Thursday, December 28, 2017


Last week (click here for the post) I blogged about my roof-topping experience from the Index tower in Dubai. As I also brought my Fujifilm X-T2 beside the great Medium format GFX 50S, I promised to do two consecutive blogposts about the shoot.

So this Pic(k) off the week is all about the shot I took facing North towards DIFC. Although this side obviously doesn't have the Burj Khalifa (worlds tallest building) in the frame, it doesn't make it any less interesting!

Just like with my GFX 50S shot in Pic(k) of the week 51, I set up the camera using the built in "Interval Timer Shooting" function to shoot every 90 seconds. Combining it with a 3 shot exposure bracket (-1, 0, +1EV) set-up, the camera took basically three different exposures every minute and a half. 

Recognizing the perfect blue hour moment while shooting, is not always easy. Having 2 cameras that are 25m apart makes it even harder. Although the majority of the images shot will be deleted after the editing is complete, I find it much more reliable to shoot similar images with the above technique. 

Camera setting wise, I use Manual focus with a fixed ISO and aperture; basically only the shutter speed is allowed to fluctuate. As the night falls, exposures are of course getting longer with such a set-up; something to take into account when picking the time for the Interval meter; one minute for every interval might not be sufficient to take three shots once it gets darker.

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF10-24 f4 lens
  • Base image ISO 200, f 9, 14.5mm (22mm full frame equivalent)
  • Lightroom CC Classic for RAW development and perspective control
  • Photoshop CC for some limited digital blending; highlights only
As camera support, instead of using a tripod for my second camera, I used the Platypod Pro (now called PlatyPod Max) mini tripod base. The Platypod is a plate where one can mount a classic ball-head on. As long as the surface is relatively flat, I makes for a great stable camera platform! Slightly uneven surfaces can be tackled with the three provided spikes. The Platypod can easily support the weight as I even used it with the Fujifilm GFX 50S lately. 

More Architectural images from Dubai can be found here

Remember: "A good photograph is knowing where to stand" - Ansel Adams.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Over the last few weeks, I've had the opportunity to shoot the amazing Fujifilm GFX 50S again; a digital Medium Format +51Mpx camera which captures amazing images! 

Although I shot a pre-production version of the camera earlier this year, I'm really impressed with the image quality and general handling after trying it out for the second time round. For me it is not the camera I would take on my travels when weight is an issue (airline travel), I have my smaller Fujifilm X-series cameras for that, but can certainly see doing more Architectural and Landscape work with it! After all, it is similar in size compared to full frame cameras like the Nikon D850 or Canon 5D series but offers a much larger sensor.  

What better place to take the GFX than to one of Dubai's most dramatic rooftops; the 80th floor of Index Tower in DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center) for a sunset shoot? Timing it with another rare environmental phenomenon in Dubai called "clouds", it made it even better!

First of all, access to the Index tower rooftop is not open to the public. Special permission is required; unfortunately I can't help you on this one. But although Index tower is not a hotel, rooms can be rented in the building through AirBnb (click here) and other short time rental providers; potentially offering a great alternative. Obviously try to obtain a high floor (suggest above the 50th floor) facing the Burj Khalifa. 

As the rooftop basically has two spectacular views, I took two cameras up on the roof in order to cover both opportunities; the Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujifilm GFX50S. Next weeks Pic(k) of the week will be about the view on the other side! 

The image below is facing South-West, towards the +160 floor Burj Khalifa. I find it mind boggling that being on the 80th floor, one is only half way compared to the worlds highest skyscraper.

Image details:
  • Fujifilm GFX 50S with the GF23mm f4 R LM WR lens
  • Base image ISO 100, f16, 15sec
  • Lightroom CC Classic for RAW development + perspective control
  • Photoshop CC for a small amount of Digital Blending (Highlights only) 
Needless to say, a Medium format camera like the GFX 50S, holds an amazing amount of detail; make sure to click on the image above, preferably on a large screen, to fully appreciate the quality!

Typical for a Medium Format is the slightly unusual 4 by 3 image aspect ratio. Since the start of Digital photography, most people are used to the 3 by 2 ratio or even prefer the 16:9 computer and television screens have since quite a few years now. Although I could have cropped it to one of the above keeping more than sufficient image data, I elected to go hardcore Medium format on this one! 

