Say goodbye to your DSLR cameras and hello to the new Lumia smartphone range thanks to Microsoft Devices.
We had the absolute honour of heading to Cape Town, South Africa, to capture the beautiful colours of the city through the lens of Lumia smartphones. On this amazing trip, we were also joined by the regional Microsoft team as well as selected press from Dubai (team DXB!!), Egypt, Lebanon, Kenya, Morocco, India and Pakistan.
We also had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and work with award-winning National Geographic photographer, Stephen Alvarez, who would later empower us with the best in mobile imaging, techniques and inspiration.
All the photos used throughout this article were taken by my Lumia 930 smartphone with no editing, cropping or alteration made unless stated.
Departing Dubai at 4am, the entire Dubai team slept the whole 8-hour flight. Well I know I did. We arrived in Cape Town at around noon, where we were welcomed by our drivers as well as a couple of the Northern African press members. Here we were quick to introduce ourselves to one another, as we would be roaming around Cape Town with for the next couple of days together.
After hopping onto the bus and buckling up, we were off to our waterfront hotel, Radisson Blu. Once we had all checked in, we devoured a buffet lunch menu and were ready to fall into food comas by the time we were done. By the time we wrapped up lunch, our rooms were finally ready.
I am quite near, right?
We all attended to our rooms and regrouped back in the lobby for the handing over of the Lumia smartphones as well as a quick brief-up by Tarek Zaki from Microsoft. I was lucky enough to get ahold of the Lumia 930 (as opposed to the 830, which is smaller in size), which would become my new best friend over the course of the incredible three day adventure ahead.
With my new Lumia 930 safe and sound, I dozed off for a couple of hours before heading off to dinner at one of the most popular restaurants in Cape Town, Bombay Bicycle Club. The restaurant had everything from swinging dinning chairs to voodoo dolls as well as hundreds of frames, books and cages placed around the room. I absolutely loved it! Here we had the opportunity to mingle with everyone on a more personal level and share stories, jokes and advice. It went from a very rigid night to a hilarious one after multiple rounds of beverages and a three-course meal.
Here I utilised the Lumia Selfie application to capture a group photo at dinner.
Our first proper morning in Cape Town kicked off with a great breakfast at the V&A Aquarium, where Tariq took us through a more in-depth briefing of the phones and their camera capabilities, qualities, applications and use. Here we were accompanied by thousands of sea creatures swimming through the aquarium tank.
Tarek Zaki asked that we then download three applications: Lumia Selfie, Cinemagraph and Panorama. He then went through each application and how to make the most of its features. Along with the applications, Tarek took use through the incredible system behind the Lumia camera itself. Replicating all the features you would normally find in a D-SRL camera, you are able to adjust everything from the ISO and shutter speed levels, as well as being able to adjust the brightness of the images while it is being captured. Simply incredible.
We then split into two groups and took turns at the two different activities planned for us that morning. The first activity was a helicopter ride around Cape Town, where we would be presented with aerial views of luscious greenery, mountain range and crystal clear waters. Here I snapped two of my favourite photos of the whole trip using my Lumia 930 camera.
Once we were done from our breathtaking helicopter ride, we all met for lunch at Quay 4 on the Waterfront. Finally a steakhouse. After hearing so many positive things about South Africa’s meat, I just couldn’t wait to begin tearing into one. Once lunch was over, I was ready to fall into another food coma, however we needed to kick on as we would be heading up to Table Mountain for spectacular views.
We finished off an eventful day with an amazing dinner at the Grand Cafe, which was located right on the beach. All fourty of us sat on a huge communal table, where we dug into spicy prawns, wood fire pizza and endless amounts of salad. Along with a couple beverages of course.
Once dinner was done, we were all so exhausted from the mountain trekking that we all decided to head back to the hotel and call it a night.
We were up bright and early for breakfast at the hotel’s conference room, where the Stephen Alvarez would be presenting to us. He spoke about his adrenaline-packed adventures all over the world in search of the perfect shot and what to keep an eye out for when doing so. But something that he said that really stuck with me, was: “the best camera on earth is the one that’s in your hand when you take that picture“. Here, he emphasises that you do not have to be a professional photographer, nor are you required to have a professional camera to take a great photograph.
Once the briefing was done, we all hopped onto a bus and were off to Well Street in Bo-Kaap. Here, I was absolutely amazed by the scenery of colourful houses side by side scattered throughout multiple streets. Colour, colour and more colour. It was simply amazing.
After snapping a few photos, we were back onto the bus and off to a stunning lookout of Clifton Bay. Here I managed to snap three photos: scenery, our amazing Microsoft Comms Manager Hussan (from team DXB of course!) and a selfie of course, of both my Nike kicks and I with the stunning background.
Being dragging back onto the bus by Hassan due to my photo-frenzy snapping, we were off to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, where we would have a delicious organic picnic with the entire team surrounded by greenery and wildlife. Then there was me being my usual clown self.
Now that lunch was over, I had the chance to play around with a few of the Lumia camera features, such as the amazing focusing capabilities. With Stephen Alvarez’s voice echoing through my mind, I snapped this cool photo.
Other than the camera’s astonishing focusing abilities, I wanted to showcase the useful editing capabilities built into all Lumia smartphones. The first image above is the original photo I captured, while the second image has been edited in terms of brightness, contrast and saturation levels. The editing capabilities allow you to bring our certain colours in the photo, making it more appealing.
After a wonderful time exploring the Botanican Gardens, we were back onto the bus and off to the renowned Tokara Wine Estate for an epic dinner and wine tasting experience. South Africa is known for its grape, so this would soon be one of the highlights of my trip.
Having arrived earlier than expected, Jordan and I wondered through the vineyard and captured some amazing photos of the vegetation covering the mountains.
Midway through our delicious dinner, the awards ceremony was underway for the best Cinemagraph, selfie and Stephen Alvarez styled photo captured during our time in Cape Town. Unfortunately, my amazing images did not take out any first place positions. I do however, have images that will last me a lifetime. That to me, is a prize on its own!
An hour and a half bus ride back to the hotel and not a single sound was made during the entire trip. Exhausted was an understatement.
Sadly, our fourth day in Cape Town was our final day. Nothing much was planned for today except hours of free time to explore Cape Town on our own. Jacob and I decided to make the most of our final day in Cape Town by visiting Saint James beach. Here, we were presented with over twenty coloured wooden sheds along the coastline. It was simple amazing.
Here is my favourite image captured using the Lumia Panoramic application:
All in all, my trip to Cape Town was a trip to remember. From all the amazing people I had the honour of meeting, to being introduced and working alongside the legendary Stephen Alvarez, my #LumiaCapeTown trip was outstanding.
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