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June 17, 2014

Toni Pavliš: My top Lumia 1020 tips: Part 1

It’s been far too long since we had a top photographer share his top Lumia 1020 tips, but now the wait is over thanks to Toni Pavliš.

If you’re a regular reader of Conversations, you probably remember Toni when he was featured as Lumia Instagramer of the Week a few months back. Then he was packing a Lumia 920, however, since that article Toni has come up trumps in a Conversations photography competition and gone and won himself the world’s greatest camera smartphone, the Lumia 1020. What better person to ask, then, about the wonders of this super duper device than a Lumia winner. Happily, Toni has delivered a ton of top tips, and in such detail, that we’re showcasing them in two parts. But, hey, enough of me. Let’s hear what the man himself has to say. Over to you, Toni!

1. Super settings

Now that I’m using my new Lumia 1020 as my main shooter, I will try to give you some useful tips and advice on using the device itself and photography in general, and illustrate them through my photos. First of all, I should explain that all of my photos are square cropped due to the fact that my main site for uploading photos is Instagram. If you are planning to print the photos, use 4:3 ratio–or if you are going to view the photos on your computer display, use the native 16:9 ratio in Nokia Camera settings.

Before you start putting your Lumia to good use, you should make sure that you are familiar with the settings and UI of the Nokia Camera, as well as the pros and cons of the device (even the most advanced DSLRs on the market has its cons). Learn how to control exposure, use ISO settings, as well as the flash and other settings. This will help you to be able to get more creative and to shoot those special shots that you’ve always wanted to shoot. Let’s get started!


2. Macro shots

The first photo is showing how you can get creative with your Lumia 1020–it’s the perfect example of how you are able to reframe your shots because of its massive 41mpx sensor. Since it’s nearly impossible to focus when you are near the object you are trying to shoot, don’t be afraid to shoot it from the distance that you can achieve focus from, and later you can reframe and even rotate the shot to get that amazing macro you wanted in the first place.

The best thing is that you can do it with full confidence because the output resolution still remains awesome and better then most smartphones can offer at full size, because of Lumia’s huge sensor.


Extra tip for macro shots: If you are shooting macro against the light, use the fill in flash to extract details from shadows. If the light source is behind you, watch out for unwanted shadows if you get too close to the object you are shooting. If you find that you are creating shadows, change your position so that your object is naturally lit.



3. Editing photos

Lumia 1020 has an amazing DSLR feature and it’s shooting photos in RAW DNG format. This basically means that you will get the original photo straight from the camera sensor without any processing from the smartphone processor. This is really incredible and if you are going to edit your shots on a desktop PC, make sure that you set up your camera to shoot RAW in Nokia Camera settings.


On the other hand, you can use apps from the Windows phone store and Nokia’s built in Nokia Creative studio app for editing and still get impressive results. Whatever you do, make sure to spend some time editing your photos. It will really make your photos shine with even just a few basic corrections, and you can also express your creativity with different editing tools.

Extra tip for editing: Keep your eyes open and always try to consider what you can potentially achieve by editing a scene that may not look too attractive at the time, but might look fantastic with a few changes.

Again, here is the example of some creative use of editing. I took this shot from the window of a moving bus, and when I saw this scene it didn’t seem like something beautiful–but I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for and took the shot (at the time Instagram was going crazy for tiny planets and this is the only tiny planet I made). The end result turned out pretty awesome.


4. Light and People

When you are photographing architecture, or any scene in general, try to include people in the scene. It will give your photography a connection with the people that are looking at it. If you include people in your shots, the viewers will always try to imagine themselves in the photo’s scene, which helps to create an amazing connection between the viewer and your shot. Putting people in your shot will also give the viewer perspective and they will have a basic idea how big the scene and the objects you are shooting are.


Light is the basic ingredient of photography, so you should learn to play it. Depending on what you want to achieve, there are specific times of day for different results. For the basics, if you are trying to shoot people, make sure that the light source is behind your back. If you would like to have people displayed as silhouettes, shoot against the light. For bright scenes, always underexpose your shots.

One helpful general tip is that Lumia 1020 doesn’t have a built in ND filter, so always underexpose a bit in daylight so that you don’t end up with burned parts of the image. It will always be easier to extract details from shadows using the Autofix option, or in post-processing if you are shooting in RAW.

The next photo is a mixture of everything I’ve discussed. It has people in it so that the viewer can relate to the place and get the hang of the size of the gate, and the light made it special, so that we have a well-lit front and back plan of the image. The people are silhouettes because of the backlight and the shadows created by the gate.

5. Action shots

One of the amazing features of Nokia Camera is Smart camera. It allows you to do some incredible stuff like remove moving objects and choose the best shot…but I will not go into details here. One of the Smart camera features is its astonishing capability to snap great action shots. In the Nokia camera choose Smart camera mode and just shoot away. Later you will be given an option to choose from multiple modes to do what you want to do with your shot. Basically, it captures a couple of snaps in 3 seconds, and you can later choose to use just one shot or to blend a few shots into one. You can even blur the background to give a feeling of speed to your action shot. The possibilities are endless! Here is my example of an action shot. I chose the best shot option and this is how it turned out.


Great stuff from a man who is clearly loved up with his Lumia. We’ll be showcasing the second lot of Toni’s top 1020 tips sometime soon. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear what you think (and see what photos you’ve taken using Toni’s magic) in the comments below.