Nudibranchs

October 15th, 2012

Until a perfectly normal wreck dive off the coast of Abu Dhabi I had never heard of, nor seen, any nudibranchs. Suddenly there they were: all over the sunken barge. Nudibranchs are a type of soft sea slug which are apparently among “some of the most colourful creatures on earth“. Absolutely beautiful creatures.

The bright colouring is a form of defense, indicating it would make either a very bitter or extremely toxic meal for the passing fish.

While there were two types of nudibranchs on the barge, there exist thousands of species.

While some species can grow to up to 60 cm in length, the specimens seen here only measured some 5 to 10 cm. As you can easily see from this shot below of a fellow diver taking a picture of one. If you look closely, you can make out three specimens along the bottom of the image, to center-left.

More coming soon!

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Seychelles Wedding

October 10th, 2012

I seem to be shooting a fair few weddings of late. :)

One such wedding took place on the beautiful island of La Digue, Seychelles. A place that is as close to paradise as there can be.

It was the wedding of a dear friend and wonderfully talented photographer Diane Aftimos (check out her work here). The wedding was a small and intimate (we were no more than 20 people attending) fairy tale affair. I was very privileged to have attended, and doubly so to have been asked to photograph it.

Here are a few shots from this extraordinary heart-warming wedding:

Confetti were flying everywhere when I took this shot.

The massive granitic boulders which are scattered along the beaches make for some extraordinary settings, especially with the warm light of the setting sun and the dramatic crashing of the waves on the rocks.

More coming soon!

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Spotted Ray

October 5th, 2012

This shot was made off of Oman’s extraordinary Mussandam peninsula during my first ever night snorkel session.

We jumped off the boat and dropped about 5 meters below the surface of the calm waters. Almost the moment we hit bottom, the light of my torch illuminated this beautiful spotted ray.

We saw three more rays and many fish that night, but I am most proud of this shot.

More to come soon!

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First Rain

October 2nd, 2012

It had been building up for a few days now. The air was heavy. It was hot, humid. Stifling. Then, early this afternoon, it broke with a flash of light, followed by a thunderclap: Beirut’s the first rains after the summer.

I had the most extraordinary view from my balcony. The sky grew dark surprisingly fast. Strong winds threatened to blow away my laundry and had the heavy rain falling at a sharp angle. And the lighting! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much lightning.

At some point, while standing on the balcony transfixed  - watching the changing landscape, listening to the rain, the wind, the incredibly loud cracks and the rolling rumble of thunder, smelling the wonderful scent of wet earth – I thought of my camera. I’d never taken pictures of lighting. Never really had the opportunity to.

To get a good shot of lightning, you need to set up properly, and to have a measure of patience.

First, the setup. Ideally, you need to set your camera up on a tripod, and in an area which is sheltered from the lashing winds and the rain. Water droplets on your lens can ruin a shot. And worse, water in your camera can, well, ruin your camera. Second, you need a remote trigger, or a cable release. This is to eliminate any vibrations from your finger depressing the shutter button on the camera.

As regards settings, I set the camera to manual mode, set aperture at f22 (the narrowest I could do with the particular lens), ISO at the lowest possible setting, and shutter speed at as slow a speed as I could to get a properly exposed image (in this case, I varied it at between 1 second to 2 seconds, depending on how dark it got). The relatively long exposure time makes it doubly important to ensure that there is no vibration – hence the tripod and cable or wireless trigger – and the long exposure time also helps in increasing your chances of catching lighting (more on that in a moment). It also gives your camera breathing space. Every camera has a buffer – if you take too many shots in rapid succession, you can overload the buffer, which means there may be a lag between one shot and the next while your camera’s processor struggles to keep up. This lag can mean the difference between getting the shot, and not.

Next, you need to ensure you have a big memory card with lots of free space on it. See, since it’s impossible to know where lightning will strike next, and when, you need luck and patience. The trick is to compose your shot in an area where you see a lot of activity, and then fire away. Just keep shooting continuously, shot after shot after shot in immediate succession. There’s just no way you can hope to catch lightning by pressing the shutter button just when you see it. So you just keep shooting, wait patiently, and hope for the best. Hence the memory card with the lots of empty space and the patience.

Unfortunately for me, of the above gear, I had virtually none at my immediate disposal.

No tripod (it broke on my last trip and I haven’t had the chance to replace it yet). No cable release (it’s in my other bag). No memory card with oodles of space (While I’ve downloaded the pics from my last shoot, I haven’t backed them up yet, so until I do, I don’t delete them from my memory cards – You never know). So I improvised as best I could. The balcony table was too low and too wobbly for my purposes, so I took two dining room chairs, plonked them outside on the balcony, each chair facing away from the other and about 15 cm apart. I then placed a stack of books on the crests, forming a bridge between the chairs. I placed my camera on this and used my SB900 strobe’s diffusion dome as a lens support to allow me to tilt the camera and compose my shots.

Once I’d composed my shots and set up, I’d fire away for a while. Then pause, rapidly look through the images and delete the one which didn’t capture lightning (something like 90% of them). Rinse. Repeat. I lost a lot of spectacular opportunities this way. Worse, the whipping winds sent periodically sent rain flying all over the place. Invariably, it ended up on the lens and the camera. Which meant running back inside to wipe off, then come back out and set up again once the rain focused it’s attention elsewhere.

