Shall we use mobile phone in landscape photography

In recent years I heard a lot of non-photographers telling me that mobile phone will eventually replace camera. Meanwhile there are also two voices in the photographer group, one is to support mobile phone photography as a new trend. In my last hiking trip, one of the photographers even left her 5D Mark4 with the hotel and take photos with her mobile phone the whole journey. And the other voice says that it is very unprofessional to take photos with a mobile phone.

To be honest I am not a fan for mobile phone in portrait photography. I think it makes people's face and facial features distorted, which I cannot stand. But for landscape photography, I think we can enjoy both the mobile phone and the camera at the same time, because these two are not conflicting. Sometimes they can work very well together and make the journey a lot of fun.

To talk about this I will first talk about my understanding about landscape photography. I think it is one of the most innovative and challenging photo shooting activities, because it is a recreation of nature’s artwork. To get the best "raw materials", the landscape photographers sometimes need to wait for years for a golden moment, to go to the hot, cold, windy, rainy or dangerous places for a wonderful scenery, to spend lots of time and money looking for a place of ideal.

And that’s just half way of the work. After that it is the progress of retouching, such as HDR and panorama synthesis of the multiple exposures; the restore the real three-dimensional view of the photo scene with experience, knowledge and observation; to set the high key and low key, re-tone the color, re-constructure the composition and give the final artwork a unique style and a lively soul.

What landscape photographers do is like repainting on the original canvas of nature, which requires professional cameras and lenses to provide rich sense of tolerance, deepness and sharpness for the after work. That is at the moment not replicable by the mobile phone.

But I found mobile phone to have some very helpful roles in landscape photography. One is the perspective. Most of the landscape photographers already form their own habit of framing the view. I used to look at a few nature photographer's sunrise and sunset photos, and notice that although the scenes are very beautiful, they all look the same in angle. To jump out of the frame, it is recommended to use the mobile phone from time to time as a practice of composition, because unlike camera and lenses, mobile phone does not have many restrictions from weight, distance and focal length. Sometimes it allows photographer to compose a scene from a complete different field of view.

Another good thing about using mobile phone occasionally in landscape photography, is to challenge oneself not to rely on the gear. I once went to a landscape photography trip with about 20 people. I saw a lot of expensive cameras and telephoto lenses in that trip and heard a lot of talk about bokeh, sharpness and mega pixels. But the photos I saw are not so impressive after all. So I would suggest to give oneself a photo challenge from time to time by using mobile phone only in the trip, see if you can still make good works without those fancy gears.

Last but not least, we might not always bring our camera with us, but we always have our mobile phone. It is not just the mountain, beach and waterfall that can be called a landscape, there are many other scenes around you waiting for the discovery while you don't have your camera on hand. Your mobile phone can be a second choice and a nice surprise if you practice a lot with it.

By the way, all the photos in this articles are taken by mobile phone. If you like any one of them, then I guess it is time for you to take your mobile phones and make some photos.

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