Dec 30, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 300mm, f/8.0, 1/80s, ISO 400. Found these under an overpass in planter in Dubai; funny thing is, last year I took pictures of the same flowers in Atlanta.

Street Sweeping: Dubai

This is my day walking through Dubai from my hotel on Sheik Zayed Road. I headed out on Friday (the local Sabbath) and decided to go to the Dubai Mall--the largest Mall in the world.

Looking up as I walked out of my hotel--I like the way that the light reflects from building onto the other. 

Lots of tall buildings in Dubai. Funny, from these pictures it looks like clear blue skies all the time. This is early in the morning, however, and dust just hasn't gotten high enough, yet.

Dust from things! Which is the major descriptive word for Dubai. Loads of construction going on, and loads fo construction not going on after the recent economic crash. Most of the buildings are not finished.

This one is the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and while the outside is finished, I'm told the innards are still incomplete. There was apparently a big to do at the unveiling because it was supposed to be the Burj Dubai, but at the unveiling it was named after the guy who bailed them out after the crash. How embarrassing; I guess. The wall on the left is the outside of the Dubai Mall.

Inside the Dubai Mall they have an aquarium. With big fish. 
Here's one of the repeating wings of the mall. Now, this mall is really big. I've been to Edmonton Mall, in Alberta, which I'm also told is the largest mall in North America. It's big, too, but no offense, it's nothing compared to the Dubai Mall. It's interesting, though, the similarities the two places and the drive for a big mall. In Dubai it's boiling hot most of the year, and the only respite is found in air conditioned buildings. In Edmonton it's freezing--no, waaaaaay below freezing--I mean seriously cold (even I couldn't get out to make any pictures) and the only respite there is within heated buildings. Hmmm...reminds me of the book Dune, by Frank Herbert...I wonder if Canada is using the hard conditions to train an elite corps of...mounties...

It's just huge. I walked through a third of it, but had to turn back to rest my feet and recharge my camera batteries.

Lots of very nice cars in Dubai. This is the first Porsche I have ever seen with four doors.

This was a little farther from my hotel; my friend Yasser took me around to show me the traditional Arabian architecture at this posh new hotel. Really a beautiful place.

This is the traditional looking marketplace. Lovely light in this building.

More construction going on here; but it's beautiful even unfinished.
That building on the right is my hotel. The bridge is the pedestrian crossway over Sheik Zayed Road (I just like the sound of it). It connects to the Metro light rail, and it's ar conditioned.

These are my friends, Kenny and Susan from China. I walked to the beach and made a few pictures there and met them on the jetty. It was a long walk from my hotel, I can tell you. It was nice to make some new friends on the way.

Dec 28, 2010

Sunrise, Ryadh

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 112mm, f/11, 1/50s, ISO 400.

Street Sweeping: Ryadh

I mentioned before that traffic in Ryadh was incredibly slow; it was stop and go all day, everyday, and the city is more than 100 square kilometers, so it's probably the world's largest parking lot (even Dubai couldn't compete with that!).

Thus, I was afforded plenty of time to make pictures from the front seat of a small Nissan four door pickup. This first fellow is interesting because he is perfectly commonplace. At all times of the day you see people dressed just like him going about their business. It's interesting because it's so different from America.
Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 82mm, f/8.0, 1/1600s, ISO 640.
Likewise, these two chic looking sheiks are also very commonplace. They look like they just left school--maybe they're the popular kids in the twelfth grade...

