Posts Tagged ‘house’

Girl by the Window

July 28th, 2010

I came across this picture in my archives. It was taken late last year in Lebanon when I was exploring abandoned houses in Batroun, Lebanon.

I lit my friend with an SB900 set up on the floor to camera right, and a distance away, with a hint of backlighting from the light bouncing off the cieling and wall beyond the window.

The picture would have perhaps benefited from a little softer lighting, but I still very much enjoyed the play of light.

More coming soon!

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Traditional Damascene Houses

July 22nd, 2010

Within the walls of the old city of Damascus you can find peppered here and there examples of beautiful Damascene houses.

A typical Damascene house is built on two storeys, with all rooms looking out onto a spacious courtyard. Trees are generally planted there and a water basin or fountain usually adorns the center. Often, a reception area (called an Ewaan) opens out onto the courtyard. These typically consist of a U-shaped hall and seating area with

decorated

high ceilings.

During my half-day visit to Damascus, I had the chance to visit a number of these houses. Their proprietors were generous enough to allow us to visit them. Below are a selection of pictures from three of them.

One has been converted into a small boutique hotel (we got a guided tour of the place – wonderful!), another was unfortunately in ruin (but the owners are in the process of trying to restore it – the caretaker invited us in to visit it), and the third, Kasr Na’asan (Na’asan Palace), was the biggest surprise.

We’d spoken to a number of people who told us of it, so when we eventually came across it and found the door open, we entered. We met a number of people going to and fro across the courtyard, who hailed us in a friendly manner and then carried on their business. I wandered about taking in the extraordinary beauty of the place, and snapping the occasional picture. Finally, we ventured into one of the rooms to speak to a young man who was at desk working on his computer.

Turns out it wasn’t a museum or a hotel, as we’d been speculating: it was still being used as a residence by it’s owners. Oops. In testament to the extraordinary hospitality of the residents of Damascus, t

he owners had no problems with us coming in unannounced to wander about their home. They chatted with us pleasantly for a while and even offered us coffee.

Gotta love Arab hospitality.

I didn’t unfortunately get to visit one of the biggest, and perhaps best known of these small palaces – the Azm Palace. But I look forward to revisiting Damascus at some point again soon and will hope to correct that oversight then.

More coming soon!

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The Burnt Car

December 28th, 2009

Someone parked their old Volvo to the side of a tiny side street and then set fire to it. God only knows why. Insurance perhaps? That said, there doesn’t always have to be a reason why people do what they do. This is Lebanon, after all.

The carcass is visible from my window. I needed a break from work at one point and so I grabbed my camera and trusty gorillapod and went down to take a closer look.

I wanted to try some more HDR. Here are a few of the results. Each image below was created from 5 separate exposures.

Burnt Car-1 (D700, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50mm, f11, ISO 200 - HDR)

Burnt Car-3 (D700, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50mm, f11, ISO 200 - HDR)

Burnt Car-3 (D700, DR-5, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50mm, f11, ISO 200 - HDR)

Burnt Car-4 (D700, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 50mm, f8, ISO 200 - HDR)

More pictures coming soon!

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The Farm House

November 30th, 2009

On my last trip to Lebanon, a friend gave me the chance to visit a 400-odd year old farm house which is currently being renovated in the hills above Batroun.

It’s a beautiful little structure that’s completely held together at the moment by wood beams and metal bars.

Take a tour below:

The Forest (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/80sec + flash SB900)

Lights and Metal (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/80sec + flash SB900)

It was like walking through a dark metal forest.

Looking Out From The Forest (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/100sec + flash SB900)

The farmhouse is a single-story structure. The roof was accessible via a rickety ladder.

The Ladder (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 52mm, f4.5, ISO 200, 1/60sec)

This is the old oven:

The Oven (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/100sec + flash SB900)

I had arrived to the farm land in late afternoon, just before sunset. Serendipitous really, as it allowed me to experiment a little with longer exposures and a flash.

Blue Door (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

They’re evidently quite serious about the renovation:

Twilight Construction (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

Propping up The Door (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

The Lit Barrel (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

Bars in Twilight (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

Before I leave you, I’d like to share something with you that completely blew me away: an experimental 360-degree panoramic music video. I could watch 360-degree panorama videos all day.

More pictures coming soon!

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Temple of Adonis, Mashnaqa

November 10th, 2009

For some odd reason, I decided to visit the temples of Adonis. I understand there are three such temples surviving in Lebanon – in Afqa, Faqra and a place with the dubious name of Mashnaqa (more on that below).

