Sony 7Rii

Hello world,

Long time no see.

A lot of travels happened, a lot of pictures taken, but today I wanted to talk a little bit about that Sony camera that everyone is obsessing about these days. That Sony 7 R ii.

As a matter of fact, I am a Fujifilm shooter these days, and I can’t be happier with my choice. My old good friend Canon, after being fixed, is collecting dust in a cupboard, but not completely forgotten. So why even looking Sony direction, you might ask? Well, you know, photographers often get so gear obsessed, that just by watching another youtube video they think they absolutely need that thing in their lives. That is not what happened to me. I have to teach a class during a photography week event and that class is sponsored by Sony, so I can’t shoot with anything but Sony. And I have no idea how to operate it, so I borrowed one for the weekend.

I also got 24-70 2.8 lens, which is so big and heavy that it kind of defeats the purpose of “lightweight” mirorrless camera, but anyway, few of us actually pick up camera gear considering the weight factor.

When I turned on this baby, it said right away – Running on NTSC, which I had to ask my friend to explain why is the camera panicking about this and thinks I need to know this as the first thing when I turn it on.

Then came the fun of trying to find anything in this menu. It is not such an easy menu to familiarise yourself with. I guess no menu is perfect, it took me time to get used to Fuji, and some things on Canon menu I discovered like 3 years later. haha… but the first thing that Sony menu proposes is to turn on zebra. Really? The first thing? And when you’re not in the know, what the hell is Zebra? I mean when you start turning it on you figure out that it is highlights clipping feature, but why would it be the first thing on the menu?

Right, then let’s find out how do we change focus points? Took me 25 minutes until I found the way to do this. So … so much easier when you have a “nipple” or “joystick” to do that, but I guess when you get used to this, it’s a viable way of operating the camera. Yes, you can download a manual from the Internet, and it will somehow save you some time, but what about being user-friendly?

Anyhow, I borrowed the camera from my office, they gave me a very nice lens, the only thing was that I didn’t have a photographic project, so I just went roaming around looking for something to shoot._dsc1916

My husband was on a car meeting, and this guy just came in the frame perfectly.

I don’t like the shutter sound of Sony camera at all. In my Fuji you can choose out of 3 different sounds, the one that you prefer. In Canon or Nikon, you get what your manufacturer offers you. In Sony it’s somehow this squeaky sound that doesn’t sound appealing at all. But you can switch it off and go to silent mode. The bitrate of the photos goes down a touch, and some features are not available, but how beautifully it works for the scenes like above. People still see you with the camera of course, but you become so much more discreet.

I also loved the feeling of the camera in front of my face. It kind of separates you from your subject like a shield. It is not the same feeling as with Fuji, because not your full face is covered by it. People still see your face, but in case with Sony they don’t. Weird fact, I know.

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Everyone is talking about Fuji colours, but I always shoot in raw, so I adjust colours afterwards anyway. I like how the colours came out in these photos.

A couple of times in the bright sun, the camera would show me that the exposure is okay on my subject, but the final images turn out way overexposed. I don’t know why is that. It was the case both for spot-metering and for center-average.

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I got lots of likes for the photo of this desert on Instagram. Beautiful separation, and here you can feel the power of the full frame.

I also managed to make this kind of creative shot – reflection of the coffee cup in my husband’s phone at F 2.8._dsc2037

The battery life by that time was going down so quickly that I was kinda stressed to shoot anything else. I have the empty battery phobia, I always charge everything all the time. I always have 2 extra batteries for my Fuji, I always have extra batteries for the flash and my phone has a battery in its case.

So I started with the rejection of the camera, but finished with thinking that I could live with it.

Do you love it?

How to Entertain Yourself if You are Stuck in Dubai for EID.

Hello world,

The long week of religious holidays in Dubai is finally coming to an end. Normally, my wonderlust would send me exploring far away countries and cities, but this year I was stuck in the limbo of not getting the resident visa, so I could not travel.

I decided not to be sad about this fact, as it gave me an opportunity to explore a bit more of Dubai and go take pictures of some things that I always wanted but never did due to certain reasons. 

My husband left to see his friend in Taiwan, but I had a car which meant almost unlimited opportunities, if you are not scared of Saudis on the roads, who flee to Dubai in search of premium entertainment… particularly the malls, always stay away from the malls.

So I took the car and thought that it must be nice to go and take pictures of the sunset on the famous Jumeirah Beach. Right… so half of Dubai thought the same and there was traffic, no parking and a lot of covered ladies on the beach which made me feel uncomfortable so I left without taking photos of the sunset. I mean I did, but not what I really planned to.

After that, I decided to go to another beach in hope for a better view of Burj Al Arab (should try this one next time for the sunset, could be nice). I spotted this interesting composition with the lights leading to Dubai Marina, and decided to take a picture of it during the fading blue hour. 

