Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 17: LOOKING UP AT BUSINESS BAY BRIDGE - FUJIFILM GFX50S for Architectural work

The Business Bay bridge is the most recent bridge over the Dubai Creek. The 13 lanes Business Bay crossing opened 10 years ago... yes that is right, seems like yesterday!

Over the last 10 years I made quite a few images from below the bridge (on the Deira side - new part of Dubai); a popular spot for architectural photography, especially during the blue hour. Click here to see some of these images.

But what I haven't done it shoot up on the bridge! Well, until a few days ago, I hadn't even looked up... While testing the new Fujifilm GFX 50S Medium format camera, I did for the first time

The image below shows what that view looks like! I was especially attracted to the complementary colours of the evening sky with the warm yellow of the fully lit bridge. 



Image details:

  • Fujifilm GFX 50S with the GF 32-64mm f4 lens
  • ISO 100, f11, 2s, 32mm (25mm converted in full frame format)
  • RAW file development in Lightroom CC
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
Although I personally prefer the overall handling of the smaller Fujifilm cameras like the X-T2, I do appreciate the image quality coming out of this new Medium Format mirrorless wonder from Japan! The files are very clean and have heaps of detail. Especially for somebody who is used to the X-series system, the learning curve is actually very shallow; you really feel right at home after a matter of minutes. 

I will be blogging more images shot with the GFX 50S over the coming weeks; rather than doing a full review, this will hopefully show people how the camera performs in the field! 

Remember: "We built not enough bridges and too many walls" - Vincente Fox


BJORN




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 16: ROOFTOPPING WITH THE FUJIFILM GFX 50S

Last week I finally got my hands on Fujifilm latest camera; the GFX 50S, a +50Mpx Medium Format camera, which got a lot of attention when it was announced at Photokina 2016!

Although the camera is much larger (and a bit heavier) than my X-T2, it remains "portable" and feels pretty much like carrying a Canon or Nikon full frame DSLR around. Obviously with the advantage of having a sensor which is 1.7 larger than full frame and with a higher resolution of most!

Even though the GFX is the start of a brand new lens system for Fujifilm, three lenses were available (two primes 63mm f2.8 and 120mm f4.0, one zoom 32-64mm f4.0) on the day the GFX 50S was available. More lenses will be released in the second part of 2017. 

Right now it looks like I won't be doing a "First Look review" on the camera, as I would rather like to concentrate on the Fujifilm X-series cameras instead; these by the way will continue to be developed with new lenses and bodies to be released in the future. 

The GFX Medium Format system would be great for my Architectural and Landscape photography; something I would like to explore during the 10 days I have the camera available.

One of the very first shots I took with the GFX 50S, was the rooftop shot below, made early morning in Dubai from one of the high-rise buildings along Sheik Zayed road. Special thanks to a Dubai photographer friend who organized the access to the spot. You'll know who you are! 

Although, I have mixed feelings about the large number of rooftop shots we get to see from Dubai on on almost daily basis, there is something magical about looking down on a city that wakes up...


IMAGE DETAILS:
  • Fujifilm GFX 50S with the 32-64mm f4 lens
  • ISO 100, f11, 15s, 32mm (equals 25mm if converted to full frame equivalent)
  • Lightroom CC to convert the RAW file
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
Make sure to click on the image below to really appreciate the full resolution of the +50Mpx file. Although I'm not a pixel peeper, one can almost not resist to zoom in to 400% or so, and read road signs and other tiny details.  

Please check out the excellent GFX review done by fellow X-Photographer Jonas Rask here

More Architectural shots from Dubai can be found here

Lastly, the image above is my 1000th post on Instagram! Only been on it for two years, the follower ship has grown a lot organically (not by paying companies to get me followers!). Today it is by far my preferred Social Media network for my photography. If you don't do so already, make sure to follow me on Instagram here

Remember: "Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction".



BJORN


Friday, April 14, 2017

FIRST LOOK REVIEW: FUJIFILM INSTAX SHARE SP-2

The Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2 printer, replaces it predecessor the SP-1. Although not brand-new (released June 2016), the first time I used this pocket Instax printer, was during the recent 24 hour project in Dubai on April 1st. 