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 62mm, f/8.0, 1/2000s, ISO 640.
These five fellows are certainly commonplace, too, as is their vehicle. With no subway, and apparently no busses, this is what counts as mass transit in Ryadh.
Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 210mm, f/9.0, 1/250s, ISO 500.
Here's one of my very favorite pictures. This dude was riding in the back of a covered truck with about eight other workers on their way someplace. They saw me in the car in the lane next to them, and I waved, and he waved, and I indicated my camera with a questioning look, and he nodded with this embarrassed little smile, and I shot away. The key to a picture like this is framing: you've got to not include the schnoz of the guy driving your vehicle as you shoot across the front seats and out the driver's window!
Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 98mm, f/9.0, 1/200s, ISO 500.
Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 78mm, f/8.0, 1/1600s, ISO 640.
HTis is just of the millions of Mosques I saw during my trip to Saudi Arabia last week. They have mosques like Mormons have chapels in Utah! It's really incredible to look over the rooftops of the city and see minarets popping up all over. There is a lot of variety in the styles of construction, but they all have the same basic structures, it seems. N. explained to me that the minarets were originally used to call people to prayer at the specified times each day; the neighborhood could hear a person calling from the top. Nowadays, there are loudspeakers mounted in all the towers, and the radio plays the call, and it's also broadcast on most PA systems in office buildings. In this photo, I was struck by the light falling across the ridges on the dome, and also the top of the wall. This is an interesting contrast, as the walls are classic Arabian style architecture, whereas the dome is a derivative from Greek architecture. Did I mention that N. is an architect?

Dec 26, 2010

Here's a little something we made on Christmas morning. Little S. is about six months old, and she and her mom wrote a poem for D. about their relationship and their hands. Mom used a stock photo to present the gift, but really wanted an actual picture of dad and daughter to keep with the poem.

Nikon D7000, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 140mm, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 400, SB-800 fired through 
a zumbrella at 1/64 power.
This sort of thing is really fun! When a client has an idea of what the picture should look like, and then I get to help realize that vision into a beautiful piece of art made of the family--so totally fulfilling. Thanks, K.!
These are a couple of guys I met in Saudi Arabia. This first fellow is a carpenter. For me, it's cool to see the similarities in tools and techniques used by the same people in different parts of the world. Plus, this guy has a great face for a photograph. The light coming through the doorway really makes a flattering portrait.

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 28mm, f/5.6, 1/20s, ISO 800. 
This football player was just happy to be in my pictures! He really wanted me to make several images of him, so I happily obliged. This one is shot at the gym which had a courtyard between two buildings. That beautiful green grass is Astro turf; grass doesn't last long in Saudi Arabia, I think. It makes for a tough playing surface, and I wonder how it is when they travel to other places and play on grass--it'd be like running on a sponge!

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 78mm, f/8.0, 1/640s, ISO 800.

Merry Christmas

Take a moment with family these days, relax, enjoy a little break from work. SLOW DOWN.

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 112mm, f/11, 1/50s, ISO 400.

Dec 24, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 300mm, f/9.0, 1/500s, ISO 800.
These beauties were in full bloom in Dubai last week. Marigolds can be found around the world, but these were particularly large--three to four inches across each. They were on the side of the road, and I shot these from the front seat of the car. A little warmth for a cold Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas.

Dec 22, 2010

Boys Will Be Boys

My colleague in Saudi Arabia and I stopped by his place after work one day last week. He invited me in for a refreshing drink of juice and to introduce me to his beautiful family. I also got to look at his wedding album and video footage--it's not everyday one gets to see what a Pakistani wedding looked like twenty years ago! Very festive, and fun to watch the traditions (especially those of the bride's friends picking on the groom)

I had gotten the idea that the neighborhood was a little rough when put my toolbox inside the cab of the truck and then covered it with something so as not to be seen. When we came out of his house to head to my hotel, this is the scene playing out down the block a little ways. These boys had just dropped their bikes and it looked like a fight was brewing. I quickly snapped off a few frames, as evidence that boys fight everywhere. 

Nikon D7000, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens @ 300mm, f/8.0, 1/15s, ISO 800.
As we drove away from the neighborhood, I realized that it was full of immigrants, and probably suffered the same stigma as other similar neighborhoods and ghettos around the world. All I saw was men playing soccer in the street.

this picture has some movement in it. The sun was down, and evening was coming on quickly in Ryadh, so the slow shutter speed was required to allow enough light to expose properly. However, a 300mm lens is very long, and little shifts at the camera end translate to big wobbles at the end of the lens leading to blurry pictures. Stance, breathing, grip, etc are essential to making sharp pictures in low light; but sometimes you just walk out the door, note a story happening, and pray to the camera gods that the settings you have currently set will suffice. Then you thank those gods for Vibration Reduction lenses!

