Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Abu Dhabi Side Streets at Night

Bikes and Cook
On this visit to Abu Dhabi, I am having a great deal of fun making photography as candidates for my “Unfamiliar Abu Dhabi” project.  Just a couple days ago, I went out for an evening walk with the intention of getting some night time street photography,  This post features a few photographs from that walk.
The first shot shows a common scene on the side streets of Abu Dhabi – one of the hundreds of small restaurants with a back door open to an alley where delivery bicycles wait for the next order.
Abu Dhabi Butcher
This shot is of a butcher relaxing in front of his store – large animal pieces hanging in the front window.  At this size, it may be difficult to tell, but the subject of this photograph is standing in front of just one of many butcher storefronts.  This is very common in Abu Dhabi; similar or identical businesses tend to be grouped together.  I have not yet determined if this is an organic situation, or there is an unseen planning component that placed the groups of business together intentionally.
Hanging out on the Cardboard
This photograph captures a number of the elements that are iconic representations of Abu Dhabi’s heart.  In the background there are number of high rise buildings representing the unmistakable wealth of Abu Dhabi. 
Just in front of the buildings in the mid-ground at the left vertical 1/3 point is one of the ubiquitous mosques that are never out of view thanks to the foresight of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. 
Finally in the foreground we have three additional elements that clearly represent the state of Abu Dhabi.  To the left we have both refuse, and a man sitting atop a stack of cardboard while talking on the phone.  The man is one of the many poor in Abu Dhabi who have come here to seek a better existence than in their home countries of India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan or other countries where the opportunities for a laborer to work and earn a living are challenging at best.
The last element is the spool of electrical cable – clearly representing the unrelenting development and construction in Abu Dhabi…the principal source of work for men like the one sitting on the cardboard.
Mosque at Cristal Hotel
The final shot is similar to others I have made and posted to the blog – the minaret of a mosque set against a background of construction.  One an icon to enduring stability and the other representing perpetual change.
All of the photographs featured in this post were three shot HDR taken with a tripod mounted Canon 5D and 17-40 f/4.0L and post processed in Photomatix Pro and Adobe Lightroom.
Go make some great photography!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blog Post #50!

My first blog entry was on March 13th of this year.  Now, 7 months later, we arrive at the 50th entry.  Over the course of these 50 entries, the number of regular readers increased dramatically, my posts have become more frequent, and as a result of writing about my passion for photography, I have learned and improved.
In celebrating #50 I have decided to do a retrospective on a few photographs from the first 50 entries.  If you are relatively new to the blog, I encourage you to explore the archive.
I hope you enjoy this post and continue to enjoy the blog.  Tell a friend, send me comments, and most of all, have fun and go make some great photography!
Negative Space
The Arizona Desert – A Sense of Place
Dramatic Light on Cactus on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Urban Portraits
Jose Tucson
Why Black and White? Insufficient Color Information
And They are Off
Repeating Patterns
Stairs at ADNOC
Night Shots of Sheikh Zayad Bin Sultan Al Nayan Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Grand Mosque at Night  (2 of 22)
Swan and Sailboat in the Mist - 2
Why Black and White? Distracting Color
Fertilizer Processing at Cumana Fish Plant
LIwa Date Festival
Weaving Baskets-4_thumb[2]
Fill the Frame
Trumpet Player on Constitution Avenue - 2
My Favorite Photography Podcasts
Machu Pichu - 45
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
salvador line fishing2
Bridgespot Collection 1, and Bridge Spot Collection 2
A Dialogue on Defining Moments
A day at the (camel) races (12 of 14)
Hurricane Ivan Devastation of Grenada in 2004
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (31 of 53)
Black and White vs. Color Redux
Saint Georges Waterfront-6-2
Motivating Creativity – A Walk Around Capitol Hill
Canopy at Eastern Market
Focus Pocus! and Focus Pocus II
Staffer at the Capitol
Wrestling With HDR – Another Walk Around The Neighborhood
Union Station Rail Yard-2

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mosques in the Unfamiliar Abu Dhabi

