Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

Big News!

August 26th, 2010

Hello everyone!

I’m very happy to announce that my brand spanking new website is up and running!

The new website looks way cooler, runs more smoothly, contains a number of new pictures, changes to the galleries and even has a shiny new feature – a password accessible client area. :)

My thanks to the excellent team at Creative Motion Design for the web design and their help (I’m useless at all this tech stuff) in the smooth transition.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank you all so very much for your continued support. As of the time of writing this I’ve hit 11,173 individual visitors to my website and blog! :)

Cheers!

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The Kfardebian Natural Bridge

February 4th, 2010

On the road between Faqra and Faraya-Mzar in the Lebanon’s Kfardebian district, stands an impressive natural structure: a stone bridge the archway of which measures some 38 meters. I understand that this “Jisr el Hajar” is listed among the top ten natural wonders of Lebanon (at No. 8, if I’m not mistaken), and accordingly is under (much needed and occasionally inadequate) government protection.

Here are a few shots from my visit to the area just before the last snowstorms.

This is an HDR image created from 5 separate exposures. I had to lie down flat on a tiny bit of rock that hung out over the void to take it.

Interestingly, the place was a hive of activity, with several groups of rock climbers arranged along the cliff face to the right of the bridge.

I also enjoyed the peculiar rock formations in the area I stood in, overlooking the bridge.

More pictures coming soon!

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Hands II

February 2nd, 2010

Back in September of last year, I began a mini-project to photograph something I felt was relatively neglected and which offers a glimpse at a person’s inner world: hands.

It’s been a while since I added anything along those lines. So here are a couple of shots.

More pictures coming soon!

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Experiments in Light

January 29th, 2010

I was at a house party a while back when one of my friends walked into the path of an overhead spotlight. The play of light sparked an idea. I whipped out the camera and gear, and ended up roping most everybody into a somewhat mad photo shoot. Here are two of the results.

The first image was taken with the available light from a small overhead spotlight.

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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The Chabrouh Dam

January 25th, 2010

That big massive wall above is the Chabrouh Dam. The yellow stone is supposed to help meld the wall of the dam with the surrounding mountainsides. From where I was standing, it seemed to be ineffective that way. Still, it does look pretty impressive. The 63 meter high dam is the largest in Lebanon and was inaugurated in 2007.

As we got closer to the dam, we passed a sign that proudly proclaimed, in both Arabic and English, that the Chabrouh dam area was home to an eco-friendly reforestation project. It was with no small measure of irony that I noted the pile of rusting iron dumped unceremoniously smack in the middle of the planted saplings, and just a few meters from the sign.

As I reached the foot of the dam, a lone figure walked out to the edge and looked down at the view below. Unfortunately, the figure disappeared before I could take a snap. I was incredibly lucky when the figure again came back to the edge and stood a moment. The clouds behind her parted just as I clicked.

My friends and I decided not to follow the long and windy road to the top of the dam (see the picture after the one here below). Instead, we decided to climb up the almost sheer wall of the dam. All 63 meters of it. Good fun and much-needed exercise (for me).

In the distance towards the top of the scene below you can glimpse the Faraya-Mzar skiing domains, the very top of the mountain snow-covered. We’ve had about 4 or 5 near constant days of rain and thunder and the temperature has dropped rather significantly. I would imagine that enough snow would have fallen by now to warrant the opening of the ski slopes…

Towards the bottom of the picture you can see myriads of saplings peppered across the slopes: the first signs of the reforestation project.

The patches of cloud spread across the sky were just stunning:

The scene below is of the reservoir hidden behind the dam. The reservoir has a capacity of some 8 million cubic meters of water and is about 1300 meters long. The water level seemed relatively low when I was there, but I’m sure with the steady rains we’ve been having as I write this, the water level must have risen somewhat. I would imagine the scene would be somewhat different as well, with the peaks all in white. Perhaps I may take myself back up there to take a look…

The image below is an HDR, created out of 5 different exposures.

More pictures coming soon!

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Bangalore Portraits – Part IV

January 17th, 2010

This here is the last post featuring portraits I made in Bangalore. You can check out the previous instalments in the series here: Part I, Part II and Part III.

This here is Ganesh. Yep, like the Hindu deity. He is one of the guards at the Bangalore Palace. He was standing to attention outside the entrance for hours, gently smiling to the wedding guests as they flitted by.

This gentleman and his rather large collection of oversized hats came up to our vehicle at one point as we were waiting in traffic.

I came across this friendly dude as he was on his break, just off Commercial Street.

This is Azam. He owns and runs a fruit store called Fresh Fruits on Brigade Street. He is one of the kindest and friendliest people I met in Bangalore.

I’d stopped outside his stall with a few frs, one of whom wanted to try out, and buy, some rare Indian fruit. Azam was happy to walk us through a range of different fruits, telling us where each one came from and what made it special. Then he would cut out slices of each fruit and hand them to us to try. He wasn’t pressing us to buy anything from him. He was just happy to introduce us to the variety of fruits that India has to offer.

