Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 5: YEAR OF ZAYED - 100th birth year of UAE founder

For the UAE, 2018 is the "Year of Zayed"; the late Sheik Zayed bib Sultan Al Nahyan, is the founding father of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Although it is unclear when exactly he was born, it is generally accepted to be in 1918; 100th years ago! 

When I arrived in Dubai in the summer of 2002, he was still in charge of the country. His strong leadership and commitment to make a federation in 1971, is often looked at as what makes the UAE rather unique in the region. 

Rather than dwelling about differences and rivalries between Arab nations, he was known to concentrate on building and strengthening international relationships. A role which he maintained till his passing in 2004.

The image below shows two strong leaders; the late Sheik Zayed on the right with Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the visionary leader of Dubai, on his side. 

I particularly like how the single leading line in the frame, draws the attention to Sheik Zayed; a symbol how the country has developed in its short 46 year history. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm GFX 50S with the GF 32-64mm f4 lens
  • ISO 100, 4sec, f16, 32mm
  • Lightroom CC for RAW development
  • 1 underexposed image was used to blend in some of the highlights, using Photoshop CC 
  • Nik ColorEfex pro 4 with gradient and Pro Contrast filters applied
The highest building on the right (gold/yellow coloured) is the soon to open, Gevora hotel; with its 356m, the latest worlds tallest hotel. It is taking that record away from the JW Marquise (also in Dubai); just one meter smaller. 

Emirates airline has a few aircraft flying around in Year of Zayed liveries. Two of them I photographed while flying a unique formation for the opening of the 2017 airshow. Click here for more.

Remember: "The woman is half of society. Any country which pursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy" - Sheik Zayed  


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 4: EK SUNSET - DUBAI CREEK HARBOUR

One of my favorite places to shoot the Dubai skyline at sunset, is from the grounds of the new Dubai Creek Harbor project; a new waterfront property project on the southeastern shore of the Creek. 

Since the Dubai Creek Harbour sign has been overshot, I wanted to be more creative with my framing and only use a few letters of it... While experimenting with some other combinations, the logic choice for me was "EK", the two letters which stand for Emirates Airline and which has become a brand name on its own.

Image details:

  • Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 50-140 f2.8 lens
  • ISO 1250, f11, 1/400s, 80mm (120mm full frame equivalent)
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • Photoshop CC to clone out a few distracting elements
More of my Architectural work from Dubai, can be found here.

Remember: "A good photograph starts by knowing where to stand" - Ansel Adams.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 3: MEN AT WORK - Street Photography in Deira, Dubai

Blog-readers have probably noticed that Street Photography has become more and more important in my personal photography! Those really paying attention might even have picked up on the fact that I moved "Street Photography" to the top in my gallery section of the website. 

Although I try to do as much Street photography during my travels around the world, I'm still hunting the streets of my home city Dubai on a very regular basis. One of my favorite areas is what some people refer to as the "Old Dubai"; centered around Dubai Creek, both Deira and Bur Dubai show a part of Dubai which some visitors unfortunately never get to see. 

In my ongoing "Life at the Creek" series, I've been documenting these areas for more than 10 years. 

The image below, shot earlier this week, shows a Men at Work sign with some advertising on the side. It almost gives the image a surrealistic look but what makes it really interesting to me is the shadow of a female passing by. 

Life at the Creek

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF35mm f2 lens
  • ISO 640, 1/320s, f5
  • Lightroom CC for RAW development, using the Classic Chrome Camera profile
While my favorite Street Photography lenses is without a doubt the 23mm f2 lens, I do enjoy shooting the other f2 "Fujicron" lenses like the 35mm I used here! 

Prime lenses are definitively the way to go when hunting the streets for great moments; last thing one wants is having to zoom when a scene develops. People not used to prime lens shooting, you'll surprised how quickly you learn to "see" in the specific focal length used on the camera. It all happens in the subconscious mind and makes grabbing a fleeting moment much faster!

While Saul Leiter has been an inspiration to me for several years, I recently re-discovered the colour work of Ernst Haas in his "Color Correction" book. 

