Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 5: Flight-deck Art?

Photograph and sharpness are far too often used in the same sentence... Why do always want a perfect sharp picture of our subjects? 

On my way back from New York, somewhere over the North Atlantic with my little Fuji X-E1 on the side, I felt the urge to be creative. Making something that is different. Something we don't get to see every day...

2013 Pic(k) of the week 5: Flightdeck Art ?

Being limited to the small space of the Airbus A380 flight-deck, I came up with the following "Zoom burst" image of the Primary Flight Display (PFD). Zoom burst is a creative technique where one zooms out while clicking the shutter. A relative slow shutter speed  (min 1/10s or so) is needed to have a pronounced zoom effect. Whatever is in the centre remains there, the rest becomes blurred.

For the ones that have a problem visualising the environment this image was made in,  please click here

Image details:
FujiFilm X-E1 with 18-55 lens
ISO 400, varying focal length between 60 and 30mm, f10, 1/5s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.3

After coming back from the Big Apple, I uploaded some recent images into my "New York" gallery.

On the subject of creativity in photography, check out the latest video made by +Zack Arias : "Signal & Noise". Zack you are such an inspiration!

Remember; " Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep" - Scott Adams

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 4: Meydan bridge, Dubai

Sorry for being a few days late with my Pic(k) of the week. Just back from an unexpected quick visit to New York city, my day job held me from posting during the usual timing (Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday).

When a city has popular landmarks like the Eiffel tower in Paris and the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, they are often overshot by photographers. In Dubai these Architectural wonders are the Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab

One of the less known areas for Architectural photography in Dubai is Meydan City;  a relatively new projected centred around the Meydan horse racecourse in the Nad al Sheba area.

Meydan bridge at dusk, Dubai

I've been eager to go back to the Blue bridge at Meydan for some time. Rather than having a boring blue sky, I visualised the scene with some clouds at dusk. When broken clouds appeared just before sunset, I knew where to go to! 

The bridge is a VIP entrance to the racecourse (Royal enclosure) which is mostly closed off for cars when there are no races.

Not sure if the tripod patrol would be out that night, I walked over to the bridge from the Meydan hotel and found myself alone on this interesting structure. Overall a surreal feeling!  

Image details:
Nikon D800 with Nikkor 24-70 2.8
ISO100, f8, 32mm, varying shutter speed between 0.4s and 6s
RAW processing in Lightroom 4.3
32 bit Export to Photoshop in HDR Pro
Import as a 32 bit file in Lightroom 4
Fine-tuned in Lightroom 4.3

A few more images of that night can be found here.

I hope it was all worth the wait...  

Remember, "Architecture begins where engineering ends" - Walter Gropius


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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Singapore's Marina Bay at night

Last week I got to spend 30 hours or so in my favourite city in the Far-East, Singapore. Officially called the Republic of Singapore, this multi-cultural city state at the Southern tip of the Malay peninsula, consists of 63 islands. 

It had been more than 6 years, since I last was in Singapore and the place still looks as clean and organised as before. Architecturally it got a lot of new places of interest!

Being close to the equator ( only 135km to the South), means the place is exposed to a lot of tropical weather. It rained for most of the time I was in Singapore so I unfortunately had to limit myself to photographing some night cityscapes.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

The Marina Bay area has clearly changed the most. Quite a few people have by now seen images of the amazing roof top infinity pool of the "Marina Bay Sands" hotel. Beside the pool, the hotel/casino which opened in 2011, also has a 340m long Skypark which is open to visitors. On my next visit I plan on paying the S$20 to have a look around.

Fullerton hotel at night

Just a little bit more to the South-East in the same bay, one finds one of the oldest buildings in Singapore, the Fullerton building, which was converted to a 400 room hotel at the end of the 20th century.

Marina Bay by night

I particularly like the mix of old and new architecture in Singapore and the way how they blend in. 

The Esplanade

The last image I'll share is of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay; A concert hall and theatre which can both accommodate about 2000 people each.

For the photographers amongst you, some more technical details...
All of the images above were shot with my new Travel camera; the FujiFilm X-E1 with the 18-55 lens. They are my first HDR (High Dynamic Range) images shot on the camera. While I normally use Photomatix to develop my Tone mapped HDR images, I'm presently experimenting with using a 32bit file in Lightroom 4.3. A new technique where one after a quick "Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop" ( see in the Lightroom edit menu), can stay in Lightroom to do all of the HDR developing. This leads to much more natural images with a great dynamic range. For more info please watch the following tutorial here.

