photography ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2015

Judging by my 2015 mobile photos on Flickr, taken with the iPhone 5S [] or taken with the iPhone 6S [], I must have been exhausted from the amount of good mobile phone photos I took in 2014 []. I counted and there are about 50 photos in 2015 while there were over 70 in 2014. Not as big a difference as I thought but still…

Anyway, most of the year I continued to use the iPhone 5s and I took a couple of shots I would point to as “my best of 215”.

First up is this shot of a dandylion taken in Stockholm at a friends house. Lovely detail for macro shot on the iPhone.


Second, another macro shot of matcha power in a tea cup, waiting for the hot water. The color of the matcha is intense and set off well against the dark ceramic cup. The harsh light from my kitchen lights is a bit much.


At the other end of the spectrum is this telephoto shot of Millenia Tower near my office in Singapore. The monotony of the windows and the shadows are great. Too bad it’s not leveled correctly.


Per the norm, I changed handset to the iPhone 6S [] when it came out. Skipping one generation. The 6S jumped the rear camera up from 8 megapixel to 12 megapixel. A sizable jump but, seeing as I didn’t get the 6S until late November, I didn’t take many photos with the 6S in 2015. One I will share is not because it’s that good of a photo but because it’s the return of the panorama!

You will remember, of course, that I started this journey into my best mobile photos in 2004. Back then I had a Sony Ericsson K700i. and it had a built in panorama program. You can see a panorama taken on the K700i in both the 2004 [] and 2005 [] entries in this series of posts. Apple introduced it’s panorama functionality originally with the iPhone 6. But I didn’t have an iPhone 6 so, I first got it with the 6S in 2015. I made full use of it in Harbin, China on my winter vacation. Here is the best example:

Click to see it bigger on Flickr

Please ignore the poor people on the right hand side, that a tragic story.

That’s really about it for 2015, but I want to jump back to the 5S and include this shot of some sticker graffiti in Tel Aviv:


Happy little clouds.


Amazing clouds tonight in Singapore. Looks like a painting.

photography ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2014

In 2014 I used the iPhone 5S [] all year, so nothing new or interesting to say on the hardware side.

In terms of photos; I took a lot of travel photos in 2014 with my mobile. I remember in 2011 I went to Turkey and I used my Canon G12 along side my DSLR. But when I went back in 2014, the iPhone was good enough. In fact I did quite a bit of travel photography in 2014 with the iPhone 5S. In addition to Istanbul [] which was a stopover on a work trip, I managed another side trip to Delhi and Agra [] while in India for work, and book ended the year with a trip to Japan and February: Matsumoto [] and Nagano [] and a trip to my grandparents house in Minnesota with a day-trip over to the Badlands [] in South Dakota . In all cases my Canon DSLR was my main camera but I used the iPhone for snapshots.

OK enough, let’s get to the photos, and lets cover travel first.

In chronological order, we start with Japan in February and this shot of Matsumoto castle in the snow. It was taken early in the morning, we were out before sunrise because it was our last day and it was the only day we got snow.


A few months after holidaying in Japan I went to Israel for work, and managed a stopover in Istanbul. I planned a 12 hour stopover on the way to Israel but got a free 24 hours on the way back too because I missed my connection due to bad weather. On this trip I use a couple of snap on lenses for the iPhone, a macro, fish-eye and zoom. Mostly I played with the fish-eye. The photos were cool but I never really used them again, too much hassle to carry and use. Here is one of the better shots with the fish eye though you can’t see the full fish eye effect in this one but you can see the distortion in the bottom.


And here’s a great shot of the inside of Hagia Sofia (not using the snap on lenses):


My next travel destination in 2014 was India. I took advantage of a two week work trip to go and mark Taj Mahal off the bucket list.


