Tag Archives: Porto

2015 – Everything will happen. Believe – achieve!

On January 1, 2015, I posted this to Facebook: Everything will happen. Believe – achieve! When writing that I could never have imagined the magical experience that was about to begin for me. Looking back at 2015 through the lens of the iPhone there are so many highlights and accolades: being part of Apple’s incredible Shot on iPhone 6 global campaign, speaking at the world’s first ever mobile journalism conference – MojoCon in Dublin last March, winning many awards for my iPhone photography, being invited to London to be interviewed by the great Dan Rubin as part of Apple’s Meet the iPhone Photographer, visiting Tokyo, Porto, Amsterdam, Vilnius, Milan and London, giving iPhone photography workshops in galleries in Cork and Dublin. But throughout it all, I knew the thing that would stay with me was the experience of sharing all this with my family and my friends and also the making of new friends on the way. I realised how fortunate I am, not just in receiving these accolades and experiences, but also to see the joy it brings those who love me. Seeing the wonder in my mother’s face as she saw photos of my Shot on iPhone 6 photo on billboards around the world, hearing my little girl scream with glee when she saw me interviewed on TV, and

I like this little activity I have each year when I look back and choose my favourite 12 images I posted to Flickr throughout the year. It is an interesting document to see my photographic journey over the previous 12 months and gives me an idea of where I am heading to.

OK, I am going to be honest, looking at the iPhone shots I posted to Flickr in January, none of them stand out for me. This allows me to choose 2 from another month later in the year.

February was a sad month for me. My good friend Liam passed away. A day has not passed that he has not entered my thoughts. This photograph of the sun shining through a leafless tree is for him.



In March, everything changed. My photograph went up on huge billboards all around the world and I absolutely loved it. For about two weeks, I could not sleep. The excitement of it all was too much. I was doing newspaper and radio interviews and my stats on all social media spiked. I was lucky to be able to get to Milan with my wife to see the billboards for ourselves. This photograph tells the story of how exuberantly delighted I was to see my photo on a billboard.



April and I was in Tokyo. It rained non-stop for 3 of the 4 days I was there. Only having 4 days, I intended to make the most of it. This photograph, shot in Shibuya, was taken only a short few hours before my early morning departure flight. It would go on to win 3 competitions in 2015. You can read more about how I got this shot here.



April was a great month. I also got to go to London for Apple’s Meet the iPhone Photographer. To be honest, this was my personal highlight of the year. Everything about this experience (read my blog post about it here) was wonderful. I got up early on the morning of the event and was blessed with the fine weather. I got out early to shoot and on that morning, I got so many good shots. This one here, that I posted to Flickr in May, is one of my favourites of the year. I stood on the road as I waited for a passerby to enter my frame. The graphic shadowed patterns of Blackfriar’s Bridge were so serendipitously complemented by the black and white runners of the woman who strode past. Click!



I am attracted to light and lines. This shot, posted in June, is from a wonderful photo walk at Mojocon in Dublin in March stopped me in my tracks. I love the simplicity of it.



July was spent in Ireland. We had a family holiday in Sligo. Mullaghmore is one of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches. I was walking on the sand dunes behind the beach when I saw my little girl running towards her mother and brother. I can still hear their laughter.



For August, I am cheating a little and choosing two photos. The first is one is of my little girl on her 8th birthday and the other is from the trip to London. I could not leave either of these photos out.




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In September, I posted another of my favourite shots of the year. This is one that I ran across traffic to get to in Amsterdam. I saw this guy sitting on a bus stuck in evening traffic. He had this most intense glare. This shot is part of an ongoing series.



It seemed to start to rain in October  and has not stopped yet. I was sitting in the car waiting for my wife to get back from the supermarket when I saw this guy leave and battle to hoist his umbrella. I had to snap!



In JuneI got to travel to Porto – my prize for winning the Mira Mobile Prize. I was met by Manuela and Joao, the organisers of the competition. Their kindness and hospitality will stay with me for a long time. Porto is a wonderful city. It has it all. This photograph, posted to Flickr in November,  was taken just outside Porto’s iconic Majestic Cafe. I got as close as I could get to get this portrait of this wonderful Porto gentleman. You can read my travel article published by Ireland’s state broadcaster – RTE – here.