To check out more of my own Color Street Photography work, click here 

Remember: "The most important lens you have is your legs" - Ernst Haas 


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 2: A WHITE BIG APPLE - New York winter shooting with Fujifilm X-T2

New York, often nicknamed the Big Apple, is definitively in my Top 3 of  the "Best cities for Street Photography"; always fighting for the top with Tokyo!

My first visit 2018 to the Big Apple (as an airline pilot) was planned to be a short one; 30 hours or so. When heavy snowfall started coming down on the first morning I was there, winterstorm Grayson changed all of that. I ended up staying an additional 30 hrs; almost 3 full days with plenty of opportunity for photography.

Some photographers don't like harsh weather conditions for Street Photography, I personally love it, especially in cities like New York! After having documented Tokyo in a typhoon at the end of last year, it was now New York's turn. 

Obviously the most important is having proper clothing; a warm ski jacket, a hat covering ears, good gloves that allow one still to shoot and last but not least proper warm water proof shoes. 

Winterstorm Grayson brought temperates below -15C (5F); while the windchill factor easily approaching -25C (-13F)  due to the +40mph (+70kmph) Northerly winds. An ultimate test for my weather sealed Fujifilm X-T2 and XF23mm f2 lens which didn't miss a beat. 

While battery consumption in these conditions normally falls off quite rapidly, I was pleasantly surprised to see it still being very reasonable. The main reason was probably because I kept my camera between two layers of clothing in between shooting.

For me Street Photography always involves lots of walking and this time was not different... I still managed to do my +15km (+10miles) per day. I did however pretty much only walk "southbound", to avoid the freezing wind hitting my face and then took the metro to go Northbound again. 

Somewhere in Greenwich village, I bumped into the sign below saying "Freeze your fat"; very appropriate and a perfect place to wait for a scene to develop. It didn't take long when I saw two guys carrying a heavy panel. The ice-cream truck in the background, just gave the image the extra touch. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 23mm f2 lens
  • ISO 5000, 1/400s, f10
  • Lightroom CC Classic for RAW and Classic Chrome conversion
While most of my older New York Street Photography is Black and White, I decided to shoot this winter series in Color, Fujifilm Classic Chrome to be precise. 

All of my other New York Street Photography work can be found here. 

Remember: "A photograph is the pause button in life"  - Ty Holland   


Monday, January 8, 2018


Now that the end of the year celebrations are behind us, it is a perfect time to reflect on my work as a photographer during 2017.  

While some tend to think that the best years of photography seem to be behind us, I tend to disagree. Traveling to exciting places has become more affordable; technology and pricing on present day cameras has opened up photography to the masses; learning photography has become so much easier, be it through online tutorials or actual workshops. What is there not to like with all of the above? To me we are truly living in the golden age of photography! 

Looking at the mirrorless market, where the innovation seems to be the biggest, we are seeing breakthrough technology on a constant basis. Please take note Nikon and Canon! On the Fujifilm side, 2017 was the year where I reviewed the brand-new X-100F, X-T20 and X-E3 cameras; three great additions to the X-series line-up. Towards the end of the year, I also had a closer look at the Medium format GFX-50S. 

Over the years I've traditionally listed my best 3 Architectural, Aviation and Travel images. Last year however I added a third category, "Street Photography" as this has become much more important in my personal photography work. 

Lately I've been asking myself the question if I actually still need to put my images in different categories? Although I'm keeping my three Portfolio categories on my website (click here for more), for my 2017 selection, I decided to just list my TOP 10 images of the year. I more and more like to looked at as  a "Photographer", rather than being categorized as a specific type of photographer!

Let the countdown begin...

10/ VILLA CAVROIS, Roubaix France
Shot last summer, my visit to this beautifully restored Late Art Deco building, became my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 32

Shot at the Sanicole Sunset airshow in Belgium early September with the XF100-400 lens. The evening airshow proved to be one the most challenging of the 2017 season due to the low light and moderate rain. 

Shot early morning from my 1954 Piper Cub, this is my favorite Aerial photography image of the year. The flight itself is one my most memorable ones in my +30 years of flying as a pilot. More info in my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 28

As a yearly tradition, in February 2017 I went skiing for a week. A camera is always on me during these trips; this time it was the very small Fujifilm X-A3. More at the 2017 Pic(k) of the week 9. 

