Friday, December 27, 2013

H a p p y 2 0 1 4 ! ! !


Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY is wishing all clients, blog-readers, friends and fans of the website, a GREAT 2014!


See you on the other side!


BJORN



Monday, December 23, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 52: Cloudy skies over Dubai

As most of you know, clear blue skies are not ideal for landscape photography. Spectacular cloud formations are rare in Dubai and once they do form, it gets the attention of most outdoor photographers!

This is exactly why I was up before the crack of dawn to shoot the Dubai skyline at my favourite location near Business Bay. I was however disappointed that the strong wind spoiled the expected reflections in the water… 

Because of this, I immediately started seeing in Black and White and more particular in an Ansel Adams style. High contrast skies like the famous landscape photographer shot so many times in Yosemite and other US National Parks. 

2013 Pic(k) of the week 52: Cloudy skies over Dubai

Image details:
Nikon D800 with 14-24mm 2.8 Nikkor lens
ISO 100, 16mm, f16, 10s
RAW development in Lightroom 5.3 
Nik SilverEfex for Black and White conversion

More of my Dubai Skyline images can be found here

Next week is the third anniversary of my Pic(k) of the week series. What started in 2010 as an experiment, has turned into a very popular item of the Bjorn Moerman Photography blog. The blog is doing well lately, with already more than 15.000 views in the month of December!

It's hard to believe that yet another year is almost over again! As previous years, I'll be blogging my best 2013 images somewhere in the beginning of new year.



Remember: "There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs" - Ansel Adams

See you at the other side!

BJORN



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 51: Moonrise over Dubai

As a project for the winter, I've been playing with the idea of shooting the moonrise and moonset from a few locations in Dubai. 

One of them was from the Eastern part of the Palm Jumeirah, where I was looking at framing the rising moon over the Burj al Arab; sometimes been referred to as "The Worlds only 7 star hotel". 

Even though I have some tighter shots of only the Burj al Arab, I've chosen one where the Burj Khalifa can also be clearly seen on the left side of the image.

Using "The Photographer's Ephemeris" (TPE); a program I frequently use to plan the exact position for moon/ sunrises and sets, it was clear yesterday night was the one day of this moon cycle it could work!

Totally by coincidence, I bumped into US travel-photographer Elia Locardi at the site; if you are not familiar with his work, you have to check it out at his " Blame the Monkey" site which has some amazing HDR photography. Accompanied by another Dubai based photographer Charlie Joe, both were great company to shoot along with!

Due to a haze layer at the horizon, we suspected that the moon would only become visible once it was higher in the sky. But we were however pleasantly surprised when the orange coloured full moon appeared low on the horizon, just a few minutes past the official moonrise time. 

Applications like TPE, which also are available for smartphones, are a great solution to set up all camera gear before the sun or moon are visible at the horizon. It takes all the guessing out of the equitation and is something I can not work without!  

2013 Pic(k) of the week 51: Moonrise over Dubai

Image details:
Fujifilm X-E1 with the 55-200 Fujinon lens
ISO 200, 78mm (117mm full frame equivalent), f5.6 
3 shot bracket with a shutterspeed varying between 1.8 s and 0.9 s
Photomatix for a 32 bit merge to HDR
Lightroom 5.3 for further development 
Nik ColorEfex pro for slight contrast enhancement

More of my Architectural images of Dubai, can be found here.

Remember: "We are all like the bright moon; we still have our darker side" - Kahlil Gibran

BJORN

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Al Ain Airshow 2013

End of last month I attended the Al Ain airshow, about 1h 15' away from my home in Dubai.  The yearly airshow at the civil-military airport deep into the UAE desert, has been my favourite aviation event in the region for several years now. 

UAE Air Force Desert Falcon, F-16 E

After last years event was cancelled, I became a little sceptical about its future. This year's however surely did make up for this!

Having new organisers, it felt like it went back to the roots; an airshow with aircraft parked closer to the public. Something that us photographer's and aviation geeks especially like!

Royal Jordanian Falcons

Even though, I was given media credentials, most images except for a few, could have easily been made from the general spectators areas.

Unlike previous years, there was no aerobatic competition. Something that was probably appreciated with the majority of the spectators, which tend to appreciate a more varied show.

Al Fursan UAE Jet team with the RC model

Three different "military jet teams"performed at Al Ain this year. The Saudi Hawks flying six BAe Hawk Mk65;

Saudi Hawks

The World renown Red Arrows from the UK, flying a total of nine of the same aircraft.

Red Arrows, Royal Air Force Jet team

And lastly the relatively new UAE team; Al Fursan flying seven Aermacchi MB339A's. An image of Al Fursan made it to my Pic(k) of the week 49, two weeks ago.

Al Fursan UAE Jet team Solo

Another return visitor to Al Ain is Miss Demeanour, a  very colourful 1950's Hawker Hunter F58A. Unfortunately, it looks like this was the last show of the aircraft, as its present owner in the UK is looking for a new home… Lets hope Miss Demeanour will be taking to the skies again soon!