Perhaps the composition would be even better a bit further down, but there is no parking over there and it’s a royal palace, so I doubt they would be thrilled to see a person with a camera outside their gates.

Driving down the beach, I managed to get myself stuck in the sand because there is no real road, it is more compressed sand, but if you go left or right, there is a big chance of you getting stuck… what pretty much happened to me. But Dubai is truly an amazing place and in a blink of an eye a bunch of Arab guys helped me out without me even asking them.


Took this photo on the beach, there were plenty of people chilling there and some even swimming, but I edited them out of the photo.

Before it was often that I’d come back from my photo adventures with a bunch of exciting photos but more and more often these days, it is one or maximum two photos that qualify to be seen publicly. Maybe I got more critical, maybe I take less worthy photos. But it is true, for 5 days off that we had for these holidays I have one or maximum two interesting photos to share.

Went to take pictures of the fountains around Dubai Mall. It is always crowded there, but I found a good spot for the sunset image. It was so humid that my hair was all damp and sweat was running down my spine as I was waiting for the show to start, but nevertheless, I think I came back with a couple of good photos. 

Anything with Emaar or Meraas properties is very tricky to photograph as they don’t want you to take good quality pictures therefore you can’t use tripod. One option is to take pictures at sunset when it is still light enough, but honestly this whole thing looks even more spectacular when it is dark… so one way to do it is to play a dumb tourist, and try to take your photo in the 5 minutes you have before the security guard kickes you out. You can also try to pretend that you don’t speak English, but I doubt it would work for me…

Today I have my roomie from Iceland passing by Dubai so probably will go to the same locations for the round of new photos of Downtown Dubai.

Have a great weekend and stay inspired!

Love,

Anna

I Need a New Tripod… again.

Before I went to Iceland and got heavily critiqued on my tripod, I had no idea that it was bad. It always worked for me, and I managed to get the shots I needed for 4 years of my photography life just fine. But no, then all these fancy Americans with their fancy tripods surrounded me and started laughing at poor Benro for being flimsy and so on and so forth… the damage was done.

And apparently all the others here are not flimsy.72340_10153651161888731_5796111349164361986_n.jpg

So I got home, I thought about it, I spoke to people and I got a very handsome looking tripod made by 3leggedthing called Steve. It looked sturdy, it felt big and powerful… it was shiny, colourful, and the headplate holding screw broke in 1 month. It’s okay, I thought to myself, let me reach out to them and they might solve my issue. And they did, they shipped me a new head within a week. It was less fancy than the original one, but fine, it worked. For another couple of months… until I lost a screw from the leg somewhere on my way around Dubai. I got so frustrated with it, I just shoved it to my cupboard and went back to the flimsy one.

I also had a piece of tripod at work by Vanguard. It was quite heavy and not particularly useful, but it had the central column that you can use parallel to the ground. Useful for food photos, and macro photos sometimes… I do a lot of social media shoots, so the bird eye view is the shit right now, but if you do it for 3 hours you’ll feel the tension in your back… believe me.

Anyway, not so long I enjoyed the freedom of this tripod because the central column holding mechanism just shattered into plastic pieces all over the place. I didn’t give up when it happened and tried to superglue it back to where it was… but you know, you can’t fix something that was not well thought through.

So now I am back to the flimsy Benro, and I am thinking where to invest my money again… sadly we don’t have a good choice of tripods in Dubai shops, but I think I will have to get a 055 ManfrottoXPRO3 or 4. And as much as I am not such a big fan of Manfrotto and I remember what happened to F-Stoppers in Iceland with this tripod, I don’t think I have much of a choice.

Peace and love everyone!

Anna

The Rainbow of Reflections – Downtown Dubai

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This photo I took about a year ago, roaming around Dubai constructions zones one evening. It’s surprisingly clear for an August night, usually the sky is full of humidity and you can’t  really see so clear.

10 seconds at F 8.0, ISO 400 taken with Canon EOS 6D and EF24-105 L IS USM lens.

Night Photowalk with Fujifilm in Dubai.

So I always wanted to hang out with photographers. It sounds fun, right?

And so conveniently Fujifilm decided to do a photowalk in the “brown” Dubai part so I thought – why not? But as I thought why not, my newly acquired husband thought “no way you are going alone”. And those of you who have the experience of hanging out with people who are not photographers while you are trying to take a long exposure of the river know how fun this is.

So apart from the fact that we were late because honey, let’s go in 20 minutes and honey, there is no parking, we also had fun driving there through “iftar rush”. My German side always arrives everywhere on time, but now that I have a French side attached to me by paper that we signed in Cyprus, I will have to adjust to the fact that this side is rarely on time. Pofig, we tried to walk in the group Fujifilm picture on the last shot of it, but it was too late… and I embarked on a photowalk with my hubby instead of guys from Fuji. Ok, most of those photographers who showed up were from Philippines or India, but me is no racist. Doesn’t matter so much though, cause I didn’t stick with them for a second.

