Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 44: Autumn in New York

When I left for a short 36 hr trip to New York a few days ago, I had planned to do some fall foliage photography in Central Park NYC. After having done some online research, I was hopeful that the leaves would already be colourful enough, to do some fall colour photography.

Autumn is without doubt my favourite season for landscape photography. Especially since there is absolutely no fall foliage in Dubai!

I did come home with a few keeper shots even though the peak fall season is probably still a few weeks away...

2013 Pic(k) of the week 44: Autumn in New Yorkg

Image details:
Fujifilm X-E1 (alias Sexy-1) with the 14mm 2.8 Fujinon lens
ISO200, 14mm (21mm full frame equivalent), f11
Exposure bracketing with varying shutter speeds between 1/4s and 1/420s
RAW development in Lightroom 5.2
Merge to 32 bit HDR file in Photomatix 
Nik ColorEfex for contrast and detail enhancement

In two weeks time, I will be off to New Zealand for a second 16 day photo-flying adventure. Right now it looks like I'll do the trip with a single camera only, my favourite travel camera - the Fujifilm X-E1.

Remember, " Autumn is a second spring, when every leave is a flower" - Albert Camus


Monday, October 28, 2013

Front cover: Piloot & Vliegtuig magazine, Oldtimer Fligertreffen 2013

In September 2013, I attended the Hahnweide Oldtimer Fliegertreffen near Stuttgart for for the Dutch aviation magazine "Piloot & Vliegtuig".

My 4 page article just got published in the November edition of the magazine. Even better, the image of Michael Carlson's Bleriot was used as the main front cover image!

If you are in Belgian or the Netherlands and have an interest in aviation, make sure you pick up your latest copy of the nr 1 Aviation magazine in the Benelux.

Lastly, a big thank you to the organisers of Hahnweide for giving me the press access and to the editor of Piloot & Vliegtuig for giving me another front cover!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

VIDEO: GoPro Pilot's view during YAK-52 flight

GoPro video cameras have been around for a few years now. They are a very versatile, compact, rugid camera solution which can pretty much be mounted on anything. 

Air to Air with YAK52 above the English Channel

In the past my GoPro has been with me on ski-trips, 4x4's trips in Iceland and the Dubai desert and many more. I has also done quite a bit of flying... 

During my 2011 photo-adventure in Florida and the Bahamas, we mounted a GoPro Hero 2 on the wing and tail of our Cessna C172 photo platform, which made for some very interesting footage.

Last Summer I did some flying in Belgium with a headstrap mounted GoPro Hero. The 5 min video below is of a compilation of a flight in a Russian built YAK-52 military training aircraft. 

Please click on the video below to view. Rather than using Auto in the bottom right of the video screen, please select 1080HD for the best viewing experience.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Having the GoPro mounted on the head, makes for an interesting "pilot's perspective", but does unfortunately not always make for the most steady video footage. You basically  "see" where the pilot is looking while flying.

Since then, I've upgraded to the new GoPro Hero 3 Black edition which I will be taking  on my upcoming photo-flying adventure in New Zealand next month.

Remember, " Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward and there you will always long to return" Leonardo da Vinci


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 43: The sun is setting over the Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum must be the most iconic Roman monument. Well over 2000 years old, the worlds largest amphitheatre could apparently hold between 50.000 and 80.000 spectators.

The area is often very busy but the afternoon I was there last weekend, it was literary packed. About 70.000 demonstrators were marching through central Rome last Saturday, to protest against unemployment and recent government cuts.

Even though I've shot the Colosseum at dusk before, this time I wanted to go for a different angle. Shooting from the East side, I like how the Santa Francesca Romana church in the left side of the frame adds to the image.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 43: The sun is setting over the Colosseum, Rome

Image details:
Fujifilm X-E1 (alias Sexy-1) with the 18-55mm Fujinon lens
ISO 200, 36mm ( 54mm full frame equivalent), f5,6 , 
5 shot bracket at shutter speeds between 1/3sec and 18sec
Using a MeFoto lightweight tripod
RAW file development in Lightroom 5.2
Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop CS6 
Development of the 32 bit file in Lightroom 5.2
Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for contrast adjustment

The photo editing experts amongst you, will have noticed that I'm using the 32 bit edit method in Lightroom for my HDR (High Dynamic Range) images more and more. This gives me a far more realistic look.

Whatever you do, remember " Rome wasn't built in a day"


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 42: DUBAI - Dusk till Dawn

This Pic(k) of the week consists of two images, also called a diptych. While I was photographing the ever changing Dubai skyline at dusk last night, I decided to come back to the same place less than 12 hours later. 

Now that the cooler air is finally finding its way to Dubai again, I was hoping for perfect visibility but was slightly disappointed to see a very slight haze at the horizon when I woke up just after 5 am this morning.