Hawker Hunter, Miss Demeanourg

There were also quit a few modern day fighter displays at Al Ain. The most note-worthy was the Royal Air Force (UK) Typhoon Eurofighter.

RAF Typhoon Eurofighter

Like most years, it doesn't all fly at Al Ain; this jet powered school bus with an F-4 Phantom engine, got a lot of attention. Luckily I had my ear plugs in when it did its high speed pass!

Jet powered Schoolbus


What I tend to like the most, are the aerobatic propellor demos like the Breitling Wingwalkers;

The Royal Jordanian Falcons flying the high performance aerobatic Extra aircraft;

Royal Jordanian Falcons

Or the Goodyear Eagles flying 3 Pitts Specials

Goodyear Eagles flying the Pitts Special

On par with most large Airshows, Al Ain this year also had a small night airshow. But unlike the US or European shows where this can only be done later at night during the Summer months, it started already around 6pm.

My preferred act was without doubt the SWIP team, flying a duo of Silence Twisters.

Twister duo, sponsored by Huawei during the night airshow

Another Al Ain airshow with plenty of International demos, that definitively worth the 10 EUR entrance fee!

A selection of the 2013 Al Ain Airshow images can be found here.

For my photographer blog-readers; all images were shot with the Nikon D800 and the 70-200 VR2 2.8 lens with and without the 1.7 teleconverter. All RAW files have been developed in Lightroom 5.2.

Hope to see you again next year AL Ain airshow!

BJORN



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

3 Weeks with the FUJIFILM X-E2

Now that I've returned the new Fujifilm X-E2 camera to Fujifilm Middle East, I found the time to make a 2 min slideshow of some of the best images shot with this amazing new mirror-less camera!

Please click on the image (video) below and make sure you watch it on the 1080p highest resolution.

Images were all shot with a pre-production Fujifim X-E2 over a two week period travelling through Sydney, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Dubai

If you missed it, please checkout my honest thoughts on the X-E2 here.

For the Vimeo fans amongst you, the slideshow can also be found here.

Last but not least, if you have the slightest interest in the Fuji X series camera system, make sure that you visit the two following links by German Photographer Thomas Menk. He does a great job collecting all X-series related blogposts at:

http://www.scoop.it/t/fuji-x-pro1

http://www.tomen.de/blog/

Remember, " A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without the camera" - Dorothea Lange

BJORN





Monday, December 9, 2013

Pic(k) of the week 50: Dubai's tallest - size does matter!

The last few days, we have been spoiled with beautiful sunsets in Dubai. Even though chances for a nice sunset are much higher in the Winter time, it is quite rare for the Gulf region to see this happening several days in a row.

The image below, was taken while on a boat trip with friends, from a tiny man-made island, about 1 km in front of the the Jumeirah Beach Park. Yes, friends with boats are always nice to have!

The island is a great place for shooting the skyline West of the Burj Khalifa, especially if one wants somewhat of a different perspective.

I went for a low viewpoint, with only the three tallest buildings of Sheik Zayed road sticking out; the Burj Khalifa (820m) and the twin towers of the worlds tallest hotel, JW Marriott Marquis on the right (355m). There are several tall +200m buildings behind the sand wall.

2013 Pic(k) of the week 50: Dubai skyline - size does matter

Image details:
Fujifilm X-E1 (Sexy-1) with the 18-55 Fujinon lens
ISO 800, 44mm (67mm full frame equivalent), f8, 1/55s
RAW development in Lightroom 5.3RC
Nik ColorEfex Pro for detail and contrast adjustment

More of my Dubai skyline images can be found here.


Remember: " Twelve significant images in one year, is a good crop" Ansel Adams

BJORN


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Shooting the streets of Hong Kong with the Fujifilm X-E2 & 27mm pancake lens

A last test I wanted to do with the Fujifilm X-E2 I had on loan from Fujifilm Middle East, was a Street Photography shoot. Spending 36 hrs in Hong Kong earlier this week, was perfect to see how documenting the streets with the new camera, compares with the Fuji X-E1 ! 

Fujifilm Middle East also lend me the tiny 27mm 2.8 pancake lens; a great companion for my street photography needs. All images below were shot with this very sharp prime lens.

Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens

I've written on this blog several times, that Hong Kong is a Street Photography paradise; after New York it is clearly my preferred place to document daily life on the street!



Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens
I shot the images below over a two hour period, walking along parts of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, the camera was set up using the new AUTO ISO mode (min shutter speed 1/400s for fast street photography action, maximum ISO 3200). 

Some of the images were shot from the hip, like this one below. 

Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens

Images were all shot in RAW format (RAF called by Fuji) and then converted to Black and White in Lightroom 5.3 RC, even though the camera was set up to shoot in Black and White with a Yellow filter. This way I already "saw" in B&W through the viewfinder.

Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens

The better autofocus really has been great while using the X-E2 in Street Photography mode. Sometimes things on the street happen quickly. A split second difference in grabbing the focus often makes or breaks the image! Just like when this sailor looked straight at the camera on the Hong Kong Star Ferry.

Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens

When shooting on the subway (metro), it is vital that one can shoot without being noticed. Even though the shutter is clearly louder than the Fuji X100S, it is acceptable.

Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens

Since I have started using the Fujifilm cameras one year ago, my love for Street Photography has grown exponentially. There is no way I would even get close to having the same results with the full frame DSLR like my Nikon D800. 

Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens

After I have used my own X-E1 for a few days again now, (yes had to return the X-E2), the main differences I notice are the improved autofocus and the somewhat faster writing speed to the memory card. I also appreciate the higher resolution on the LCD screen to check my focus after the image has been made.

Hong Kong Street Photography with the Fuji X-E2 & 27mm lens

So overall I can really recommend the Fujifilm X-E2 with the 27mm pancake lens, as your main Street Photography camera/lens setup!

All of my recent street photography can be found here.

Remember; "Your first 10000 images are your worst" Henri Cartier Bresson

BJORN


Thursday, December 5, 2013

NEW ZEALAND, SOUTH ISLAND FLY AND DRIVE AWAY

End of November, I left for a two week photo-flying adventure to New Zealand. While we had been to New Zealand on a similar trip before (Flying Camper trip 2006), we this time decided to limit ourselves to the South Island.

Rather than carrying my normal heavy DSLR equipment, I only took two mirror-less Fujifilm cameras and a few small lenses and a lightweight tripod. More info on the testing of the pre-production Fujifilm X-E2 on the New Zealand trip, can be found in this previous blogpost.

On trips like these we typically also rent a single engine aircraft beside the normal rental car to travel around the places we visit; making it a "photo-flying adventure. This gives me the opportunity to do some aerial photography of the same places I do landscape photography of. Rather than flying high wing Cessna's which we normally rent, this time we went for a low wing Piper Warrior III. This meant I had to shoot through the plexi windows rather than an open window in the Cessna. Not ideal...

My wife, who also holds a pilots license, is the one who does most of the flying, while I concentrate on the aerial photography part. 

Bench at Lake Tekapo

Even though the road trip was separate from the flying part, I will be combining both in  a single blogpost as most places were photographed from the air and on the ground.

We started the trip in Christchurch  the largest city of the South Island, which is clearly still recovering from the 2011 earthquakes that killed almost 200 people. One of the buildings that was completely destroyed was  the Cathedral in the center of town. Although the new church, made of cardboard and plastic, seems to be not very much liked by the majority of the citizens, it makes for an interesting architectural photo subject. 

Cardboard Cathedral Christchurch, NZ

Leaving Christchurch, our main landscape photography interest were five large lakes in the centre of the South Island. The first one being Lake Tekapo; known for its small church ( Church of Good Shepherd) and beautiful lupin flowers at this time of the year.

Lake Tekapo church with lupins

Just to the West of it, you'll find the beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki, which to the North encloses part of the Mount Cook National Park. 

Lake Pukai with the Southern Alps in the background

While we stayed at Aoraki-Mount Cook village, we did a few interesting hikes; one being a 4 hour trekking trip along the Hooker trail to eventually reach the amazing Hooker lake at the foot of Mount Cook; New Zealand's highest mountain (3754m). A must do if you are in the area!

View on Mount Cook from the Hooker valley


The next lake we spend some time at, was Lake Wanaka; a place which is well known by landscape photographers for its single tree in the lake. Not wanting to duplicate the  images, I would like to refer the readers to my Pic(k) of the week 48. Trying to come up with something different, I also shot some of the trees on the shoreline of the lake.

Lake Wanaka at sunset

Looking for a more quiet place to stay at, we made Lake Hawea just to the East of Wanaka, our home for the night. 

Flying over Lake Hawea


Further to the West, one finds the adventure town of New Zealand, Queenstown

Queenstown aerial

Given the surrounding mountains, the approach is a bit more demanding but very scenic!

Long final Queenstown

The master plan was to find our way through the valleys and eventually end up on the West coast. After the 2006 visit, places like Milford Sound were high on the list, but low cloud in the valleys unfortunately meant this could not be done safely…

Rather than ending up in the Northern part of the country near Hokitika, we eventually landed 1000km South in Dunedin. One of my preferred aerial photography subjects are textures in fields like this one below. Something that clearly can only be seen from the air and that would be a non-event from the ground!

Strange field pattern North of Dunedin

Blueskin bay, North of Dunedin

On the East coast near Moeraki, between Dunedin and Oamaru; we spend some time at the Katiki Point Wilflife reserve. Around sunset, we witnessed numerous seals and yellow eyed penguins coming back from their day at see.

Yellow eyed pinguin near Moeraki

The Moeraki boulders, are unusually large spherical boulders which have been formed over 4 to 5 million years on the seabed. Even though photographing them at low tide is far better, high tide was unfortunately my only option! 

Moeraki boulders

Although the weather held us from completing the full planned route, it has been another successful photo-flying adventure! The South Island of New Zealand, is likely after Iceland, my personal nr 2 of visited countries for landscape photography.

Clouds drifting into Akroea

Remember; a good traveler has no fixed plans and has no intend on arriving" Lao Tzu


BJORN