Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 47: A wide view on Dubai Marina

When I first arrived in Dubai early 2002, "Dubai Marina" was non-existent. The project of building the Worlds largest man-made marina had been announced and the digging of the vast U-shaped excavation had just started, but the only buildings were a few of the original beachfront hotels. Some of them like the Hilton, Ritz Carlton and Sheraton, can still be seen in the foreground of the image below, while others like the Oasis Beach hotel had to make place for newer buildings.

Over the last 12 years, Dubai Marina has become a city within a city; accommodating more than 100.000 people, this concrete jungle, consists of more than 200 high-rise buildings with a large selection of hotels and hundreds of restaurants. 

The 414m (1358ft) Princess Tower (highest on the left), was the worlds tallest residential building until it has been overtaken by the 426m  (1397ft) "432 Park Avenue" building in New York city last month

The panorama of the Dubai Marina skyline, was made from the Palm Jumeirah; a man-made island in the form of a Palm tree of the Dubai shoreline.

Dubai Marina - panorama

I like to invite the readers to click on the image in order to do it justice and view it at its full size. The amount of detail in this almost 20.000 pixel wide image, is quite astonishing! In order to avoid loosing too much space after stitching, the panorama was shot in a vertical orientation and consists of 11 images.

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF18-55 Fujinon lens
Mounted on a MeFoto tripod using the BH30 from Really Right Stuff 
ISO 200, 55mm (83mm full frame equivalent), f13, 4sec
RAW images stitched using Photoshop CC 2014
Lightroom 5.6 for further image editing

Remember: "Memory is the fourth dimension to any landscape" - Janet Fitch

Happy shooting,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

FUJIFILM X-photographer goes to MYANMAR (BURMA)

Tomorrow, I'll be leaving on my next photo-adventure; a two week trip to Myanmar, former Burma. Since I already received a few emails asking what I'll take on the trip, I elected to do a quick; "what's in the camera bag?" blogpost.

First, apologies for the low quality of the images below... There is only so much one can do with an iPhone 5!

The two week trip will be mainly about people and general travel photography; starting at Yangoon we will be visiting Mandalay, Monywa, Bagan, Kalaw and Inle Lake.   

So what am I taking to Burma?
  • Fujifilm X-T1 with the VG-XT1 battery grip as my main camera body
  • Fujifilm X-E1 as my backup and secondary camera body
  • Fujinon XF 50-140mm 2.8 lens pre-production sample
  • Fujinon XF 18-55mm lens
  • Fujinon XF 10-24mm f4 lens
  • Fujinon XF 14mm 2.8 lens (might be left behind, still debating)
  • Fujinon 23mm 2.8 lens
  • MHG-XT grip  for X-T1 (to be used as a camera plate, when shooting on a tripod)
  • Polariser filters (58mm and 72mm)
  • 10 stop ND filter (58mm and 72mm)
  • MeFoto Roadtrip tripod with RRS BH-30 ballhead
  • Gorillapod SLR zoom with MeFoto ballhead
  • EF-X8 mini flash for X-T1
  • Remote release Hongdak RS-60E3
  • Giotto Rocket blower
  • Arctic butterfly 724 sensor brush
  • 4 extra NP-W126 Fujifilm batteries 
  • 2 Fujifilm battery chargers
  • 1TB WD My passport external hard drive 
  • 4 SD cards (1x16Gb, 2x32GB and 1x64GB), all Sandisk class 10
  • Macbook Pro Retina 15inch with Lightroom, Photoshop and all Nik Software plugins

All the gear except for the tripod and computer, fits nicely in my Thinktank StreetWalker Pro and weights exactly what is allowed for my domestic flights inside Myanmar; 7kg! What a difference compared to my travels prior to the switch from Nikon to Fujifilm; 15 to 17kg with only one camera body were no exception in those days! 

After my last photo-adventure to New Zealand, this is the second trip where I'll travel exclusively with lightweight Fujifilm gear. 

I'll be testing the brand-new Fujinon XF 50-140 2.8 weather sealed lens on the trip. Because of the limited (if any) internet access in Myanmar, I won't be able to post a lot of images during the trip, but expect a full review on the lens and trip-report by the end of this month!

"When you travel remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable, it is designed to make its own people comfortable" - Clifton Fadiman

Happy shooting,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 46: Baking bread in Deira, Dubai

Last Friday, I spend the Friday morning out in Deira, nestled along the East side of the Creek, this old part of Dubai is perfect of Street Photography. Some of you might not be aware, but Friday in the UAE (and the rest of the region) is pretty much the same as a Sunday in the Western world; it is a day off work for most people.

While strolling through the narrow streets of Deira, I normally don't have a specific goal in mind; trying to get lost on purpose is not uncommon and easy to do!

Leaving the camera bag at home and going out with single camera and lens is definitively the the way to go if you want to easily blend in with all the people around you. Even though most don't realise shops only open up after lunchtime on Fridays, there is always a fair amount of tourists wandering around Deira; people in search for the real Dubai... Even though I do my best not to look and act like one, I applaud that they come to this part of Dubai. It is a nice change from wandering around the many large shopping malls and staying in a great 4 or 5 star hotel!