In December, I upgraded from my beloved iPhone 6 to the new iPhone 6s. Late to the party, but still hoping to get to dance, I have been battling the elements and getting out shooting. This photograph shot last Monday (29.12.15) was taken in a hurry. We stopped at Ladies View in Kerry to look down on the Gap of Dunloe. It was wild. Storm Frank had landed and the wind and the rain were ferocious. My friend Richard stood taking in the vista. I stopped behind, framed the shot and snapped. We spent another a minute or so there before rushing back to the car.



And that is it! Bringing to close what was the most wonderful year ever in my photographic journey. Thanks to all whose inspiration, love and kindness drives me on.

Here’s to 2016! Everything will happen. Believe – achieve!

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Two photographs

Getting to that time of year when I look back and choose my favourite photographs posted to Flickr over the past year. I began to do this last night and the thing I noticed was this year I posted far fewer images to my two Flickr accounts than 2015. Last year, between the two accounts I posted close on 700 photographs. This year between the two it will just be over 200. Over the next few weeks, I will be choosing an iPhone photograph and a non-iPhone photograph from each month of the year and writing a little background as to why I have chosen those images.

For today, I am posting two shots. One DSLR, taken in Vilnius – part of a little series of images. The curious thing about this is that I had not a title ready for it, but when I uploaded to Flickr, from some reason the title I gave it was the same as the Apple shot. No reason why and not even sure why. But you have to go with these things at times.


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


The iPhone image is from my trip to Porto back in June. I shot a lot from this scene. I like this particular one because of the bird in the scene. Hope you like it too.




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

Shooting with Fuji X100T

I’ve had the Fuji X100t for a number of months now and have shot several hundred images with the camera. The reasons I bought the camera were because I wanted to work with a fixed focal length and I wanted to have a light and compact camera. I know I could have put a prime lens on the Nikon D7000, but I really wanted to get something more street friendly.

Cork: February, 2015

Cork: February, 2015

Back in February, I wrote a blog post about my initial reaction to using the X100T and it received a lot of attention, much to my surprise. I even got abuse from some people for finding fault with the camera and writing about it. (Another person objected to my use of the word fuck, and accused me of trying to be cool by using it.) In writing this follow up piece, I read back over that review to see if my first reaction to this camera had changed over time.

Here is what I wrote about what I liked about the camera in February:

It is light! It looks cool. It fits in my pocket, a little uncomfortably, but it fits. I like that I can use the LCD screen to view an image as I am taking it (but that eats up the battery). If you want you can switch between the OVF and EVF, and there is even this little box that can appear on the bottom right hand corner which allows you see a zoomed-in-close detail of the image. The customisable function buttons are cool. You can operate the camera on silent mode which allows for better candid shots. The image quality straight out of the camera is impressive. Images are crisp and sharp. I like the fact it has a fixed lens and that there is no zoom. This forces me to compose with greater care and to zoom with my feet. This will make me a better photographer. The WiFi allows for remote control access, but I cannot, as yet, imagine a scenario to use that. Apparently, it is great in low light, but I have only been out twice with the camera, both in daylight, and I haven’t had the chance to check it out at night yet.

So, of the above what has changed?

Well, the camera has not gained weight. It is still light and does not attract much attention on the street in comparison to the bulky D7000. I no longer use the LCD to compose and shoot. The customisable function buttons are good, but nothing special, to be honest. Operating on silent mode is a nice feature and does lend itself to getting discreet candid moments on the street. The image quality is top class – no doubt about that. The fact it has no zoom is probably the thing I like most about it. It results me being much more deliberate about composition and framing. Has it made me a better photographer? Not for me to answer. The Wifi? Have never used it either to transfer images or for remote control access. Night shooting – ya, I did manage to get some good shots at night in places like Tokyo, but have not done much shooting in low light conditions as of yet.

Tokyo: April, 2015

Tokyo: April, 2015

Six months down the line and what would I add to the list of things I like about the Fuji X100T? You know nothing new immediately comes to mind: no unique or previously-unknown feature of the camera have I discovered. I still love the camera’s size and weight and that it can be used on silent, but the thing I have grown to love more than anything about the camera is that it has changed how I approach street photography. With the Nikon, I compensated a lot. Too far away, zoom in. The Fuji is like a little child whose hand you have to hold to ensure it moves with you. I would like to think I am composing with more care now; seeing the scene with a more sensitive eye. The funny thing is that from a shoot I seem to be achieving fewer keepers from the photos shot, but the ones I do keep I am happier with. Maybe, I am just becoming more selective.