A 23mm lens might not seem to be very wide, but when converted into the standard "full frame" equivalent, it becomes 18mm; plenty wide enough for shots like these. It was the first time I shot the 23mm f4 lens and was really impressed with the quality of this piece of glass which was very sharp all the way across the frame. As expected some perspective correction was needed to make sure all buildings were straight; especially on the sides. I really would like to see Fujfilm come out with a wide-angle Tilt Shift lens for the GFX (and X-series for that matter). Are you listening Fujifilm Japan? ;-)

Although I shot bracketed exposures from just before sunset to the end of the blue hour, I only used a single second file (beside the base image) to do a very small amount of Digital blending of the highlights; mostly on the Dubai Mall signs in the left mid section of the image. 

If you want to check out more details of the GFX 50S, I invite you to check out the great review written by Jonas Rask here.  

Remember: "When people ask me what equipment I use, I tell them my eyes


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 50: DUBAI SKYLINE - NEVER BORING

The Dubai skyline is never a boring photo subject! Ever changing with new high-rises appearing on a constant basis, it remains one of these things I tend to come back to every winter; when the weather is more suitable to landscape/cityscape photography!

Beside trying to document the changes in the skyline, I'm always on the lookout for new angles. Such was the case when I found the view below from a relatively new man-made island.  

I used to live in one of the apartment buildings in the middle of the shot when I first got to Dubai in 2002. Hard to believe that more than 2/3rd of the high-rise buildings in the frame below, where physically not there 15 years ago! 

Image details:
  • Fujfilm X-T2 with the XF10-24 f4 lens
  • ISO200, f14, 17mm, 27sec
  • RAW file development in Lightroom CC Classic
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 with gradient and Pro Contrast filter
More Dubai Sklyline images can be found here.

I'm planning to shoot an exciting Dubai cityscape with the Fujifilm GFX Medium Format camera, in a few days... Let's see if the plan will come together!

Remember: " A good photograph is knowing where to stand " - Ansel Adams


Thursday, December 7, 2017


As a Landscape photographer I tend to take note of every Full Moonrise date in my personal calendar. Surprisingly a lot of outdoor photographers are not really aware about the fact that whenever we have a full moon, the moonrise more or less coincides with the sunset; perfect to shoot the moonrise during the blue hour, my preferred timing for Landscape photography!  

Once in a while, we have a "Supermoon"; not even an official astronomical term, but lets have a brief simplified look what it actually is...

Since the moon orbit is not circular, the distance to the earth varies. Perigee is whenever the moon is the closest to the earth, but this does rarely happen when we have a full moon. Whenever it does, its time for a Supermoon!   

Such was the case on December 3rd, when the full moon disc was 7% larger and about 15% brighter than normal. 

Needless to say December 3rd was on my calendar when I went out into the desert just East of Dubai, in order to find a good spot to photograph the brightest moonrise of the year. Since it almost coincided with the UAE National Day (December 2nd), I wanted to give it a UAE flavor!

Although the UAE is not known for having huge forests, they actually do have a "National tree"; the Ghaf tree, officially called the Prosopis cineraria, is one of the only trees which is able to survive in the harsh desert climate. 

To highlight the size of the moon, it works best when one frames it with a foreground object. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 1600, f8, 1/10s, 300mm (450mm full frame equivalent)
  • RAW development in Iridient Developer 3.2 
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 with Neutral density and Pro Contrast filter
Some might wonder, why I choose to frame the shot at such a high ISO, although I obviously used a tripod? Well especially at a high focal length (300mm) the moon moves relatively fast. 1/10s was about the best I could do without compromising the sharpness of the moon too much. 

On top of that there was some wind, making it difficult to keep the sharpness in the tree branches. I could have made several exposures with some exposure blending, but wanted to challenge myself and do it all in a single frame.

As often is the case, Landscape photography is all about being prepared. While scouting for the best place to photograph the moonrise, I always use PhotoPills. The app allows me to visualize where the moon will rise with great precision as can be seen in the image below.

There is a little bit of a learning curve when you first use it, but I find it very beneficial for my Landscape work. And, no I'm not paid to say this!

Lastly, just over a year ago, I photographed the largest Supermoon of the 21st century (yet) in an urban environment. Click here to check out the Pic(k) of the week of last year.

Remember, "Everybody is a moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody" - Mark Twain


Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Over the years I've been doing plenty of camera and lens reviews on this blog; granted it is mostly Fujfilm gear as this is what I'm using every day, but there have been some software and camera accessories as well. 

Typically I only review items which I'm actually using. When people send me gear to test and review, I have a policy to only write about the item(s) if I either use it already or if I could see me doing so in the near future. If it doesn't qualify for the above, I tend not to blog about it, but will provide the company with feedback.   