Around noon, I stopped at a local bakery and bought some Pakistani Naan bread; after having paid one dirham (quarter of US dollar/Euro) to the vendor, I asked if I could make a few photos of the guys baking the bread. The image I liked the most is the one below; typical for people of this part of the world, they often tend to look very serious when their picture is being made... 

Pakistani Bakery, Deira - Dubai

Image details:
Fujfilm X-T1 with the XF18-55 Fujinon kit-lens
ISO 2500, 18mm (27mm full frame equivalent), f11, 1/20s
RAW development in Lightroom 5.6
Nik ColorEfex Pro for contrast adjustment

End of this week, I'm leaving for a two week for an exciting photo-adventure to Burma/Myanmar. As I probably will not have an internet connection while travelling, I've scheduled a few Pic(k) of the weeks over the coming two weeks. Needless to say, that a full report on my travels to this beautiful Southeast Asian country, will follow somewhere around the end of the month!

Remember: "All the technique in the world, does not compensate for the inability to notice" - Elliott Erwitt 

Happy shooting,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 45: Millennium bridge & St Paul's cathedral

It's probably fair to say, I'm pretty familiar with most major capitals around the world; yes, I haven't been to Canberra (Australia) or Ottowa (Canada)!

Even though, I've been to the capital of the United Kingdom multiple times, London is a city I really don't know that well. Until a few days ago, I didn't even have a dedicated London gallery on the Travel part of my website. Well, that has changed now; here it is!

On my recent visit to London last week, I concentrated on photographing the "new City" on the south bank of the river Thames, between the Blackfriars and Tower bridge. There is some very interesting modern Architecture in this part of the capital! 

Having said that, I was especially interested in the newest of the many bridges over the Thames; "The Millennium bridge", a 325m pedestrian bridge, which first opened on June 10th 2000, to be closed only two days later! 

The natural sway motion of people walking, caused small sideways oscillations, which in turn caused the people to sway in step making the problem even worse. In the end the design office Arup, needed 18 Months to sort out the resonance problem by installing additional damping. Getting rid of its nickname "The Wobbly bridge" was not easy, but I checked it out and it feels pretty stable to me!

One of the best places to photograph the Millennium bridge is from the Southbank, with the St Paul's cathedral in the background. The image below was shot just after sunset on a beautiful Autumn day. I was somewhat disappointed in the weak lighting of the bridge which didn't really stand out until it got dark completely.

St Paul's and Millennium bridge (West side)

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF18-55 Fujinon lens
ISO 200, f11, 53mm (79mm full frame equivalent)
Exposure bracketing, 7 shots between 1/2s and 27s
Merge to 32 bit file in HDR Pro in Photoshop 2014 CC
Development of 32 bit file in Lightroom 5.6
Nik ColorEfex Pro for final contrast adjustment

I remain astonished how sharp the XF 18-55 "kittens" is. Together with the great sharpness of the X-Trans II sensor of the X-T1, it delivers a quality image!

I've recently changed my sharpness import settings for Fujifilm RAW files to what Pete Bridgwood explained in his blogpost here. If you are shooting on a X-Trans Fujifilm sensor, make sure you check it out!  

Remember: "What makes photography a strange invention, is that its primary raw materials are light and time" - John Berger

Happy shooting,

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pic(k) of the week 44: Desert Spaceship - Dubai Silicon Oasis HQ

For my personal Architectural work, I've always been a big fan of Black and White, high contrast images. Now that the Summer is finally over in Dubai, it is a perfect time to go out there and "make" some images!

This is exactly what I did a few days ago while wondering around Business Bay just before sunset. Often referred to as the "Blue Hour", about 15 to 20 minutes before sunrise and after sunset, this is the perfect time for Architectural photography.

Even though the "blue light" is not directly visible in the Black and White conversion below, it gives the image the high contrast look, I was aiming for! In case you are wondering, the building below is the HQ at Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO); a "Free zone" promoting modern based technology companies, obviously inspired by Silicon Valley in Northern California.

As I happen to live just around the corner, this odd shaped building has been given different nicknames by the community such as "The Batman building", "Pineapple building", etc... Personally, as the DSO site has been built on the edge of the desert, I'm calling it our "Desert Spaceship".

Desert Spaceship, Dubai Silicon Oasis

Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon 10-24 f 4 lens
ISO200, 19mm (29mm full frame equivalent), f4
Exposure bracketing -3/+3, shutter speeds between 1/3s and 27s
Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop 2014 CC to 32 bit file
Lightroom 5.6 to develop 32 bit file
Nik Software SilverEfex Pro for black and white conversion 

Recently, I bought an eBook written by two Architectural Black and White photography gurus; Joel Tjintjelaar and Anna Gospodarou. Titled "From Basics to Fine Art", this 424 page eBook is not cheap but is full of inspiration and editing techniques. Highly recommended if you want to dive deeper into the world of Fine Art Black and White photography.

Remember: "Life is not Black and White; it's a million grey areas" - Ridley Scott

Happy shooting,