Fountain of Youth

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve taken lots of portraits of my favourite son but this shot taken of Che lost in fascination as he watches the coloured lights and fountains outside the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi is definitely one of my favourites.-The expression, lighting , colour all gel in a le moment decisif 🙂 kind of moment..

The Yas hotel is a really cool piece of architecture and a study in architectural lighting worthy of a blog post too, coming shortly…

 

 

High Dynamic Range

 

Yet another huge warehouse fire in Sharjah this week- there have been at least 6 since I arrived her 2.5 years ago, and Ive photographed several principally for my son who is a big fan of Fireman Sam.

So driving home on Weds evening I whipped out the Iphone and snapped a couple of shots in HD mode, and then decided to see what the Photoshop/Automate Merge to HDR Pro could come up with.

Just to explain briefly for the uninitiated-HDR is an anacronym for High Dynamic Range. When I was a lad this was something that first read about on the packaging of an TDK C90 Audio Cassette –(remember those anyone??  I used to record the TOP 40 off FM radio on one every week!) Well anyway HDR basically meant or was supposed to mean that the tape could record both the Deep bass frequencies and the High treble equally well.

Now that we’ve all gone digital its been applied to photography. There are even specialist (expensive eg. Spheron) cameras around which take HDR shots at the point of capture and create huge 50 Trigabyte files in the process. These cameras have a rather more sensitive CCD than your ordinary DSLR and so can capture light at the very dark and very bright ends of the spectrum. The result is (or should be) a high resolution image which has great detail in both the shadows and highlights.

But your average Joe can just as easily (and even moreso now that its built into Photoshop) create HDR photography by simply taking multiple shots at varied exposures of the same scene. Once you have the image on your computer each exposure is essentially layered and you can then manipulate the pixel data from each to create a final composite image which has far more detail in both the bright highlights and shadows than would be possible from a single ‘average’ exposure.

Back to my fire shot; I wanted to enhance the dramatic impact of the image and in the end decided that in for a penny in for a pound I may as well go completely over the top! I played around for a while just tweaking the sliders on exposure/gamme vibrace etc, but then found the Surrealist setting in the presets gave me the kind of thing I was after.

So whilst HDR isn’t something that I’ve really gotten into yet, but now that Ive dabbled I will probably do more. Im going to try it out on some interiors which is where it can really come into its own I think. I think the key to it is either subtlety or completely OTT drama. For my money there a quite a few photographers out there producing a lot of really gaudy over-saturated and very artificial plastic looking HDR imagery which is neither at the moment but that’s just MHO.

David Nightingale is one of the better photographers using HDR. He’s has done some really nice work and his seminar at Gulf Photo last year was interesting – which reminds me its that time again and if you havent been and you can make it to Dubai I highly recommend it:

http://www.gulfphotoplus.com/gpp/2012

 

 

 

 

Al Aint

So here are a couple of shots from that same recent Al Ain shoot.

Actually, and probably obviously one is cropped version of the other the intent being to create a more pleasing composition.

But in a flurry of Photoshop workflow I didn’t stop there.

Spot the difference?

So perhaps you noticed that the cropped version has also had its levels tweaked to up the brightness and contrast a little -you can see the sparkly things on the back of the lady nearest the camera as a result. (click on the image to enlarge)

Maybe you can see that the line of the building verticals have been straightened with a little bit  Edit>Transform >Rotate. so that they no longer appear to be toppling over.

Perchance you noticed the hint of Azure that has been added to the sky?

But most likely you certainly noticed that the flood-lights on top of the building to the left have been removed.

The maxim that the camera never lies, may still be true. but you can certainly stretch the truth a good deal in Photshop.

I hardly ever take my retouching in post this far. Im not even that keen on cropping. I prefer to show the ‘reality’ of the scene as shot. But on this occasion I felt that those lights were not only distracting elements in terms of composition but that they took something away from the scene -somehow making it less ‘exotic’ .

But in my attempt to ‘prettify’ the picture I am aware that I am no longer telling the truth.Ok its a small fib and maybe no big deal but next time where will it stop??

And does it matter?

Retouching or Reconfiguring?

Everyone’s at it. Even Annie Liebowitz employs a team of retouchers.

Answers on a postcard please -alt you could just leave a comment below 🙂

Yoga Session

Here are a few images from a shoot I did recently at the home studio of yoga teacher and life coach Adriana Me Barr.

Im really pleased with the way this turned out. Especially the backlit shots of Adriana in yoga pose against the white curtains. I kept things very simple and used only natural light apart from using speedlite on camera fill flash for the portrait shots.

It helped to have such an easy going friendly model. Adriana exudes warmth & positivity.
I hope I have captured some of that energy!

You can see more at.

Abaya Road

I was a the Madinat Hotel in Jumeirah the other day when I noticed this striking lady. It was hard to miss her since she was modelling for another photographers shoot.

I couldn’t miss such a golden opportunity (literally as they a were using a gold reflector for fill lighitng) and asked if I could grab a few shots myself.

Mai- the model, and Sherina, the photographer agreed in return for giving them a hand holding said reflector! We tried a few different setup round and about the Madinat. They were trying to be discreet & worried abut being stopped by security but surprisingly (to me coming from London) nobody paid us too much attention.

Sherina told me she is a student in her final year at the American University in Dubai and the shoot was for her designer friend Mayassa.
She tells me she is also working on a project on UAE bikers which sounds really interesting I might assist her on that too!

Anyhow, haven’t seen her shots from the Madinat shoot but here are a couple of mine. I had to restrict myself to head/shoulders only as they are worried about people ripping off the beautiful Abaya designs.

Lunch Anyone?

Recently I did a little impromptu food shoot.

Or rather food shot.

It was prompted over lunch by the appearance of Cyril here who suddenly decided to poke his head out from underneath the lettuce of my side salad.

Now I know that in France they consider these a delicacy- actually I tried them once, and agree that smothered in garlic butter and no longer alive they are quite tasty. But raw and moving it didnt really appeal to my taste buds. Rather the opposite in fact.

But just before I summoned the waiter to show the excess ingredient, I decided on the spur of the moment to take a shot on my iPhone. And I really like the pic I got!
Its more or less a macro shot and Im pretty impressed at how well the iPhone d the focus and colour. -so much Ive set it as my iphone wallpaper!

Anyhow. The waiter came, and took Cyril away shortly afterward. And a few moments later a very apologietic manager came and waived the bill.

So I got a really nice shot and a free chicken foccacia.
Who says there no such thing as free lunch?