Mosque Construction
I don’t mean to overload you with photography from Abu Dhabi, but I am spending a lot of time here, and therefore it is, by default, the subject of much photography.  Also, I am working on a project that I have tentatively called “The Unfamiliar Abu Dhabi.”  The photographs featured in the post are additional candidates for this project.
Mosque Crane Reflection
The city of Abu Dhabi is a study in contrast on a number of levels.  These photographs represent one small slice of that contrast.  The story I want to tell in these photographs is the rapid pace of development contrasted against a rich religious tradition.
Three Mosques
If you were to visit Abu Dhabi, you would never be out of sight of a mosque (the previous photograph shows three mosques within eyesight of each other, on one city block).  I can’t verify the veracity of the statement, but a friend once told me that Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, wanted mosques located in such a way that no one would have to walk more than 500 meters to find a mosque for daily prayers.  True or not, my guess is that the objective was achieved.
So now we can juxtapose mosques located at convenient intervals surrounded by skyscrapers and the ubiquitous construction and development that lives in Abu Dhabi without pause.  Contrast level one.
More of the Unfamiliar Abu Dhabi to come and I hope you are enjoying the more frequent and shorter blog posts.  I would love to hear your feedback.
Have fun, and go make some great photography!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fog in the Field

Field Near Piney Point
This photograph comes from a field in Southern Maryland.  With my normal travel schedule across eight time zones, upon my return to DC I frequently find myself awake early in the morning until I fully adjust to being back on EST.  The benefit of this is the opportunity to get some early morning photography.
In my opinion, the best light always comes at sunrise or sunset +/- an hour or two.  The light is soft and colorful.  The sky is often at it’s most dramatic, and life is generally a bit quieter.  All great conditions for photography.
The featured photograph was taken just after sunrise and before the sun was high enough to burn the fog off the field.  Fog is always a great photographic prop.  In this case it layers the field, appears to “stick” to the trees on the right, and gives us some great sun rays as the sun peeks over the tree tops.
This photograph is a five exposure HDR.  As a result, the foreground grass is highly detailed with a broad tonal range.  Also, the shadow details are drawn from the trees on the right which would likely have been lost in a non-HDR photograph.  The details of this photograph are difficult to detect in the size limitations of the blog.  If you want to see a larger version, I am happy to send it to you.
Have fun and make some great photography!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Abu Dhabi Dhows

Abu Dhabi Dhows (4 of 5)
Having spent my first career as a U.S. Coast Guard officer, my photography continues to be drawn back to the water.  I have shared only a small portion of my nautically focused work so I decided to would share these photographs – and because they may contribute to my project “The Unfamiliar Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Dhows (2 of 5)
The photographs featured in this post have a common subject; the Dhows of Abu Dhabi.  A Dhow is a traditional Arab vessel powered by sail and with engines more recently.  Sail powered Dhows still ferry fish and dates between the Gulf of Arabia and the East Coast of Africa.
Abu Dhabi Dhows (1 of 5)
The Dhow has a very unique shape and has a wider notoriety for the type of sail used.  All the dhows featured here are equipped with engines, but the original dhows used a particular type of sail called a lateen.  The lateen is reported to have been copied by the Portuguese who are well known for their worldwide maritime presence and seamanship.
Abu Dhabi Dhows (3 of 5)
The design of the dhow has a centuries old tradition.  The design and construction materials have remained essentially unchanged with the exception of the addition of engines.  Dhows remain in productive service primarily as fishing boats and a kind of coastal freighter.
Abu Dhabi Dhows (5 of 5)
I hope you enjoyed the photography and similarly enjoy the nautical theme.  There will undoubtedly be more nautical and seascape related photography to come.
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

F1 in Abu Dhabi

F1 on the Corniche-2
No, this is not a Bridgestone commercial.  However, if Bridgestone wants to throw a couple of tickets to the Abu Dhabi F1 race in November my way, I won’t complain.  I am just starting a couple week stay in Abu Dhabi, and as is my routine I was out and about looking for some good photography opportunities.  With the coming big F1 event in Abu Dhabi, these are my results.
On November 1st, Abu Dhabi hosts it’s first Formula 1 race.  And trust me, they are rabid about the race.  In normal form, Abu Dhabi does nothing half way, and has invested an unfathomable amount in this race include a superbly design course and all the accoutrements (plus some) that go along with such an event and venue.
F1 on the Corniche
So this post is a small homage to the love affair between Abu Dhabi and the upcoming F1 event.
For the photography folks in the crowd, both shots were HDR taken with my love (the 50mm) and taken affixed atop my newly acquired gorilla-pod (a small flexible tripod that can attach to just about anything, or stand on it’s own).
Have fun, and go make some great photography.