At one point as he was talking, a beggar came up to our party and signed to us for some alms. Azam, without interrupting his explanations, and without making any show of it, reached behind him and selected a fruit, making sure it was ripe, and then handed it to the beggar with a slight nod. It was done so naturally and quietly that no-one else in my party noticed.

Be sure to visit this extraordinary man at his fruit shop the next time you’re in Bangalore.

One of the first things I would go on about to most anyone who would listen upon my return from Bangalore was the amount of colour! The wedding itself was incredible on its own, but even everyday wear was so full of rich bright colour. For example, take this gent, his wife and his textiles. He’d set up shop off a tiny side-street off Commercial Street. I used flash in the shot below to make their eyes pop.

I couldn’t not make a portrait of this woman. She was sat by her lonesome in a pile of rubbish on a side-street off Commercial Street.

This coconut seller expertly chopped up a number of coconuts for our thirsty party. When we were done sipping the refreshing milk, he then chopped each coconut in half, carved out a makeshift spoon with one chop of his machete, scooped out the tender pulp out of one half and piled it into the other before handing them back to us (with spoon).

These three boys, who put me in mind of some scene from Slumdog Millionaire, accosted me and a friend outside a building on a street just off Brigade Street. They wanted to shine our shoes. We politely declined. The boys didn’t insist, and made ready to leave. But there was something about the eldest boy that called to me. Something about the kindness in his beautiful eyes. I suggested to them that while I couldn’t pay for their services, I could make their portrait. They agreed and patiently waited a few minutes for me to pull out my camera and set up. Then the eldest brought the younger two closer and held them. I showed them the picture afterwards (I love that about digital cameras) and they thanked me and moved on. The youngest called out to me just moments later, pointing to some bags of potato chips (that’s crisps to you if you’re British) hanging in the display of a tiny store. I think the most heartless would have found it impossible to resist getting a few bags for them. Shortly thereafter, after the boys had moved on, my friend pointed something out to me that I’d missed out on completely: they had sought to shine our shoes, but they themselves were barefoot.

Of all the pictures I made in India – in fact, of all the pictures I made throughout 2009, quite possibly since I first put eye to camera viewfinder – I am proudest of this picture.

More pictures coming soon!

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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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Bangalore Portraits – Part III

December 16th, 2009

Carrying on from Part I and Part II, here are a few more portraits of the great people I met in Bangalore.

I met this family when I stood watching a Sikh procession in celebration of the birth of Guru Nanak (more on that later). I love the way this picture turned out. The son resembles the mum, and the daughter resembles the dad, and the son and mum were facing the same way, and the father and daughter a different way. And yes, they were all sat on one tiny motorbike. As is pretty much standard, only the father wore a helmet, cause that’s the minimum required by law – the driver of a bike must wear a helmet.

Family on a Bike (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 30mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/320secs)

This man I met outside a fruit stall on Brigade Street. He’s a retired aircraft engineer who worked 35 years building and designing aircraft for an aircraft manufacturer with operations in India (the name escapes me). He stood proudly to attention while I took this shot. I understand from conversation with him that he’s dedicated his post-retirement life to his religion.

Retired Aircraft Engineer (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f6.3, ISO 200, 1/125sec + flash SB900)

One of the ladies I met in Cubbon Park. She and her friends were collecting wood.

Wood Collector (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 35mm, f4, ISO 200, 1/30sec)

This is Mubashir. He’s a Muslim Indian from Kashmir who, along with his brothers, own and run a store called Asian Arts Emporium (located on 8 Cunningham Road). They sell some very fine silk (for saris and dresses), and all sorts of interesting arts and crafts. I visited their store twice with friends and made a goodly number of purchases.

We ended up having long and very interesting conversations with Mubashir. I particularly enjoyed our conversations about Islam. It’s a shame that Islam as it should be: one of peace, faith, humility, dignity in the face of adversity and enduring human kindness; does not seem to appeal to the popular media. That’s why the patience and warmth of people like Mubashir is important.

The conversations we had with Mubashir also brought the sheer breadth and variety of India to the fore – he doesn’t speak Kannada, the prevalent language in Bangalore, an requires a translator when dealing with Bangaloreans. The sheer number of languages and dialects spoken in India is staggering. You can find out more here.

Mubashir (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

This man encouraged the mapseller to stand for her portrait and then happily agreed to stand for his own.

The Mapseller's Cheerleader (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/50sec + flash SB900)

This woman appeared silently while I stood at the gateway to a temple on a street off Commercial Street taking pictures of the temple grounds within. She allowed me to shoot the temple, even invited me in to do so. However, I didn’t wish to intrude and so remained at the gate to snap a few shots. I then asked her if I could take her portrait. She graciously acquiesced, but remained at distance. I was struck by the peace in her kind eyes.

The Temple Keeper (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f5.6, ISO 1000, 1/80sec)

This here is The Park Hotel‘s one and only Raja Gopal. I thought of rendering this picture in black & white. But I liked the colour of his dastaar (Sikh headdress).

Raja! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 65mm, f5.6, ISO 200, 1/80sec)

Meet the Liftman. This fine chap took me on a few rides up and down in the elevator of a building off Brigade Street.

Elevator Man (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/100sec + flash SB900)

More pictures coming soon!

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