A while ago I ordered a few lens hoods from a small company called, AF Shoot, an online store based in Lisbon, Portugal. I've been using their lens hoods and camera straps for a while now and have always been impressed with their customer service. I guess that is exactly why I returned and bought a new lens hood for my XF16mm lens! 

Lets first have a quick look what kind of company AF Shoot is? The company name has nothing to do with Autofocus (AF), but comes from the owner initials; "Angelo Fernandes"; a Portuguese Wedding/Street photographer who like myself is an avid Fujifilm user. I like one man companies that were formed out of the need for items that are hard to find! Such is definitively the case for AF Shoot.

While he does sell other items, the two main categories in the AF Shoot online shop consists of Lens Hoods and Camera Straps. Lets have a look at the items I've been using over the last few weeks...


While all of the Fujifilm lenses are pretty much top notch, I'm generally not a big fan of the lens hoods they provide. The hard plastic feel of the hoods, often stand in contrast to the high quality of the metal lenses. Beside some of them are larger than what I would like. After all I switched to Fujifilm to have a smaller form factor! 

Granted, Fujifilm does have accessory metal lens hoods for some of their lenses which look and work great. Unfortunately they often come with quite a hefty price tag and are sometimes not directly available in camera stores. An alternative one often tends to look at, are the third party eBay lens hoods one can find for a fraction of the price. 

As always, you get what you pay for and I've regularly come across cheap lens hoods that will vignet or don't fit as well as they should. This is exactly where AF Shoot comes in handy; they have lens hoods for virtually all lenses (except the very wide ones like XF10-24), which are high quality and work perfectly! All of them are screwed onto the filter thread. So if you plan on using circulars filters with them, it might not be what you want. As I never use any type of filter for my Street Photography, it is especially those lenses that are now hooded by AF Shoot! Lets look at the two I use the most;

XF23 f2 and XF35 f2

Both lenses share the same 43mm lens hood so they are fully interchangeable. Not sure what it is, but I definitively have weak spot for the "vented" lens hoods. Although they are a little longer that the original plastic one they look much cooler. I've noticed no vignetting, even when shooting wide open on both lenses and are available in both black and silver. 

XF16 f1.4

My favorite lens for Night Street Photography is the 16mm prime lens; "The King of the night"! I recently bought the one Angelo had in store and really like its shape, smaller size and quality. 

As I rarely use filters on my 16mm lens, this hood will likely stay on there permanently. Again, no noticeable vignetting. When using the lens with the Optical Viewfinder of the X-Pro1/2, the field of view is slightly less obscured than when using the classic lens hood as it is quite bit smaller. 

As photographers, we can never have too many cameras bags and camera straps! Especially for my own Street Photography, I'm a big fan of wrist straps sometimes also called hand straps. Before, I've been a user of the DeadCamera straps; beautifully crafted in hard leather, they need quite some time to loosen up and become more flexible.

While AF shoot also sells DeadCamera straps, Angelo developed his own "handcrafted" brand of straps called, "Muflon". In case you are wondering, the Muflon name comes from the Mouflon animal, a strong wild sheep which is a great climber and a beautiful animal; a hint to the climbing rope some of the straps are made off!  

I tried two different Muflon straps during my week of shooting at the Xposure Street Photo festival in Sharjah; actually quite a few people approached me asking for more details about the straps I was using. So lets have a look what they are like!

A nice vintage look, tan leather colored, strap which is very light (2mm thick leather, 15mm wide) and flexible out of the box... or bag I should say as all Muflon straps come in a nice textured bag!

One can choose between tan and red colour for the small stitching; a nice little detail. It comes with two (one spare) large metal rings to connect it to your camera and a small round leather patch to protect your camera. A small slider allows you to tighten the strap as you require. 

This is my favorite wrist strap I used so far; something I mainly use on the smaller bodies like the X-T20.

Using a wrist strap on the larger camera bodies, especially with longer lenses can become tiring; exactly where a classic camera strap comes in handy! 

I choose the Yellowstone strap; made out of 10mm climbing rope and finished with nice leather endings, this strap comes with 4 (2 spare) 16mm rings to connect it to your camera as well as two black leather discs to protect your camera from being scratched. 

On my X-T2, I had absolutely no problem opening the right hand memory card door with the leather disc installed, while the left one (microphone jack, HDMI, etc...) was slightly harder to open but still manageable.