Despite all this, I think I got some pretty decent shots, especially for a first try. :) Do let me know what you think.

And yep, I aim for this to mean that I’ll start posting regularly again. I seem to be shooting a lot of weddings lately, and so may post something on that soon. Stay tuned!

Cheers!

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Etihad Towers 360

March 3rd, 2012

Serendipity. Sometimes it hits you.

The day I took this shot, I was waiting for a few friends outside their new apartment in the stunning new Etihad Towers buildings in Abu Dhabi. While they showed up, I decided to try ou my new 8mm Sigma fisheye lens.

This is the result. One of the first shots I took with the fisheye.

Needless to say, I’m loving this lens.

More to come soon!

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World Future Energy Summit Exhibition

January 15th, 2012

Hey everyone!

2012 is starting with a bang!

Come check out my work at the World Future Energy Summit which will be held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC) in Abu Dhabi from 16-19 January.

The exhibition is hosted by Enviromena, one of the main suppliers of solar technology to Masdar, in association with Green Abu Dhabi, the arts initiative which aims to promote environmental awareness through art.

As in the last time I participated in a Green Abu Dhabi event, 30% of the proceeds from the exhibition will go to charity, including towards the Green Abu Dhabi Fund’s Mangrove Project, an initiative to help save the mangroves around Abu Dhabi.

The show will feature work by myself, Suhail Jashanmal and George Lewis.

Click the link to download the evite: Enviromena_Evite

Come check us out and support the cause if you can!

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Baby Benny & Dad

June 30th, 2011

Friends of mine, a couple, were not long ago blessed with the birth of the most adorable little boy. Now, the father is an accomplished photographer himself and so it was proving a little difficult to find him in front of a lens.

So eventually they asked me to make some portraits of their little family. And it was one of the most fun shoots I’d had in a long time.

Here are a few pictures:

All shots taken with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, and lit (not always directly) with two studio lights, one of which was firing through my trusty Lastolite Hi Lite background and the other through a Lastolite Ezybox softbox.

More coming soon!

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Laqlouq Snow Walk

June 15th, 2011

Summer seems to have come upon us quite heavily here in Abu Dhabi. Got me thinking about the cooler times, such as earlier this year in Lebanon, where I had the chance to go on a snow walk for the first time.

The weather was starting to warm up earlier than expected and the mountain snow was turning a little slushy around noon, making skiing an unattractive proposition.

We went to a place known as Laqlouq, in Lebanon. We got there early in the afternoon, parked the car by the side of the road, put on the snowshoes and took off up the slope.

Below are a few pictures from that wonderful day.

The snows were already beginning to melt. And to melt quite fast. Just a few short weeks before, the entire mountain side was covered with snow, but the rocks were starting to reach out to the skies again…

As were some of the thorny wild flowers…

We were aiming to get to the cross at the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, just meters from the top, I dropped my glasses! Had to watch them ski their way down the steeper slope of the  mountainside.

We headed down after them, and I ended up falling and sliding down a good distance myself. Got snow all over my lens… Halfway down we met two dogs, German shepherds, who eneded up following and playing with us all the way back to the car.

The light was fading fast as we headed back down to Beirut. The clouds hung low over the mountains, bringing fog as the air cooled and making for a spectacular sunset.

More coming soon!

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The Cowherds

June 10th, 2011

Hyderabad is a fantastic and interesting place.

We were lucky enough to have a great driver who doubled as a tour guide on my trip there. As we were driving on a highway, I spotted the ruin of a mosque rising up from the small buildings to the right of us.

I asked the driver to stop, and we entered the narrow streets and headed towards it. And there it was, around the bend. Absolutely beautiful. Overgrown with green. Small plants and flowers growing out of cracks. Hundreds of years old, by the looks of it. Neglected. Crumbling. Seeming forgotten despite the bustle of life around it.

The mosque turned out to be inaccessible. Walled off from all sides. The driver, a man in his sixties, told us that he used to come often to that neighbourhood as a child. But as sectarian troubles began to increase between Hindus and Muslims, gradually the Muslims left the neighbourhood.

Round the back of the mosque, we came across a herd of cows and goats, tied up and docile.

Turned out the Hindu family nearby were raising them. Also turned out that the family elder was our driver’s wrestling instructor when he was a child. They hadn’t seen each other in some fifty years. It was an extraordinary moment.

We got to spend a little time with the family, and eventually I was allowed to take pictures.

The elder:

The son:

Father & son:

I feel privileged to have gotten a glimpse at a different side of life in India. One not many people get to see.

More coming soon!

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Qasr Sunset

June 5th, 2011

Sunset over the beautiful Qasr Al Sarab resort deep in the desert of Liwa, home of the rolling, flowing hundred-meter dunes and situated in the Southern UAE at the of the Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter).

I spent the weekend there earlier this year to attend a wedding.

It’s an absolutely fantastic place. The setting is one of those few places which are larger than life, reminiscent of the old Hollywood master epics from the sixties. Like something you could have found in Lawrence of Arabia, or Cleopatra, or something…

More coming soon!

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