Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pic(k) of the week 52: The year of resolution comes to an end

My third "Pic(k) of the week" season is now coming to an end! Yes another year is just about over and done...

Technologically for me it has been "the year of resolution"; not the resolutions we tend to make New Years eve, but the "pixel resolution" ones. It all started early 2012 when I picked up an iPhone 4S with an 8 megapixel camera and more importantly with its great high resolution "Retina" display. 

When the Nikon D800 was announced early February, I was one of the first to place an order online. This 36 million pixel mega-monster has proved to be extremely useful with almost all clients loving the extra resolution!

Next was a new iPad; showing off your best work on one of these 2048 by 1536 pixel retina displays, is jaw-dropping

Whenever I was on the road, my 3 year old Macbook wasn't able to keep up with the huge 36 million D800 files. A 15inch Retina Macbook with a SSD (Solid State Drive) was the way forward.

My last digital purchase mid December had nothing to do with bumping up resolution but all with reducing the camera size... Over the years, I've been on the look-out for a smaller camera body to take with me on my world travels. The answer is the FujiFilm X-E1 camera with the 18-55 lens. Even though I have not been able to fully explore the capabilities of this CMOS mirror-less, it seems to exceed all expectations!

2012 Pic(k) of the week 52: The year of resolution comes to an end

The image above made at the Meydan horse racing centre, was one of the first coming out of my brand-new Sexy-1 (non-official nickname for X-E1).

Image details:
FujiFilm X-E1 with 18-55 lens
ISO800, 83mm, f5, 1/1400s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.3
Black and White in Lightroom 4.3

Even though this will not be a replacement for my full frame D800, the much smaller size, is a joy to travel with. End of the year I plan on spending a week in my home country Belgium where I should be able to give the X-E1 a good workout.

Just like the " 50 days with the D800 "post earlier this year, I will give you my thoughts on the new baby from Japan!

Remember, " January 1st is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write a good one"!

Happy 2013 and see you on the other side!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pic(k) of the week 51: Leaving on a Jet plane - MEBA 2013

On 12-12-'12, I was out shooting at the 2012 Middle East Business Aviation convention (MEBA 2012)  in Dubai. I was mainly there for a client, however I also managed to do some personal work.

2012 Pic(k0 of the week 51: Leaving on a Jet plane

The image above, is of a French built Dassault Falcon 7X; a top of the range business jet which some people call "the benchmark for the 21st century business jet". 

For you guys (and girls!) wondering, the camera just below the windshield is a military style infrared camera, used for the "Enhanced Vision System" (EVS). This allows take-off and landings in poor visibility with the help of artificially enhanced outside visual cues.

Over the years capturing business aviation has become one of my favourite kinds of aviation photography. There smaller size and the visually pleasing aircraft, make them very interesting photo subjects!   

It was the first time the MEBA convention was held at the new Dubai World airport ( sometimes also called, Al Maktoum airport). Even though one runway and terminal are operational, there is still a lot of work to be done, at what is supposed to become the worlds largest airport! Next year in November, the Dubai Airshow will be held at the same place.

Image details:
Nikon D800 with 70-200 VR2 2.8
ISO100, f9, 122mm, 1/640s
RAW processing in Lightroom 4.3
SilverEfex 2 for Black and White conversion

Unfortunately, I'm not able to share the client's images, but a few more of my personal images shot that day, can be found in the MEBA 2012 gallery.

Staying with the aviation subject and for those of you not following me on social media, I've just been interviewed by the Belgian-Dutch aviation site "hangar". Unfortunately the article is only in Dutch, but I'm sure google.translate will do a "reasonable" job!

Remember, " To most people the sky is the limit, to those who love aviation, the sky is home"


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pic(k) of the week 50: a Dubai skyline to be lost

When it comes to landscape and architectural photography, we all know that clouds really add an extra dimension to the image!

2012 Pic(k) of the week 50: Another Dubai skyline

Driving along the Meydan road in Nad al Sheba area, with some threatening storm clouds at the horizon, I felt the urge to stop and "make" a photograph.

Recently the Indian Sobha group, announced it will develop the area where this image was shot from, into an 743.000 sqm housing, schooling and entertainment project. Work should start early next year. Unfortunately this will become a skyline view to be lost.

Over the last ten years, I've collected quite a few different views on Dubai's high-rise district. Some of them can be found hereI guess capturing the ever changing Dubai skyline never gets boring!

Image details:
Nikon D800 with 70-200 2.8 VR2
ISO100, f5.6, 70mm, 1/320s with circular polariser filter
RAW development in Lightroom 4.3 RC
Nik ColorEfex for contrast adjustment

Knowing the people who are building Dubai, I think the following quote is quite appropriate :
"The city is what it is, because the citizens are what they are"- Plato


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pic(k) of the week 49: Skydive Dubai Shark-boat

While attending the 2012 World Parachuting Championship Mondial in Dubai last Monday, I got to photograph some interesting sea based devices in action at the site.

2012 Pic(k) of the week 49: Skydive Dubai Sharkboat

One of them was this $100.000 Shark-boat made by Seabreacher which can reach speeds up to 80km/h above the water surface and 40km/h below. It is propelled by a 260HP Rotax engine which allows it to sustain high speed dives and then breach the surface.