When ordering you have to stipulate the required length of the strap as it is not adjustable. I recommend adjusting an existing strap and then measuring it before committing to a certain length. I personally like to wear my camera straps across my body rather than just over my shoulder. This makes for a little longer required length; mine was 125cm which works great. If you are not sure, suggest you contact Angelo as he always seems to be ready to give you good advice where needed.

Not surprisingly the most popular colours are black and red. As I like to blend in as much as possible while shooting, I went for a grey one. Other colors beside black, red and grey are green and orange. 

Occasionally when using a full strap I'll wrapp it around my hand, which is easy to do with the Yellowstone strap as it is very flexible.  

Shipment to Dubai from the store in Portugal took just over a week; something that is very good compared to other shipments I regularly receive. 

To make it clear, the vast majority of the AF Shoot items I use were all bought by myself. A few of the latest straps were send as review copies, but as I've written at the start of this post, this does not make a difference in the objectivity of the review as I will not praise a product if I don't actually see myself using/liking it. For the record, I have send back items where this wasn't the case.

Anyway, make sure to check out Angelo's AF Shoot store here, but also follow his page on Facebook as he regularly posts discounts vouchers. With the holidays approaching quickly, this might be a perfect opportunity to buy yourself or loved one a nice camera accessory from Portugal!

Last but not least, Angelo is a great Street Photographer in his own right; some of his work can be found here



Friday, December 1, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 48: LOUVRE Abu Dhabi - Where East meets West

Over the last decennia, the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, has been promoting itself as the cultural center of the region. Saadiyat island which initially had several large museums planned, is meant to be the center of this. It is unclear which museums will eventually take place as most projects seems to be put on long term hold. I guess time will tell. 

What is fact however, is that the Louvre Abu Dhabi is now officially open to the public. The museum, which is the largest Art museum on the Arabian peninsular, was officially inaugurated on November 8, 2017. It looks like, Abu Dhabi paid 525 million USD to the French government for a 30 year usage of the Louvre name. 

Back to the Architecture.... the building was designed by French Architect Jean Nouvel and consists of a large 180 meter diameter perforated dome which provides a "rain of light"; as the Architect likes to call it himself.

I invite all readers to check out this time-lapse about the construction of the Louvre Museum! 

The museum "photography policy", allows unlimited photography (without tripods) in and around the museum which is great to see and hopefully an inspiration for many others!

The image below was framed in the middle section of the museum, where one can see the great combination of water and the amazing dome. 

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T20 with the XF18-55 lens
  • ISO 3200, 1/250s, 20mm (35mm full frame equivalent), f11
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC Classic
  • Nik Silver Efex Pro2 for Black and White conversion
I personally find The Louvre a perfect setting for Black and White Architectural photography; like to hear what the readers think! Even if you are not a great Art lover, the museum is definitively worth a visit only for its Architecture itself. 

More of my own Architectural photography from Abu Dhabi can be found here.

"I like to play with Architecture, it is my favorite game" - Jean Nouvel, Architectect Louvre Abu Dhabi

Tomorrow, December 2nd, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) is celebrating its 46th birthday, exactly as old as myself... Happy National Day UAE!


Wednesday, November 22, 2017


For several decennia there has been a rivalry between the two largest airliner manufacturers of the world; Airbus and Boeing! 

To my knowledge there has never been a formation flight of both a Boeing and Airbus wide-body airliner in a single formation. 

Last week the Dubai Airshow took place, at the new Dubai World Central (often referred to as the Al Maktoum International airport). This two yearly event,  (largest in the region), is an Aviation and Aerospace trade show, which also has a daily flying display where both military and civil manufactures show off there airplanes. 

On opening day, Emirates Airline flew both a brand-new Boeing B777-300ER and an Airbus A380 in formation. As this was not enough, the UAE military jet team Al Fursan joined the formation for an even more spectacular event. A great sight that couldn't breathe missed as my Pic(k) of the week! Both airliners were painted in a special livery to celebrate 100 years since the birth of the founding father of the UAE; HH Sheikh Zayed. 

Dubai Airshow 2017

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF100-400 lens
  • ISO 400, f9, 1/2400s, 261mm (391mm full frame equivalent)
  • RAW file edited in Iridient Developer
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro for optimal contrast, including a neutral density filter

What has now become my standard airshow photography gear, proved once again perfect for the job:
Click on the links above to check out the reviews I blogged about before.
An entire gallery of images shot during the show, can be found here.