Game of Light

It is October in the UAE, which means Winter is Coming!  I love my Game of Thrones.  So when I decided that my next adventure was going to be in the Isles of Scotland, I knew I had to lift my game. <hehe>. 

Northwest Highlands Geopark

Scotland is known as the 'Land of Light', and I really under estimated the beauty of Lewis, Harris and Skye. 

Callendish Stones

It was pretty windy, so drone footage was tricky, but this little video I did brings together about 9 months of thought bubbles in the lead up to the trip and anticipation of how I could bring my favourite things together in the one spot: Photography, GoT, Spoofs, Storytelling, and a gorgeous location.

Three Days in Meteora

Late August 2017 and Summer is still killing it in the UAE.  To break the spell, I escaped to central Greece for a long weekend to visit Meteora, located in the town of Kalambaka.  Meteora is not only home to unique monoliths but is also where ancient Orthodox monks built their monasteries.

I also went to Vikos Gorge, which is actually the deepest gorge in the world at about 1600m.

Fun Fact:  One of the Monasteries was the filming location for the James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only.  Bad guys's secrete hideaway :)

Storm Chasing in the Dolomites

In landscape photography, you snooze you lose!
But I might have taken that a tad too seriously when I went out in the middle of the night in pursuit of a Milky Way time lapse. By 1am I decided to head back to the hotel, only to realise that the entire hotel was locked up, with no way for me to get back in side!
So I toughed it out in 8°C till the break of dawn. But with a sunrise shoot on the cards there was no rest for me until later that day.
Got some good astro shots, though! 😜
So here is the main event - Storm Chasing in the Dolomites. Enjoy.

I did manage to get one nice shot from that sunrise shoot after pulling an all nighter as well.

Epic Aurora Timelapse

Well, over the passed six months I have been honing my timelapse skills, culminating into the best timelapse I have done to date.  In February, I ventured to the remote fishing archipelago of Lofoten, Norway.  The fjords were inspiring and the conditions for aurora hunting just right.  So without further ado, here it is.

Canadian Rockies

Since the Calgary Winter Olympics, it has been a long time dream of mine to visit the wilderness of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  In September 2016, I toured the areas of Banff and Jasper which delivered some of the most spectacular scenery I could possibly hope for.

Vermilion Lakes

The focus of the trip was around the towns on Banff and Jasper.  Autumn had come early so much of the Ash and Birch had dropped their yellow hues, however, there were some patches where I could play with some camera movement and abstracts.

Along the way we encountered some wildlife.  One morning we saw some Elk grazing in a field by the side of the road. A bunch of nature photographers were already on the scene all decked out in cammo and lenses long enough to see the Hubble. Then us lot pile out of the bus carrying on with hand helds, going ooh ahh. Turns out there is quite a difference between Nature togs and Landscape togs! 

A watchful Stag protects his harem

Once again, I had a go at vlogging the adventure complete with animal antics, drone footage and time lapse!  You can check out the video here:

Exploring Hatta

The UAE is celebrating Eid with a 5 day long weekend!  So I am making the most of it by escaping the desert sands for a quick getaway to a little town called Hatta nestled in the mountain ranges on the Dubai and Oman borders.

Apart from capturing a lovely time lapse of Hatta Dam I also clocked up some all important flying time with the drone.  With only 2 more working days until the big trip to Canada I need to get ready if I am going to be able to use it in all its glory!

I also whipped up another little vlog.  Along the way to Hatta we stopped off to fly the drone over this amazing red desert sands location I am calling Tree-Topia.  How those trees survive in the desert is beyond me.

Perseids Meteor Adventure

Even though it is the Middle of Summer in the Middle East, I was itching to get out for another photography adventure.  I decided to head to Sir Baniyas Island in the hope that I might be far enough away from city lights to photograph the peak of the Perseids Meteor Shower.  Absolutely nothing there to speak of except an outcrop of rich mineralisation including hematite, salt, gypsum, sulphur (yep, you can see big chunks of sulphur sticking out of the ground) copper and magnesium to name a few. 

The Sheikh, back in the day, decided to turn it into a wildlife sanctuary and planted the entire ~48km² reserve with trees which are 24 hours fully irrigated with over 120,000km of irrigation piped in from the mainland desalination plants.

All of the animals are imported and breed freely.  There are a couple of native animals such as the Arabian Gazelle and Arabian Oryx.  They also have Hyenas, Cheetahs, Ostrich, Emu, that big herd is Eland (Africa’s largest antelope).

Perseids were definitely there! But you have to look closely.

Sequence at 3:02 is where the main event is happening which is a time-lapse taken over three hours.  And then the final still image at the end is a 15 image composite shot of all the best meteors on the one image.  That took quite a while to stitch together!

I took another time-lapse the next night to get a star trail animation around Polaris, just for giggles.

You can catch the full, 2 episode vlog of the adventure on my video page.

Part I Video, Part II Video

Desert Milky Way

Off to the far northern edges of Ras al-Khaimer, this weekend, in search of UAE's highest mountain peak, Jebel Jais.  The rocky range is shared with the neighbouring country, Oman. At just over 1900m, the peak occasionally attracts modest snow fall in winter.  But in the middle of summer, with blistering temperatures of 44C, the only thing this barren landscape was going to attract was a couple of weekend warriors armed with camera equipment and dorky head torches.

It was optimistic to say the least, that a weekend away to capture the Milky Way in the height of the hazy season, was going to be successful.  But I had run out of images to post process in Lightroom and I needed new material by hook or by crook and a reason to try out my newly acquired Samyang 14mm f2.8 prime lens. 

During the day we scouted up the jagged mountain range and decided that the peak lookout would offer a vantage point above the haze as much as possible.  It was also facing southeast which was perfect as that is where the Milky Way rises in the northern hemisphere in the summer time.

We arrived just after sunset and after about half an hour of set up, settled in for a night of time lapse and long exposures.  My favourite image of the night shows the Milky Way rising over the mountain range in all its glory with a small meteor streaking in the sky - in spite of the the light pollution and miasma. 

 

Along the journey I decided to have a crack at vlogging.  So here is my first attempt at making a video.  Be gentle, I only learnt how to edit in Premiere Elements just last weekend.

 

 

Flamingo Fancy

A 4am start saw us at Al Qudra Lakes by 5:15am just in time for sunrise and to see the flamingos come into land on one of the islets within the largest of the lakes.  Al Qudra is a series of man made lakes spread out over 10 hectares and home to more than 100 species of migratory birds. The lakes are located in the plains south east of Dubai.

The flamingos are too far out of reach for my gear, so at this stage I will have to settle for distant silhouettes.