Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 50: AT THE CAMEL RACES, DUBAI

When an outsider thinks about the Arabian peninsula, one of the first things that probably comes to mind, are camels often called the ships of the desert. Over my 17 years in Dubai, I've photographed quite a bit at the Al Marmoom Camel race track on the outskirts of Dubai. Hundreds of camel farms can be found around the track, making it perfect for travel/people photography. It is best explored with your own transport (4x4 preferred) as it is a very large area  and not entirely "walkable". 

Camel racing is a national sport and a long time tradition in the UAE. Races are held on different days from October to March and vary from 4km for the young camels to 10km for the larger ones.

Until about 20 years ago, the jockeys were small boys from Pakistan and Bangladesh, which were secured to the saddles with velcro. For obvious reasons human rights stopped this practice and since about two decades remote controlled robots are used instead. 

Last week, while attending one of the morning races, I spend some time at the post-race resting place for the camels. In the frame below I was attracted by a camel head, its shadow and the official Dubai Racing Club symbol on the wall. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with XF35mm f1.4 lens
  • ISO 160, f5.6, 1/1500s
  • SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) jpeg using:
    • Classic Negative
    • Highlights -1, Shadows +1, Sharpness +2, Noise -1\
More info about upcoming races can be found at Dubai Racing Club website. Unfortunately it is not always kept up to date.

An entire gallery with images shot at the Camel Racing grounds can be found here

Remember: "A camel is a horse designed by a committee" 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 49: OSAKA CASTLE - Fujifilm X-Pro 3 Classic Negative

Over the last few weeks, I've been pretty much exclusively shooting the new Fujifilm X-Pro 3 camera; likely the most controversial released camera of 2019! 

In order to spend some intensive time with the new camera, I elected to last week take it on a 3 day trip to Osaka and Kyoto, Japan; the place where it was born. I intend to blog about my experience with the X-Pro 3 before year end but meanwhile wanted to share a few images of the trip in my Pic(k) of the week section.

The first one is one from Osaka Castle, one of the most touristy and overshot places in Japan. The impressive 5 story building which originally dates back to the 16th century has been rebuilt several times; from several  lightning strikes and resulting fires in the mid 17th century to extensive bombing raids at the end of World War II. 

Rather than shooting the building in a pure Architectural way, I wanted to frame it with in a bit of a different way; after all this piece of architecture has been shot to dead! I used a powerful tree as a main frame for the image to show its majesty and used the new Classic Negative Film simulation to make the image. 

Shooting up from a low perspective, yes I used the tilt screen, allowed me to illuminate the thousands of people present at the site. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with XF23mm f2
  • ISO 320, 1/680s, f13
  • SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) using the following settings:
    • Classic Negative Film Simulation
    • Highlights -2, Shadows +1, Color 0, Nose reduction -1
    • Color Chrome FX Blue, Strong, Clarity +3 
Using the new Clarity setting in the X-Pro3, does slow down the image processing a bit. I therefore only apply it when I see an image that can benefit from it and do it post-shooting in camera. I pretty much exclusively shot Classic Negative on my Japan trip; love the "film look" of this new Film simulation, especially in a place like Japan where one tends to find some real life pretty strange colors to start with!

Remember: "Tell your customers what they need, well before they realize it themselves" - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 48: A380 and AL FURSAN FORMATION - Dubai Airshow

The Dubai Airshow, the regions largest Aviation trade-show has just come to an end again. The five day event is a held every two years (odd years) at the DWC, also known as Al Maktoum airport outside Dubai.

This year, 1288 exhibitors were present, with 161 aircraft in static display while the show attracted more than 84000 trade visitors; the shows busiest to date. The order book on site reached 54.5 Billion USD by close of business on the last day.

As a yearly tradition there was a formation of aircraft to open the show on day 1; but what a formation... With more than 25 aircraft, the flypast started with pairs of three different military helicopters, followed by an Emirates A380 in formation with the UAE military formation team Al Fursan. Thereafter was a UAE Airbus A330 MRT (Multi Role Tanker) with some F-16's and a C-17 with Mirage 2000's. Impressive to see all pass overhead in the span of a couple of minutes. 

While I attended the show as part of the Aviation media, I also shot some images on day 0; the rehearsal day just before the show. The image below of the A380 with Al Fursan, I particularly like, as it looks like it is shot in an air to air shoot. Needless to say that the dramatic clouds in the background made for an interesting add-on. 

