Posts Tagged ‘lebanon’

The Chalet

July 12th, 2010

These are two shots I took of the inside of a good friend of mine’s chalet in the mountains of Lebanon at the beginning  of the year.

I initially tried to light the scene with two flash guns, but I was unfortunately unable to get the look I was hoping for, so eventually I opted to shoot with the express purpose of creating HDR images.

More coming soon!

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Flight of the Pigeons

June 19th, 2010

I was wandering down a street at one point, when I noticed a large flock of pigeons flying overhead. They were circling and swooping in tight arcs, round and round. Someone was pigeon flying! Naturally, I paused to watch and snap a few pictures.

The art of pigeon flying remains quite popular in the Arab world. I’ve often see flocks of pigeons circling over the rooftops in Cairo, Beirut and Amman, for instance. But the shot above wasn’t taken anywhere in the Arab world. Can you guess where?

Brussels, Belgium. Yep.

Some say the use of pigeons to carry messages can be traced back to the ancient Persians (some 2800 years ago). The ancient Romans also used messenger pigeons in their military campaigns over 2000 years ago (for example, Julius Caesar was reputed to have used them in his conquest of Gaul). Use of pigeons to carry messages outside of a military setting – in a postal system – goes back to the late 10th Century at least in the Arab world, where it was developed under Fatimid rule.

The use of homing pigeons by the French during the siege of Paris in 1870-1871 gave new breath to their use in the military in Europe who used them extensively during World War I and again in World War II. You can find out more about war pigeons here.

There’s a memorial to those messenger pigeon trainers who fell in service to Belgium during World War I at one end of the garden at the far side of the Quai au Briques. Here’s a shot of it below.

All this may be interesting but it doesn’t explain why someone was flying pigeons in Brussels.

Turns out that the (modern) sport of pigeon racing was developed and gained immense popularity in Belgium in the middle of the 19th Century. The sport has since spread all over the world, though it seems to be suffering from a lack of interest by the general public. You can find out more about pigeon racing here.

More coming soon!

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The View from Faqra Club

January 31st, 2010

I was at a friend’s chalet in Faqra early one morning and took myself out onto the garden terrace with the aim of creating a panorama of the beautiful view.

Normally, at the time I made the pictures the entire mountain landscape should have been white with snow.

However, despite record rainfall this year (accumulated over just two or three separate rainstorms) up until less than 2 weeks ago there was little snow except on the highest peaks with the weather remaining much warmer than usual. The past week and some’s storms will have likely changed that some.

Click on the thumbnail below to view a larger image.

I used my Nikon D700 sporting a Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 lens and set on my trusty gorillapod. This image is created from 7 separate HDR images, each of which was created from 5 separate exposures. So that’s a total of 35 separate shots that went into creating this panorama.

More pictures coming soon!

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Temple of Adonis, Faqra

January 27th, 2010

A while back, I began a mini-project to visit and explore the three surviving temples of Adonis in Lebanon. On the same day, I managed to visit the temple at Mashnaqa, and that at Afqa.

The temple at Faqra I had to reluctantly leave for another day. I finally managed to visit the site of these beautiful ruins just recently.

It was a heavily overcast day which softened the light and chased away strong shadows. And allowed for more than just an exploration of the temple itself.

One of the most striking features of the temple at Faqra is that it was partially cut and built into the living rock. The peculiar rock formations feature in clusters at the entry to Faqra and are commonly called the “Houses of Ghosts”.  Time constraints meant that I couldn’t explore them for photo opportunities. But I guess that just means I’ll have to pay the region another visit. ;)

Here is a tonemapped shot of the entrance to the temple proper. The tiny figure of my friend standing inside the temple should give you an idea of how impressive the structure is.

On the other side of the temple of Adonis lie what I understand are the remains of the smaller temple of Atargatis.

In front of the temple of Adonis sat an empty cube a few meters across. The cube had windows cut into it. I wonder what it was meant to be.