The vectored thrust system mimics the tail articulation of animals like shark and dolphins. Not cheap, but an interesting little toy!

Image details:
Nikon D800 with Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VR2
ISO400, 200mm, f6.3, 1/2500s
RAW conversion in Lightroom 4.3 RC
ColorEfex 4 for contrast adjustment

Remember: " We may have all come in different ships, but we are in the same boat now" - Martin Luther King

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

3 Days with the Fuji X-Pro1 in Dubai

Courtesy to Gulf Photo Plus (GPP) in Dubai, I got to take the FujiFilm X-Pro1 for a three day test run earlier this week... 

They give the camera on loan, for a nominal fee of 150AED. A no brainer if you are on the fence of buying, especially since they provide a full refund if buying a unit through them! 

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro

I've been on the lookout for a lighter travel/street photography camera for the last 12 months. It was the renown Atlanta based photographer Zach Arias which I first heard talking about this camera at a GPP event earlier this year. 

The post is by no means a full camera review but rather a collection of some thoughts are having used the camera over a three day period. I suggest you check out the dpreview X-PRO1 review for a full multi page review.

Even though the size of this camera compared to a full frame body like my Nikon D800, is relatively small; it is by no means an ordinary point a shoot!

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro

The X-Pro1 is a mirror-less camera with interchangeable lenses, that has a large size APS-C CMOS sensor. I got to test all three prime Fuji lenses, 18mm f2, 35mm f1.4 and the 60mm 2.4 Macro/Portrait lens. This allows for a real shallow, DSLR like, depth of field like in the image above!

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro

If properly exposed it shows no signs of noise up to ISO1600 and with just a tiny bit of noise reduction images up to ISO6400 are more than useable!

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro
Because the camera is that much smaller, one can almost be invisible like in the images above shot at the Dubai Fishmarket and in the Dubai Metro.

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro
Most of the images have all been shot in the RAW format. Even though Lightroom does not have the different camera profiles like what is available for the Nikon and Canon DSLR's the RAW image quality and colour accuracy is extremely good!

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro
What surprised me even more is the quality of the in-camera jpeg rendering. Especially the Black and White Film simulation modes... Fuji is known for its Black and White Film and this clearly shows in this digital camera!

Three days with the Fuji X-1Pro

Even though the auto-focusing is a bit slower than most DSLR's, it is more than adequate and once focus is achieved, it is right on!

Will I be buying this camera? No, but I do have a the newer FujiFilm X-E1 with the 18-55 f2.8/f4 zoom lens on order. This camera has exactly the same sensor as the X-Pro1 and is even a bit smaller and lighter, due to the lack of the Optical viewfinder (OVF). By the way, on the X-1Pro, I did hardly use the OVF and really like how the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) works.

Will it replace my full frame Nikon D800? No of course not. For the moment there is clearly room for both. The X-E1 will go on my travels whenever I need to go light. I do however believe that the D800 might be the last DSLR body I bought. The future of the mirror-less is surely exciting and I sincerely believe they will eventually replace most if not all DSLR bodies.

More images from the three days can be found here.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pic(k) of the week 48: Shanghai - The worlds largest city by population

Sometimes writing for a blog, makes you become a bit wiser... When it comes to defining the size of a city people often refer to the total population. Different definitions of "cities" are common; one is the "metropolitan area" which includes the suburbs often stretching tens of kilometres around the main city. The other one is the "city proper" which is limited by the administrative boundaries and is a better reflection of what we originally used to define city boundaries. 

The largest one by the "city proper" definition, is Shanghai with a population of 24 million! Earlier this week I spend three days in this East-Chinese mega-city which has changed unbelievable over the last few years.

2012 Pic(k) of the week 48: Shanghai - The worlds largest city by population

The image above was made from one of the most famous viewpoints in Shanghai, "The Bund". Carrying my sturdy Gitzo tripod on the trip proved worthwhile! Even though a bit more clouds would have made it even more worthwhile...

It was unfortunate that the Oriental Pearl tower (highest on the left) for some strange reason was not lit while I was there... Another reason to go back, I guess.

Image details:
Nikon D800 with the 14-24 2.8 Nikkor lens
ISO 100, f4.5, 20mm, 4s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.3 (RC)
Nik ColorEfex Pro for contrast and sharpeness

More images of Shanghai can be found here.

Remember: " A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for" - John A. Shedd


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pic(k) of the week 47: Dubai Beach Football

Unfortunately public beaches have become a scarcity these days in Dubai. One of the better beaches open to everybody to the general public, is the stretch close to the Jumeirah Grand Mosque. 

With the cooler months just starting, this is the place to be for all kinds of the Dubai community. 

2012 Pic(k) of the week 47: Dubai Beach Football

When I went there last Friday to photograph the ever changing Dubai skyline at dusk, a large group of African guys were playing football. I doubt that a lot of football places offer a view like the one above!

Image details:
Nikon D800 with 24-70 f2.8 Nikkor lens
ISO100, 35mm, f5.6, 1/125s
Shot on a Gitzo tripod using Live View focussing
RAW development with Lightroom 4.1
ColorEfex Pro for contrast and neutral density adjustment

Remember, " Less is more, except if it is not enough"

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