Category Archives: photography

Street Photography with the GX1

Shooter in the hallway

Shooting discretely with a DSLR is not something that can be done easily and that’s what I’m loving about the mirror-less system cameras. They’re great for Street Photography. On a recent visit to the Liberation Tower I was just shooting images of people on the tour and it felt great to capture random moments without drawing attention to myself. Here’s some of the better ones from the bunch.

Looking at Kuwait

Instagrammer

Composition

Communication

 

Tour of Liberation Tower

Lib tour 6

This weekend my wife and I went on a guided tour of Kuwait’s Liberation Tower. The trip was organized by Aware Center and we were lucky to get seats for the tour although we weren’t so lucky with the weather. As we approached Kuwait City it was clear that the haze was not going to clear up during our time there.

Lib tour 4

The guide took us to the third level where there’s a bridge that leads to the elevators that access the main tower. The tour would only go as high as 150 meters as there’s sensitive defense communication systems on the top levels and entry is restricted.

This is going to be a long post so click on through for more..

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Looking Back And Looking Ahead

Red Arrows in Kuwait

Its been a long year and quite eventful on the personal and work front but sadly the blog has taken a big hit. With so many blog posts in the draft phase and hundreds of photographs still  unprocessed I’m not sure how or when I’ll get around to it.

I’ve been thinking about making my blog more about my interests in photography, cooking and building model kits. Another idea I’ve had floating around is to start another page just for my photography alone and keep all the other stuff on this page.

Anyway, hope I get more time to update stuff on this page in the coming year. Happy New Year everyone and have a great time in 2014!

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM

Sigma lens review

I recently got in touch with AAB World to get the new Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM (that’s a mouthful) for a review on the blog and they were glad to provide one. When Sigma announced this new lens there was a lot of buzz in the photography world as this was the fastest zoom lens for APSC sensor cameras ever! This new lens belongs to their ‘Art’ series and is really a high quality lens.

The lens is available for both Nikon and Canon mounts and they’re sold by AAB World, who are the local dealers for Sigma. The price is KWD 229.950 and comes with warranty and it’s not much more than buying from the US.

Now this post isn’t really about the technical aspects of the lens as there are better reviews like this one and an entertaining video review from Mr. Kai but rather what you can use this for in every day life. So I’ll focus on things like ‘What can you do with it?’ and ‘Why should you buy this lens?’. This is going to be a long post so click on through for the rest…

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‘High’ Above Kuwait

I was cleaning up some of my camera’s SD cards when I came across some photos I’d taken a few months back. I was on a night flight bound to Kuwait and I was probably a little high either from the stopover in Dubai or the in-flight drinks so maybe that’s why I forgot I took them.

Anyhoo… the following were some of the good ones in the bunch and my favorite is the first one here, I wanted to get a clear shot of the moon but with three layers of glass separating me from the air the ghost moons were unavoidable.

Above Kuwait 01

Above Kuwait 02

Above Kuwait 03

Above Kuwait 04

Above Kuwait 05

Above Kuwait 06

Above Kuwait 07

Above Kuwait 08

View on my [Flickr stream]

Export Certificate from Indian Customs Department

Lumix passport

A few years ago I had posted about getting an export certificate for your camera gear to make things easier at the customs counter at the airport. On my vacation trip this time I realized that it was time to renew my certificate and I got another one issued from the customs counter at Cochin Airport.

A lot of friends who’ve got camera gear have asked me in the past and also this time for more information about the Export Certificate. Thanks to the friendly staff at the customs counter I’ve gathered some information here which should be useful to NRIs visiting India.

Indian Customs Department Travelers Guide.
You can download and print a handy Traveler’s Guide published by the Indian Customs Department. [link]

1. Who can apply for an export certificate?

Any NRI can apply for an export certificate for the number of items in his possession that is intended for personal use. Refer to document for more details.

2. Are there any charges for getting this certificate?
No, the certificate is free of charge and the customs officer in charge of the respective airport will issue the certificate after inspecting your items and recording the serial number/specific details of the items.

What are the items that require an export certificate?
The certificate covers personal items such as gold, jewelry, photography, videography and expensive electronic equipment. Refer to document for more details.

What is the advantage of having a certificate? 
Since the certificate is issued by the customs department this is valid for all points of entry in India and each time you travel you need not spend time at the red channel explaining why you’re carrying all this gear. For example, this is some of the stuff I had in my Lowepro 250 this time. Since I had my previous certificate I just needed to show them that what I was carrying was listed in the document.

Gear box

Cheap Macro Fun with Reverse Rings and Extension Tubes

Sometime ago I had bought a lens reverse ring to convert my normal lens to shoot macro and I had posted my results in a previous post. Later on I also bought an extension tube to allow my lens to get closer to the subject. Both these solutions allow the shooter to get close to small objects and shoot macro but they’re hard to match the results you would get from shooting with a dedicated macro lens, like the famous Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro. I don’t shoot a lot of macro so spending around 900 US Dollars on it didn’t seem like a good idea.