Remember, " In photography there are no shadows that can not be illuminated" - August Sander 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

30 Days with the SEXY-1 ( or X-E1 )

For the last few years, I've been constantly on the look-out for a compact camera that gives me a light weight solution for some of my Travel photography needs. Although not bad, the image quality of semi-pro compact cameras like the Canon G series and Nikon P7xxx, still suffer from having a relatively small sensor.

2012 Pic(k) of the week 52: The year of resolution comes to an end
End of 2012, courtesy of Gulf Photo Plus,  I tested the FujiFilm X-1Pro. Returning the camera after 3 days, I was sold! The image quality of the 16 million APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor blew me away...

When Fuji announced the X-E1, a cheaper X-Pro1 in a slightly smaller body without the Optical Viewfinder (OVF), my order was in! The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) however, works great and is of a much higher resolution than in its bigger brother.

Rather than writing a full review and similar to what I did during my first month with the Nikon D800; I decided to make a 3 minute slideshow of images shot during my first 30 days with the X-E1. Make sure you select 1080p and preferably view it on a high resolution screen for the best viewing experience. 

Selling tires in Satwa

While interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras have been around for several years, famous photographers like +Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs, have predicted that the present DSLR camera is a dying breed. I must admit that the Nikon D800 body I bought early 2012, could indeed well be my last DSLR body...

The Yas hotel, Abu Dhabi

Nicknamed by the Dutch photographer Frank Doorhof, as the "SEXY-1", it is like shooting a +$10.000 Leica M series on a budget.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 1: Bridge to a New Year, 2013
Even though the full frame image quality of the D800 is still slightly better than the Fuji, the latter is surely not far of!

Burj al Arab by night
The amount of detail Fuji sensor puts out is simply mind-boggling. A good example is this nigh-shot of the Burj al Arab in Dubai.

DIFC by night, Dubai

The fact that this setup is very light and portable, has the advantage of being really stealthy. After all it looks like a "small camera"... I already managed to make images in places where I would have been chased away by the tripod police within minutes!

Bored child in Bin Zayed Mosque, Bur Dubai
Low light high ISO performance is almost in par with my Nikon D800 body. ISO 6400 is easily useable as seen in the image above.

Dunlop 24 hour of Dubai Touring & GT car race

When Fuji initially came out with the X-series camera (X-100), the slow auto-focus was the number one complaint. Even though it still is slower than mirror-less cameras like the Sony NEX-6/7 and Olympus OM-D, Fuji has come a long way and to me it is more than adequate for the task.

Another complaint is the limited support for RAW file conversions. Lightroom 4.3 does support the camera, but because the sensor uses some very new technology (Trans CMOS), the full potential of the RAW development is not (yet) seen.  On the other side and even though I'm not a jpeg shooter, the quality of the jpegs is excellent.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 3: Mystery girl
For the moment I only use the 18-55mm 2.8-4 "kitlens" which proofs to be very versatile and sharp.

Another link to the "30 days with the Sexy-1" can be found here.

Tomorrow I'm off to Singapore and guess what camera I'm taking... Yes indeed the Sexy-1!

Remember: "No photographer is as good as the simplest camera" - Edward Steichen


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 3: Mystery girl

Sometimes photo-opportunities present themselves when one does not really expect them...

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a Belgian photographer, who had plans to come to Dubai for a 10 day holiday. After a few emails with UAE tips and tricks for photography, we eventually yesterday ended up going to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi together. 

2013 Pic(k) of the week 3: Mystery girl

The image above, "Mystery girl", is of the visiting photographer's wife at the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque.  Being a very photogenic model, this proved to be a great opportunity to test my new FujiFilm X-E1 for portrait photography.

After the Black & White conversion, I choose to selectively put back some of the colour in the image; especially of the models red hair and blue eyes.

Pleased with the quality of the resulting image, I would be interested to hear what the blog-readers think...

Image details:
FujiFilm X-E1 with 18-55 lens
ISO 800, 83mm (35mm format focal length), f4.5, 1/1700s
RAW development in Lightroom 4.3
Black & White conversion SilverEfex 2

Remember; "A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you, the less you know" - Diane Arbus


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 2: A380 Terminal @ Dubai Airport

With over 30 Airbus A380's flying and another 60 on order, Emirates airline is the worlds largest operator of the double-deck super jumbos.

