Istanbul Through an iPhone Lens

I’ve been in Istanbul for a week and have mainly used my new iPhone to take photographs.

I was a (mostly disgruntled) BlackBerry user for three years until I got an iPhone over the holidays, so I’m very late to the iPhone party. And very new to Instagram, too. So, I decided to test out my iPhone camera and fiddle with filters (noted in parentheses).

Lights, lanterns, lamps galore. At the Grand Bazaar. (Lomo-fi)

A cup of sugared apple tea at Palatium Cafe, which has become our favorite cozy lounge in Sultanahmet. I love the lounge of pillows and bean bags against the wide windows facing the street. (Amaro)

A woman walking toward a line of chairs in the Hagia Sophia. (Amaro)

Colorful teas and spices at the Spice Bazaar. (Lomo-fi)

A cluster of baby nargile at the Grand Bazaar. (X-Pro II)

Benches at Topkapı Palace. (Amaro)

Bare trees and a minaret at the Blue Mosque (taken near the tourist entrance in the rear). (Amaro)

A booth in the enormous Grand Bazaar. (Lomo-fi)

A blue cart covered in snow in a quiet alley in Sultanahmet. (X-Pro II)

On the wall inside the Grand Bazaar. (Brannan)

blue mosque
The majestic Blue Mosque at night. (Kelvin)

Meze (a selection of small dishes). (Lomo-fi)

Ceviz tatlisi, an interesting, delicious dessert. We tried this (and the meze above) at Kiri, a homey waterfront restaurant on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands (about 1.5 hours from Istanbul by ferry). (Lomo-fi)

A street on Büyükada island, not far from the pier. (Amaro)

Hanging lamps for sale at the Grand Bazaar. (Valencia)

Rain on a fourth-floor window of Marmara Guesthouse, a wonderful family-run guesthouse in Sultanahmet. (If you ever visit Istanbul and are looking for a simple guesthouse, please consider this place; I absolutely recommend it. We’re paying 50 Euro/night for a standard double in the low season.) (Amaro)

Drinks at the Sultan Hostel with the lovely Jodi Ettenberg.

I loved this simple, elegant room at Topkapı Palace. (Amaro)

Light and shadow. At the Grand Bazaar. (Lomo-fi)

A doorknob at the Blue Mosque. (X-Pro II)

A shot from directly underneath one of the massive chandeliers in the Hagia Sophia. (Lomo-fi)

Snowy Sultanahmet in the late morning, taken from the kitchen of Marmara Guesthouse. (Brannan)

A wall near the fish market, not far from Karaköy metro station and the Galata Bridge. (Lomo-fi)

Art on a sloped street in Sultanahmet. (Amaro)

Turkish delight (lokum) at the Spice Bazaar. Yum. (Lomo-fi)

An empty street in Beyoğlu, a district on the European side of Istanbul, at midnight. (Brannan)

Women walking on a quiet road and passing a run-down facade on Büyükada. (Amaro)

A bike lane near the Hagia Sophia. (X-Pro II)

A snow-covered park in Sultanahmet. (Amaro)

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Senior editor at Longreads / Automattic

54 thoughts on “Istanbul Through an iPhone Lens

  1. I just came upon your Istanbul pics. I was just there over the summer and your pics brought back sweet memories… 🙂

  2. OWow. I love the showcase of lanterns! Lights are pretty much inviting! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your Istanbul experience.

  3. Shared with my last roomie’s wife as she is Turkish and would appreciate them moreso than I. Although, I must say.. that Turkish delight looks damn tasty! I miss that stuff!

  4. Hey there, I love these photos!! Reading through your comments it seems like a lot of people do too! I was wondering is you could give me your opinion on the Iphone camera? would it be a suitable substitute for a “normal” point-and-shoot camera? I really want one but am finding it hard to justify spending so much to get an unlocked one! (I’m from NZ, and the plans there are horrible so it much easier to go for an unlocked one then use a network that doesnt normally sell the iphone), I look forward to hearing back from you!

    1. I’m really impressed by my iPhone 4’s camera, and perhaps it’d be possible to use it in lieu of a point-and-shoot camera. (But I personally don’t use it as a replacement for my G11 or dSLR…) Note that all of the photos in this post have Instagram filters; but a “normal” shot isn’t half-bad, either. I noticed I don’t like people or indoor shots with my iPhone camera — it’s not that the quality is “bad,” but I like using my other cameras for those kinds of photos more.

      Thanks for the note!

  5. Wow! I am a photographer but have resisted getting an iphone up until now. I have just started thinking that maybe I should give in and buy one…and after seeing these I am just about convinced.
    I loved seeing Istanbul through your eyes. Your images are just beautiful, Cheri! Going to have a good look around the rest of your site now…

    1. Cherina: thanks for the kind words. Yes, I had a BlackBerry for a long time, and actually got the iPhone 4 as a gift. And I’m so glad I have it — it makes me *want* to wander and take photos.

  6. You have an iPhone 4, right? Because my iPhone 3GS’ camera is really really useless. You need to have the light of 2 suns blasting on anything before it will focus properly.

    But anyway, the photos are awesome!

    1. I like the apple tea shot, too — it’s simple and quiet and static, reflective of the relaxed, chill hours we spent lounging in a cafe as it rained or snowed outside. So nice!

  7. I’ve long had Istanbul on my list but this makes me long to visit in a way which is downright painful. How beautiful Cheri! Very very well done. ((Also, welcome to the iPhone “cult”. Ha!))

  8. Holy snap, Cheri – these are breathtaking. I’m obsessed with the lanterns and the tiles of that simple, elegant room. Also: hello there, Jodi and Nick!

    1. Thanks! I enjoyed relying on my iPhone to take pics on this trip. I can see myself ditching my “real” camera altogether while traveling (although I probably shouldn’t!).

  9. so pretty! i don’t even know where istanbul is (how sad is that?!?). hope you are enjoying your time. seems like it! also, the iphone pics are super!

  10. Your iPhone definately did the city justice! So beautiful! Thank you for adding some cultural beauty to my day! It’s so gray where I am – makes me happy to see such lovely colors. 🙂

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