Europe Photography Travelling

Gdansk Through The Lens of The iPhone 5

If you visit my site regularly, you will most likely know that my Sony Nex C3 has been my constant companion on my travels. I am very proud of my photographs, and am always seeking to improve my photography. However, sometimes a bulky SLR is not the most convenient travel item, so for my recent trip to Gdansk I decided to rely solely on the camera of the iPhone 5 – This is not a sponsored post

First Up: Gdansk – Some Facts

With the notable exceptions of Warsaw and Krakow, Polish cities tend to fly under the radar of most travellers to Europe; yet the narrow streets of the coastal city of Gdansk easily rival the Old Towns of Brussels, Stockholm or Tallinn.

Townhouses in Gdansk
Townhouses in Gdansk

Flanked by elegant redbrick town houses, coloured in assorted pastel shades, these cobbled streets are not only very pretty but have also witnessed some important moments in Twentieth-Century history. For the Westerplatte region of Gdansk is where the first battle between German and Polish forces took place, a conflict that escalated into the Second World War.

Not only that, but a Solidarity Trade Union Movement that began in Gdansk in 1980 is said to have been an influential factor in the fall of the Berlin Wall 9 years later.

A segment of the Berlin Wall is placed at the Solidarity Museum
A segment of the Berlin Wall is placed at the Solidarity Museum

My two-day trip to Gdansk seemed to offer the perfect photographic opportunity to try out the iPhone 5 camera, although it was with some sadness that I left the Sony behind.

The Photography:

Shooting with a smartphone is certainly convenient. During my first day in Gdansk I spent many hours meandering amid the cobbles and spires of the city, and was certainly grateful not to have the added weight of an SLR dangling around my neck. With the iPhone sitting lightly in my pocket, it was much easier to avoid the ‘tourist look’.  I managed to get a few good snapshots of the area.

However, I found that there were more than a few occasions where I longed for my Sony:

  • Low-level shots (a personal favourite of mine) were more difficult to compose. Plus I felt rather silly lying on the floor shooting with a smartphone. After a while I gave up on this angle.
  • High-level shots were also difficult to compose as holding the phone above my head one-handed, and trying to click the shutter on the screen, while keeping the phone still, proved problematic.
  • Shooting from the top of the church tower was also difficult, due to the overwhelming concern that I might drop the phone. I missed the geeky-but-practical neck strap of a regular camera.

Here are some of my best shots.

View of the main square
View of the main square
Outside the City Walls
Outside the City Walls
Archway in the City Wall
Archway in the City Wall
Art in the Square
Evening Falls in Gdansk
Evening Falls in Gdansk


The photographs were not actually too bad after some sprucing up on Lightroom, but they do not seem as sharp as the photographs from my Sony. The composition of my pictures is certainly sloppier than I usually produce.

I am not yet ready to give up on using the iPhone for my travel pictures, especially if I can experiment with some photography apps, but for my next trip I will be packing the Sony Nex too.

What do you use to take your travel pictures? Do you prefer to use a camera, or your smartphone? Do you have any recommendations for improving my iPhone pictures? Please let me know in the comments below.

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  1. says:

    I have heard the iphone 5 has a better camera than the iphone 4 which is what I have. I find the resolution on my iphone isn’t as good but like you say it is handier sometimes than dragging around the DSLR. I would never take it as a sole camera on a trip though. This past week I bought a waterproof Lumix point and shoot as a stick in the pocket camera for my upcoming walk on the Great Glen Way this fall. I can’t wait to start playing with it. I do love your photos on this blog post though!!!
    Laurie recently posted..Destination(s) of the week- Arequipa, Peru & the Colca CanyonMy Profile

    1. We used a waterproof Lumix point and shoot in South America (alongside my beloved Sony Nex), and it took some fantastic photos. It was perfect for beach shots, and close up waterfall shots at Iguazu Falls. The quality was surprisingly good. I will look out for you Great Glen pics.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. says:

    You’ve got some fantastic photos there! I really like the one going through the archway towards the old city and the one of the lamppost with the sunset behind.

    I agree that I couldn’t leave my camera behind for just my iPhone though. I feel much more comfortable with a camera that I can grip on to, and the relatively narrow view from my phone vs the 24mm wide on my SLR bothers me sometimes — those extra mm’s make a big difference. I still take a lot of photos on my phone for Instagramming, etc, but I find that I often duplicate the shot on my camera so I can have a higher-res photo to edit later.
    Kristin recently posted..Bashing Through the Ice in a 3500-Ton ShipMy Profile

    1. I agree. My phone is so narrow that I am constantly worried about dropping it, and I really miss the wider angle shot.

      I imagine I will do the same as you, take the same picture on both phone and camera 🙂

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. says:

    Beautiful shots that can certainly hold their own with DSLRs or the like.
    Maria recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – BangkokMy Profile

    1. Thank you very much 🙂

  4. says:

    I also long for wrist-strap iPhone cases. They seem to be in short supply.
    OCDemon recently posted..Places to visit in LatviaMy Profile

    1. I hadn’t thought of those! I will have to look around for one – I am so worried about dropping my phone when I’m taking pictures 🙂

  5. Photos are pretty good, now I’m thinking more and more of getting one. Simon from NeverEndingVoyage is also recommending the same.
    Digital Nomads recently posted..On the Road Expenses and Statistics, Month TenMy Profile

  6. Thank you! Did you get one in the end?

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