I photographed this kid playing games at a local Thai market, while his parents were working. The image became the cover of my Street Hunt book which was released in 2017, more info here. Please send me a personal message for special pricing.

End of October I spend four days in Tokyo, Japan. A Street Hunt trip to test and review the Fujifilm X-E3. This image shot in the subway is my favorite image from Japan. More in my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 44.

While being jet-lagged in Sydney Australia, I shot the image very early morning. It created a bit of a debate whether this is Street photography. In any case it makes for a great print! More at my 2017 Pic(k) of the week 43

During the Dubai Airshow, Emirates airline flew a Boeing B777 and Airbus A380 in formation with the Al Fursan military jet team. A one of that could not be missed! More at my Pic(k) of the week 47

Dubai Airshow 2017

End of the year, I was lucky enough to do some roof-topping from the Index Tower in Dubai. The camera used was the GFX 50S; Fujifilm's Medium Format camera which holds an amazing amount of detail. More at the 2017 Pic(k) of the week 51.

Finally my personal favorite one of the year... Shot in the Dubai Desert in the last month of 2017, there was hardly any editing work done to the image, which makes it even stand out more. More at my Pic(k) of the week 49.  

Looking back at the above Top 10, it is remarkable that all images except one, have been shot in the last 6 months of the year. Is that because the more recent work still resonates more with the photographer? Possibly. In any case, it is a good idea to allow some time for your images to mature before publishing them. Something I struggle with myself and obviously is against my own Pic(k) of the week project. For 2018, I intend to revisit some older images and potentially even re-edit them in order to see their full potential.  

A look into my Lightroom catalog shows a total of 12561 images for 2017, remarkably close to last years 12437! I obviously shot many more, but these images are the ones that I consider worth keeping. Of these 198 have received a 5 star rating; the highest score I give to my images which potentially can make it into a Portfolio image. 

Like the previous year, all images in 2017 were shot on Fujifilm cameras; mostly with the X-T2 and X-T20 but also some on other cameras such as the X-A3, X-100F, X-E3 and GFX 50S. 

Last month was my fifth year of shooting the X-series Fujifilm system. Time permitting, I will try to blog about this anniversary later in the month. 

2017 has also been the year where I've been growing my Instagram account more and more. If you don't follow me on Instagram yet, please click here

Happy shooting,

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pic(k) of the week 1: JUMPING INTO THE NEW YEAR - HAPPY 2018

Happy 2018 to all my blog readers! May the New Year bring you good health, joy and happiness! 

As I'm writing this, I'm starting the 9th consecutive year of my Pic(k) of the week series; 52 images per year which stand out that given week. When I started it in January 2010, it was a New Years resolution and personal photo challenge. To be honest I never thought I would be able to maintain it for that long but I've thoroughly enjoyed the process and it has definitively helped my photography forward. 

Just like every new year a lot of people have probably started a 365 project; one image per day. I personally believe one image per week makes for a more thoughtful photo-project but I do of course respect whoever is able to complete such a challenge! 

Beside the countless reviews, the Pic(k) of the week series has been the other main activity on the blog, which now has passed 1 million (yes that is right!) views.

Yesterday, on January 1st, we set off for desert drive in the Dubai desert with a group of friends. A leisurely off-road drive followed by a sunset BBQ and campfire is the perfect setting to relax after the busy Holiday period. 

In the image below of three sisters jumping on the top of a dune while the sun was setting behind them, I tried to symbolize the joy and happiness the New Year will hopefully bring to you!  

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 200, f7.1, 1/4800s, 100mm (150mm full frame equivalent)
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC Classic using Velvia Camera Profile
The silhouette like the one above is a simple image to make; just be sure to have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action, best done in manual exposure (under exposed compared to the normal meter reading).  

As a yearly tradition, I will blog about my best 3 Architectural, Aviation and Travel/Street images of the past year sometime in the coming weeks. 

Meanwhile to check out all 52 Pic(k) of the week images of 2017, click here

Remember: " January 1st is the first page of a new 365 page book, write a good one" - Brad Paisley