To keep up with the vast expansion by its home carrier, Dubai airport has over the years built several new concourses. Until a few weeks ago the airport could theoretically cope with a maximum of 60 million passengers per year. 

With an estimated (figures to be published end of Jan 2013) of more than 55 million passengers, Dubai will more than likely make it into the 2012 top 10 of the worlds busiest airports. It is already leaving large international airports like Amsterdam, New York JFK, San Francisco and Singapore well behind. Quite an achievement given Dubai DXB airport has only 2 runways and has a limited amount of space for expansion.

A few days into the new year, the brand new Concourse A (part of Terminal 3) was officially opened. This should eventually increase the airports capacity to 75 million per year! With 20 extra boarding gates feeding directly into the upper and main decks of the super jumbos, Concourse A is the worlds first dedicated A380 terminal. This brings the total number of A380 gates at Dubai airport to 27.

I got to try out the Concourse A experience last week when coming back from Paris CDG; an uneventful arrival including a short Skytrain ride into Concourse B, and one was back onto familiar ground. 

2013 Pic(k) of the week 2: A380 Terminal @Dubai Airport

The image above shows the brand new $3US billion complex, which will wisely been opened in several phases; initially only 4 of the 20 gates are used in order to make sure everything works as planned. The disaster opening of London Heathrow Terminal 5 in 2008, has not been forgotten!

Eventually the new Dubai World Central (DWC) airport will replace DXB, but that will take time... Meanwhile architects are planning another new concourse at DXB to keep up with demand.

Image details:
Nikon D800 with Nikkor 24-70 2.8
ISO100, 38mm, f6.3, 1sec using a Gitzo tripod
RAW processing in Lightroom 4.3
Nik ColorEfex for color and contrast optimisation 

More images of Dubai's Architecture can be found here.

Remember: " We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us" - Winston Churchill 


Monday, January 7, 2013

Best 3 x 3 of 2012

Today I'm bringing you my best 3 Architectural, Aviation and Travel images of 2012. I finished the year with a total of 6200 images in my 2012 Lightroom library. This is significant less than previous years; more than likely due to the fact that I started using the monster megapixel Nikon D800, earlier this year. Since files are about three times the size of my previous D700 body, I'm making a conscious decision to shoot less frames while aiming for a higher quality. This is seems to be confirmed by a doubling the percentage of my 5 star (highest & best rated) images; 1% in 2011 versus 2.1% in 2012.

As part of the picking process at the end of the year, I've also updated my three portfolios; Architectural, Aviation and Travel photography. To visit these "Best of" galleries, click on the three tittles below. Here we go!

2012 Pic(k) of the week 9: Sunset over Jazirat Al Hamra
1 Even though this is not one of my traditional Architectural images, it is probably my favourite image of 2012. "Sunset over the abandoned village,  Jazirat Al Hamra" North of Dubai.

Burj al Arab by night
2 This night shot of the 7 star Burj al Arab hotel, was shot end of the year with my new FujiFilm X-E1 mirrorless camera. The fact that an X-E1 image made it into my portfolio less than two weeks after buying the camera, says a lot of the image quality. More on this blog in the next few weeks...

Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong
3 Even though I've shot the Hong Kong skyline before, this is one to be remembered; hanging on to an umbrella in pouring rain and strong winds, made shooting this image a challenge!

Falcon 7X at the Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2012
1 Dassault Falcon 7X Business jet at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Air Expo. March 5-7 this event will be held for the second time at the Al Bateen airport. 

2012 Pic(k) of the week 45: Fly away
2 A380 taking off from Dubai International airport. I particularly like the contrail of the other jet in the lower left of the frame. One could almost think this was shot Air to Air.

Crew Chief climbing a P-51 Mustang at the 2012 Zoersel PhotoFlying days
3 P-51D Mustang at the PhotoFlying days, @Zoersel, Belgium. The crew-chief climbing the wing with a spinning prop, in order to speak to the pilot, makes for a pretty spectacular image.

Come and sit on my bench, South Iceland
1 Iceland, "Land of Fire and Ice", was definitively my best 2012 Photo Adventure. I made more 5 star images during this trip than ever before in a single trip. 

Blue ice at Jokulsarlon
2 "Blue Ice at Jokulsarlon"; needless to say, the nr 2 is from the same trip...

Richshaw puller in Calcutta
3 "Rickshaw puller in Calcutta". When it comes to people photography, India remains one of my favorite Travel destinations!

Remember, " A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera" - Dorothea Lange

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