Black & White in Bombay 2

A ball of twine
It’s been nearly six months since I last went to Bombay; a trip I have mixed feelings about, since I mostly went for my cousin’s wedding, and despite being there for a month weather and schedules and general fatigue conspired to keep me grounded most of the time.

I took a lot of pictures — thousands — but most of them are personal, of family and friends, and I don’t share those. Looking through my haul before committing them to DVD backups (remember, kids: back up frequently, often, and in multiple mediums), I found that in between the personal photographs I had snuck in an artistic one here and there.

A hand holding a small spider-man figure
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had got a lot of photographic toys that month. One invaluable purchase just before we left for India was a cheap manual flash and a wireless trigger. It helped out a lot in the finicky lighting of the wedding venue, and while I still have no idea how to use it effectively, a lot of fun was had experimenting with my equally photo-crazy cousins — such as in the shot above.

Photo of a shirt on a chair and a man taking a photograph
Sometimes you’re stuck at home with nothing to do, and when the urge to photograph strikes you’ll point a camera at anything just to scratch that itch. This isn’t a bad thing, as you can get plenty of interesting pictures around the average household.

Close up of leaves of a potted plant
And sometimes, all you need to do is look at things in isolation.

Photo of a man's hands
Speaking of isolation, a willing human subject is always a good thing to photograph, and if they aren’t made up and feeling pretty first thing on a Sunday morning, you can still get a good photo out of the rest of them.

picture of a taxi in dadar
At last! A chance to go out. Planting myself firmly in the front passenger’s seat, we set off for Navi Mumbai. The good thing about any Indian wedding is that there is always the possibility of traveling somewhere for it and various ancillary functions.

mile marker at vashi
I had just attached my 58mm manual zenit lens, this was my first time taking it out of the house — and it was stuck at F2 since I hadn’t modified the aperture pin yet.

scooter parked under a tree
Considering all these factors plus the moving car, and my general failure at taking to new things (or old things, for that matter), some of these pictures didn’t turn out half bad.

y-shaped column of flyover construction
The joy and excitement of doing something new and unfamiliar is sometimes just the thing required to make you stop over-thinking things. Sure, many of these pictures could be better, had I spent hours and hours getting to grips with the lens at home, learning its finer points on pictures of bottles or something — but a trial by fire (or a trial by moving car on insane Indian roads while manually-focusing at F2, as it were) is often the best way to do something new.

brickwork on a building
Put another way: you need raw brick to make a solid building, even if said raw brick is never seen by any of the occupants. Look, a cliche metaphor and an appropriate picture to go with it!

picture of a flowering plant
In the end, of course, thinking about things helps, and whenever you get a chance you should definitely stop to smell the flowers, and maybe take a photo or two.

macro shot of flowers
Keep Looking. The photos will find you.


(NOTE: All the photos in this post, shot in colour, were post-processed by simple saturation, contrast and gamma alteration in IrfanView, hands down the most simple and invaluable image viewer and editor on the planet. I’ve been using it nearly every day for 14 years now. If you haven’t, then do give it a try.)

How To Prepare For Photography In A Dubai Sandstorm

Dubai city in the grip of a summer sandstorm
The short answer is: you can’t

But should you have a camera on you when such a storm hits — even one with dying batteries and not the greatest response time in the world — it’s worth attempting a few shots.

I’ve been very active on twitter since installing TweetDeck, and recently began posting pics there through twitpic. So when today I thought of posting some more, I figured I might as wel do it on my own website rather than on some third party service.

This post marks what is hopefully the first in a new direction for I’ve been mulling a redesign of the site for ages now, and instead of waiting for just the right moment, when everything is perfect, I may as well start laying it all out there, content-wise. The journal was always supposed to be a place for all my junk — if you’ll pardon the term — all the rambles and the random thoughts and the craziness, the mundane and the just plain… well, plain.

To that end, I’ve been taking my Kodak c875 out every day with me nowadays. I never did this much before, but since getting the Pentax K200D SLR a few months back I have grown to appreciate the little silver thing’s qualities anew. It’s not quite as pocketable as some of the slim fashioncams out there, but it does still fit in the pocket of my tightest jeans (okay, so I don’t wear very tight jeans, but still). And there’s no two ways about it; it still produces great results.

So, here’s the recap of a lazy Friday afternoon driving around Dubai, no agenda, no idea of what to do, and partly cloudy with a chance of sandstorms.

A black and white photo of the road along the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah, with the Atlantis resort in the distance
Not knowing where else to go we ended up driving to the Palm Jumeirah. It’s a pretty desolate place, lots of construction and me-too villas. Not a shop or green space in sight. Other than the sheer novelty of driving on a piece of land that didn’t exist ten years ago, there isn’t much to see, and even less to photograph. Still, I try.

