Shetland by iPhone 5

Shetland may just be the most photogenic corner of Britain–the weather is moody and dramatic and the light (if it’s there) is always surprising and cinematic.

Though I travel with several different cameras, it’s my phone I grab first–always. Phones may never compete with DSLR for clarity, stabilityf and megapixels, but I find phone pics are irresistibly immediate and transferable–within seconds of snapping a pic, I can receive comments and questions from around the world. I also find the whole process of shooting with phones less invasive–subjects (wildlife and people), often respond better to a phone than a long lens stuck in their face.

In my travels as Digital Nomad, I’ve “published” tens of thousands of iPhone pics, including galleries of Niagara Falls, Quebec, Ålesund (Norway), and both Hiroshima and Tsukiji. I have shot with my phone from open door of a helicopter in flight and from the back of a camel. Last month in Africa, I dropped my phone from an airplane window, and in Shetland, it managed to get very wet.

The main challenge of taking phone pictures in Shetland in January is that it’s very dark. You’re dealing with about five hours of daylight a day. Of all the iPhone cameras, the iPhone 5 is best at taking low-light conditions and despite the rain and darkness, I managed to shoot about a thousand phone pics in just two days.

These are a few of my favorites, and all of them au naturel (without any filter, apps, or boosting). Already I look forward to going back in summertime and shooting a brighter side to these magical islands. I must extend my real gratitude to Shetland Geotours for showing me around the islands and their volcanic past so thoroughly–I do look forward and exploring even deeper–phone in hand.


NB This is not an endorsement of the iPhone or endorsement of any Apple product–I always say, shoot with whatever camera or phone you have. The important thing is to be there.


  1. Kirsten Alana
    January 11, 2013, 4:33 am

    Stunning photos, Andrew! We didn’t make it to Shetland in the two weeks I was in Scotland but I felt similar to the way you describe feeling on the Isle of Skye. Locals did ask us why we had come in January and yet I couldn’t help but love the intense and very atmospheric moodiness of Scotland in January.

  2. Leona
    January 11, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Some lovely photos, I take most of my home photos in the winter too beacuse even though its dark most of the time sometimes the lighting just adds to the effect. I think that you need to come back and see the rest of the islands, esecially Foula. 🙂

  3. U.S. Elaine
    January 11, 2013, 4:45 pm

    This is a wonderful series of shots and captions! I hope I live to see you explore Shetland for a month.

  4. Alan Horsager
    Los Angeles
    January 19, 2013, 6:21 pm

    I’m continually amazed by what the iPhone can accomplish, photographically. And I’m not talking just about the filters. It’s also perfect for street photography.