Image details:

  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 2000, f11, 1/400s, 183mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom Classic
  • DxO Color efex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
  • DxO Define for minimal noise reduction
The image was added to my Aviation Portfolio, a small collection of my best Aviation work which can be found here

More of the Dubai Airshow 2019 work can be found in its dedicated gallery. here

For those that are wondering, what gear I took to the show; I used my Fujifilm X-T3 (with battery grip) with the XF100-400 and an X-Pro3 with the XF18-135. This combo proved to be perfect for the job while keeping the weight down. 

"When everything is going against you, remember that aircraft take-off against the wind, not with it" - Henry Ford

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


As a natural harbour, the Dubai Creek was historically a busy regional hub for trade, fishing and pearling. This is where it all began...  

The end of the Creek is the location of one of Dubai's latest large scale developments, called "Dubai Creek Harbour"; a residential area overlooking the Creek and the neighboring Ras al Khor Wildlife sanctuary, known for its flamingos. It is also the place where the worlds highest "tower" (non-residential)  designed by Spanish architect Calatrava will be built; supposed to surpass the 820m Burj Khalifa.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the part that is open to the public as of now. The art work of three flamingos against the Dubai skyline in the west, begs to be photographed. I shot quite a few different frames and allowed people to vote on social media for this weeks Pic(k) of the week!

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF50-140 f2.8
  • ISO 1600, f13, 1/120s, 63mm (handheld)
  • RAW development in Lightroom using Velvia Camera profile
  • Photoshop 2020 for minor clean up of disturbing subjects
Check out my Instagram account for more shots at Dubai Creek Harbour.  

Remember: "In Dubai we don't wait for things to happen. We make them happen" - H.H. Sheik Mohammed Al Maktoum - Ruler of Dubai

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


The launch of the new Fujfilm X-Pro 3 has been controversial with quite a few people being very opinionated about the new "hidden LCD" screen at the back of the X-Pro 3. I personally always refrain from commenting on new camera gear until I've had hands-on experience!

I shot the new X-Pro 3 for a week but unfortunately had to return it earlier than expected to the fine guys of Fujifilm Middle-East. I do however a second copy in the coming days and will eventually blog about my experience with the new camera somewhere in December. Meanwhile a few words below as part of this weeks Pic(k) of the week. 

I've never been a full time X-Pro user, but have always enjoyed using the Range Finder like X-series. The newer Processor and sensor brings image quality and autofocus in line with the present X-T3; in some aspects even better, but there is much more. When it comes to "developing the in-camera jpegs" there are new options to fine-tune the image and then there is the new "Classic Negative" Film simulation which works great for Colour Street photography. If you like Classic Chrome, you'll love this one! Not sure why Fujifilm just didn't call it Superia, since it clearly simulates this type of film. A good explanation by Fujifilm about Classic Negative, can be found here.

And then there is the LCD screen or the lack of it should I say. In to avoid  "chimping" (looking at the images you took on the LCD), Fujifilm has decided to flip the screen around facing the back of the camera. According to Fujifilm in the interest of going back to "pure photography" and in order to avoid "chimping" (slang for reviewing images on the LCD straight after shooting). There is a mini display at the back displaying the common cameras settings or the selected Film Simulation.

If you want do some more involved menu changes or can't resist reviewing the  images, the LCD does however hinge at the bottom displaying the LCD below the camera. The flip down LCD screen also works great for shooting from the hip, something I often do for my candid photography in more sensitive areas.

Back to my Pic(k) of the week, shot while hunting the streets of Deira, in the old part of Dubai. Yes, I know. I do have a sweet spot for those Afghani bakeries. Maybe because I'm the son of a baker myself? 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with XF23mm f2 lens
  • ISO 6400, 1/100s, f 9
  • Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) using the new Classic Negative film simulation
Two other things stood out while using the X-Pro 3 for the first time. The X-Pro 3 EVF (Electronic View Finder) is a lot better than its predecessor X-Pro 2. 

Secondly the Custom settings of this camera now store all of the menu settings like it should have been since day one on all X-series. While before Custom settings were limited to IQ (image Quality) settings only, one can now save all of the AF/MF settings, Shooting settings and some of the Set up menus like screen set-up etc... A great addition which is hopefully going to come to the other cameras like the X-T3, X-T30!

The new X-Pro 3 is clearly not for everybody, nor is it meant to be. Don't forget that there are plenty of other great Fujifilm (and other brands) cameras around. Pick what you like best and most importantly, make some great images!

Lastly, remember: "Less is more" - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe