Samsung’s Life’s a photo Berlin challenge
Is it possible to photograph a historic city in a day? On our Fairy Tale trip to Germany I joined forty nine other euro bloggers to see if we could take and share a snapshot of Berlin, said to be one of Europe’s most photogenic cities. With temperatures reaching minus ten and only one afternoon to get around up to ten locations, it took stamina, warm gloves and a Samsung Galaxy camera designed for sharing…
A pan European blog fest
Fifty bloggers from four different countries have gathered in a Berlin city centre restaurant. They clearly have very different interests and dress sense. In one corner there are the UK fashionistas – the ultra coordinated style bloggers in this season’s uniform of fur coats and hats, despite the fact we are indoors. In another corner the tech heads; a group of male German technology bloggers, all tapping away on their phones. Then there are the Italians – looking equally comfortable with the technology, the clothes and the pink champagne. And tucked somewhere between them are the Mummy bloggers. Just the two of us in very sensible shoes.
A snapshot of Europe’s ‘most photogenic city’
These unlikely bedfellows have been brought together by Samsung, in a challenge to take and share a snapshot of Berlin after a public Facebook poll voted the city the most photogenic, ahead of other European capitals. So here we are, for one day only; testing out the truth of that claim, as well as the new Samsung Galaxy camera. It’s the coldest day I have ever experienced outside of a ski resort so thankfully buses have been laid on to take us to a variety of locations. I’m hoping at least some of them are indoors.
The challenge begins
The cameras are handed out and it’s a mad scramble to upload apps, download drop boxes and get ahead of the others. It’s good to get my hands on one, I’d only ever seen it on TV. And in ten minutes I’ve got to use it in a competition. Did I mention that? The geeks of course have the advantage, but even they must be worried about the women in the fur coats. Berlin is after all a very stylish city.
We’re now all online and everyone starts taking practice shots. There’s an unlikely moment where forty nine bloggers are taking a photo of their shoes. So I take a photo of my shoes. Then as lunch is handed out, forty nine bloggers take a photo of their dinner. So I take a photo of my chicken nugget on a spoon.
Then I follow the pack as they snap the restaurant lampshades and move outside to capture the TV tower outside the restaurant. There is a group shot, where a row of paparazzi take a photo of a row of bloggers taking a photo of them back. All using the same brand of camera. It’s like a Samsung groupie’s wet dream.
The race is on
Then they’re off, racing around the city. The Brits, in two luxury minibuses are starting with art, at Schwarzenberg Haus culture centre; a street lined with galleries and studios. It certainly has a better quality of graffiti than other cities…
In Berlin, wall art is king. Our second stop is a 360 degree panorama of The Wall by the artist Asisi. The art is wrapped round the inside of a steel rotunda near Checkpoint Charlie and depicts life before the fall of The Wall.
Then we snuggle into our fur coats (well some of us do) for a visit to the Brandenburg Gate. “The what?” asks one of the fashion bloggers who is too young to have watched the Berlin Wall coming down and probably didn’t have time to read a guidebook on the two hour flight over.
We move on but stay outside for a random wander to pick up interesting shots.
Find the story and publish the shot
We have had roughly ten minutes in each location. Five minutes to find the story and five minutes to take the shot and share it with our followers. It’s a testament to this smart android gadget that all my photos are in focus, and in the dim light of the interiors none of the subjects are blurred. This is definitely the Mummy blogger’s camera; I managed to multi task for a whole afternoon, bundling in and out of the bus, keeping in contact with my family on the other side of the city, uploading several of the pics onto Twitter and Instagram with a quick touch of the screen and finishing off that delicious chicken nugget on the run.
I make the most of having it to myself as I know I’ll have to wrestle it off the kids for the rest of the weekend; they covet anything that gets them online quickly, especially a camera that looks like a phone, works on wifi or 3G, and can download e mails, take video and play music. They’ll also enjoy bagging a macro shot or a perfect silhouette, without messing around with aperture or shutter speed. For me it will replace using a smartphone to take photos. Although it does leave me wondering why Samsung didn’t go the whole hog and enable me to make calls on it.
If there’s one downside to this camera, it lies in the battery power. Like a harassed parent, the Galaxy is trying to do so much that it is exhausted in just a few hours. Whenever I take it out of sleep mode, the motor pops the lens out and this seems to me the biggest waste of battery if all I want to do is check my e mails or tweet. When we finish up the day in one of Berlin’s atmospheric cabaret halls, my battery dies. I can’t get that winning shot. But then neither can a lot of the Brits, who lost power somewhere short of the Brandenberg Gate.
Later the photos are all shown at Samsung’s new Berlin installation, The Cube. But I can’t attend as I’m meeting the kids. They need feeding and we have a cabaret to attend. In any case, I haven’t got the right shoes. The fashion bloggers have probably managed to pick up some heels while they were snapping in the city. But I’m later told that at the showcase, I won a prize for this photo, taken using the light mode.
So is it possible to take a snapshot of a city in a day? Judge for yourself by checking out #lifesaphoto or taking a look at some of the best (including mine!) on the Samsung Tumblr.
Disclosure Note: Our thanks to Samsung for inviting us to participate, for hosting the day and providing the kit to use.