Posts Tagged ‘united arab emirates’

Going Green

October 14th, 2010

Green Abu Dhabi, an art show focusing on the environment and sustainable development, started just yesterday and will be running for 3 weeks.

The impact of a rapidly developing economy and community on the environment can be huge. The show aims to raise awareness, and highlight the challenges faced by such a community going forward.

You can check out Green Abu Dhabi’s Facebook page here.

Green Abu Dhabi features a core exhibition by 5 emerging artists in Abu Dhabi and supported by a number of events and other exhibitions, including a Community Art Auction, where community artists will be auctioning off some of their work. A portion of proceeds of all sales of artwork and merchandise at Green Abu Dhabi will be going towards the WWF-EWS, the Future Center for Special Needs Children of Abu Dhabi, and the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services.

I will be one of the community artists who’ll be displaying and auctioning off a few pictures. All proceeds of the sales of my work will go to charity.

If you’re in Abu Dhabi don’t miss it! Come one, come all, come strong, tell your friends, spread the word!

The picture above was taken on a recent snorkelling trip.

More coming soon!

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The Award

October 3rd, 2010

Hey guys! I’m back!

Well, I’ve been back home for a few days, but they’ve been rather… full … for lack of a better word, hence the prolonged absence.

Today, I’d like to share something truly very special.

That there is my father’s brand-spanking-new award.

My father has just been promoted to Commendatore (Commander) of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Order of Merit of the Italian Republic)! The Order of Merit is the highest ranking honour of the Italian Republic. This award was signed by Giorgio Napoletano, Italy’s current President, and countersigned by Romano Prodi.

Some years ago Italy awarded him with the Knighthood (so basically he now skipped the rank of Ufficiale and went straight to Commander). He’s also been awarded with Knighthoods of the National Orders of Merit by both the French and the Spanish.

All for civil services rendered to all three states over a highly distinguished and extraordinary career.

You can see two of the medals in the Still Life gallery on my main website, pictured together with a very old portrait of my mother.

Few people can claim to have received any of these National Orders of Merit, and fewer still can claim to have been awarded all of them. He’s a great man (and clearly that is not just my opinion). It’s refreshing when all the effort and work he’s put in over the years is recognised and appreciated.

I took this picture over the weekend, lighting the award with two studio stobes fitted with softboxes.

More coming soon (though is still likely to be somewhat erratic – bear with me)!

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The Fort & Palace

August 22nd, 2010

Some time back, I offered up my two cents on the HDR debate, featuring shots from the Al Jahili Fort and the late Sheikh Zayed’s Palace in Al Ain.

Today, I wish to share with you two more shots from those two places (minus debate, this time).

Above is a shot of the main tower of the fort. Below is one of one of the wings of the Palace.

More coming soon!

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A Traditional Dance

June 15th, 2010

These shots were taken on a day trip to Al Ain at the late Sheikh Zayed’s Palace, which is now a museum and open to the public.

I’d been wandering around the old oasis in the centre of town for a while, and every so often I would dimly hear traditional Emirati music and song. My first thought was that there must be a wedding some place nearby.

Once I had my fill of the oasis, I chose to visit the Palace before I made my way home. When I arrived and walked into the courtyard I realised that the music and song had been coming from here.

This was a rare privilege for me – it’s not every day you get to enjoy one of these beautiful traditional Emirati dances. To my chagrin, I only caught the last minutes of the very last performance before the traditional singers, musicians and dancers disbanded for the day.

It was a treat to watch as the musicians danced in time to the beat of the drums, jumping and twirling as they went, and the wall of singers on either side of the musicians swung their canes in unison to and fro as they sang, swaying.

It was a challenge to shoot as the light was fading fast. I ended up shooting at the widest aperture my lens would allow (3.5 at 24mm and 5.6 at 135mm), increasing ISO (to 640 from 200 as the light faded) and slowing the shutter speed as much as I could without losing (too much) sharpness (to 1/60sec). The low shutter speed also allowed me to get some movement blur as the musicians danced and beat their drums, and the singers swung their canes. These pictures are some of the shots I took in those few short minutes.

More coming soon!

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Hatta Rock Pools

June 5th, 2010

The UAE holds quite a few natural wonders for an adventurous spirit to explore. One of them is that of the rock pools in Hatta, an enclave of Dubai.