Since this was decided the day before my departure from Leb, and rather late in the day at that, I managed to only visit two of the three sites. Still, am happy as I managed to visit both sites on the same day while taking the scenic route through tiny winding mountain roads (as opposed to the Afqa/Faqra/Faraya highway, which I used on the way back, and which required a bare fraction of the time it took to get to Afqa…).

So, the temples! The first I visited was the temple at Mashnaqa.

Mashnaqa is a small village in the mountains on a forgotten road that leads up from Jbeil (AKA Byblos).

Now, Mashnaqa loosely translates in Arabic to “the Gallows”. Charming, you might say. But one source apparently insists that the word is derived from a Phoenico-Aramæan word meaning “Place of Tears”. Same difference, no?

Mashnaqa is interesting to me for another reason. It is the first of a series of beautiful Shi’ ite villages that pepper a predominantly Christian mountainside and which I passed through on my way to Afqa. Proof that Lebanon is full of surprises, at least for me (See, I was under the impression that there were nothing but Christian villages in that particular area of Mount Lebanon. When I recounted this to my parents later, they both just looked at me blankly and said, “Well, of course there are Shi’ite villages there!”).

I had a chance to chat with the locals a bunch of times in my search for the temple (which proved surprisingly easy to find, if I’d only followed the directions to the letter), and true to form, they time and again proved as friendly and as hospitable as ever. I don’t really know why I resisted the urge to ask if I could take their pictures. Some had such beautiful faces. The kind with a story to every wrinkle, and a bright spark in kind eyes. Ah well. I know better for next time.

On a side note, oddly enough the turning point for me I guess – in terms of asking people if I could shoot their portraits – was on the plane ride to Bangalore. There was this old Emirati man and his son taking the plane with us. The old man had the kindest, gentlest face. I just had to take his portrait. Three hours or so into the flight, I finally plucked up the courage to go up and ask. He acquiesced with a smile, and I had a mad scramble to switch on every seat light I could find in the dark fuselage and try and direct it at his face in just the right way to get enough, soft, light and a catchlight in his eyes.

Here it is:

Gentle Old Man on a Plane (D700, Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 @ f3, ISO 1000, 1/40sec)

If you don’t ask, you won’t get the picture.

Right. Back to the temple!

When the temple finally appeared, it was at first glance something of a let-down despite the marvellous setting. Barely a corner and a few columns remained of the once no doubt imposing structure. But closer inspection showed it to be more than just the sum of its few remaining parts. For one thing, the setting: it rests in the cosy garden of a quaint farm house overlooking a lush green valley and mountains. Absolutely beautiful.

Interestingly, the farm house seems was built in part from the stones that once made up the temple… Go figure.

Unfortunately, the light was not as soft as I’d have liked, despite the lateness of the hour. But you do what you can with what you’ve got, no?

Here are a few shots from that beautiful, peaceful place.

The Gate (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/200sec)

Rana was evidently here... (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/320sec + flash SB900 zoomed at 180mm)

Rise Up (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/160sec)

There's a Wall There (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

The Temple (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/400sec)

The Nub (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/200sec)

Temple Green (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

A Terraced Garden (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/400sec)

Here you can see the farm house behind the temple:

Farm House (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 36mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/500sec)

And the farm house itself and its terraced walkways, built evidently from rock from the temple:

Steps and a Doorway (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/400sec + flash SB900 zoomed at 180mm)

A Shady Terrace (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 44mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/80sec + flash SB900 zoomed at 180mm)

As I said, it’s a farm house. Emphasis on “farm”. So here’s some produce seen being grown there:

Cabbage! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f9, ISO 200, 1/160sec + flash SB900 zoomed at 180mm)

Aubergine! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/80sec + flash SB900 zoomed to 180mm)

Chili Peppers! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 70mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/100sec + flash SB900 zoomed to 180mm)

Not quite ripe jabali tomatoes... (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/100sec + flash SB900 zoomed to 180mm)

More pictures (from the India trip, the temple at Afqa and others) coming soon!

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Abandoned House in Batroun – Part I

October 31st, 2009

So, as promised – Travel pictures from Lebanon and India!

After much thought I decided to start with shots from Lebanon – those of an abandoned house I came upon while wandering around Batroun.

So here goes. :)

The Entrance

Behind Door No. 1

More of what is behind Door No. 1

The Blue Room

The wall was such a beautiful blue! And the ceiling! It was made of individual square panels of intricately carved wood. Check it out below!

The Ceiling

The Pharmacy

Seems the house’s previous owner was a pharmacist…

Piling Up

The News Umbrella (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

Broken Glass (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/5sec)

As you can see, the house contained plenty of beautiful abandoned things. Shots of some of those will be coming up very very soon!

Until then, take care!

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