You Won't Believe These Pics Were Shot on a Phone

See incredible images captured by a mobile phone camera by travel and adventure photographers.
By Alison Mann

Mobile phone cameras have given everyone the chance to capture images whenever they please. While the quality of the cameras keeps advancing, it still takes talent and expertise to capture truly amazing images, whether you're using a smartphone or a top-of-the-range DSLR.

Red Bull Illume, the action and adventure sports photography contest, has officially kicked off for 2016, this time with a new mobile category. To get hyped up for the breathtaking imagery to come, take a look at these top mobile shots below, from kayaking in Canada to ice-climbing in Norway. Can you believe they were shot on a phone?

Climbing at the Arctic Circle shot by Ray Demski during a project for Nokia Lumia
Climbing at the Arctic Circle © 2012 Nokia Corporation/Ray Demski

Ice-climbing expertise

Who: Ray Demski
Equipment: Nokia Lumia 1020

Ray Demski dreamt of shooting the Aurora Borealis and enlisted his friend and climber Alex Luger to join the project. The pair headed to Lyngen, Norway, inside the Arctic Circle. During the two-week trip they waited several nights for the aurora in -31F temperatures. He used the Lumia to take pictures during daylight and sundown. “I’m stoked with the final images," Demski said, "and very grateful to the awesome team that realized the adventure.”

Hiking to Trolltunga, Norway is the image taken by Atle Ronningen on iphone 6
Hiking to Trolltunga, Norway © Atle Rønningen

The atmospheric hike

Who: Atle Rønningen
Equipment: iPhone 6 and VSCO Cam

“Hiking to Trolltunga (translated as Troll's Tongue) in Norway has been on my list for a while," said Rønningen. "After [almost 7 miles], five hours and about 30,000 steps I stacked myself out on the tip to enjoy the view. I like the picture because it is a good memory, and for myself a prize for demanding effort. The landscape is incredibly beautiful and gives a sense of scale.”

John Burcham views Pomori Base Camp from the summit of Kala Patthar, Nepal.
Pomori Base Camp from the summit of Kala Patthar © Stephen Alvarez

Reaching Everest

Who: Stephen Alvarez
Equipment: Nokia Lumia 1520

National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez embarked on a mission to photograph the Natural Wonders of the World, all on a mobile phone. This shot was taken from the summit of Kala Patthar in Nepal. "This was a long, cold, miserable day punctuated with brief moments of intense beauty," Alvarez says of the day the photograph was taken. "It all started well at about 6:30 a.m. as we left for Kala Patthar under a clear sky, following large groups of people."

Alvarez also offered a tip for aspiring photographers: “A person in your landscape gives a sense of scale, and gives the viewer someone to identify with.”

A mountain with paraglider taken on iphone by Austin Mann
Always keep your phone battery charged © Austin Mann Photography

Spot the paraglider

Who: Austin Mann
Equipment: iPhone 6S

This photo was taken in Switzerland. “After spending weeks trekking around the Lauterbrunnen Valley you begin to feel you know it, but paragliding brings a whole new perspective and appreciation for this very special pocket in the Swiss Alps," Mann says of the shot. "Home to some of the world's top paragliders and BASE jumpers, it was an honor to brush shoulders with this rich culture of extreme adventurers.” Mann also shot a video during the trip.

Tony Hoare and Joe Nodeland sea kayaking in the White Cliff Islands in the Queen Charlotte Sound near Telegraph Cove, Canada.
Sea kayaking in the White Cliff Islands, Canada © Michael Clark/Red Bull Photography

Catching kayaks

Who: Michael Clark
Equipment: Nokia Lumia 930

Michael Clark captured this image during a sea kayaking voyage to Vancouver Island. “While shooting for Red Bull Photography and Nokia on an assignment last year, I had the chance to shoot with the Nokia 930 mobile phone, which can shoot 20MP raw image files and also 4K video," Clark says. "For this shot of Joe Nodel and Tony Hoare, we had them sea kayaking between two small islands right at sunset to create a warm/cool effect with the colors. Focusing the camera was as simple as touching the screen and we shot several passes with them going away from the camera and toward the camera. Having the ability to process the raw image file afterwards was a huge bonus for the final image. I don’t shoot seriously with a mobile phone that often but I have to say that this is the best image I have ever shot with a mobile.”

See more on the Red Bull Illume site.

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