shot in black and white this year, particularly when shooting with Provoke.

So, here is it – the final image to make up my 12 favourite shot on iPhone photographs from 2017. A photograph shot in Dublin, and one which is part of my This gap between us will be filled with love or loss series.

December: Dublin

Thanks to all for your kind support throughout 2017.

Here’s to 2018 and the unexpected, the unimagined it will bring.


Posted in A Flickr Year, Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, James, Summer 2017, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My favourite photographs of 2017 – January

It’s that time of year when you hear it’s that time of year.

Well, it is!

It’s that time of year when I look back and rediscover the photographic journey I have been on over the past 12 months. I’ve been doing these since 2012 – one of iPhone and one for non-iPhone. Before it was quite simple. All I had to do was look back over my Flickr stream and make the selection. But I have not been as active on that platform as I had been in years gone by. Now, it is mainly Instagram. In the past few months I have tried to get back into the groove with Flickr, but truth be told it is a little stale on there. Am hoping it will bounce back to life.

Anyway, I am digressing. Back to it being that time of year and that time when I choose my favourite photographs.

Where to begin? January brought me to Iceland on a university exchange. I remember the excitement  and wonder I experienced as the bus made its way from the airport to downtown Reykjavik. I had never seen landscape like it. Staring out the window, lost in thought, I felt I had landed on the surface of the moon, only for the chatter of my fellow tourists to break me from this sense. Iceland did not disappoint. It is truly spectacular. I really did not have much time to explore, but on my very first walk  along the seafront I stumbled upon this residence. Apparently this is the house of a local artist.

Reykjavik (Shot on iPhone 7 Plus)

While the natural beauty of Iceland will take your breath away and you will have your camera constantly raised to eye level, at times it is good to look down too. This photo brings me back to the little road trip I took with Toka on a very cold Friday afternoon. I was cautious not to fall. While Toka is not in this photo, I can recall her laughing as she looked at me getting this shot.

That’s what photos are about – little memory triggers. Thanks, Toka, for making happy memories with me.


February photographs up next.


Posted in Best of year, iPhone, iPhone photography, photograph posts, Travel Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


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