With its portable size and weight, the Instax SP-2 is the perfect pocket printer to be taken on the road. If you want to make small credit card prints to give out at weddings, birthday parties or even on Street Photography walks, the SP-2 is what you are looking for! 

Before we go any further, you are not limited to using Fujifilm cameras in order to use this device. 

The Wifi enabled small printer, comes in two colours (silver and gold) and is slightly smaller and lighter than an X-T1/2 camera body. It takes both the Fujifilm Instax mini film as well as the brand-new "Monochrome" Instant film, for better Black and White prints (see below Image quality). 


For the ones that are too young to know what polaroid cameras look like, there are no ink cartridges in the printer itself; the image is developed right on the paper!

Loading the film is dead easy; after unzipping the bag, just align the yellow dots and you are done. 







BUTTONS, LIGHTS and BATTERIES
There are only two buttons on the device; one power button and a "Reprint" button on the side. The second one is to be used if one wants to print the last image again. On a few occasions, I did press the button, which lead to an unnecessary print being made. In the future, the button could potentially be better guarded against accidental use or placed in the a different spot.

Next to the slot, where the photographs come out, there is a battery indicator light as well as a series of small white LED's, showing how many of the max 10 slides are still available in the installed film cartridge. 



Unlike its predecessor, the SP-1, which held two CR-2 batteries, which are not always easy to find, the new one uses a Fuji NP-45 battery, which is also used on some of its smaller compact cameras. One full charge will last about 100 prints, which is plenty for a device like this. If needed one can recharge the battery through USB (micro USB cable) or in a dedicated battery charger which is not provided in the package.  


HOW TO PRINT?
Your main interface to start printing is the "Instax Share" app available for iOS and Android phones and tablets. Once the image is on the phone or tablet, one can directly print from the application as long as the Wifi connection is established not the phone/tablet. I did find the wireless connection easy to set-up and very stable.




The app has some basic image editing sliders and allows you to print directly from Social media like Facebook and Instagram. Below is an image printed directly from Instagram.



On the app, one can also choose from a large variety of print templates, including some seasonal ones like a Happy Birthday, New Year and Valentines one. Not something I personally would use every day, but still fun nevertheless!

Another interesting one is the "split image"; it will print two photos of a single image split in two; creativity at its best! Just be careful that you still have a minimum of two useable slides left in the printer before starting the split image print.




Alternatively one can also print directly from one of the many Fujifilm Wifi enabled X-series cameras.  I haven't tested it, but I suppose even printing from the brand-new Medium Format Fujifilm GFX camera should be possible... it might however be a bit overkill!

It takes about 10s (compared to 16s for the SP-1) for an image to print and then another 5 mins before the image is fully developed. There is still something nostalgic about the wait for the image to appear! For the ones going back to the polaroid days, there is absolutely no need to shake or wave your Instax print, just let it sit for a few minutes and you are done!

IMAGE QUALITY
While the older SP-2 was limited to a resolution of 640x480px at 254dpi, the new model manages 800x600px at 320dpi. While the images of these small print might not be the sharpest you've seen, one is missing the point if that is your main priority! It is all about being able to share a moment with the people around you.



When printing Black and White photographs, I strongly recommend using the Fujifilm Instax Monochrome film. Using Color film often shows a bit of a warmer color cast as can be seen in the image below (left is printed on the standard (colour) film, right one on Monochrome film.




HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Today the SP-2 sells for about 160,-USD in the US and just under 200,-EUR in Europe; prices in the UAE seems to vary somewhere in between. 

The device does normally not come with Instax Film packs included. Standard price for a pack of 10 slides is about 10, USD, making it 1,-USD (1,-EUR) per image. However when shopping around, one can easily find larger combined packs which bring the price per image down to about 60 cents. 



WHO IS THE INSTAX SP-2 FOR
I doubt it the printer is aimed at only one type of photographer; any photographer who likes to share small printed images on the go, is potentially in the market for a pocket printer like the SP-2.  The retro feel of the instant image, is something that both young and old appreciate.  

