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BRITAIN – Earlier this month, Nokia created the HD Horizons project, aimed at encapsulating different parts of Britain from a helicopter using a Nokia N8 and its 12MP camera. With the help of one of the world’s most respected aerial photographers – Jason Hawkes – the images captured so far have been stunning. Take a look through the gallery to see for yourselves.

The Nokia N8 was awarded Best Camera Phone by Mobile Choice which makes it the perfect tool for the task of photographing Britain in HD. Jason pushed this device to the limits as he took to the skies. Here’s the man himself talking about what he was looking forward to capturing on his tour of Britain.

We’re only part way through the HD Horizons project. However, the aim is to take photos of various locations in London such as The Shard and the 2012 Olympic site and onto other parts of Britain too. So far, Jason and his Nokia N8 have taken images of The Eden Project in Cornwall, Bass Rock off the coast of Scotland and many more, as the images below show.

[NB: click on the images once to see them a little bigger, then again to get the full-sized shot].

We asked Damian Dinning – Nokia’s Nseries camera expert – which ones were his favourite and why?

Damian: The images which I keep being drawn to are the lighthouse, the container ship and the viaduct. All for different reasons. It’s the colour in the containers on the container ship and the colour in the sky that attract and catch my eye most but also the simplicity of the container ship against the water. There’s a strong feeling of “I’m going this way and there’s no stopping me” from this view. This elevated directly coming towards position is also a way we never see such ships. Of course, all of these images are views we never see such city and landscapes, which is why we find them so fascinating to look at, perhaps.

The lighthouse again caught my eye. Apart from how pleased I was with the high levels of naturally resolved detail, but the steadfast positioning of the lighthouse on the rocks whilst the sea crashes against it and all the surrounding rocks. You really get a sense of how exposed those structures are from this shot.

Finally, the viaduct. I’m especially pleased with how this appears to be testimony to our direction in treating the colour reproduction with the N8. Vibrant but natural. As I’ve commented before, we really wanted to step away from the overly saturated, overly processed images you see so much with camera phones. The N8 was about listening to what we were hearing as an ever-increasing opinion of how people wanted colour to be reproduced. It’s not perfect yet, but we continue to try and get as close to that as we can for as many people as we can.

Were you surprised by the way the camera performed in these conditions?

Damian: This will sound really arrogant, but no, not really. I think they’ll surprise a lot of other people though. And I honestly don’t mean that to sound the way it does. The reason I say that is that I think there are still a lot of people who don’t or perhaps aren’t able to take advantage of having a good camera with them wherever they go. I think people need to see such images to help open their eyes more.

Recently I’ve been using a lot of competitor devices  which has meant leaving my N8 at home. There’s been a real drop in how frequently I take photos as a result, because I just don’t find the quality to be reassuring enough. The quality a really great camera smartphone can provide inspires you to capture and share more.

That’s why I think this campaign is important. Not to say “hey – get yourselves a helicopter and shoot some aerial shots with your camera phone” but, “isn’t it time you realised that the phone you carry with you potentially can take some really incredible shots, shouldn’t you give it a go more?” When I speak to people who own N8s, what I hear more than any other comment is how many more pictures and videos they take in comparison with before. Isn’t that a good thing?

Just thinking back to some initial conversations I had with Jason before he’d been able to take his first shots, I know he was very worried about the shutter speed and maintaining it at a high speed. Normally, Jason tries to shoot around 1/1000 second due to the vibration of the helicopter and therefore the high risk of camera movement impacting the quality of image. His tone of voice said a lot at that stage. But for some reason (maybe it was more wishful thinking on my behalf perhaps) I felt quietly confident.

The next time I spoke with Jason was after he’d been able to take his first test shots. This time the tone of his voice told an altogether different story. The concern had now firmly shifted from ‘is this camera phone really going to be able to do this job’ to ‘I really hope the weather’s going to be kind’. So I think Jason may have been surprised even if I wasn’t. OK – maybe a little 🙂

Thanks to Damian for sharing his thoughts with us here.

We look forward to seeing more photos from the HD Horizons project, which will first appear on the Nokia UK Facebook page.

We think these images are amazing, but what do you think? Is there anywhere you’d like to take a photo of from above?