The other thing which has changed in my shooting is my preference now to go fully manual. With the Nikon, I was aperture priority most of the time. A little lazy, I know, but the Nikon was good at making those pesky calculations that I avoided. Now, I am more considered and leave neither shutter or aperture to the camera. Shooting like this does make me think why I ever bothered to shoot any other way.

Another thing I have come to notice is that I am making fewer and fewer blur images. For some reason with the Fuji, I find it hard to defocus to any degree of pleasing aesthetics. The Nikon is still the camera for that. I just do not enjoy out of focus photography on the X100T. I love it on the Nikon and some of my ongoing projects can only be done on this camera.

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Porto: June, 2015

Looking back at the article, I see the things I initially did not like: battery life, the wifi, purple haze when shooting into direct sunlight, image review and the focus being slow. Well, the battery life is still awful. I got around this by buying three extra batteries, which allows me not to worry about the camera dying while out on the street. The only thing is that to charge the battery takes a few hours. Surely, the battery life and the time needed to charge it can be improved. I don’t use the Wifi and feel this is a gimmick I can do without possibly because I shoot much more with my iPhone than any other camera and I like keeping all my work separate. The purple haze have not noticed that so much. Not so pressed about instant image review. But the thing that still gets me about this camera more than anything else is that it is too slow. I have missed shots because of it. I don’t power the camera off between shots. I want it to be ready to respond quickly, but there have been so many times that I see something I want to shoot and the time taken to frame, focus and shoot means the moment is lost. The camera is too slow. Talking to one or two otherX100T users, I am glad to learn I am not the only one experiencing this. The Nikon is much faster and coming from that, from a situation where I would not miss shots to this is frustrating.


The reason I came to write this post this morning is that I was looking at a series of images I shot last week in Dublin and realised that these were shots I would probably not have gotten before when I was using the Nikon D7000. The reason probably being the ability to zoom. I was walking along a busy Dublin street with the sun to my back, meaning the light was on the people in front of me. Just how I like it. I was attracted to this gentleman standing on the steps of a bank waiting for his bus to come. His beard, clothes and stance all caught my eye. I pulled up as close as I could get and began to frame. Before I would have been distracted by those passing in front of me and probably would have waited to get a clean shot of him. Not now. Now I want that activity in my photos and not having a zoom meant that I could not avoid it either.


Dublin: August, 2015

I got a few frames and then braved it out and got in front of the character and shot two more shots. One with eye contact and another, a split second later, without.

Dublin: August, 2015

Dublin: August, 2015

Dublin: August, 2015

Dublin: August, 2015

So, six months in with a new camera where do I stand on it now? I like what I wrote back in February:

Overall, I do not like the camera. It is very different to the Nikon and I am a creature of habit. I want my old camera back! But, and this is the thing, all of this is good, it will make me learn. It will make me see the world in a different way when I am out shooting. It will push me along in my evolution as a photographer and that is why I wanted it. Comfort zones are all fine and dandy, but I need to be challenged. I want to experience the frustration of not getting the camera to do what I want; it will make it all the sweeter when I get it right. This camera will drive me crazy, I know that. But I also know I will grow to love it and that it will be with me on many great adventures to come.

It is true. I bought the Fuji to learn and to improve as a photographer and I believe I am on the way and you know what – I am enjoying it. It is challenging and frustrating – just like I wanted it to be. When I am heading off for a few days somewhere or out on a photo walk the camera I leave at home is the Nikon. The Fuji X100T comes with me. It can, and does, drive me crazy, but slowly but surely I am growing to love it.

Kiss the (Fuji) future!

Tokyo: April, 2015

Tokyo: April, 2015






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

Rehearsing for a date

Giving photographs titles is a bit like what Bob Dylan said about songwriting: If it rhymes, it rhymes, if it don’t, it don’t. If it comes, it comes, if it won’t, it won’t. Sometimes, I just look at the image and the title comes so easily; other times I just have to title the shot with the location it was taken in because no title comes and it is better to have none than a title that will make me cringe later on.