Wedding and other event photographers are probably the largest group of potential buyers of the SP-2's, but I can also see some Street and/or Travel photographer wanting to bring one to a shoot. In any case, there is something to be said about the look on the face of whoever has never seen Instax film develop!



If you are in the market for a small on the go instax printer, look no further! 

After all, remember: "A picture is not a photograph until its printed"!

BJORN

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 15: NEMRUT CRATER, TURKEY - aerials with the Fujfilm X-T2

As, I'm presently working on an article for Fujilove magazine (June edition) about my Aerial photography with the Fujifilm X-series, I first wanted to share a recent birds-eye view of a snowy Turkey with the blog-readers.

The image below shows a dormant volcano near Lake Van in eastern Turkey; a beautiful site which we often overfly on the flights between Dubai and Central Europe. Especially in winter time the scenery is often breathtaking!


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF35mm f2 lens
  • ISO 200, f8.0, 1/1400s
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC
  • Nik ColorEfex Pro 4 for optimal contrast
Before some clever pixel peeper comments on the softness of some parts of the image.... this image is shot through several layers of an airliners window; the softness is the direct result of the this, not of the lens! But remember: "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept" - Ansel Adams. 

More of my Aerial photography can be found here



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 14: URBAN BEATS AT THE BEACH - 24 HOUR PROJECT DUBAI

For me and for a lot of other fellow Street Photographers, April 1st was a day to remember. It was this time of the year when close to 4000 photographers documented Human life in more than 800 cities around the globe, all for a good cause; creating awareness for refugees all over the world and more specifically for @LesvosSolidarity in Greece. More info can be found in a blogpost of mine from last month; click here for more. 

I can proudly say that I've successfully completed the 24 hour project challenge beside 7 other Dubai photographers. Another 16 participated for part of the event with some of them coming very close to meeting the complete challenge, often being just a few images short. 

The image below was shot on a hot (37C) afternoon, after I had been shooting for about 17 hours. The scene is part of the "Urban Beats at The Beach" event; a free 3 day event bringing Xtreme sports, DJ spins and Graffiti artists together at the Dubai Marina beach. 

24 hour project Dubai

Image details:
  • Fujifilm X_T2 with the XF23mm f2 lens
  • ISO 400, f8, 1/1500s
  • Lightroom CC to develop RAW file using the Classic Chrome camera profile

Lately I been inspired a lot by the work of Magnum Street Photographer Alex Webb; who is often known to frame images in different layers; allowing the viewer to stay in the image and discover new things in the process. I hope the image above provides you with a similar viewing experience!

The 24 hour project has been challenging but also very rewarding! It is undoubtedly one of the more demanding things I've done photographically speaking. The fact that one has to meet 24 different deadlines, while being tired but also remaining creative, is not to be underestimated.

While a project like this is generally speaking not there to create award winning photographs, I'm quite happy with the 24 final images I came up with. Click here to check out the gallery set up for the event.

To me the main key to success was keeping the gear to the absolute minimum; I personally used a Fujifilm X-T2 with two small, lightweight lenses; the 23mm f2 and 35mm f2. Having built in Wifi was a huge advantage in order to get the images up on social media without loosing valuable time.

Remember: "THE ULTIMATE INSPIRATION IS THE DEADLINE" - Nolan Bushnell. 


BJORN



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 13: HUNGRY BIRDS - 24 HOUR PROJECT DUBAI

The last few days have been a bit hectic as we are finalizing the 24 HOUR PROJECT in DUBAI. In case you missed the announcement of the largest Street/Documentary photography project and want to participate, it is still not too late! It is happening worldwide in over 700 cities next SAT, April 1st (no, not an April fools!). Check out one of my previous posts here

The registrations for the 24 HOUR PROJECT in Dubai have been very strong; with over 35 photographers registered today, this is at least a fivefold of previous years. 

Congrats to the 24 HOUR PROJECT organizers for breaking the previous record of 718 cities and 107 countries being registered!   

