Masjid Sultan Abu Bakar

Long silence due to a relocation to Malaysia, more in particular Johor Bahru on the border with Singapore. Malaysia is an amazing country, with a complex and diverse culture and full fantastic nature parks with the most amazing wildlife (have never seen so many different brightly colored birds, from bright yellow to purple, in my life), so it promises to be full of photographic adventures. On a first outing we decided to stay close to our home base (we are still trying to find our way on the complex Malaysian highway system) and ventured out to the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque, on the waterfront with Singapore. The mosque is a bizarre blend of Italian rococo, classical Greek and traditional Muslim styles, the interior deocrated with Corinthian columns, crystal chandeliers and Oriental carpets. Below some pics, all taken with my trusty Canon Eos5D with a 16-35mm f2.8 lens:
More to come soon!

Art Wolfe

Art Wolfe is one of the world’s best nature photographers, and an example of how to make photography a successful business. Art is an author of numerous books, sells his photographs through well-known stock libraries and is an expert in self-marketing. He is as well a “Canon Explorer of Light” and as such is shooting exclusively with Canon camera gear, something which I can easily relate to seen my digital Canon outfit. Nowadays his adventures can be followed through the American television series “Travels to the Edge”, of which season 2 is showing right now. One thing which is immediately clear : being a nature photographer is not a very glamorous profession, on the contrary : a combination of very early mornings, late evenings and in-between editing makes for a gruelling schedule when shooting abroad on assignment. In season 2 of “Travels to the Edge” it is remarkable seeing Art making fantastic nature and wildlife pictures using a limited amount of gear : from a 16-35mm f2.8 over a 70-200mm f4.0 to a 400mm f4.0 DO – clearly all with issues of weight and portability in mind. Although no details are given about f-stops and shutter speeds, the use of lenses, filters and way of composing the shots are very informative. I have to admit that through reading his books and watching his videos I was able to lift my photography to the next level – so it is highly recommended to take a look at Art’s new website : Interesting as well is that Art started a personal blog, where he puts his daily thoughts to (web)paper. 

Back in… Fujairah this time

We were last month for a few days in Fujairah with as main purpose to photograph some of the typical local forts over there. However, we were dissapointed to see that (although they are installed) at none of the locations no artificial lights were in operation (yet?), therefore making it difficult to balance the exposure along the frame : typically during sunset/sunrise conditions the sky reads as much brighter then the subject matter resulting in a blown out sky with proper exposed subject, or proper exposed sky with underexposed subject. Below an image which illustrates this very well : identifying the problem while photographing Fujairah fort we decided to break up early and to re-locate to a nice fountain I saw when driving around Fujairah. Luckily this fountain (like most in the UAE) was lit with artificial lights as such enabling me to expose for the sky and basically wait for the moment (this is typically only for 15mins or so during magic hour) that sky and artificial lit fountain were perefctly balanced resulting in the below shot:
Picture data : Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm f8 SW lens, 3.5 min @ f22 1/2, Fuji Provia 100F, Schneider center filter, tripod

Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque

Nowadays we are shifting our attention more and more to Abu Dhabi for the photography of cityscapes. Below our first attempt of a decent photograph of the Grand Mosque. Initially not allowed access inside to the mosque’s premises we were forced to scout the outside perimeter of the site for a good viewpoint. However ongoing construction activities (hence presence of a huge construction crane, bright orange traffic cones and meshings, unfinished pavements etc…) made this job not too easy. I feel however that the below vertical does justice to the grandeur of the mosque, and its unbelievable marble finishings. During the session, we were eventually invited inside the mosque by a very friendly security guard, however due to limited time and fast-fading light levels we could then only take some digital pictures…
Picture data : Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm f8 SW lens, 30 sec @ f22 +1/2, Schneider center filter, Fuji Provia 100F, tripod

Reciprocity Law (and it’s failure)