Today, I posted a pair of images to Flickr with the title ‘rehearsing for a date’. I have many little photographic projects on the go and this is one of them. These images show people on their own in places commonly popular for dating couples. Sometimes, titles can add to images, but very often the old adage addition is dilution is true. Hope it is not the case here.


Rehearsing for a date (Porto)


Rehearsing for a date (Tokyo)


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Having won the Mira Mobile Prize I was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Porto as the prize. I had been to Portugal before, but never to Portugal’s second city of Porto. I knew little about the city, except for its eponymous drink, its famous football team and it being on the Atlantic coast. Prior to leaving, I researched it a little and learned why this city always makes the top ten list of European cities to visit.

I got a short Ryanair flight from Dublin, leaving the wind and rain behind for the blue skies of sunny Porto.

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Rainy Ireland

There to meet me were Manuela, the organizer of the Mira Mobile Prize, and her husband Joao. (They snapped on arrival. Of course, with an iPhone.)


Arriving in Porto (photo by Manuela Manos Monteiro)

So what is Porto like?

Getting around

Porto is hilly and the old, cobbled streets can be hard on the feet, but it is compact and easily navigated. Being hilly, its landmarks are easily identifiable as you wander around.

A three-day tourist bus pass costs €15 and this allows you to use all local buses, metros and trains. You can buy this in most bus or train stations.

The best way to get your bearings and see the sights is to hop on one of the city’s many bus tours. The red bus tour costs €13 and is well worth it. You can choose your departure point from any of the bus stops and the entire tour, without hopping off, takes just over two hours. Highlights are: Santo Ildefonso church, Dos Clerigos Tower (for wonderful 36o degree views of the city), the Atlantic coast, the Riberia area, the Port caves in Gaia, that wonderful bookshop whose staircase was used in the Harry Potter films – Livraria Lello, and if you are a football fan, then you have to visit Porto’s Estadio Do Dragao.

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Santo Ildefonso church as seen from the bus tour

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The Atlantic Coast

Porto Colours

Porto Colours in Riberia


Food in Porto is good and very reasonably priced. A set lunch menu in many of the town’s restaurants will cost no more than €7 or €8 for a three-course meal including drinks. Tripe is a favourite with the locals and while it may not be to my taste, I did try another of their local dishes, Francesinha, a large triple decker sandwich that comes with a spicy tomato sauce and a plentiful supply of chips. Eating in Cafe Capri in the historic Campanha district, I had this meal, including wine, for €6.

If you are looking for somewhere for dinner with a view of the river and the Dom Luis bridge, Bacalhau Restaurant on Muro dos Bacalhoeiros in Riberia is the place to head to. Perched high above the river the terrace allows the most-wonderful of views over the river and onto the Dom Luis bridge. Being in Portugal, I had to try some cod and to wash it down some local ‘green’ wine. This meal at €11 for a cod dish and €4 for a glass of wine was pricey for Porto. But together with the food, the view, the atmosphere and the free wifi it all made for a pleasant evening.


View from Bacalhau Restaurant looking over the River Douro

A visit to Porto would not be complete without a visit to its most famous café: Café Majestic. You step back in time as you enter and experience the wonderful belle-epoque ambience. At €3 for an espresso it might be expensive, but the attention to detail is impressive and the service is top class.


An espresso at Café Majestic on Rua de Santa Catarina

On the go, you can pop in for a quick coffee, beer or water in any of the city’s bars and very often you will get change back from a euro for a drink. It really is good value.


Porto is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage city and wandering among the steep, narrow lanes and alleyways that climb their way up to the town centre it is easy to imagine what life must have been like in the times when Porto was one of the world’s greatest ports sending out explorers like Vasco da Gama and welcoming their treasure-laden ships back to shore. The old houses may appear dilapidated, but this is what gives them their charm. Looking up you can spot old women resting on the railings of balconies watching their washing sway in the breeze. The smell of food lingers in the lanes and the colours of the laundry hanging on washing lines looks striking against the brilliant blue of the sky.

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Porto colours

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Porto Colours

Eventually, you escape this maze of alleyways to enter the grand boulevard of Alliados that leads up to the town’s city hall and beyond to the main shopping areas around Rua de Santa Catarina, where you can find the usual range of well-known stores mixed in with Portuguese ones.

