Thai Sunset - a portrait of an ultimate Nokia 808 photo?

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Ever seen a great camera phone-taken photo posted on Twitter or similar and wondered just what it takes to get such a great shot? I saw the photo embedded below and was very taken with it. Under what conditions was it created? Was it messed with in any way? Was it really taken with a phone? And so on. Below is the photo proof and notes from the guy who shot it, Juha Lappalainen.

The photo that caught my attention first. Here's a web-sized version, just click it to enlarge fully to 8 megapixels or to download it to your computer:

Sunset, click to download or enlarge

Pretty darned atmospheric and destined to be a few readers' desktop wallpaper for a bit, I think. Downright cinematic.

So, what's needed to take a shot like this? Here (as they say in 'Breaking The Magician's Code') are the tricks:

  • Living somewhere really scenic, with great views! And the patience to wait for just the right moment.
  • Nokia 808 PureView, still by far the best phone camera in the world, rivalled only by the N8, which is significantly less flexible. In this case, the 808 camera was almost fully zoomed in, so as to frame the sunset most artistically and still get the full ('lossless') resolution.
  • Set to 'Creative' mode, 8 megapixels, with the only setting tweaked being pushing the ISO down to '50'. Normally the PureView system would be used to help eliminate pixel noise, but most of the capacity was being used by the zoom, so putting the ISO down to 50 made sure of a purity of colour and as little noise as possible.
  • The shot was taken handheld, but with Juha bracing his body against a nearby window to stability.
  • The shot, as it came out of the Nokia 808 PureView, was pretty impressive and Juha, being an artistic chap, wanted to apply the 808's 'sunset' filter as well, to add "extra punch". You'll be curious about the native shot, though. Here it is (again, click to download the original JPG):

Sunset, click to download or enlarge

What do you think? The extra filter did help the photo stand out even more - I think both images stand as good examples of what can be done.

However... with apologies to Juha(!):

I'm going to be super-picky here and let the world know that I think this shot could have possibly been even better. For starters, if you look really, really closely, the structure details aren't quite as crisp as I'd have expected. I do wonder whether the 'infinity' focussing mode was used. After all, what do you focus on when the nearest item in the image is a mile away? Tapping and holding in the Creative mode viewfinder gives the choice of 'infinity'.

In addition, even though the shutter time was 1/667 of a second, which is pretty fast, bracing the 808 on a wall or even using a tripod might have got the photo just that tiny bit crisper.

But what do I know. Juha's something of a semi-pro photographer, as you can see from his photo-blog, well worth a browse. You can also follow him on Twitter.

In the meantime, nice to know that the Nokia 808 PureView is the phone of choice for these guys and great to see what they do with it!

Source / Credit: Juha Lappalainen