Dec 21, 2010

Passerby VI

I think this is number six, anyway: I can't recall how many I've shot for sure, and am unclear about how many I have posted. So, number 6. And he's my favorite, and in my top ten favorite portraits that I've made. Nice fellow who let me work him over my camera until he jumped in the truck full of natural gas containers and took off.

Nikon D7000, 20-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR leans @ 116mm, f/8.0, 1/1000s, ISO 800.

Passerby V

I have no idea who this guy is. I'm just getting the first real look at my images from the middle east and had to share this one real quick.

Nikon D700, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 34mm, f/8.0, 1/30s, ISO 1600
I was at the restaurant last Monday with my friend, N., eating at that traditional Saudi Arabian place during the sand storm I told you about. Well, as we were exiting, the orange light from the stormy outdoors was shining through the door, lighting this little setup of a traditional looking house or market, so of course I stopped to make a picture. Just as I pressed the button, this goofy smiley face leaned down into my frame and gave me the cheesiest smile ever. Just a super nice guy being funny, I suppose. I asked if I could take his picture, and he was more than happy to oblige. This is the result--pose, and sifting through the grains on the table were all his own idea

Dec 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

Firstly, sorry there are still no pictures; tomorrow night, I promise.

You've been to Fabulous Las Vegas, right? There's nothing quite like driving through the desert and suddenly coming upon towering buildings, palm trees, and sweeping lights from every angle. 

Nothing like it. 

Except Dubai; or so I thought.

At first, Dubai is a towering oasis, both physically and culturally. It's a bit of a break from some of the more orthodox places in the region, and it is a welcome source in a sea of sand and...well it's right on the sea, too. Just like Vegas (except for the water sea part).

But, that's really where the comparison ends. 

Click through for the rest of the story...

Dec 16, 2010

From Ryadh, a novella by Levi Sim

I've been in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 11:35pm last Sunday night.

My first impression included lots of men wearing a long garment called a thoub--you've seen it on guys on TV. It's what the sheiks and arab looking guys always wear. And they really do wear it all the time over here. Sure, they have blue jeans and polo shirts, too, but the usual daily wear is a thoub, and the most usual color is white. And since it's Saudi Arabia, the men are also usually wearing a white scarf with a red houndstooth pattern embroidered on it. The scarf, called a shemagh, is worn draped over the head on top of a tage'ea, which provides some friction to keep the shemagh in place. It's usually white, but I have seen a few worn without the shemag that are decorated with colored embroidery. It should be pointed out, as it was to me, that none of this outfit has any religious meaning. A blue-jeans-wearing Muslim can get into heaven as easily as one sporting the whitest thoub; it's really not comparable to yarmulke, either. It seems to be more like cowboy boots and long sleeve shirts: it's what used to be practical, and now it just feels right.

Click through for the rest of this epic story...

Dec 11, 2010

At Work

I made this at my work the other day while showing some trainees around the plant. It's always fascinating to me, welding. It's like photography; it's working with light. And speaking of working with light, I got a new tool that I may just love. See the specs below. **Warning** it's a bit geeky down there.

Nikon D7000, 50mm f/1.4 lens, f/2.8, 1/320s, ISO1600. That's right, it's a D7000. Is it ten times better than a D700? To be determined. But, by the look of the low noise in this image at ISO 1600, the lighter weight, the fancy new control layout...the D700 may be in danger...Click on the image for a full size view, and bring your microscope to the table and examine the pixels. This image has had no noise reduction applied, and not even any exposure adjustments made in post production. I applied lens correction and a little vignette, a little crop, and that's all so that you can enjoy picking the image apart, pixel by pixel if you wish. We'll see how this bad boy does traveling tomorrow.