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The City Hall in Avenida Dos Aliados


Porto is a cities of bridges crossing the River Douro. The most of famous of these is the huge steel two-storied structure, Dom Luis, which connects new town of Gaia and the old town of Porto. It has similarities in style to the Eiffel Tower and it is no surprise to learn that Gustav Eiffel was the engineer.

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Dom Luis Bridge over the River Douro

There are different ways to get up there but the most fun is to take the cable car which you can get on the Gaia side of town. It costs €5 for a single or €8 for a return. Arriving on the top of the bridge, you are afforded a magnificent panoramic view of the city, but you must have a good head for heights. At night, it is lit up. Try to get here around dusk to see the sun set. It is truly beautiful.

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Teleferico de Gaia (Cable car to the top of the Dom Luis Bridge)

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View from Dom Luis Bridge as the sun sets over the River Douro



Taking the number 500 bus from just opposite the Sao Bento Station will bring you out to Atlantic coast. I got off on Avenido Do Brasil and the first sight to greet me was that of a man sitting in a meditative pose as the wild waves crashed against the rocks and shot up a spray that left him soaked. Instinctively, I got the iPhone out to capture the moment. Living in Ireland, we are used to the Atlantic but I have never seen it so wild. Apparently, this not uncommon in Porto. I ventured into a cafe bar, took a seat on the terrace and had a beer while I watched the waves crash against the rocks below.

Man at beach

The wild Atlantic and a brave man

The Wild Atlantic

After the beer, I continued to walk along Avenido Do Brasil. In the distance, I saw the red and white of lighthouse at the end of a pier and what appeared to be a lone fisherman casting his rod out to sea as around him the waves crashed. Not believing my eyes, but knowing this was a photo opportunity I quickened my pace to get out there. Ignoring the flashing red lights of perigro (danger) warnings, I ventured out as far as I felt was safe and there he was, perched on the side of the pier nonchalantly fishing. Fearing for my safety, I stayed until I could get him in the action of casting and then scarpered. I do hope his catch for the day was worth the risk.

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Fisherman at Felgueiras Lighthouse


If you are looking for art, Porto is a great place. Your first stop has to be at the Espacio Mira and Mira Forum art galleries in Campanha. This is the gallery which organised the international mobile photography competition.


Manuela and Joao Matos Monteiro (Gallery owners) and myself at the Mira Forum, Porto

A little outside town, but worth the trek is Serralves Museum which has wonderful architecture, installations and gardens.

All in all

Like the many countries, the second city is the most charming and Porto is no exception. My hosts, Manuela and Joao were wonderful ambassadors for their city. I loved my short time in their town and while I thoroughly enjoyed the sights and all the city had to offer, it is the warmth and kindness of its people that would encourage me to make a return trip; this time not alone, but with my family.

Até a próxima vez!

Getting there 

Ryanair flies there twice a week from Dublin: Mondays and Fridays, with flights taking just over two hours.

Where to stay

I did not need to look for accommodation in Porto as I was staying in the apartment attached to the gallery.

However, I would always recommend accommodation on Air BnB. Also, check out Tripadvisor’s advice on Porto hotels.

When to go

Porto has a wonderful climate.  The weather while I was there was a wonderful 23 – 25 degrees. It does get hot in summer, particularly in August, but each season would bring its own charm to this wonderful Portuguese city.


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June 14 2015

Time is passing so quickly and I am realizing I have not been posting to Flickr with any regularity. The days of posting two shots every day seem so far gone, but I have just been too busy lately. My plan is to get back into serious Flickring from next month. I have photographs from Milan, Amsterdam, Tokyo, London and Porto to share.

This week I will try to post more from Porto. I had a fabulous time and am almost finished my blog post about my experience there. For today, I am posting two images: One with the Fuji taken in the back alleys of Riberia. This labyrinth-like cluster of lanes and alleyways is a wonderful place to explore. Looking up you will find old ladies resting on the railings of their balconies, while below them their freshly-washed laundry dries in the sliver of sunshine that finds its ways down these narrow lanes.


Porto: June, 2015


I found myself using the iPhone much more while in Porto. There is something so perfect about this camera for me. You cannot be in Porto and not notice the love of colour the locals have.

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Porto: June, 2015

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