The two accessories shown in the picture are linked below;

Fotodiox Reverse Ring [Amazon]
Fotodiox Extension Tube [Amazon]
What is Macro Photography? [Wiki]

So why would you buy a macro solution that doesn’t give the best results? Well I’ve had these things in my possession for a while now and the more I use them I more I find it interesting. I’ve listed some points based on my experience that may help you get some good shots.

1. They’re the cheapest way to shoot macro. Both the reverse ring and extension tubes combined cost me less than 20 KD whereas a proper macro like the Nikkor 105mm would be in the area of 300 KD.

2. Now this might be a drawback for some people but I like a good challenge. When you’re using a reverse ring or extension tube there’s no contact between the CPU contacts on the lens and camera body. That means you’re essentially shooting in full manual mode and you also have to figure out the optimum exposure to get the shot. Initially it was frustrating but when you get used to the camera you’ll automatically know how much you need to tweak the lens aperture, ISO and shutter speed to expose the frame.

3. When shooting macro the Depth of Field or DOF is extremely shallow and you’ll need a really small aperture to get a fly or ant in focus. Or you can just get enough DOF to focus on the head or eyes. The sharpness also suffers if you shoot at f/5.6 or lower.

4. Now this is a continuation of the previous point but it has to do with Lighting. When you stop down the lens to f/11 or higher the amount of light hitting your sensor decreases drastically and so
you’ll either have to shoot in broad daylight or get an off camera flash or ring lights. The insects shot here were all in daylight so I didn’t have to use a flash.

5. Moving subjects can be a real bitch to shoot if you’re shooting with a clumsy extension tube or reversed lens. All the shots on this page were shot hand-held and in order for me to avoid a blurry picture I had to resort to high ISOs. If you’re shooting an inanimate object or a dead insect it would be best to use a mini tripod like the one in the picture.

6. Changing lenses for changing scenarios is not really a bother but if you’re using one of these babies it involves some screwing and unscrewing to attach the tubes and rings to your existing lens. Using a dedicated macro lens is just a matter of twist on and go.

Conclusion: If you’re the type of person who’s OK with fiddling around with manual exposure and focus or if you just want to have some fun with your SLR then don’t think twice and just get both these accessories. Here’s some samples with the reverse ring and the tube. I’ve also mentioned the lens used for the photos. You can also click on the pictures below to see them in higher resolution.

Samples from the Fotodiox Reverse Ring and 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 combination

Peeking...

Leader

Samples from the Fotodiox Extension Tubes and 50mm f/1.8D combination

Fly Face

Fly rubbing feet

Google Plus Photowalk – Kuwait Edition

DSC_3497-tile

During the weekend I attended a photowalk organized by a group of photography enthusiasts, Kuwait Photographers on Google Plus. It was my first photowalk and was quite an enjoyable experience. If you haven’t heard of photowalking read [this]

DSC_3485

 

Due to unstable weather conditions and extreme heat it was decided to have the walk inside Avenues Mall and the organizer arranged for permission to shoot inside the mall. The mall authorities had some restrictions so we couldn’t shoot a lot of things inside the mall and there was a  time limit as well.

DSC_3595

You can browse the rest of my photos on my photo set on Flickr

The group had a varied set of gear from mobile phones to full frame DSLRs and even a rangefinder Leica M9!. I chose my Nikon body with my latest prime, an AFS 35mm 1.8G and it came in handy in the low light environment.

prime 35mm

Love to Hate Instagram?

 For some reasons a lot of people seem to be against Instagram. Some of the most common reasons I’ve heard are “Its not real photography”, “any monkey with a mobile can instagram” and “Filters don’t make you a great photographer”.

 Personally, I’ve been uploading more stuff to my Instagram account than my Flickr account lately and with the new video feature it gets even better. A 15 second video, if done right, can be a great way to share things around us.

Instagram tile

Meike Battery Grip for Nikon D60

Meike Grip D60

Over the past couple of months I’d accepted a few projects that involved shooting over long periods of time and that meant shooting continuously in scenes with few chances of a battery change. Nikon originally didn’t make a battery grip for the D60 but there’re a lot of third party companies who make a compatible battery grip for this type of body.

 I looked at a lot of online reviews and the top contenders were Opteka, Targus and Meike. Ultimately I went with the Meike as I found it more suited to my usage and it didn’t have as many parts as the other brands. I also found that the textured pattern on the Meike grip was closer to my camera body texture.

Why do you need a vertical grip/ battery grip?
1. Do you shoot for long hours and go thru more than one battery per session?
2. Do you have large chubby hands and find that all your fingers don’t have room to grip on the camera body?
3. Do you shoot in portrait mode for the majority of your session?

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