Quite a few times, I've noticed that early in the morning, the Burj Khalifa (worlds tallest building, 820m), is often being lit by a sun which is still below the horizon. Hoping to have a similar experience, I was out at the same location at 0540 am this morning. 

With an official sunrise at 0617 am, it turned out that the best shooting time for this type of shot, was from about 0602 to 0612 am. 

2013 Pic(k) of the week 42: Dubai - Dusk till Dawn

Even though both images are quite strong on their own, I believe they make for an interesting comparison. 

Image details:
FujiFilm X-E1 with 18-55 Fujinon lens
Both images; ISO 200, 18mm (27mm full frame equivalent)
Top image; f14, 20s
Bottom image: f5.6, 1s
RAW files edited with Lightroom 5.2
Nik ColorEfex for contrast adjustments

I'm playing with another idea, from the same location which might take a few months to materialise...

Meanwhile, to see more of my Dubai skyline images, please click here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Last weekend I spent 30 hours in the capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing. I had planned to do some architectural night photography at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, but unfortunately the famous Beijing smog kept me from doing so...

National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

The next morning I was pleasantly surprised to see blue skies with good visibility; a very rare thing in the old Peking. Grabbed the camera bag, jumped into a taxi and 30 mins later I was shooting!

Forbidden City, Beijing

The National Centre for the Performing Arts is an opera house close to the renown "Forbidden city". The building designed by Frenchman Paul Andreu consists of an ellipsoid dome made of titanium and glass, surrounded by an artificial lake. 

National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

One can go inside the building for a nominal fee of about 4 USD. 

National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

While the three halls can seat a total of 5452 people, one is only allowed to enter the main Opera hall, seating 2416. Using my FujiFIlm X-E1 with a Joby Gorrila pod mounted on the front row of the seats I shot the following 7 frame HDR (High Dynamic Range)

National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Unlike last time I was there, there were hardly any people around at this early morning hour; perfect for some interior photography. 

Guard at Forbidden City, Beijing


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 41: Misty morning over the Himalayas

As an airline pilot I'm regularly getting up at the back side of the body clock... Such was the case when my alarm went off at 01.30 am a few days ago. 

The early morning flight was taking us from Dubai to Beijing, with a crossing of the Himalayan mountain range, North East of Peshawar (Pakistan), at an altitude of 37000 feet. 

On a clear day, the view of the snow capped mountains passing by barely 10000 feet below the aircraft, is amazing. One is quickly reminded why the flight-deck is often called "the office with the best view in the world"!

Even though I won't deny that it is often hard to get up at these ridiculous times, it is views like these keep us doing what we love so much. Even after having done this crossing tens of times, it never really bores and beasts any 9 to 5 office job hands down!

2013 Pic(k) of the week 41: Misty morning over the Himalayas

One can't help to think about life in these extreme remote villages; the small fire in the bottom right of the frame made me image somebody cooking breakfast as we were comfortably sipping our cappuccinos overhead. 

Image details:
FujiFilm X-E1 (Sexy-1) with 55-200 Fujinon lens
ISO 200, 70mm (106mm full frame equivalent), f6.4, 1/950s
RAW development in Lightroom 5.2
Slightly cooler White Balance to add to the "cold" feel
Nik Color Efex Pro 4 for contrast adjustment

A more panoramic image of the crossing of the Himalayas near K2, can be found here.

Remember; " To most people the sky is the limit, to those who fly, the sky is home"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 40: The blue hour Dubai skyline

The Summer in Dubai is almost over and unlike in most other places of the World, this is a good thing! With minimum temperatures finally dipping below 30C again at night, the outdoor photography season is about to start!

As part of my Architectural photography, I really like to go out there during the "Blue hour"; this is a window of opportunity during twilight times. After sunset but with sufficient remaining light to define contrast in the sky. The closer the place is to the equator, the shorter this period becomes. Even though it is called blue "hour", it is probably only about 20 to 30 minutes in Dubai. While on my photography adventure in Iceland last year, this was several hours...

Two nights ago, I went out to Business Bay, a new area in Dubai just South-West of the Burj Khalifa, the Worlds highest building, in order to try and find a different Dubai Skyline.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 40: Blue hour Dubai skyline

Image details:
Nikon D800 with 24-70 2.8 Nikkor lens
ISO 100, 35mm, f 6.3, 6 sec
RAW development in Lightroom 5.2
Nik ColorFex 4 with pro contrast and detail extractor
Topaz Clarity plugin for a slight boost in micro contrast

Even though I'm pretty happy with the image, some clouds would have made it more interesting. At least one reason to go back and shoot some more!

More of my "Night photography" can be found here.

Remember, if you are doing sunset photography, don't pack up your camera until you are ready to leave. The best might be still to come!