We walked around the souq, got properly harassed by the vendors who were calling me shakira (why is that?) and trying to put pashminas on me along with very good quality fake Louis Vuitton bags. I honestly can take 500 street style photos there, but I just don’t care. I like landscapes, cityscapes, lights, trees and trails. The Pakistani guys cutting hair and picking their feet are cool, but it just doesn’t make my heart beat faster looking at those photos in post.

DSCF2987So I tried to convince my hubby to stay next to the river, but he wanted to walk in the streets… and we walked in the streets. I managed to snap this cool mystery boat disappearing into nothingness before we took off to the streets of Bur Dubai.

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I have nothing particularly cool to show out of this walk. I have this funny photo of the camel with the lights as if those are his eyes.DSCF3026

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a good weekend,

Anna

The Hot Days are Coming…

Today is the beginning of the end in Dubai, by this I just mean we officially just hit 40 degrees Celsius today (104 Fahrenheit).

Fun fact is that I have a colleague who announced recently that she doesn’t know how temperature works, she doesn’t know anything about degrees in any measurement. So funny and bizarre!

Last year we decided to take a trip to a hotel called Qasr Al Sarab which is located in Abu Dhabi, literally in the middle of the desert next to Saudi Arabia border. This piece of desert is called Dead Quarter because there is nothing that grows there. We travelled there in July and the road to the hotel is basically a straight line that continues for 3 hours with nothing but desert around.

Our car was broken at that time, so we rented a Huyndai Accent that drives slower than a roomba vacuum cleaner, and had a wonderful time trying to make this car go at 100 km/h. Not really, ahaha.

The point is that we must be quite crazy to have decided to go to the middle of the desert when the temperature was 56 C (132 F), and the whole time being there our only concern was how to cool down. We spent our time burning in the pool and cooling down the beers in the never-ending room service ice buckets.

The photo is from a balcony of Anantara hotel, Qasr Al Sarab.

Have to deal with it, though, since we have chosen to live here. This is only the first day of real heat, at least 5 more months are coming our way.

Inshallah, we will survive.

Have a great day!

Anna

Is it about Luck or is it about Talent?

I don’t really consider myself to be a lucky person, but from time to time I would participate in competitions or draws (and right away I forget that I did). One day my husband sent me a picture from a magazine which encouraged photographers to participate in the following competition, described as follows:

Share a photo on Instagram of Dubai “illuminated” using a hashtag #shinedxb to win a trip with Dream Photo Tours in December 2015.

I looked through a gallery of my Dubai images, picked one, and posted on Instagram without any second thoughts. Didn’t even bother putting many hashtags to attract attention to it, so it had only around 45 likes at the time when I received a DM from the MENA region marketing manager of Facebook asking if this photo really belongs to me, and if I can send a high-res version of it to his e-mail address. In about 30 minutes he told me that I won this competition, and all the three judges voted for my photo. This all happened in an event where Instagram was celebrating it’s 5th anniversary in Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, and they had a photo exhibition and a voting session.

I couldn’t really believe it at the time, because I never dreamt about going on a photography trip that I don’t have to pay for! This is when I thought to myself, well, seems like I must have at least one good photo in my arsenal then, since this thing happened to me.

The guy who stands behind this “luck” of mine is an amazing location-independent travel photographer Elia Locardi. He was the one who picked my photo in the first place, and shortly after I realised why. At the time of the events, it happened so that he had visited Dubai so many times, but was never able to capture Dubai covered with fog. I believe this to be the most amazing time to shoot the city and certainly gives the most magical-looking and breath-taking view. Well, I was lucky to wake up early that day to capture this beauty unveiling in front of my eyes (truth to be told, I haven’t gone to bed yet when it was happening). Capturing this image opened me a door to more amazing opportunities. Maybe this will forever stay the most famous photo I took, but if I don’t try to take the next one, we will never know.

I was allowed to choose any trip from Dream Photo Tours upcoming schedule among which were Vietnam, Japan, Italy… Until that moment I never thought about going to Iceland. I live in Dubai and I don’t own a coat, neither a decent pair of boots, nor warm clothes really. I don’t think about weather-sealed lenses or cameras because I don’t face any of those harsh conditions here. I could have gone to Myanmar, I could have gone Vietnam, but I decided that it’s perhaps something I would never otherwise do and I put myself on the list to go to Iceland.

This is where it all began, my magical journey to the land of ice and fire, which happened in March 2016, and changed my life completely.

Many people tell me how lucky I am in my life. It is my luck to have moved to Dubai and my luck to have followed my heart to be a photographer, but I honestly don’t think that anyone is preventing you from doing the same. I am lucky because I opened my heart and let amazing things happen to me, that is perhaps true, but so can you.

“Luck is believing you’re lucky.” – Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire