Sunday, January 31, 2010

Archeology in Aqaba

Aqaba Archeology
Of the many unique and interesting things in Aqaba Jordan are the many archeology sites.  I have not had the opportunity to find out more about these sites and their significance, but hope to do so in the future.  A couple of photographs from these sites are featured in this post.
From a photographic standpoint there are two elements of these photographs  worthy of some discussion.  First, both of these photographs are high dynamic range (HDR – type HDR into the search bar above to find more of my entries discussing HDR).  This fact is of little consequence, but worth observing is that one of the shots is color and the other black and white.  The relevant point is that HDR works equally well in color and black and white even though nearly all of the HDR photography you will find as you browse the web are in color.
Aqaba Archeology-2
The second noteworthy point is the light – the most important component to any photograph.   Questions to ask when viewing or composing a photo include
  1. What is the source of the light?
  2. Where is the light coming from?
  3. What kind of light is it?
  4. Was all natural light used, or were there lighting supplements (strobes, lights, reflectors, etc.)
  5. What is the quality of the light (harsh, soft, toned, etc.)
  6. And on, and on.
In the case of each of these photographs, the light was sunlight within one hour of sunset…very low on the horizon resulting in soft light and long shadows.  The light in the color photograph came from my left, while the black and white photograph was composed with the sun in the upper right corner of the frame.  You can use the light in many creative ways, but first you have to “become one with the light” so you can use it to your advantage.
Have fun, and go make some great photography.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Aqaba – A Visual Buffet

Carriage on the street in Aqaba
In my last post “I Don’t Shoot Sunsets (Except in Aqaba Jordan)” I featured a few photographs of the beautiful winter sunsets in Aqaba Jordan.  According to EsTeh who posted a comment about the last entry, winter sunsets in Aqaba are particularly nice because it is the time of year when clouds are likely to be present (you can read more about Aqaba at EsTeh’s web site “Your Guide to Aqaba Jordan”).
Martinis Intercontinental in Aqaba
In this post, I am featuring a few more shots from Aqaba that demonstrate a small portion of the visual diversity of the city - ranging from a really cool and immense bar at the Intercontinental hotel, one of the many Carriages that roam the streets of Aqaba, and a lonely tree on the hillside (yes, this is in the city of Aqaba…it’s all about where you point the camera!).
Tree on the Mountain - Aqaba
I have a few more photographs of Aqaba I will post soon.  I still have not had the opportunity to dedicate much time to photography in Aqaba, but I am sure that will be remedied sometime soon.
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Don’t Shoot Sunsets (Except in Aqaba Jordan)

Aqaba Sunset Pool
I don’t shoot sunsets.  While beautiful to watch, I find them completely uninteresting as photographs.  To make things worse, it is inevitable that your friends reliably reserve three obligatory categories of snapshots they feel duty bound to show you - their children, their dog, and the sunset from their last vacation.  And to make things worse, these sunset shots generally lack any sense of composition, no sense of scale (something else of interest in the photograph), and amount to little more than a gradient of pretty colors.
Aqaba Beach
Having just completely trashed the lifework of my mother who has dedicated her complete artistic self to capturing sunsets from every vacation she has ever taken, I will now take a contrary position.  Given my disdain for the cliché of a sunset photograph, the obvious challenge is “how does one make a sunset interesting as a photograph?”
Sunset Pool at Intercontinental in Aqaba
This week I was forced into trying to make a sunset interesting.  I am now in Aqaba Jordan.  From what I have seen, Aqaba is a beautiful place filled with extremely nice and helpful people.  However, I have been working sufficiently long hours that my opportunities for photography have been limited.  I was a able to escape momentarily with camera and tripod for a few shots; mostly around the Intercontinental Hotel where I am staying, and therefore these sunset photographs.
I hope you find them a bit more interesting than the dreaded vacation sunset photograph.  For all of the habitual sunset shooters out there, please accept my apologies.
Standby for more from Aqaba.
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Abandoned Buildings in Tarif, Abu Dhabi