Dec 9, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D700, 55mm f/3.5 Micro lens, f/3.5, 1/500s, ISO 200.

Dec 5, 2010

Help Portrait


My grandmother gave me this alarm clock when I turned 6 years old. It's purple, it's a Conair, and I love it. It's the size of a 3x5 card, and about an inch and a half thick. Like I say, it's dark purple, like California Raisins purple with red LED's. I love it for two reasons. Frist, it has fallen off the bunk-bed or the nightstand or the bookshelf (as I scramble to shut it off in the dark) a bajillion and a half times and it still works flawlessly. (Actually, right now it's about 20 minutes fast, but that's not it's fault) 

The second reason I love it is that it is just an alarm clock. That's it. It's shows the time, and it wakes you up. There's no radio, no second setting for the time in London or Tokyo, no GPS, and no iPod dock. Seriously, I almost missed my flight once because the alarm clock at the hotel was apparently too complicated for me to figure out. I've taken to morning calls when I travel.

And c): I love that the snooze is exactly nine minutes. That non-decimal system number has helped me wake up for 24 years. There's no way you're going to sleep longer after having figured out how much less time you have to get ready if you sleep for nine more minutes. Math beats Folger's every time.

However, each time that old familiar claxon rings early on a Saturday morning, it is serious danger of winding up on the street three stories down.

Like yesterday, when it rang at 7:18 (minus 20, plus one snooze) I rolled out of bed and almost smashed it to the ground. I was dreaming of red lasers and purple shrapnel.

Then I remembered: Help Portrait is today. Click through for the rest of the story...

SNL, or Caribbean Blue

That is, "Saturday with N. and L." Not the popular TV show of the same name. For the Caribbean Blue, see below.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 120mm, f/2.8, 1/200s, ISO 800.
I've known N. for over three years, now, and that's somewhat of a record. I've moved a lot, you see, so seeing someone regularly at work for three years is kind of a benchmark for me. I'm just glad that she asked me to make pictures for her and L., because even though I'm leaving our mutual employer to be a full time photographer, I've now got her on my hook in pictures so I still get to keep in touch. You know how it is when you leave one job for another. You may see folks around, but you never quite keep in touch like you'd like. Unless you do, then I applaud your effort.

Anywho, we've had N. on here before (click here to see. I'll give you a hint: she's not wearing the heels). She's a hardworking person, and always ready with a smile for anyone she happens upon.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 155mm, f/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 800.
N. is a...trueist? When she first asked me to make these for her she made me promise not to touch them up. I replied that I do very little work on people pictures, zap some zits and a little skin here and there when I find it tasteful, but not much else. "None," she said. She just wants the pictures to represent the way she looks right now, this year. The truth.

Well, the truth is she's beautiful, so that was easy.
Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 135mm, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 800.
Enter L. She is also beautiful, clearly taking after her mother (and her father's sister, or so I'm told). She's a dancer, and a soccer player, and she looks forward to taking her mom for family pictures each year. 

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 130mm, f/8.0, 1/60s, ISO 800.
L. chooses the wardrobes. This year they were exceedingly cute and chic. The greens were very nice, and she put the right person in the right outfit, and in monchrome I thought it looked especially good (but, as you know, I always think it does). In fact, the green really brought a powerful liveliness to the Studio that has been missing in the earthy tones which dominate there.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 86mm, f/3.5, 1/ 320s, ISO 800.
Here're a couple more of my favorites from the day.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 120mm, f/8.0, 1/60s, ISO 800.
Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 175mm, f/5.0, 1/125s, ISO 800.
Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 102mm, f/5.0, 1/200s, ISO 800.
Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 105mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 800.
Oh, and here's the Caribbean Blue image. I don't know why, but it reminds of this old Enya album I had when I was a kid. Besides the ones that L. took of me, this was the very last image we made together today. Sure was a lot of fun (doesn't she look it?) and it was a pleasure getting to know these two treasures a little better. Enjoy the Blue.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 175mm, f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 800.

