First of all I should apologise for the posting famine recently, a good friend pointed out that it was a year since I had posted and needless to say I am shocked at myself. I have had a lot of changes this year in my personal life as well as with my work so I have been a little bit distracted. This feels like a good time to begin posting again as I have had 8 days away in Dubai as a guest of my wonderful brother and sister in law. I barely had the camera out of my hand and really enjoyed the chance to get in touch with my photography again. I also had my wee girl with me for her first holiday abroad so it was particularly wonderful to try to capture a flavour of it, perhaps HB will get a kick from the pictures when she is older.

Please note I have installed an exif display plug in so any photographers who want to see settings used for images will get them just by “rolling over the image”.

Here she is at the aquarium in the Hotel Atlantis with the usual props in hand! Minnie and a wee projecting torch!

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This one I love for the way she seems to be looking into a subframe of the photograph. The vertical dividing line leads your eye to her very naturally.

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No Dubai trip can be complete without a wee trip up the Burj al Khalifa with its 146th floor viewing deck. The Burj is the tallest building in the world and is typical of the Dubai hunger for the biggest and the best in all engineering. I loved it. Here is a junior aficionado, who has discovered a deep love for saying “burj al khalifa” just to show you she can!

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Here are a few views from the side of the viewing deck with a slit in the glass to allow photographers to shove a lens through. This gives lovely clear pictures indeed which you can’t achieve all round, but I’ll come to that.

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I love this one for the dominating shadow of the Burj giving a sense of its towering presence. The covered building is the one that burned in the dramatic new year fire this year.

 

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Here we have the oh-so-predictable photobomber!

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Now, the other side of the Burj has thick glass all round to enclose the inevitable gift shop. This is a photographic nightmare, and since the view is toward the unbelievable man-made “palm” and the Burj al Arab, I consider this a photographic crime. I love clear high quality lenses as much as the next person, but “needs must when the devil vomits in your kettle”; I got the lens against the glass to minimise the wild reflections and distortions and tried to make moody if unclear pictures. I kind of like them anyway.

 

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You can actually see me holding the camera in this one, the glass was cms thick and this was unavoidable.

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On that same evening we had dinner in the public area beneath the Burj al Khalifa. They have a vast pond fitted with water jets, computer controlled to “dance” to the stunning and loud music that fills the square every half hour. If I’m honest I would say it sounds potentially tacky, but OMG it isn’t; you could actually “fill up” as the emotional, often operatic musical crescendos are punctuated by what can only be described as water jet fireworks. It is amazing. When looking at these pictures you really have to be listening to Aa Bali Habibi by Elissa as that was my favourite from the evening. I think the foreground square towers house the hi fi, and it totally is hi fi!

Check these!

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This is the Burj taken from the fountains area showing the fascinating mix of tourists and Emiratis that characterise the city. It really is huge! Remember the Mission Impossible scenes folks?

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Here is my beautiful girl enjoying the fountains and the warm evening.

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I love this one as it shows the wonderful relationship between my sister-in-law and HB.

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Sometimes a picture has no technical merit at all, but captures something special. HB spent the dinner walking over and chatting with this lovely waitress, showing her toys and talking about honestly-I-know-not-what! I snatched two photos as we were leaving and the one that had sharpness had HB’s eyes rolling and so didn’t work, this one simply wasn’t sharp enough, but still had enough “feel”. The culture of kindness and attentiveness to children in Dubai is really wonderful, and reminds us how far fear and suspicion has ruined ours.

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This is the classic spot I believe for Burj pictures overlooking the waters from a bridge. You really need a wide lens to fit it in though.

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Another day, another setting. This is the beach near my brother and sister in law’s apartment where we had a great afternoon of bathing and eating pizza. It overlooks the “Marina” area of Dubai which is spectacularly dense with skyscrapers. I went for a run on the beach and nearly sweated to death! Just as well I was able to go for a sluice-down in the water afterward.

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HB loved the beach, so did Minnie and little yellow-haired mermaid in case you care?

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Dubai is all about the building work, so this deliberately underexposed image really captures the endless industry that goes on.

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This is the view from the balcony where we were staying. I include this to let you know how much I’m prepared to rough-it in the interests of getting photos for you! (No need to thank me, all in a days work ma’am). This is overlooking the amazing Palm Jumeirah and the Atlantis Hotel.

 

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My folks took us an a really impressive wildlife safari tour to the “empty quarter” desert. We saw a lot in a very short time and even had our Range Rover stuck at one point, it was a great experience. Here are some Oryx which are wild, but occasionally fed to encourage their presence for tourists.

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Next we saw some Arabian Gazelle, these are just beautiful and fairly small animals.

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I have no idea what this animal is, its clearly a baby of some kind, but nope, I’m drawing a blank!

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For the authentic desert experience our guide put these head-dresses on us, and although we felt a bit silly, they were very comfortable in the heat. Aren’t they both so cute!

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And now one with Sheik Mahbouti in attendance. (Love you bruv)!

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Next was an impressive bird-of-prey display. These birds are very much part of the Arabian culture and what they do is impressive. I am no great fan of captive animal displays, however the knowledgeable young antipodean woman who gave us the extensive display was sensitive to this and impressed us all with her skills and her care for the birds. I have included some pictures of the tourists and my brother enjoying interaction with the birds.

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While this was going on, HB was more interested in playing in the vast sandpit that she had found.

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But back to the hunting birds with this amazing owl

 

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Born to it!

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The strong light helps to achieve fast shutter speeds!

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love this very cool man’s T-shirt!