Abandoned Tarif-3-2
This post features photography from an abandoned group of buildings in Tarif in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  Tarif lies along the UAE coastal highway 11 approximately 100km West of Abu Dhabi and about one third of the way from Abu Dhabi to the border with Saudi Arabia.
Abandoned Tarif
I do not know for certain the history of this site.  However, I can give you a reasonably good guess based on my observations.  The buildings appear to have had an initial purpose, experienced re-use for a second purpose, and finally met its demise.
Abandoned Tarif-2
My guess is that the buildings were first used as some form of military installation.  Among other clues, the original guard gate and some of the physical security components remain.  Proximity to other newer related facilities provides additional clues.
Abandoned Tarif-2-2
It appears that when the military left the site, it was then used as a worker camp for immigrant laborers working on any one of the many construction projects in the immediate area, or in the Emirate.
Abandoned Tarif-2-3
While most of the buildings are in shambles and clearly have not been inhabited for a number of years, some appear to have been used as recently as the last few years.
Abandoned Tarif-3
So now we press on with a discussion of the photography.  Shooting and processing these photographs was a real challenge for me.  My normal approach to photography is much a matter of trying to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.  In other words, by looking for unique light, an interesting angle, or an uncommon perspective it is possible to make something appear unusual and appealing although it is fundamentally ordinary.
Abandoned Tarif-4
I say this was a challenge because when making photography in what amounts to an abandoned village, everything that passes in front of your lens is far from the ordinary.  Not having a clear strategy for how to approach this, I simply proceeded with what felt natural…shoot a lot!
Abandoned Tarif-4-2
If you have not guessed the subject of the previous photograph, it is a car.  This small format does not help, but even at full size, your only clues are a shock poking out here, a seat belt hanging out there, and the remains of a passenger seat impossibly compressed.
Abandoned Tarif-5
I have two people I would like to thank for this wonderful day of shooting (over 600 photographs).  Adam Backer is a regular reader of the blog and graciously invited me to join him for a trip to Tarif.  Adam is a talented photographer, and I encourage you to visit his site; Adam Backer Photography.  Also along on the trip was Mohammed Hasif.  Mohammed is new to photography and is progressing rapidly.  It was a pleasure spending the day with both of them.
As you might have guessed, after a day that included over 600 shutter clicks, these photographs represent but a small part of the entire day.  I will share a few more shots in second entry to be posted soon.  Stay tuned!
Have fun and go make some great photography!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Times Square – Perpetual Motion

Times Square-6 This post concludes a three part series of photographs taken in New York and focusing on the Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square.  In my ideal world, I would dedicate an extended period to shooting in New York.  At every turn, there are interesting people, compositions, and light that I would love to spend a great deal of time exploring.
Life is not so kind to afford me the time to crawl through the nooks and crannies of New York and capture what I see, or the interesting aspects we can find in the ordinary.  So for now, I have to settle for this…but I will be back!
Times Square
As was the case with my prior post and explanation of the Brooklyn Bridge, for most of these shots I chose to keep a reasonably good level of motion in the final photograph.  New York has a unique energy, and the movement in the photographs helps capture this perpetual restlessness.
Times Square-4
I hope you enjoyed this quick tour of Times Square.
Have fun, and go make some great photography.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square – Black and White

Brooklyn Bridge
In my last post, The Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square I featured two photographs of the New York icons of Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge.  This post revisits those locations with a completely different perspective and feel – black and white.  The lead photograph is a great one to compare with that in the previous post…same composition, but the previous in HDR color and the second a single exposure black and white.  There are good reasons to appreciate both photographs although their feel is completely different.
The second photograph is another shot from the Brooklyn Bridge looking south along the East River.
Brooklyn Bridge-2
The final two shots feature times square at night and are both HDR photographs.  As I look around the web, I see plenty of HDR color photography, but very little black and white in comparison.
One of the things I like about night time black and white HDR photography is the greater control over the amount of motion desired in the final photograph.  In other words, a single exposure for either of these Times Square photographs would have required a shutter speed that would have introduced a great deal of blurred motion.  With HDR, I have the option of including as little or as much of that motion I desire.
Times Square-2
Have fun, and make some great photography.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square

Times Square from above
Over the next week I will be posting some photographs from New York.  One of my steadfast photography mantras is that if you take a Zen approach by putting yourself in an interesting place and simply wait, the photographs will come to you.  It is just a matter of patience.  Whether it is a unique light, an interesting person, or some event, you need only be ready to capture it.
This is not the case with New York.  New York is more like an all-you-can-eat buffet overflowing with all of your favorite foods.  There always seems to be interesting lighting, interesting faces, and so much activity you are forced to be selective rather than waiting for the next special moment to present itself.
Brooklyn Bridge
The second featured photograph, the Brooklyn Bridge, is not only an iconic New York landmark, but also emblematic of NY’s constant flow of activity.  For those of you who follow this blog, you will recognize this shot as an HDR.  One of the artifacts of HDR photography is the “ghosting” of objects in motion.  These can be edited, but in the case of the constant flow of humanity traversing the Brooklyn Bridge, I decided to leave the “ghosts” in the photograph – an appropriate way to represent a bridge that appears more alive than its steel and stone suggest. 
On a related note, please excuse some of the artifacts in these shots…they have not been fully processed as you can tell from the banding in the Times Square shot.
Stay tuned for more from New York.
Have fun and go make some great photography.