Moko Jumbies of Trinidad

Moko Jumbies (37 of 37)
Some time ago I promised to dedicate a post to the Moko Jumbies of Trinidad.  I am living up to that promise.  There are plenty of sources that talk about moko jumbies, their history and purpose.  So I will not attempt to do so, but will reference a brief article in Wikipedia later in this post.
Moko Jumbies (1 of 37)
For my part, I will tell the story of Moko Jumbies in the form of my photographs and my interaction with them.  All the photographs featured here come from a moko jumbie training yard on the outskirts of Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Moko Jumbies (36 of 37)
Quite obviously, moko jumbies are stilt walkers.  In Trinidad, the moko jumbies train for their principal performance; Carnival.  But the training is more complex than preparing for this unique Trinidad festival; it begins at a young age.
Moko Jumbies (13 of 37)
These photographs show moko jumbies as young as 6 years and as old as 14.  As they grow older and gain skill, moko jumbies  progressively graduate to taller stilts.  The silhouette above is that of one of the advance moko jumbies that has to climb a utility pole to strap on and mount his stilts.
Moko Jumbies (34 of 37)
The moko jumbie yard I visited was fascinating.  In addition to witnessing the whole process of mounting and practice, the atmosphere was perfect – the air was filled with ear splitting soca music.  Because these are photographs rather than video, I will have to tell you that the moko jumbies are dancing to the music…not just walking around, but dancing!
Moko Jumbies (30 of 37)
Another great aspect of this experience was the joy of watching kids play.  As is the case with any teenager, given the opportunity they will turn any circumstance into a game, a competition, or something completely different than adults might intend.  The moko jumbies are no exception.
Moko Jumbies (26 of 37)
For the remainder of this post, I will give you some of the history of the moko jumbies according to concise article on Wikipedia.
Moko Jumbies (18 of 37)

The origin of the term may come from "Moko" (a possible reference to an African god) and "jumbi", a West Indian term for a ghost or spirit that may have been derived from the Kongo language word zumbi. The Moko Jumbies are thought to originate from a West African tradition brought to the Caribbean.

Moko Jumbies (31 of 37)
Moko, in the traditional sense, is a god. He watches over his village, and due to his towering height, is able to foresee danger and evil. His name, Moko, literally means the “diviner” and he would be represented by men on towering stilts and performs acts that were unexplainable to the human eye.

Moko Jumbies (20 of 37)
The Moko arrived in Trinidad by “walking all the way across the Atlantic Ocean from the West coast of Africa, laden with many, many centuries of experience, and, in spite of all inhuman attacks and encounters, yet still walks tall, tall, tall. (John Cupid, Caribbean Beat)”

Moko Jumbies (21 of 37)
The idea of the Moko survived by living in the hearts of African descendants during slavery and colonial life to eventually walk the streets of Trinidad in a celebration of freedom, Carnival. While this figure was rooted in African heritage, Trinidad adapted the figure, notably by adding on Jumbie or ghost to the name.

Moko Jumbies (25 of 37)
By the early 1900’s Moko Jumbies had become an element of Trinidad’s Carnival. This figure would walk the streets of Port of Spain and other cities protecting the city and revelers from evil. As part of his role in Carnival the Moko Jumbie would accept donations from onlookers in upper floors of buildings. However, his notable figure of Carnival slowly faded until a drastic revival.
Moko Jumbies (29 of 37)  

By the early 1990’s Moko Jumbies were essentially non-existent in Carnival, until two men brought this tradition back. These men, namely Moose and Dragon, have brought the Moko Jumbie back to a place of prominence in Carnival and created a new kind of Moko Jumbie. One man originally brought the idea to them as well as the knowledge of how to make stilts. Now there are two main Moko Jumbie bands in Trinidad, Watusi and Kilimanjaro, as well as several smaller ones. So while the idea of the Moko came from Africa, Trinidad has made it its own.
I hope you enjoyed these photographs and learned something about the moko jumbies.
Have fun, and go make some great photography!