Back to my Pic(k) of the week,... Hungry birds is an image shot at a place I'll definitively try to visit at Dubai Creek (Bur Dubai side) next SAT; it is known for the constant flow of people feeding the seagulls and can provide you with some interesting photographs.

Life at the Creek


Image details:
  • Fujifilm X-100F 
  • ISO 800, f10, 1/900s
  • Lightroom CC with Classic Chrome Camera Profile 
As I've been recovering from my ski-injury end of February, I've  only shot with the new Fujifilm X-100F. While I wasn't too convinced about the improved autofocus in my First look review of the X-100F, I must correct myself now, which I've also done with a post edit in the original post! The autofocus of the latest X-100 series is definitively much faster and snappier than its predecessor, the X-100T; obviously this had to do with the pre-release firmware that was installed when I initially tested the camera several months ago.

More images shot around the Dubai Creek area can be found in my "Life around the Creek" gallery. 

Remember: "IF IT DOESN'T CHALLENGE YOU, IT WON'T CHANGE YOU". 


BJORN

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pic(k) of the week 12: LEFT HANDED - 24 HOUR PROJECT DUBAI

Symbolic images are often the stronger ones... Such is probably the case with the image below shot at the Kushti wrestling in Dubai! Beside the eyes, hands are likely the most part powerful part of a human being. 

In the Muslim world the left hand is often looked at as an underdog because people eat and greet with the right hand. 

Being left handed and non-muslim myself, for me it is my main hand. Studies show that only about 12% of the worlds population is left handed; clearly a minority. It also shows that they tend to be more creative; I'll buy that one!

After I got injured on the left shoulder while skiing end of February, it pretty much immobilised my left arm/hand, which has turned out to be an interesting experience... In case you are wondering, I do expect/hope to be sufficiently recovered to participate in the 24 hour project in Dubai on April 1st! 





Image details:
  •  Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF50-140 lens
  • ISO 400, 119mm, f4.5, 1/1500s
  • RAW development in Lightroom CC using Acros G Camera Calibration

Preparation for the 24 hour project in Dubai has been in full swing. In case you missed it, make sure you check out my latest extensive blogpost here. To be held on April 1st between 0000am and 2359pm, the Street/Documentary challenge, is now less than 10 days away! 


Remember: "Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand"

BJORN


Monday, March 20, 2017

24 HOUR PROJECT DUBAI - TIPS, DO's and DON'Ts

We're now less than 2 weeks away from the worldwide 24 HOUR PROJECT on April 1st! It is still not too late to accept the challenge and register for this FREE event... In case you missed it, I've blogged about the project here. Please check it out to have a basic understanding of what it is about.

As the ambassador for the project in DUBAI (follow me on Instagram), I'm pleased to see the number of online registrations (www.24hourproject.org) go up on almost a daily basis. As of today, we have 30 people ready to accept the challenge of documenting humanity in Dubai, over a 24 hour period, starting April 1st 0000am and running non-stop till April 1st 2359pm. 

Believing that no human is illegal, this year we are coming together to provide urgently needed relief to Refugees by supporting @Lesvossolidarity ; a refugee camp run by volunteers providing shelter and hospitality to the most vulnerable humans!



In this post, I'll list a few do's and don't's that will hopefully allow you to make the project a personal success. Within the post, I've uploaded a few of my images that would make good candidates for the 24hour project. Because they are not shot on April 1st 2017, they can of course not be used for the project!




WHAT PHOTO GEAR TO BRING?
First of all, less is better for a project like this. It is perfectly fine to shoot the project with a camera phone or a fixed lens camera like the Fujifilm X-100 series. You do not need any fancy gear!

If you do plan on using a "real camera", try to limit yourself to a couple of lenses only; preferably light weight gear, so leave the large telephone stuff at home. For most Street/Documentary photography any full frame equivalent focal length between 21mm and 50mm (14mm to 35mm cropped sensor) works the best. 

The more experienced street shooters will likely use "prime lenses" (fixed focal length - non-zoom). 

I personally will be using the Fujifilm X-T2 with two small "Fujicron" 23mm f2 and 35mm lenses. For the darkest hours, I might also use the 16mm f1.6. for a few shots. Bringing minimum one fast lens (minimum a f2.8), is a good idea in order to be ready for low light shooting.






































As the challenge is to upload one image every hour, having a camera that allows you to upload directly to your phone/tablet through built in Wifi, will definitively be the easiest. More recent mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-series will be perfect for that. 


If you do want to use a DSLR without built-in Wifi, think how you will upload the images... Remember, you will need to do this process 24 times as one image needs to be uploaded within the hour to successfully complete the challenge! 

The easiest for the those that don't have a camera with built-in Wifi, is probably using an adapter that allows you to download your memory card directly to your phone or tablet. If using the Apple system, consider the "Lightning to SD card camera reader" which is sold for 29,-USD (119,-AED). 

In all cases, make sure that you test your system before going out on April 1st and try to have some kind of a back-up camera system... That might be your phone if you use an actual camera system.

Make sure to bring enough batteries for a full day of shooting; remember there will be 24 hours in your day. Alternatively bring a battery charger and/or a cigarette lighter adapter, that allows you to charge while you drive. 

The aim is not to shoot thousands of images during the 24 hrs; remember you are looking for one "good" shot documenting humanity every hour. Obviously it is never a bad idea to carry a backup memory card just in case...




WHAT OTHER GEAR TO BRING?
Probably the most important is making sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes. Last thing you want are painful feet just a few hours into the shoot. 

Consider printing some 24 hour project presentation cards, in case somebody is asking what your are doing. The template can be downloaded here. Fill in your Name and/or Instagram account before printing. 


The weather in Dubai early April should be warm but not too hot and humid yet... However be careful with possible dehydration and make sure to drink enough; preferably water. Also bring sun protection in the form of a hat and/or sunscreen; especially for those of you sensitive to the sun. Consider bringing a few energy bars for those occasions where food is not readily available. 



Life at the Creek, Dubai

Bring a phone, preferably one that has "internet data" enabled in order to upload images directly to Instagram/Facebook. Even when you normally use WiFi only, consider buying a short term subscription in order to have 3G/4G data. You'll likely use more data on the day because of the uploading of images and staying connected with the photographers at work. I plan on setting up a WhatsApp group in order to keep track of each other and potentially meet a few times during the 24hr period. 


Consider to bring a battery pack and/or charger (normal or cigarette lighter) in order to make sure that your phone will last the 24 hours. Most will not do so without extra charge.


If you are driving yourself, consider bringing a few pillows and blanket to be able to take a few naps in the car where needed. 




PHOTOGRAPHY DON'Ts in DUBAI


DISCLAIMER: First of all, I'm not the authority when it comes to photography laws in the UAE. At no time can I personally be held responsible for another photographer's acts and/or images. You all act on behalf of yourself and can only blame yourself if you end up in trouble. Apply common sense, respect for the people you decide to photograph and act responsibly. 






For those of you new to Street photography in Dubai, be aware of the relatively strict laws when it comes to posting images in the public domain; i.e. Social media and personal websites. 

First of all respect "No Photography" signs; typically places like (but not limited to) palaces, Military and Police stations, certain bridges, embassies, government buildings, are off limits. 


When it comes to photographing people in the UAE, I would like to refer to a comprehensive legal summary by the Al Tamini legal group which can be found here. In short make sure you respect local culture and religion, especially (but not limited to) photographing females. Don't publish images without the agreement of the people in the image. 


WHAT TO PHOTOGRAPH FOR THE 24 HOUR PROJECT?
Throughout this post, you'll find a large variety of images that I personally all deem OK for the project. Remember we try to capture humanity; think emotion, sad, laughing, lonely, happy, tired, etc... Remember that images without people might also document humanity!






Especially with the current photography laws in the UAE, think outside the box! Silhouettes, people from behind, even images with no direct people in the shot but a link to humanity will work. 







Now, that doesn't mean one can not photograph a person that is recognizable. Ask for permission to make the image and then ask if it can be shared on social media. Consider giving them one of your printed presentation cards or other business cards and even email them the shot if they so desire.

























PLAN YOUR SHOOT - WHERE TO SHOOT?

First off all the shoot is not a classic photowalk, where everybody moves together. Everybody shoots for him/herself and we should try to limit ourselves to 2 max 3 people while shooting. 

First think how you will move between places; will you use your own car, taxi or public transport? Either might work but will of course come with advantages and disadvantages.


Because of the constraints of having to post one image every hour, make sure you have a basic plan before going out there. It needs to be flexible and reasonable to execute. Every hour I personally will plan about 30 mins to look/shoot for an image; 10 mins to edit upload, and 20 mins to potentially move to the next place. 


In order to start your own individual planning of the 24 hours, I would like to meet as many as possible around 8am for breakfast, at a yet to be confirmed place around the Creek area and for probably dinner at Ravi restaurant in Satwa. More details will be communicated directly to the participants a few days before the event. 


PLAN YOUR REST
Needless to say that the event will be challenging from a lack of sleep perspective. Remember, the first image needs to be uploaded before 1am so getting some sleep in the afternoon or evening (the day before) will be essential to make the challenge a succes! As an airline pilot we regularly have to sleep during the day in order to have some pre-flight rest. I personally recommend to sleep whenever you feel a bit sleepy; even if this is around 3pm the day before. Nothing is worse than going to bed at 8pm and counting the hours till your wake-up call. 


























If you are creative (you should be as you are a photographer!), you can built in a few blocks of 20-30min naps during the difficult hours. As an example, if I upload an image at 1.55am and then shoot the next one and upload just after 2am, one will have at least one hour to take a nap and then move to your next place. I do not recommend napping longer than 30min in order to avoid feeling groggy once you wake-up. 


BLACK AND WHITE OR COLOUR?

There are no rules to shoot one or the other! Both might work and one can shoot a mix of both. I personally "see" Dubai more as a colour city as can be seen in my Street Photography work here. For those of you shooting the Fujifilm camera system, make sure to check out the "Classic Chrome" Film Simulation, great to document life in a colorful city!

IMAGE EDITING?
Cleary there won't be a lot of spare time for editing your images if this is something you normally do... I strongly recommend trying to do as much as possible "in-camera" and the remainder on either a phone or tablet. Applications such as Snapseed, iPhone and Lightroom should all be plenty to upload an interesting image. As a good guideline try to limit yourself to a maximum of 2 minutes for image editing!

Remember, that you will be asked to upload your final images a few days after the event. The best of these will then be used for a book publication and/or exhibitions which will travel the world. 


























HOW TO SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The main platform where we would like people to upload their images to is clearly INSTAGRAM. If you don't have an account, visit www.instagram.com to open a free account. 

Secondary we also encourage to upload to Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr / Flickr
I personally will use the automatic upload to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr through my Instagram posts. Remember the more we share the more visibility the project gets.

The format to be used on Instagram is as the example below. It is vital to use that format! 

2:30am #Dubai #UAE "title optional" by @bjornmoerman as part of the #24hourproject #24hr17 #24hr17_Dubai to support @LesvosSolidarity. For more info please visit @24hourproject 

If you want to use other hashtags, make sure to list them AFTER the format above! I suggest to copy the sample format, adapt it with your own Instagram account and then keep it in a note on your phone/tablet/computer. This will make life easy with every image you upload. Those of you shooting in other UAE cities, make sure to change #dubai for #your city. 























FREE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
On Saturday March 25 the fine people from the Emirates Photography Club (EPyC), are holding a FREE Street Photography workshop in Dubai from 09am till 12am, for all people registered for the 24HOURPROJECT. If you haven't received the info, please contact me through email or Social Media (links below). 

In any case, it is still not too late to register for the 24 hour project! If this post pulled you over, make sure to register at www.24hourproject.org ! Feel free to share this post or even grap the banner image above and spread it amongst your photography friends!

To all of you who have accepted the challenge, remember, IF IT DOESN'T CHALLENGE YOU, IT WON'T CHANGE YOU!



BJORN