In this post i would like to go a bit more into detail about the reciprocity law (who?). Without going to much into the technicalities, the reciprocity law basically defines he inverse linear relationship between the aperture and shutter speed for any given light intensity : For example, a certain exposure may be achieved with an aperture of f2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/125 sec. The same exposure is achieved by doubling the aperture area to f2 and halving the shutter speed to 1/250 sec or by halving the aperture area to f4.0 and doubling the shutter speed to 1/60 sec. Reason for rambling about something like this, is that for long exposures this law falls apart – the so-called reciprocity failure – and that exposure has to be corrected. And to make things even more complex, each different film “emulsion” has a different response to long exposure. Some films are very susceptible to this reciprocity failure, and others much less so. Some films that are very light sensitive at normal illumination levels and normal exposure times lose much of their sensitivity at long exposure times, becoming effectively “slow” films for long exposures. Conversely some films that are “slow” under normal exposure duration retain their light sensitivity better at long exposures. Since i normally work at small apertures (to ensure maximum depth-of-field) at low light levels, exposure times are mostly from seconds up into minutes… and therefore i have always the below table at hand which gives the exposure corrections which i should apply for the most common films i use :


You will also notice why i most commonly use the Fuji Provia 100F slide film : it holds up very good at long exposures, although it is not really recommended to use at exposure times of beyond 4mins (meaning that the outcome becomes highly unpredictable).

Fotoman Professional

Well, the new year could not have started any better : i can now call myself a “Fotoman Pro”. I am really honored in being featured on the Fotoman Camera site ( under “Pro Vision” next to famous panoramic photographers such as Rod McLean, Jon Cornforth and Mark Denton. Fotoman cameras are currently my main medium format film cameras and deliver excellent results. The color range, tonal nuances and sharpness of the huge 6×17 slides are just awesome… Currently i am owning a Fotoman 617 camera equipped with Fujinon 90mm f8 SW lens, and a Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 210mm f5.6 L lens – both lenses are classic large format lenses and deliver results which are just mindblowing. Some samples of my panoramic work can be seen on this blog, my website and now also on Fotoman Camera’s website

Happy New Year!

My best wishes for the New Year : may it be filled with joy, good health, peace and lots of exciting photo adventures!
Our plans to photograph the New Year’s fireworks above Burj Al Arab were a bit drenched by a last minute cancellation of this event by the Dubai government (a sober New year was ordered to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip). And seeing the daily news images i would say this a very understandable decision… 

Burj Al Arab sunset

A much more recent picture is a panoramic of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, taken only last week during a magnificent sunset. The colors are unmanipulated, and are actually the result of the use of a super-saturated film (Fuji Velvia) and a 6 minutes long exposure capturing the changing colors of the sunset during this timeframe. The streaks in the sky are formed by the movement of the clouds. These unexpected results are exactly what i like about film : although there are some failures, some results are just magnificent…
Picture data : Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm f8 SW lens, 6min @ f22 1/2, Fuji Velvia, tripod

Petra panoramic

Below a vertical panoramic shot of The Treasury in Petra, taken early morning before the hordes of tourists arrived. I love the soft light, accentuating the pinkish color of this magnificent ancient site. The figure helps bringing scale and shows what earlier civilisations could do without all of the current modern equipment. Although it is now almost one year ago we went to Petra, I still remember the moment I saw this sight when rounding the last corner of the narrow Siq…
Merry Christmas!
Picture data : Fotoman 617 with Fujinon 90mm f8 SW lens, 15sec @ f32, Fuji Provia100F, tripod

Phuket – again

Below another picture from our shoot in Phuket – Thailand… Photograph was taken again during sunset (near dark actually) and camera’s light balance was shifted to Tungsten – thus rendering the ambient light blue-ish. Gelling the two Speedlites with a CTO gel made sure that the model was lit in the correct colour temperature. Flashes were placed left and right from camera, on a 45degree axis. And here is the result (camera as usual Canon EOS5D, lens 24-105mm f4):