Playing with Fire and Light

A couple of weeks ago, a few friends of mine arranged a night photo shoot to have some fun with light painting and long exposure shots. We headed to this abandoned building in the middle of nowhere and a brave volunteer worked his magic with just some steel wool stuffed in a whisk and swung on a chain. Here’s what I got. I loved the results and can’t wait to do some more of this.







Here’s something I tried while I was playing around with the 2 axis head on the tripod. I set the exposure to around 10 seconds and then moved the camera on X and Y axis while focused on a string of street lights. This might make a good wallpaper for my mobile phone.




There was this structure that I lit up using a flashlight and managed to get the stars in the shot as well. The yellow haze is light reflected off clouds from the street lights and just above that the stars are visible.


Towards the end of the session we played around with one of those LED key-chains and got the following samples.




While I was editing the pictures I remembered that I’d taken some similar pictures of the Fire Dancers at this year’s Sand Sculpture expo so I figured those would fit into the theme of this post. So here are some shots from the event.

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Evening at Souk Sharq


The blog has been inactive for a while so here’s a random post to liven things up a little. Its been ages since I’ve been to the marina at Sharq so the other night a friend of mine and I went there to take some night shots. All photos were taken with the GX1 and the Samyang fisheye.




Souk Panorama


‘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]

Star Trails – Second Attempt

On Friday I tagged along with my friend Q8geek on his 6th Star Trail outing and this time I was much more prepared than my previous attempt. There were some technical constraints with my camera body which prevented me from taking more frames but I did what I could with the available resources.

I exhausted my D60’s battery after about 90 minutes of shooting and then switched to the GX1 when the¬†Milky way galaxy was visible. We positioned our cameras away from the roads to reduce any light pollution. You can see how much street lights can interfere with night sky photography in one of the examples below.

Star Trails in Kuwait from Mathew Jacob on Vimeo.


Star Trails in Kuwait

Milky way


Another Full Moon Night

Full moon at different settings
View On Black

Just noticed that it was a full moon tonight and it’s been a while since I’ve taken out the old 55-200mm VR. As per a colleague’s inquiry I’ve also posted the camera settings so that it might come in useful. Click on the picture to see it in full size. All three frames were taken with the barrel resting on the roof of my car. I’ve also edited all three in exactly the same way in Lightroom so that details are consistent.

I think the results from f/11 give the most detail but f/8 is more brighter. Cropping the frames helps of bring in the moon a little close but it would be great to play with a full frame camera since you have so much more pixel real estate to work with.

Some of my previous moon shot posts;
Super Moon
Lunar Eclipse
Full Moon


Shooting stars

Last weekend a couple of friends and I tagged along with Q8Geek as he led to the desert area in Salmi to shoot star trails. This was my first star gazing trip, as was for most of the others in the group and we didn’t know what to expect. The absence of light pollution in the desert really opens up the skies and we were amazed to see so many stars in the night sky. The North Star was quite visible and so was the Milky way galaxy.

The only weak link in the equation was my ill preparedness and the choice of equipment. I took my Nikon D60 and 18-55mm kit lens for the trip but it turned out that my camera’s ISO sensitivity wasn’t enough to get details in the night sky. I took some shots in bulb mode with exposure times as long as 390 seconds. The extremely long exposure was good for capturing the movement of the stars but it also ended up a ton of noise and heat spots from the sensor heating up from the exposure time. You can see the noise in this cropped shot below

Next time I’m going to take my GX1 since it can go up to ISO6400 and I won’t go beyond 20 seconds for each frame. Instead of extremely long exposures I’ll be taking multiple shots and then stacking them up using a free utility called Deep Sky Stacker. In the mean time I’ve compiled a list of resources which may come in handy for those who want to try their hand at star photography. The links are below;

Basic tips for photographing the stars [link]

Tips for photographing stars with basic equipment [link]

Tips on photographing stars [link]

Introduction to shooting star trails [link]

Your complete guide for photographing star trails [link]

Quick tip to capture the beauty of the stars [link]

Update: Here’s a nice one taken by a photographer in our group, Binu¬†(Canon 60D and Tamron wide angle lens)

Startrail session at AlSalmi desert, Kuwait

AlSalmi Startrail for ~1:30'00"
Q8Geeek is getting together some photography enthusiasts for a star trail session this weekend. Here’s the info from Qlendar;

Description from event’s organizer:
Wanted to have an eyegasmic startrail but optical pollution from surroundings (Such as lights and cars) are bothering you?
Well, thanks to a friend of mine, I located a relatively perfect spot in AlSalmi desert to startrail and stargaze that you can literally see the milkyway!
You don’t HAVE to be a photographer or have a camera to be there, you can just come for food and to stargaze!
Best part, you don’t have to have a 4×4 car to get in!
The bad part, you’ll have a boring one hour drive to get there.
Its a “Bring your own stuff” thing so you better bring your own stuff. Although I don’t think attendees will mind sharing.
Please send me an email for more details if you’re interested.

Half moon

Light writing with the Playstation Move

A couple of weeks ago I was at a friend’s place messing about on his PS3 and it struck me that the Move controller is a good candidate as a light writing tool. I asked him to draw some shapes and try to write his initials using the device and we got some really crazy results. All the shots were handheld (since I didn’t take my tripod along with me) but I think they’re decent enough. You can see my previous post [here] to see some of the possibilities of Light Painting or Light Writing.

Nice night

The weathers getting better now and its the perfect time to take some long exposure shots.

I shot these while on a leisurely walk on Gulf street.

Marina waves

View On Black

Hard Rock Cafe

Pai Brothers Fast Food

After a night out in the city or after a late movie ,Pai Brothers Fast Food is the place to go to if you’re looking for a bite to eat in the wee hours in Cochin. When we got there it was jam packed even though it was close to midnight! They serve 36 different kinds of Dosa, kind of like Baskin Robbins but with Dosa!

I had the Spicy Humman Egg Dosa (I didnt get a chance to find out what ‘Humman’ means) which is the basic ‘Paper’ Roast layered with onions, tomatoes, green chilies, chutney powder, chili powder and a couple of chicken eggs. It was served with coconut chutney and sambar but with so many flavors in the dosa I really didnt need it. 

The place is neat and the food looks hygenic so I’m sure most travellers can safely eat there. Just be sure to order bottled water since Monsoon season can bring with it a lot of water borne illnesses.