The remote Hajar mountains make for a lovely setting to enjoy a walk, a picnic and possibly even a swim in the cool waters of the pools.

Here are a few pictures of my last venture out there, early in January of this year.

I was impressed at the number of people out visiting the area despite it being a weekday. Also at the variety of nationalities. French, English, Emirati and other Arab nationals were all out enjoying the day in the sun.

More pictures soon!

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The HDR Debate

April 10th, 2010

Before I disappeared, a debate seemed to be raging online regarding the value of HDR imaging and techniques (or lack thereof, depending on which side of the debate you stand on).

It started with Dave Cross’s post called “The Debate Over HDR” and was soon followed by a response to one of the comments on that post by Scott Kelby (here’s the link to Kelby’s post). The various views and commentary were very interesting to me and led me to re-examine the reasons why I now enjoy HDR imagery.

The debate may have died down since the above-mentioned posts were published, but I thought I would share my two cents with you anyway.

Some time ago I really disliked the idea of HDR. I felt, like some commentators, that HDR was perhaps a way of rendering an otherwise uninteresting image interesting. In some cases I still say it may serve that way. However on the whole, as I’ve come to learn to use the effect and it’s uses and limitations, I’ve come around to changing my views. My friend Dan and his work gave the first push that got me on the way to converting. He was a big proponent of HDR way before I ever was.

I now sometimes do shoot something with the express purpose of creating an HDR image. And I occasionally even feel that some images work better in HDR; Sometimes, there’s no way to light a scene the way I would like to capture the image I have in my mind, and HDR is often of help to me there. In those cases particularly, it may give me a certain flexibility that could only be rivalled by an army of assistants and an inconceivable (for me) collection of speedlights and gels. That last is perhaps not a very practical option. Especially considering I’m mostly a shooter out on his own, with (maybe) one speedlight (and at most two) and no assistants.

That said, HDR and other tools at the disposal of the modern photographer are methods of expressing a certain vision of the world around us. So, is HDR less challenging? Yes, almost certainly. But does that make HDR less worthy? In this photographer’s eye – not always. Scott Kelby put it very nicely “HDR is an effect like any other effect”.

My two cents now spent, I propose to share with you images of two different subjects. Each subject has both an HDR image (created from 7 different exposures) and a “standard” variant. The aim being to showcase the large difference between the two styles as I’ve experienced them (and the different visions of a same subject that can thus be expressed).

The first two images below are of a tower of the Hili Fort in Al Ain. I prefer the subtler tones and shades of the “standard” photograph, but enjoy the striking quality the tone mapping has given the clouds in the HDR image, as well as the detail brought out in the walls of the tower. Those friends of mine I’ve asked have come back fairly equally divided as to their preference on this one.

The second set of images below is of one of the towers at the late Sheikh Zayed’s Palace, also in Al Ain.

In the “standard” photograph, to achieve the effect you see here I exposed for the sky and lit the foreground with an SB900 speedlight. Some of the light bounced onto the wall of the palace and its tower, giving it some detail instead of making it some sharp shadow against the twilight sky.

I very much enjoy both images, but my favourite is by far the “standard” image. That’s partly due to the colour of the sky, but it may also be a measure of pride – I used the limited gear I had at my disposal to get precisely the image I was aiming for.

The challenge of it, and the satisfaction of having achieved marks the “standard” image as special to me. By comparison, the HDR variant was not as big a challenge as it’s a significantly more forgiving and much more flexible process.

Your thoughts and comments welcome, as always.

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An Experiment in HDR

December 24th, 2009

Abu Dhabi is undergoing a transformation.

Its urban landscape is changing. And it’s not just limited to the skyline: The urban planning authorities have in their wisdom decided to expand certain roads, divert others and build new ones.

A pedestrian walkway was built across one of the city’s expanded arteries. I took my camera and tripod up there one evening after work with the aim of experimenting a little with HDR, a technique I’m not very familiar with as yet despite the odd dabbling, here and there.

The difficulty in getting a good HDR image in processing afterwards was due to the movement of the vehicles in the frame. I understand that creation of an HDR image from movement should be ideally created from tone mapping a single shot. Still, this is all a learning process, no?

Here are some of the results:

ExperimentInHDR-1

ExperimentInHDR-2

Each of the images below was created from 7 exposures. Overkill, perhaps? Almost certainly. 5 exposures May have been more than adequate.

Each picture was taken with a Nikon D700, with a Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens set at f11, ISO 200, 24mm. The shortest exposure was 1/3 sec. The longest was 20 seconds for the first image, and 30 seconds for the second.

For the second image, I converted the colour HDR image into black and white after processing was complete and liked it much better that way.

Speaking of HDR, and photography in general, I have recently come across an excellent Dubai-based photography website and blog which I am enjoying very much. It’s called Momentary Awe. Check it out here.

More pictures coming soon. Until then, Merry Christmas to one and all! :D

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National Day Celebrations

December 4th, 2009

So on December 2nd – UAE National Day – I was invited by a friend to her house for a cosy party with a view. A view on to the madness on the streets below and (eventually) the fireworks.

The party was a giant success. Seen from the outside, as one of my good friends who was there mentioned, it likely would have seemed somewhat odd – It was a party which: was organised by Italian-speaking Lebanese; for Italians; who were served traditional homemade Lebanese food; and all in celebration of the 38th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. Hehe.

Anyway, pictures.

Evidently, I took my camera and gear. Now while my friend’s apartment has a great view onto the Corniche, it has no balcony, and the windows wouldn’t open beyond a 5 degree angle. I tried the roof, but it was entirely walled around, with tiny arches affording limited views onto the street below through metal grating. Not so great for taking pictures.

So at around the time the fireworks were set to start, I grabbed my camera gear (and one of my fellow guests), and hurried down to brave the madness of the crowds.

Everybody and their grandmother seemed to be out on the Corniche. All nationalities, all social circles. Everybody. The streets overflowed with humanity out to celebrate with the Emiratis and have a good time. Entire families were out picnicking  on the grass by the side of the road. Party hats and flags and foam spray cans were all over the place.

Every year, I find myself surprised by how quickly a nation – this nation – was built. How quickly Emiratis built a sense of national identity and pride. And I was proud to be out among them in this country that’s given me everything to celebrate with them.

Right. Pictures.

I was in a rush to get to get to the beach at the Hiltonia before the fireworks started and so didn’t really spend as much time shooting on the streets as I’d otherwise would have liked.

Nevertheless, here are a few shots from the streets:

As always, it was particularly fascinating to see the overdecorated cars making the rounds at snails pace, music blaring.

The Decked-Out Car (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 640, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

We even spotted horses and riders!

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

Mad Hatter (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 6400, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

Even bikes were decked out!

Decked Out Bikes (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 640, 1/60sec + flash SB900)

This Jeep just halted in the middle of the road:

Halt I Say! (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, f11, ISO 200, 6secs)

The Policeman At The Crossing (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 90mm, f14, ISO 200, 6secs)

Stalled Party Goers (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/4sec)

I managed to get to the beach front and set up just in time to catch the very first of the fireworks.

I was particularly excited as I’d never shot fireworks before and was looking to try my hand and experiment. I’m still sorting through the shots I’ve taken – haven’t seen them all yet – but here is a small selection.

Fireworks 1 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 85mm, f8, ISO 200, 1sec)

Fireworks 2 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135mm, f8, ISO 200, 1sec)

Fireworks 3 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 112mm, f8, ISO 200, 1.3sec)

Fireworks 4 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f8, ISO 200, 2secs)

Fireworks 5 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f8, ISO 200, 2secs)

Fireworks 6 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f8, ISO 200, 2secs)

Fireworks 7 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f8, ISO 200, 2secs)

Fireworks 8 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 95mm, f8, ISO 200, 2secs)

Fireworks 9 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 112mm, f8, ISO 200, 1.3secs)

Fireworks 10 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 56mm, f8, ISO 200, 1.3secs)

Fireworks 11 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 50mm, f8, ISO 200, 1sec)

Fireworks 12 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f8, ISO 200, 1sec)

Fireworks 13 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 82mm, f8, ISO 200, 2secs)

Fireworks 14 (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 95mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/2sec)

Here’s a shot from a place I’d been meaning to shoot for a long time now and never got around to: the tunnel leading from the Hilton to the Hiltonia beach across the road. This young woman came walking down the tunnel alone and the whole scene came together like a charm.

Girl & Tunnel (D700, Tamron 24-135mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, f3.5, ISO 200, 1/13sec)

More pictures coming soon!

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