I had my gorillapod with me, which helped me to shoot multiple exposures for creation of HDR images. Unfortunately, it proved rather unwieldy to use here given the open spaces which limited my choice of positions and angles. It also meant that the camera often ended up being at less than 20cm from ground level. That led to a lot of uncomfortable crouching to look through the viewfinder…

And finally, my favourite image from the set. I’m particularly proud of this one as it proved particularly difficult to set up and shoot (thanks to the size limitations of the gorillapod – still MUCH better than with no tripod, so no complaints). I particularly like the backlight provided by the sun gently shining through the modest cloud cover.

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Overlooking the Valley

January 23rd, 2010

I was taking a walk with some friends the other weekend in the mountains in Faqra, Lebanon. It was late afternoon and we’d lost the sun behind cloud cover. Rain, it seemed, would be coming later.

The path we followed eventually opened out onto a valley, the slopes of which were mostly stepped farmland.  The view was breathtaking.

While we paused to admire the view, I was struck with an idea.

I asked my friend, E, to model for me – she graciously agreed – and I conscripted her boyfriend, G, as a voice-activated light stand. I slapped on a half-CTO onto my SB900 flash, zoomed it to 200mm, and got G to hold it and aim it at the spot E would be jumping into.

I can’t thank them both enough – they were patient enough already with me on our walk as I would often whip out the camera to shoot some random thing or other – and they were awesome again here, full of enthusiasm. I had a blast shooting this and I hope you enjoy the result of our mountain photo shoot:

More pictures coming soon!

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Lebanese Randomness

January 21st, 2010

Today, I’d like to share with you a few random shots taken recently in Lebanon.

Window shutters, seen in Batroun:

The weapon of (mass) distraction, as explained on Gemmayzeh Street:

This put me in mind of a scene from a film noir:

The party bollard that insisted everything was real:

More pictures coming soon!

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Mary's Wisdom

January 19th, 2010

Each time I pass near Sagesse University, in Furn-El-Chebbak, Beirut, I see this beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary. Each time, I’d tell myself I’d stop by and take a picture or two.

So the other day, I did just that.

This is an HDR image, created from 5 different exposures.

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The Forlorn Tractor

January 15th, 2010

The other day, I decided to go for a walk. As per my wont, I grabbed my camera and some gear and headed out.

At one point, I was passing through what is now a residential neighbourhood, but which – back in 1995 or so – was home to olive farms if not overgrown with weeds. Now, the only sign that there ever was something else there was this abandoned tractor left by the side of the road between two buildings. I couldn’t resist not shooting it.

I chose to continue my Lebanese experiments in HDR with these shots. Each shot was created from a set of five exposures.

More pictures coming soon!

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New Beginnings

January 13th, 2010

So the New Year has begun! I hope you ushered 2010 in style and that it has been treating you kindly so far.

It’s certainly been an eventful and busy start to the year. On this end at least. Hence my prolonged absence.

This year, methinks is a year of changes. I look to be sharing the changes with you in due course.

My friend Dan seems to have started the New Year in exceptional form.

For my part, I started 2010 a little more differently than my usual. Following an excellent and relaxed dinner in the lovely company of a few good friends, we gathered ourselves and our party hats and headed to the Clock Tower – or Parliament – Square, for the final countdown under the very full blue moon.

Later, we headed down the pub, restaurant and nightclub-filled Gemmayze Street which was – not unexpectedly -overflowing with people.

It was interesting to see all the different people from so many different places out on the streets. It seems tourism in Lebanon is on the up and up. And high time too. I heard snippets of song and conversations in so many different languages (including German, Italian, French (Parisian, as opposed to the Lebanese variant), various Arabic dialects, and some Slavic language I couldn’t place).

Below, a few pictures for your enjoyment.

Just minutes before midnight, everybody and their grandmother got their camera ready to record the moment for posterity:

Nearly-midnight bokkeh:

The stroke of midnight:

Of course, there were a few TV camera crews (with obligatory truck-loads of Gear) out and about to film the whole thing:

The mood was certainly festive:

…with people hanging out of cars:

…or even converting their vehicles to night clubs and bars, with vodka and champagne aplenty:

I leave you with a shot of a party-going bollard which steadfastly insisted on continuing the party when most everyone else could barely stand:

Again, Happy New Year everybody! All my warmest and best!

Look for the next post in 2 days. J

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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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