Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 18: BROKEN TRAIN - Hua Lamphong Railway station, Bangkok

A few years ago, I met Thai photographer, Rammy Narula, who was exhibiting his "Platform 10" work in a gallery in Bangkok. Rammy shot a great body of work during a six month period, at a single platform (nr10) at the Hua Lamphong Railway station. The work was also published in a great photo-book; click here for more info. 

Last week I got the chance to set out to the Hua Lamphong station again to do some more "street photography". A shame the station will likely disappear in about a year or two as they are presently building a new station somewhere else.

I strongly believe there is difference between being inspired by another photographer versus wanting to copy somebody else his/her work just merely for having similar images. While the first one can often be a boost for the photographers creativity, the second is mostly counter-productive and unfulfilling.

The inspiration might just be the push to go to the same place, but almost always opens new perspectives and viewpoints. The beauty of Street/Documentary photography, is that the scene and subject matter constantly changes.

Although relatively small, I ended up shooting in the station for just over 3 hours; yes, it is full of photographic opportunities! 

The image below of a Thai boy waiting for the train to arrive, is probably the best "story telling image" I shot that day. I love how he is deeply involved in the movie he is watching while a broken toy train sits just on the side. The train in the shadow background, gives the whole image a send of place.

Although I also made a Black and White version (click here ) of the image, I like the colour one below as well; his skin tone against the dark pastel blue of the table, work well together.

Image details: 
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF 16mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/320, f 5.6, ISO 1250
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC using Classic Chrome profile
  • Photoshop CC to remove some distracting elements in the top right
The shoot at the Bangkok Railway station must have been one of the most productive ones I've done in a while. Please check out the entire series here.

The entire series was shot with the new Fujifilm XF16 f.2.8 lens; a compact 24mm equivalent wide-angle which is great for environmental portraits. While I haven't shot that much Street photography with my much larger XF16 f1.4 lens, this much smaller lens will probably see more use for my Street Photography in the future! 

Time permitting, I'll blog about the new lens somewhere early May! 

Remember: "If a train does not stop at your station, then it is not your train" - Marianne Williamson 


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 17: FLYING ABOVE THE CAMELS

About 15 minutes from my home is Dubai largest Camel race track, the "Al Marmoom camel race circuit, home of the Dubai Camel Racing club". Camel racing is one of the most popular sports amongst the local UAE population and has become much more regulated over the years. 

The biggest change happened almost 17 years ago when the UAE was the first country in the region to ban child camel jockeys as far too many fell off with sometimes fatal injuries. Since then, small remote controlled robotic whips have taken over.

Next to the Al Marmoom race track, one can find lots of small camel farms where camels are kept and being bred. Like horse racing there is often big money to be made in selling the best of the racing camels. The most expensive camel was sold for 2.72 million USD in Abu Dhabi.

While the main racing season is from October to April, there are always camels taken out on the track for a "walk" throughout the whole year; especially early morning and just before sunset. 

I've been looking to shoot aerial images of camels with their shadows for some time now and eventually managed to give it a try. The image below is my most favorite one of the shoot, which even made it into my AERIAL portfolio.

Image details:
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro
  • 1/640s, f4.0, ISO 100
  • Lightroom CC for RAW file development

Remember: "You haven't seen a camel until you have seen its shadow from the sky" - Play of words on a famous quote by Amelia Earhart.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019


In my Pic(k) of the week 12: LOVE LAKE, DUBAI, I've blogged about my visit to the Al Qudra lakes area outside Dubai; part of the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve area, the lakes are great for bird watching! Although I wouldn't specially call myself a bird-watcher or birder, I do enjoy spending time amongst them; hopefully with a camera close-by. 

After having flown my Mavic 2 Pro drone around the area, I started looking to shoot the sunset from ground level before going home. As the sun was dipping below the horizon, I spotted what I believe was an Egyptian Goose on a large tree. The bird silhouette immediately stood out as a great photo opportunity. 

As long as one exposes for the background instead of for the subject, silhouettes are relatively easy to shoot. In the image below, I exposed for the sky in the background rather than the bird or tree. 

There are a few ways of achieving this; using aperture mode, one can use spot-metering and then lock the exposure before making the image. If this is too technical, use a good amount of negative exposure compensation to get the exposure one wants. The last one is shooting in full Manual mode and dialing in a specific aperture, shutter speed and ISO that gets the correct silhouette exposure. While it might take a little bit of time to first set it up, it has the advantage that different images will be consistent as long as the light doesn't change. 

In all cases, using a mirrorless camera where you can see immediately what you get, makes things significantly easier. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 400, 1/1900s, f7.1, 400mm
  • Lightroom CC for RAW file development
  • DxO Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
  • Photoshop CC with High Pass filter for some additional sharpening
More of my "Nature of the UAE" images can be found here

Remember: "In nature light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light" - Hans Hofmann


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 15: WHEN NATURE TAKES OVER

It must have been close to a year ago, when I first went to the abandoned village near Al Madam in the UAE. Reminding me of Kolmanskop in Namibia, it is a classic example that shows the power of Nature, yes written with a capital "N"!

I love how in some of the houses, the desert dunes have entered through open doors and windows and now come up all the way to the ceiling. While there are plenty of interesting photo opportunities from ground level, an aerial view like the one below, gives the series an extra dimension. Another example that shows how my Fujifilm gear plays well together with aerial footage from a Mavic 2 Pro.  

 Image details:
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro 
  • 1/640s, f4.0, ISO 100
  • Lightroom CC for RAW file development
While the project is still ongoing, the work so far of "When the Desert takes over" can be found here

I've also edited a short 2 min short film about the project, where I've combined both images shot with the Fujifilm X-series cameras and the DJI drone. Check it out on Vimeo here

Remember: "What makes the desert beautiful, is that somewhere it hides a well" - Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Pic(k) of the week 14: BRIDGE OF TOLERANCE - DUBAI CANAL

Since Dubai Water Canal opened in 2017, it also came with a few interesting new pedestrian bridges. The most attractive one  is the "Bridge of Tolerance" which frames the modern part of Dubai well in the background like can be seen in the image I shot more than a year ago, here

Unfortunately there are presently quite few cranes spoiling the view, which limits taking more detailed shots. While testing the new super wide angle XF 8-16 f2.8 lens, I shot the image below as the sun was just peaking along the bridge. A perfect opportunity to test the "sun burst" effect of the lens.  

Sun burst effect is best done when the sun borders a hard edge and shot at a wide aperture, minimum f16. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with the XF 8-16mm f2.8 WR LM lens
  • ISO 160, 1/320, f16, 12mm 
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC including use of Luminance range masking
My review of this great piece of glass can be found here.

Remember: "The highest result of education is tolerance" - Hellen Keller