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December 8, 2015

Exploring the Great Barrier Reef with National Geographic and the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL

National Geographic photographer and Microsoft Devices Ambassador, Stephen Alvarez, traveled to Australia to explore one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World—the Great Barrier Reef.

Stretching 1,200 miles along the northwest coast of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef is larger than Italy—a daunting subject to photograph. Luckily, the Microsoft Lumia 950 and Microsoft Lumia 950 XL were up to the challenge.

Their advanced imaging hardware and software are designed from the ground up to help you take beautiful and natural photos every time.

These innovative Windows 10 devices feature a rear-facing PureView camera with a 20-megapixel advanced BSI sensor, F1.9 Zeiss optics, triple-LED natural flash, fifth-generation optical image stabilization, ISO12800, 4K video, and a 5-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera.

Read more about the imaging capabilities of the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL here.

Stephen Alvarez photographing Great Barrier Reef

Stephen Alvarez had his work cut out for him, though. The biggest challenge?

Most of the Great Barrier Reef lies underwater, forcing Stephen to create and build a custom waterproof housing for the Lumia 950 (pictured above). This housing (not available for sale) kept the phone dry as he snapped amazing aquatic photos underwater. Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes details in a future post.

For now, here are some highlights from Stephen’s journey to the Great Barrier Reef.

Figure photographed by the view along Australia's coastal Captain Cook highway north of Cairns.
Sunrise silhouette. A glowing band of dawn sun spotlights a lone figure transfixed by the view along Australia’s coastal Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns. Shot with Lumia 950 XL.
A humphead maori wrasse shot with Lumia 950 XL.
A humphead maori wrasse floats above spiny fingers of coral on Moore Reef, Australia. Prized for their meat, they are endangered in most of the world. But in the protected waters of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, they find a safe haven and flourish. Shot with Lumia 950 XL.
Ph.D. student Eric Fisher shot with Lumia 950 XL.
Volunteer citizen scientists aid crucial conservation efforts on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Marine Park’s Eye on the Reef program enlists tourists and tour guides such as Ph.D. student Eric Fisher to monitor and report reef conditions. Shot with Lumia 950 XL.
Fish and coral in Great Barrier Reef shot with Lumia 950.
Colors explode in a realm of crystal clear water, vibrant coral, and dramatically patterned fish off Dumbell Island, Australia. Part of the Great Barrier Reef, this marine oasis lies in the Whitsundays–a 74-island archipelago teeming with underwater energy. Shot with Lumia 950.
Local Australia guide Taylor Simpkins photographed with Lumia 950 XL.
Who wouldn’t be smiling here? Local guide Taylor Simpkins anticipates sunset on Whitehaven Beach. The more than five-mile stretch of perfect white sand and shallow shore fringes Whitsunday Island in the heart of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Shot with Lumia 950 XL.
Whitsunday Peak near Australia's Great Barrier Reef shot with Lumia 950 XL.
A gold ball of fire sinks into the sea, silhouetting Taylor Simpkins on her sunset perch atop Whitsunday Peak. While Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is famed for its underwater splendor, the Whitsunday Islands also provide plenty of grounded grandeur high above the waves. Shot with Lumia 950 XL.

Visit National Geographic’s website to learn more about this assignment to document the Great Barrier Reef.

And follow the Lumia x Nat Geo adventure on Instagram.