Contrary to popular belief, cellphone photography lets you be in control of the shot. By Shikha Pushpan
I admit to being an oddball in a generation of selfie-obsessed millennials, where every moment is captured in a smartphone and celebrations become animated boomerangs. Over the years, I have shunned mobile phone photography, with a staunch belief that these tiny contraptions could never compete with my bulky professional gear. A recent trip to Pokhara, Nepal, however, changed my outlook and led to a realistic approach to photography—the best camera is the one that’s with you.
Accompanying me on the trip was the skilled street photographer Vineet Vohra, ambassador of Leica cameras in the country. We were on a mission to explore the limits of mobile phone photography with the Huawei P20 Pro, whose triple back camera ranges in resolution between 8 MP and 40 MP. “The camera works exceptionally well in low-light,” I was told. But, the pictures it took in daylight were the ones that built my trust in the device. We shot at Lake Phewa, the second-largest lake in Nepal, with the Annapurna range looking over us. The images were crisp and brimming with details, but not overly saturated (as is the case with many of the smartphones in the market).
“Not bad, eh?” I could hear the digital-camera loyalist in me conceding.
Next, we headed to the Gupteshwor Mahadev Caves, a 600-year-old venerated cave system with a huge stalagmite worshipped as a Shiva lingam.
Here, one needs to clamber through a tunnel to emerge in a damp cavern. The prize? Views of a virgin, underground waterfall through a slit-like opening between the rocks. The place also makes for an incredible setting to test low-light photography. As it turned out, the AI sensors captured unbelievably clean lines in low-light conditions, minus the notorious grain. I set the aperture to f/1.8 with extremely low shutter speed, and the results were magically abstract.
Later that evening, we sat for a review of our day-long expedition with the Huawei P20 Pro. As we flipped through photos of playful Buddhist monks, cumulus clouds racing past beryl blue skies, and the snow-clad Annapurna eclipsing the setting sun, I was in awe of the optical quality and admittedly rueful of my earlier ignorance. “I cannot relate to mobile phone photography. It just feels so juvenile,” I remembered telling Vohra at the beginning of the trip. As we gushed over our new-found love for the tool, Vohra declared, “It’s not the camera that creates beautiful shots; it’s the eyes behind the viewfinder that take charge of the moment, and immortalise it.”