“It has been photographed so often that it felt to me like there was nowhere to go creatively”

Art of Seeing by Benedict Brain
Parts of Iceland and Greenland, as seen through a thermal camera attached to an iPhone. Flir One Pro & iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain with camera

(Image credit: Marcus Hawkins)

Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and the author of You Will be Able to Take Great Photos by The End of This Book.

I have a little Flir One Pro camera that I pop into my camera bag now and again. It’s a cool little thermal camera that connects to my iPhone and visually records the temperature of things. I won’t go into any scientific detail as I’m out of my depth and don’t know what I’m talking about. Suffice it to say, it’s a gadget mainly used by engineers for engineering things that I also don’t know anything about. However, I do know that the images it makes are super-cool and I love how the world is rendered in psychedelic colors as it captures and visually renders the temperature of things.  

I took it with me on this trip as I knew I’d be visiting some exciting places in the north Atlantic, including parts of Iceland and Greenland, and I hoped the camera might prove a useful addition to my creative toolbox. To my delight, the thermal hues beautifully rendered the landscape – in particular, Kirkjufell mountain on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, near Grundarfjörður (the top-left image).

Finding yourself in front of such an iconic mountain is a challenge; it has been photographed so often and from just about every angle that it feels like there’s nowhere to go creatively. So I was thrilled to make an image using the thermal camera that had an original twist. Other scenes from my trip also came out beautifully through the thermal eyes. One of the many glaciers I witnessed while sailing through Prince Christian Sound in Greenland (the bottom-right image) looks amazing. Just look at the contrast in temperature between the land and the glacier spilling into the water.

Aside from the cool look and funky vibe the camera creates, I also like the story it adds, especially in this area of the world. Against the background of the climate crisis, revealing the melting glaciers takes on a different meaning altogether. These images might deliver a more poignant message – and some food for thought.

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Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.