There’s smartphone photography, and then there’s smartphone photography. The amazingly talented Husain Ujjainwala takes the second kind… the italicized kind that might even earn the respect of the purists for whom “smartphone” is a dirty word.
A freelance photographer based out of Mumbain, India, Husain certainly has more professional gear in his bag and doesn’t always limit himself to shooting with a smartphone. But it was a Nokia Lumia that got him into photography, and it’s those photos we’ve been most blown away by — mostly because you simply can’t tell the difference between his smartphone photos and the ones taken with a DSLR.
Husain reached out to us a few months ago after we featured a roundup of iPhone images. The camera on his Lumia 1020 was better, he told us, and if we were interested he’d be thrilled to speak with us.
After looking over his work, there was no doubt we were interested. All that was left was the speaking with:
500PX: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into photography?
HUSAIN UJJAINWALA: I’m a 21 year old graphic designer and visual effects artist from Mumbai, India and recently moved to Dubai. Being a VFX artist, I was always impressed by good compositions and colours.
It all started with my first smartphone, a Lumia 720, that amazed me with its image quality. I started to receive positive reviews, and quickly upgraded to a Lumia 920, and through it won a Lumia 1020 through an online international competition held by Nokia.
I began to learn and explore more about photography through many different photography websites, 500px being the best one. Also, the Lumia photography community is very active and supportive and it really made me grow.
I notice you don’t always use your Lumia to take the pictures you upload to 500px, how do you decide which camera you pick up?
HUSAIN: Well, there’s no particular reason for that. I like to play with all the different gadgets I can get my hands on. Other than my Lumia, I usually shoot with a DSLR since no other phones can beat them.
I recently started shooting with DSLRs. I never felt that I needed a DSLR since Lumia phones are already capable of almost everything. I borrowed a DSLR from a friend for learning purposes, and that’s how I started to shoot with DSLR and bought one too. But I still prefer to shoot with phones, as they are quite handy and less intimidating.
Why a Lumia? Why not a Samsung Galaxy or iPhone?
HUSAIN: That answer is quite simple. Lumia phones are equipped with PureView imaging technology and Carl Zeiss lenses, which give excellent image quality and an overall edge over other phones. Also, the manual control of the Lumia camera app makes it very easy to shoot, be it a macro shot or a Long exposure.
Another favourite feature is that it is able to shoot RAW. Although many phones now have this feature, Lumia phones have had it for about 2 years now.
Any tips and tricks for other 500pxers who want to take their smartphone photography to the next level?
HUSAIN: I would be a novice to give any tips, but I always look for good compositions and colours. I prefer to shoot during golden hours, as everything looks beautiful at that time. I also try to frame the shot in my mind before I go for it.
Try to look at things differently. Even the most boring subject can look interesting if shot from a different angle. And, lastly, always learn from fellow photographers and get inspired.
Can you share your favorite Lumia photos from your profile, and tell us the story behind them?
HUSAIN: This is my very favourite shot. There was a storm the previous night and I happened to visit this beach next day where I found this abandoned boat. It was shot with my Lumia 920.
HUSAIN: I call this place as “The Shire.” This is an hill station near Mumbai and we were lucky enough to reach just at the sunrise and witness this beautiful moment. I shot this with my Lumia 920.
HUSAIN: I visit beach a lot and I try to find something new to shoot every time — plus, as I said, golden hour makes everything look beautiful. Shot this on my Lumia 1020. I used the Manual focus capability of the Lumia camera app which is very useful for taking closeup shots.
HUSAIN: Hunting for reflections in an image is one of my favourite genres. This was taken at the very famous Gateway of India, Mumbai. The rain had just stopped and I grabbed the opportunity to take the shot.
HUSAIN: For this shot, I placed my phone on a very small rock right in the middle of the waterfall. I would not have been able to place my DSLR there, since the current was very strong. I attached a ND filter onto my phone to take a long exposure, and the results were overwhelming.
HUSAIN: Another great example of manual focus of Lumia camera app. This was taken at Sanjay Gandhi National park, Mumbai.
HUSAIN: This was a lucky shot. I asked this cool kid to pose for me and I took few shots, but it wasn’t until I transferred the image to my PC for editing that I saw the sun had made its way through his legs.
HUSAIN: This is also one of my favourite shots. I used a crystal ball for this shot, which refracts the scene. This shot made it into the Nokia Connect 2015 calendar.
HUSAIN: Sunsets inspire me to shoot. I asked my friend to stand right in the third grid to make the composition look more pleasing. Also one of the many long exposure shots I captured with my Lumia.
HUSAIN: Sunsets and silhouettes are a perfect combination, and that’s what I love to shoot.
HUSAIN: Don’t judge me, but there are 4 beaches near my home and I love to spend evenings there. This was one of the best sunsets I have witnessed.
HUSAIN: Although I was carrying a DSLR with me at the time, I preferred to shoot this with my Lumia just to test what it was capable of. It surprises me every time…
HUSAIN: The “Tree of Life.” Autumn is one of my favourite seasons and it really brings out the beautiful colours in National park, Mumbai. Shot with Lumia 920.
Want to see more of Husain’s photography, or follow along as he continues capturing beautiful images using both his Lumia 1020 and the DSLRs he’s been playing around with? Give him a follow on 500px or drop him a line on Twitter.