Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Pic(k) of the week 23: ARCHITECTURAL ABSTRACT - Fujifilm X-100V

Photography is a great tool to clear the mind when there is a need to do so! Just going out with a small camera like the Fujifilm X-100V is often enough to disconnect from daily life. Such was the case when walking around a small canal near the Jameel Art museum in Dubai, when I spotted some interesting late afternoon reflections in the water surface.

While the majority of the people passing by probably had doubts what this photographer was trying to capture, I immediately realized there were some interesting abstract images to be made. 

In the image below, one can see a tall skyscraper as well as a lower building next to it. I was particularly attracted to how the warm yellow tint of the smaller building was playing against the deep blue tone of the water. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-100V
  • ISO 640, 1/250s, f6.4
  • Straight Out Of Camera using Velvia film simulation
More abstract as well as standard architectural work from Dubai can be found here

For the ones interested in Street Photography, I'll be conducting a free "STREET HUNT" webinar (using Zoom) on SAT 06 JUN at 1600 (Dubai). To register, click on the link here

Remember: "There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality". - Pablo Picasso. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pic(k) of the week 22: TAKING FLIGHT - AL QUDRA, DUBAI

While we are slowly coming out of lock-down and airline flights are about to start up again, I can’t wait to take to the skies myself!

The other day I went for an early morning walk at Al Qudra Lakes; a perfect opportunity to reflect on the last few months and enjoy being in nature. As the sun was still low on the horizon I spotted an Egyptian goose sitting on a tree top. While observing the bird for about 15 min, I could see that it was about to take flight. 

I quickly switched to “Sport mode” on my X-T3 which is perfect for shots where we might “just” miss the moment. How does Sport mode work you might ask?

While half pressing the shutter button, Sport mode continuously stores the last second of the images that were taken using Continuous High (CH), in the camera buffer. When taking the actual image that last second is then transferred to the memory card so the moment we “just” missed is recovered. Clever idea, which works well.

I don’t have a real interest in classic bird photography but do enjoy taking fine- art bird images. Shooting bird silhouettes is one way of doing so. Below are two images shot very closely together. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 and XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 320, 1/2200s, f13, 183mm
  • RAW development in Lightroom Classic
  • Lightroom Classic Print module to make the diptych
Check out more of my Nature of the UAE images here

Remember: "Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness". - Alejandro Jodorowski

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Pic(k) of the week 21: EMIRATES TOWERS LIGHTOUSE

Most of the modern architecture in Dubai consist of a lot of glass panels which at certain times of the day, often causing spectacular reflections looking like a lighthouse. About ten days ago, I saw such a reflection coming off Emirates Towers on my way back from work around lunchtime. As the building was a long distance away, shooting at 23mm with the X-100V I was carrying, didn't do the trick. A long lens, around 200mm, was what I really needed.

A few days ago, I arranged a grocery shopping trip along the same road and the same time but this time having my Fujifilm X-T3 and XF100-400 lens with me. 

I picked a day with moderate haze, as light reflection tends to be much more dramatic when the light bounces off dust particles. A two minute stop along the side of the road and the handheld shot was in the can.  

Surprisingly for most, the image hardly needed any editing. The RAW file white balance was slightly cooled down (bluer tint) and the contrast was slightly enhanced using DxO ColorEfex pro 4; all took less than 5 min.

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T3 with XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 160, f10, 1/1250s, 211mm
  • RAW file development in Lightroom Classic
  • DxO ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
While I've shot Emirates Towers many times before, the overall feel of the image above is perfect to complete my "3 Architectural icons of Dubai" series. With both the Burj al Arab and Burj Khalifa bathing in blue hour light, the last shot complements it quite well for a fine-art print series. 

Those interested in more Dubai Architectural work of mine, please check out the following gallery here

Remember: "Do not forget that you might be the lighthouse in someone's storm".

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Pic(k) of the week 20: BACK TO SCHOOL - JAZIRAT AL HAMRA

In the North of the UAE, there is another abandoned village, called Jazirat al Hamra, not to be confused with the one near Al Madam that was part of last weeks Pic(k) of the week"Deserted about forty years ago, Jazirat Al Hamra (arabic for Red island) is one of the only complete villages of its kind, still standing in the Gulf Region, which gives a glimpse of what life was like before the discovery of oil. 

My first visit to Jazirat al Hamra dates back to more than 10 years ago (DEC 2009). Once pointed in the right direction, one quickly arrives at its outer edge, where an old fort and tower watch in eerie silence over empty streets and abandoned buildings, some at least a century old. Mosques, shops, and houses – with courtyards overrun by vegetation and quaint features like star windows, wind-towers, and carved doors – all lie in varying states of decay and disrepair. 

Varying accounts exist as to why the village was deserted. Some tell of a dispute between the tribe residing there and local authorities, which resulted in the tribe appealing to Sheikh Zayed and moving to Abu Dhabi after the formation of the UAE; while others claim that the town was gradually deserted, with most of its inhabitants moving away simply because they were attracted by the job opportunities, lifestyle and conveniences found in larger cities and modern housing communities. 

Since my last visit several year back, a large part of the village has been cleaned up and will likely be opened up as an official heritage village.  Some of the most interesting buildings in the town is a school with about 6 or so classrooms with the blackboards still in place. The image below shows such a classroom. Not sure what the function of the ladder is, but this is how I found the place...

Image detail:
  • Fujifilm GFX50R with GF 45-100 lens
  • ISO 1600, f 20, 1/7s, 59mm
  • Lightroom CC for RAW development using Classic Chrome Camera profile
  • DxO ColorEfex Pro 4 for contrast adjustments
As you can see, the image above was shot with the new Fujifilm GF45-100 lens mounted on a GFX50R; a great "compact" medium format camera. Shot handheld at 1/7s, it shows that the OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) really lives up to the expectations. 

I've used the time off during the COVID-19 lockdown to revisit some the older images and galleries. Such was the case for reworking "The village that always sleeps" gallery which can be found here. The harsh HDR look some of the images had 10 years ago, is all gone now. 

Remember: "Life is a ladder. Not a bed"

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pic(k) of the week 19: NOBODY HOME - Drone panoramas

It took me quite a long time to pick up my first drone as I had doubts about the image quality of the small sensors. Once DJI updated their Mavic 2 Pro with a 1 inch sensor, 18 months ago, I knew it was time to buy one! 

Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot and have printed several aerial drone shots with great results. Although the Mavic 2 Pro has a 20Mpx sensor, having more detail is always welcome. One relatively easy technique to use is combining multiple images together in a single large panorama. In the image below of an abandoned village, I’ve combined 9 images into a 75Mpx file. I would happily print an image like this up to 2 meters (6 feet) wide. 

As this is panorama, I strongly recommend to click on the image and view it on a decent screen full screen. The amount of detail in the +15.000 pixel image, is impressive. You might as well enjoy it.

Image details:
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro
  • ISO 100, f4.0, 1/160s
  • 9 shot RAW file development in Lightroom Classic
  • Panorama image merge in Photoshop CC
  • DxO ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast and detail
Next SAT, May 9, I’ll be conducting a 1hr talk about Aerial photography for the Emirates Group Photography Club (EGPC). It will consist of a “classic aerial photography” and “drone photography” module. Unfortunately, the talk is limited to Emirates group employees and direct family members. For more info please contact me here or through any of the social media channels below. Click here for a direct Facebook link.

If there is enough interest, I’m considering to repeat the presentation for a wider audience. Let me know, if you are interested!

Remember: "There are always two people in any picture, the photographer and the viewer" - Ansel Adams