Dec 2, 2010

Flower Friday

Nikon D700, 55mm f/3.5 micro lens, f/5.6, 1/25s, ISO 640. Shot this one a few months ago in Colorado at Helen Hunt Falls in NOrth Cheyenne Canyon--beautiful place, several streams, huge pines and firs, and few waterfalls. Highly recommended. 

Also, I've been reading the chapter in Joe Mcnally's new book about macro work and depth of field. It's a great book for beginning photographers, and an excellent review for those who think they know it all--after reading this not only will you know it all, but you'll be able to explain it all, too. Wow, and when I just made that link I saw that it's only $17! That's a steal of a deal for the photographer on your gift list.

Nov 29, 2010

Kinda Creepy

Nikon D700, 28-70mm f/2.8 lens @ 35mm, f/2.8, 1/15s, ISO 1600, all candle light.

Nov 28, 2010

Ground Support

Nikon D700, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 24mm, f/4.0, 1/1600s, ISO 1600.

It takes a lot of work to get a hot air balloon off the ground--a lot of hands.

The Thanksgiving Day parade in New York got me thinking about these balloon images we made in Colorado on Labor Day. These people travel around and race balloons and do various other activities. The balloon being inflated here was a  prize for winning another race. This fellow attends the same pilot at many event each year.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 125mm, f/2.8, 1/8000s, ISO 1600.

It's just fun to make these pictures! And easy, too.

See, it's not really hot air that makes them fly; it's air that's less dense on the inside than the air outside the ballon. So, the air inside may be, I dunno, 90 degrees, which is no big deal on a summer afternoon in Colorado. So, in order to get a greater difference between the inside and the outside, they always launch early in the morning, but they never leave the ground before the sun is up. Perfect Portrait lighting!

And of course, there're the colors to consider.
Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens @ 70mm, f/10, 1/500s, ISO 1000.

Flower Friday on Sunday

Nikon D90, 50mm f/1.8 lens, f/7.1, 1/200s, ISO 400. 

Highland Sunset

The hills north of Highland, Utah, are always so amazing looking with a little snow and a sunset. The trouble is finding a spot without power lines to shoot through. Tonight, I found one. I'm going to have to spend some more time at that spot in the future, try and perfect this exposure. This one is about twelve exposures stitched together in Photoshop; it's over ten feet long at full resolution. Kinda cool to make.

Nikon D700, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II lens @ 230mm, f/10, 1/400s, ISO 400. This is my newest lens, and it covers a huge range of focal lengths. We'll see if ends up being as sharp as my 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens.

Nov 23, 2010

Blizzard Wedding

This is about an hour before the hugest storm of the century. Pretty fun for a gal from Florida, and a guy who lives in Oklahoma.

How did they meet, anyway?
Nikon D700, 300mm f/4 lens, f/8.0, 1/400s, ISO 800. There'll be many more from this fun wedding fiasco soon.

Nov 20, 2010

My Name is Levi, and I'm a Nikon Shooter...

It's no secret that I'm a Nikon shooter, and it may even be evident that I kinda proselytize Nikon, as well. If you ask me which camera to buy, I'll probably tell you to get a Nikon, and my Canon shooting friends get down on me about it, sometimes. So I'd like to take a megabytes and tell you why I'm a Nikon shooter, and also provide definitive decision making information for you to choose your camera.

And that information will not direct you to buy a Nikon. But it should.

Why I Shoot the Best Nikon

Nov 19, 2010

Don't Move Here

Once again, another reason not to move to Cache Valley. I mean, look at that mountain: it's already covered in snow! Who would want to live here? Plus, there have been multiple car crashes the last two nights as drivers have been distracted from their texting by the remarkable sunsets. Unbelievable. You definitely should not move here.

Nikon D700, 50mm f/1.4 lens, f/4.0, 1/200s, ISO 200.

Flower Friday

Nikon D90, 55mm f/3.5 micro lens, f/8, 1/200s, ISO 400. L. is always requesting tha I make these full you go!