Black and White photo of cars in the undersea tunnel of the Palm Jumeirah
To get to the ‘crescent’ (a large circle of land that encircles the Palm shaped landmass itself, and acts both as breakwater and home to several resorts) one takes a twisty underwater tunnel — there are, unfortunately, no windows — from the end of the trunk.

A bobcat earthmover sits in a parking space at one end of the Palm Jumeirah crescent
View of construction on the Palm Jumeirah crescent, in a rear view mirror
Other than the Atlantis Resort (which draws crowds who come to see its fancy aquarium), there isn’t anything else to see on the crescent. There are several resorts under construction — months away from opening — and still more empty lots with signs for future resorts. As a result, the edges of the crescent are pretty empty on a Friday, save for curious people like us driving to the ends, and a couple of construction workers.

View of the sea from Palm Jumeirah crescent, with a jet-ski
It was a typically brown-skied Dubai day — we don’t see the colour blue in the atmosphere until much, much later in the year — hot and humid and oppressive. The only other thing to see from the crescent is the open sea, and it was sparsely populated by jet-skis and pleasure yachts buzzing about. And trust me, this photo is color-corrected — you don’t even want to know how grey it was in reality.

Grafitti in the Dubai Marina on a construction site
From the Palm we followed the roads in a daze and somehow, through the spaghetti-like tangle of roads, ended up in the Dubai Marina. I did not bother with pictures of more skyscrapers under construction, but this picture of some hastily sprayed graffiti caught my eye. It wasn’t on any finished structure — just on a pile of large bricks used to hold up an under-construction overbridge — which makes me wonder if the person who did it actually works on the construction of that bridge.

Road under sandstorm in Dubai
As evening set in the air seemed to get a bit duller, but it wasn’t the usual sharp sunny evening. A cloud peeked pensively over the horizon. “The weather has no right to be this way unless it plans to rain,” my brother said. He wasn’t wrong about a change in weather, but what we got was not welcome rain, but a sandstorm. We literally drove into it. In moments, the air around us was engulfed, the skyscrapers disappeared, and everything went even more brown than before.

Couple taking a picture in front of the Burj Al Arab, obscured by the sandstorm
The sandstorm didn’t stop people from taking exactly the same kind of nonsensical posed pictures they tend to take any other time.

An Audi R8 supercar on the road in Dubai in a sandstorm
I leave you with this photo. I keep hearing of people lusting over sports cars, relishing each instance to see them, and even I like them too, but after you live in Dubai for a while you get very used to it. This wasn’t the first Audi R8 I’d seen in a month, it was the fifth Audi R8 I had seen that day. Exactly five seconds after this a red one passed by going the other direction, and by the time we got home I’d seen two more, and a McLaren Mercedes SLR. Let’s not even talk about the number of Porsches. I’ve stopped even noticing those.

It sounds like I’m boasting, and I suppose I am — I like cars enough to feel lucky that I live in a place where I can and have seen every major car whose poster has been on the walls of every boy’s bedroom — but seeing them so often, you do start to realise: they’re just cars. Are they cool? Yes. Do I have a heat attack whenever one passes by? No.


More Mountain (well, Hill) Photos

Thumbnail header swatch of quarried mountains in Fujairah
A while ago on a drive through Fujairah and the Northern Emirates I took a bunch of photos of the landscape from the car. It was a nice enough day, but far too grey and harsh, and I didn’t think any of the photos were any good.

A few days ago I was looking through those same photos before archiving them to DVD, and tried playing around with some of the levels. Lo and behold, the peculiar, lovely color of Kodak cameras came into play, and the pictures were suddenly pretty good!

So here are fifteen of the best. You should keep in mind that the day didn’t look like this — but hey, who cares now, the pictures came out good. Enjoy.

Mountains in Fujairah
Dark rain clouds over Mountains in Fujairah
Colourful orange-red Mountains in Fujairah
Quarried Mountains in Fujairah
Quarried Mountains in foreground, other in shadow -- Fujairah
Dust rises from a quarroied mountain in Fujairah
Communication tower at the top of mountain in Fujairah
Dirt road through the mountains in Fujairah
Donut skidmarks on sunny road in front of shadowy mountain in Fujairah
Dry salt marshland at the base of mountains in Fujairah
Four yellow earth movers lined up in front of mountains in Fujairah
Red rocky hill and mountains in Hatta
Highway in Fujairah with streams of sunlight coming through the clouds, and a cement factory in the distance
Undulating range of hills in Ras Al Khaimah
Mountains half in shadow under clouds, in Ras Al Khaimah