Last travel shot is from the Badlands of South Dakota, taken on a day trip, by car where we drove from my grandparents house in south western Minnesota most of the way across South Dakota to spend a few hours in the badlands before driving back:


On the same trip we stopped in Washington, DC for a few days, to spend some time with my mom and I snapped this photo of plants outside the Natural History Museum. I love the complexity of tihs plant, it’s amazing:


But I didn’t just travel, I also took a few shots around Singapore that I think deserve some love. This one of a staircase at Suntec looking up a the sky:


… and this photo of Tibetan prayer flags taken in Gaylang:


A lot of good photos with the iPhone 5S in 2014. The quality of the camera on the iPhone really showing. The best camera is the one you have with you, right? I think the iPhone 5S is where this really became more than ‘snap a memory for yourself’, you could actually take a good photo, that you would be proud to share.

photography ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2013

In 2013 I used the iPhone 4S [] I got in 2011 and a new iPhone 5s []. Both are 8 megapixel and output images that are 3,264 by 2,448 pixels, I don’t see much difference in the quality of the photos in general, though Wikipedia lists improvements in the sensor and a lower f-stop for the 5s.

My favorite photo taken on my mobile in 2013 is from the “The Art of The Brick” [] exhibit at the ArtScience Museum [] at Marina Bay Sands. The exhibit is comprised of numerous sculptures made entirely out of Lego Bricks by Nathan Sawaya. I’ve always liked Lego and decided before I had kids that Lego would be an important toy for them. As such my daughters have way too many Legos. My younger daughter was only 8 months old, too young for Legos, especially since everything went into the mouth for her at that age… but my older daughter enjoyed the exhibit, though she hardly remembers it today. I didn’t take my DSLR with me the day we went so only mobile photos.

Not only my favorite mobile photo of the year, but this was my favorite sculpture of the exhibit.

Next up, another art work, this one hanging in the atrium at Millenia Walk. An anatomically correct balloon man.

Just hanging around.

Last one for the 4s: this is a good example of getting amazing detail out of the 4s’ camera. Taken on a rainy afternoon at Millenia Walk in the small parking lot where there are always a lot of expensive cars.


As for the 5s, there are not a ton of photos, given it was late September when I got it. But I’ve picked two that are good.

The first is a shot taken on a business trip to Seattle. After some working sessions in the morning we took a walk down to Miners Landing at pier 57 to get lunch. It had been raining, a light misty rain, most of the morning but cleared up just before we left and the blue skies started to open up as we got to pier 57.


The last mobile photo for 2013 is one that inspired me. I took it while waiting for a coffee one evening at Starbucks. I pointed my camera phone up at the lamps hanging over the counter where the baristas deliver the food and drinks to you and got this:

The first “Looking up at Lamps” photo I took.

I never posted this one but I continued to take photos like this pointing the phone camera up at lamps in restaurants, pubs, shops and anywhere I thought I could get a cool shot. Today there are 58 other shots in my “Looking up at Lamps” [] album on Flickr. And you can read more about them in this post here on confusion [].


Summer sunset


Amazing sunset today in Singapore.

photography ranting

All rules…

As seen in Amsterdam []…
photography ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2012

Twenty-twelve, my second daughter was born so even more of my mobile photos are filled with pictures of the kids to embarrass them with in the future; crying baby face, bath-time soapy hair, singing along with the My Little Pony theme song in the car.

I used the iPhone 4S [] all year, having gotten it at the end of 2011, the 8 mega-pixel camera was a definite step up from the 5 mega-pixel camera of the iPhone 4 and even more over my old iPhone 3GS’es 3 mega-pixel camera!

As I said last time, in good light the iPhone 4S took very good photos. Low light was still an issue, has been up to this day, night mode on the newer iPhones just over does the noise reduction, the photos look good on the iPhone screen but not when viewed on your computer or TV. But photos taken in even halfway decent light look great. It still makes a big difference if you can set the phone on something to keep it stable though.

The first photo I chose for 2012 is a photo where I had a stable surface to set the phone on when taking the shot. And this photo is actually one of the sharpest mobile photos I’ve ever taken, just a random snail in my condo:

He might have a bit of a problem with an ant…

Next up two shots of the housing blocks across the street from me, one in full daylight and one in late afternoon golden sunlight. Both look great:

Block 174 in full daylight, note the bird ;-)
Block 173 in late afternoon light

Next we have a couple of lower light shots that worked well, though you can see the graininess if you look. First, a shot taken in Changi Airport while waiting for a late night flight. This figurine was clipped to my work bag for years. At some point I lost him, not sure where. He was seriously beat up even in 2012:

Popobe New Violence Darth Vader bear

Last two: Escalators at Paragon shopping mall on Orchard Road here in Singapore and looking up at an art installation in Millenia Walk shopping mall’s main atrium.

Escalators at Paragon
Art at Millenia Walk
photography ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2011

I spent most of 2011 with an Apple iPhone 3GS [] which I got in 2009 [] and used for all of 2010 [].

Most of my interesting snapshots for 2011 are from in and around Suntec City []. I started working at an office in Suntec in 2010 and have been there ever since… though I mostly work from home since the COVID-19 lock-down and at this point I don’t have any plans to go back to the office day-in and day-out. Once in a while to meet people is enough.

My oldest daughter started day care in Suntec in 2011. I would pick her up at 6 each day and we would wait for my wife to pick us both up. next to large koi pond at Suntec. The first photos I chose for 2011 is from one afternoon while we waited. Next to the koi pond there was a restaurant with a red neon sign and on this particular day it was quite dark at 6, cloudy but not yet storming. At 6PM the outdoor lights in Singapore are not on (most are on automatic timers from about 7PM to 7AM, being very close to the equator the day is almost exactly 12 hours long, shifting less than 15 minutes (see here []). The dark clouds and lack of streetlights allowed the neon red to turn the pond into pool of glowing red blood:

Neon light reflected off water

I always wanted to get that shot with my DSLR but the few times I went back there was too much sunlight or white lights from the streetlights. I never got lucky and the koi pond is long gone now, a victim of renovation.

A few months after my daughter started daycare we had to change centers as the one in Suntec close. They arranged an offer to transfer all the students who wanted to another center in Millenia Walk [] just next door. So for the next few years I walked over the Millenia most days. Millenia has a bunch of sculptures around it and one in particular I had to pass by every day. It’s a tall spiral of stacked square marble by Philip Johnson [] and it’s positioned in such a way that it catches the late sun during the golden hour. I took many photos of it over the years that my daughters were in day care in Millenia Walk. This is one of the best:

Sculpture by Philip Johnson at Millenia Walk.

Given the time of day, 6PM and it being a weekday (Wednesday the internet tells me) the next photo was probably also taken when I was walking over to Millenia:

Just a bit of blue sky

Then, in October, the iPhone 4S [] was released. And a serious jump in camera quality, from 3 megapixel to 8 megapixel. 8 megapixels is a respectable digital camera, you can actually print photos at this resolution out as standard size photos and they look good. All assuming you had good light, but at this point the iPhone entered an era where it was as good as a mass market point-and-shoot. And since other phones had even better cameras by now this was really the end of the dedicated point-and-shoot as a viable product. You can still get them ten years on but now there are only a few models to choose from. Back in 2010, 2011 there were dozens and they were quite popular. Yet another gadget the smartphone subsumed.

I only have one photo from 2011 taken with the 4S to share. Taken at work during a conference call. A long time hobby of mine, during long conference calls, was to play with Buckyballs! (Note that the original (?) Buckyballs no longer exist due to a long running issue around safety in the US and a lawsuit back in 2012, but I’ll always call them Buckyballs. There are a number of companies still selling Neodymium Magnetic Toys [], check out Zen Magnets [], you can see some of the amazing things people build in their gallery). Here’s a shot looking down a tube of Buckyballs:


Before we end 2011, I’ve got one more. I don’t do a lot of overt manipulation of most of my photos. I adjust the white balance, play with the exposure and curves, add a vignette, etc. but I don’t “photoshop” them for the most part. However, I do play around with more drastic editing some times, and on my phone I have an app called Camera+ [] (they are on Camera+2 now, but this photo was edited with the original). Here is one photo that I messed with in Camera+ as it was not a good photo, but I was able to get something cool out if it after adding a bunch of filters and such:


This was taken at the old Suntec Convention Center, the enterance off of Beach Road, before the MRT station was built and before the Suntec renovations in 2012-2014. There was some sort of power outage that day creating dramatic shadows as people came into the Convention Center on a sunny day.

photography ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2010

A new decade. But, ehm, same iPhone 3GS I ended 2009 [] with. The 3GS actually took some decent photos in 2010. Decent enough that I have actually uploaded some of them to my Flickr []. So here we go, my best mobile photos of 2010.

First up, two related photos. I have a enduring fascination for taking photos straight up at interesting ceilings. Too often people don’t look up unless they are told to. So maybe it’s the unexpected perspective or the fact that I don’t see many photos of ceilings but I have taken a lot over the years. Here are two from Singapore, old and modern.

The old, is the dome of the National Museum of Singapore [], with it’s blue and white stained glass windows:

Dome of the National Museum of Singapore.

The modern, is the glass cone ceiling of Wheelock Place on Orchard Road:

Wheelock Place. Off center.

Enough architecture, now for some nature. Colorful, if dying, nature in the form of a fern leaf someone on a sidewalk in Singapore. Mostly leaves come in two colors in Singapore – Green or Brown, for a few week a year, if we have a good dry season, you can see yellow leaves but for most of the year it’s just Green or Brown. The fern leaf is unusually colorful.

Death of a fern.

Next up, more nature, but not from Singapore, this sunset was taken in Woburn, Massachusetts in the US. On a trip for a job, I was walking back to my hotel from dinner. You don’t get many dramatic sunsets in Singapore, we don’t get the low angle that the more northerly or southerly latitudes do, so I noticed that sunset every day in Woburn.

Almost the Windows XP hill.

And I’ll leave it at that. Next stop 2011.

photography ranting

My Best Mobile Photos — 2009

We started the iPhone era in 2008, camera quality went backwards, as discussed [] last time. I spent most of 2009 with the iPhone 3G so the photos are not great. Also, and most importantly, the vast majority of my mobile phone photos —and a lot of videos— are of my daughter, born in mid-2008. I gave up on the Sony camcorder I purchased to take lots of videos of her because it was too damn much work to edit them into something that I could watch on the TV or phone. The videos on the iPhone were small but they got used a lot more.

So, anyway, what photos do I have that are not of my wife or daughter or other people I know? Not much. Out of the 425 photos in my archive from 2009, fully 80% of of people. Not leaving much to choose my “best photos” from, but here you go.

First up, two shots, for side-by-side comparison of the weather on two days from my desk, ignore the reflection of the office lights:

Rainy day from the office
Sunny day from the office

Next a random shot of tree leaves… looking up against a cloudy sky for a silhouette effect. I like the trees in Singapore that grow up and spread a single layer of leaves over a vast area, like what we called “Rain Trees” in videos of the African Savanna. I’m guessing it’s not the same tree but same shape when you see them from afar. The single layer of leaves means you get to see this intricate pattern against the sky. This is not the best example, not is the photo high quality, even for the iPhone 3G camera as it was taken handheld so thing are a bit blurry. You could get better photos by setting the phone on a stable surface, but c’est la vie.

Canopy silhouette

Here is a better example of what the iPhone 3G’s camera could do. I guess the light was better, as it’s a lot less blurry this time. The subject is… interesting. I assume I took it to show someone and have a laugh. For those not familiar, it is common in Southeast Asia to get take away drinks, hot and cold, in plastic bags with little plastic straps to hold on or hang on things. You see people carry them whenever you are near a food court of local coffee shop, you see them hanging from nobs and levers on trucks and taxis. And, once in a while, you see them left hanging from random fence posts or tree branches. They look like tree has a colostomy bags to me:

Arboreal colostomy bag

OK, one more. This is the only one taken on the better camera of the iPhone 3GS [] I got when it was released in Singapore in late 2009. A bit Big Brother this cluster of cameras in Raffles place:

What you looking at?