Skip to main content
July 15, 2015

Video: Traveling light with Stephen Alvarez and Lumia

Take a closer look: National Geographic photographer and Microsoft Devices Ambassador Stephen Alvarez used Microsoft devices such as the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL and Surface Pro 3 to capture his once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Paricutin volcano and the Mexico’s Ring of Fire.

Not so long ago, Stephen would have hauled backbreaking loads of expensive camera equipment up mountains and over dusty roads to capture breathtaking natural wonders of the world such as the Grand Canyon and Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.

Now, he can fit just about everything he needs in a backpack. On his recent 10-day trip to Mexico’s Ring of Fire, one of the most volcanically active places on earth, Stephen brought a Lumia 640, a Lumia 640 XL, a Surface Pro 3, and a Microsoft Band to make and save images, plan the trip and track physical activity–on the go.

And OneNote and OneDrive—essential digital tools to securely store photos, take notes and more– took no room at all.


In fact, there was plenty of space left in his luggage to haul other necessary equipment such as an ice ax, first aid kit, and stove.

Traveling light was key for Stephen as he navigated often inhospitable environmental conditions such as slippery black ice and frigid temperatures at 16,000 feet above sea level. His tenacity was worth it. How else can you capture photos such as this?


As you can see, the durability and ergonomic design of Lumia smartphones and other Microsoft devices make them hardy enough for adventure-seekers such as Stephen.

“Hard climbing days like this really make me appreciate shooting with a Lumia smartphone instead of lugging heavy camera equipment,” he wrote on his Surface Pro 3 using OneNote.

“The detail and quality I’m getting from my Lumia 640 XL is unreal. These devices just keep getting better and better,” he said in another journal entry.


Stephen also put the Microsoft Band through its paces. For example, he used the Band to track his ascent and descent of the steep Paricutin volcano, whose peak lies at 9,200 feet.

“Pretty interesting results,” he wrote later. “More than 40 minutes to go up … and two-and-a-half minutes to come down! Descending is a blast. We ran down the 45-degree slope as fast as we could, feet sinking into the soft volcanic scree, and giant rooster tails of dust flying behind.”


“An expedition like this depends on being at the right place at the right time to catch the best light, all while covering big distances,” he wrote.

“So having technology that let me get everything done while I stayed on the move was a huge plus.”

Have you used Lumia, Surface, and other Microsoft devices and apps to capture your travels? Let us know!

See more images from the Mexico assignment and read Stephen’s travel journal here.

And don’t forget to follow the Lumia x Nat Geo adventure on Instagram!