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I am really pleased to have caught one exposure without background distractions

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And so on we went to the camels, a bit of telephoto compression here certainly shows the colours to advantage.

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Then we went for a drive to enjoy the desert a bit, resulting in this! Stuck! British car fans will be disgusted to know that a Toyota Landcruiser towed us out!

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Around the “Creek” area, traders were friendly and even sometimes willing if asked to allow photos

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This one uses telephoto compression again to emphasise the busy market area walkways. HB aunt and uncle all visible in this one.

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HB is also fond of an interesting motorcycle!

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The markets major in colourful goods:

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A tourist “must do” is the crossing of the “creek” in the traditional Abra boats. Needless to say we held on tightly to HB, but she declared the Abras to be her favourite thing and sat fascinated by the river traffic.

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On the other side, we enjoyed some family snaps:

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I love this one!

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Some more around the markets.

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HB excited by the markets, and frankly high on gallons of mango juice.

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These ones from the Indian neighbourhood:

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I’m not really into street photography as a genre, but this one speaks to me for some reason. Check the space-station surface of air con units on the wall.

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HB eating crisps while a tailor adjusts her newly bought outfit.

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Another day, another beach. You can’t keep this young lady off of sand! The Iconic Burj al Arab hotel behind.

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Sunsets in Dubai work well for fill flash portraits. My beloved sis in law here looking lovely.

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More mango juice, it was her thing!

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Just aww!

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Another amazing thing is the way little-ones seek each other out. HB and this lovely wee girl played at digging in the sand and burying “camel” for quite a while. Her mum very kindly gave me her permission to photograph them together. A nice low angle gets you into the scale of the kids’ world.

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Not a concern in the world, cares not a jot!

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BFF’s and yet they barely spoke to one another! I would like to apologise for the unseemly aspect of the camel here…

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HB also loves balancing. Here with her aunt and uncle strolling against this amazing backdrop.

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From the other side, this high class shopping centre provides a great vantage point for the Burj al Arab

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Back at the apartment, this is the view over the marina in the Palm. Just wow. I may have had a glass of excellent red as I took this one.

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We also had a day trip to Abu Dhabi, My brother and sis in law lived here for a long while so it is nice to get some pictures for them too. Note HB in the background trying to become a sand lizard as usual!

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I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of Dubai and some of the photo opportunities it offers. I may add a few more later, so do check in again. Maʿ al-salāmah folks.

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  • Saranne

    What wonderful photos Matthew! And I keep thinking how lucky HB is to have such beautiful pictures of herself to look back on when she’s older. I doubt many of us have such lovely pictures from our childhood. Looks like you had an amazing time. Welcome back to wet, cold, grey Scotland.

  • Petrea

    Fantastic photos Matthew…some real smashers in there!! What a great collection for you all to look back on. HB is a cracker.

  • Jacqueline O'Donnell

    Hi Mathew

    You have an eye for a great photograph.
    I particularly like how you caught the car being stuck in the sand, and the construction photograph.

    Your daughter is adorable and a natural in front of the camera.

    Jacqui x

  • […] When I took this camera to Dubai, I took the kit zoom, the 40-150 basic telephoto zoom, and a single… […]

This extremely nice man has in importance in my life that very few other men could ever have; Mike made both of my acoustic guitars and they are wonderful, powerful sounding instruments.  Last night I dropped my guitar off with him for a service at the beautiful Lake of Menteith, (Scotland’s only Lake!), and was delighted to meet Mike’s Fiancée, Susie. I had no plans to take any photographs, but imagine my delight when Mike took me up on my observation about the view of the Lake and how ideal it would be for a photograph of him. It turns out that Mike and Susie haven’t had many photos recently, so a 10 minute impromptu photo session ensued. The light was lovely and I happened to have my new and surprisingly compact Canon 100D with 24mm pancake lens in my bag.

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Putting Mike and Susie with the light behind them, meant using fill flash. If this had been a planned session then I would have used a remote flash to bring a more “shaping” direction of light, however, the pop-up flash on the little DSLR did a great job of providing some controllable fill. I have been very impressed by the quality and versatility of this camera. When I sold my old 500D to get this, I wondered whether I would regret it, or find no difference at all; I am already noticing lots of things I really like and have no regrets at all. The touchscreen is excellent for a start; selecting a different focus point with the screen instead of the D-pad on the old 500D was more intuitive.
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Anyway, photography really isn’t all about the kit, there is no nicer feeling for a portrait photographer than having people feeling relaxed in front of the camera. Mike and Susie are really lovely and I love these pictures of them.

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Not much to be said here, except I really liked the light reflecting from my very golden creme brulee through the dried leaves of my complementary physalis. This was using my currently ever-present 24mm pancake lens. Despite appearances, this is an afternoon picture from last week, not an evening or candlelight photograph.

I was a bit lazy with this image as it was handheld and only 1/25th of a second. This is not fast enough and I had not checked beyond glancing at the image on the screen. I got lucky though.

Just loving this lens though!

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My dear friend Jay on the battlement of the ruins of Carnasserie Castle last weekend. I always enjoy photographing Jay as he has such a relaxed confidence throughout everything he does; perhaps he trusts me a little to get a decent image as well? This was using my now trusty 24mm pancake lens on my carry-around EOS 500D. Because the surrounding Kilmartin Glen hills demanded some inclusion, I used an uncharacteristic f8 aperture to widen the depth of field a bit more than my usual taste.

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HB in her self-chosen coat, presenting a colour photography opportunity against the oddly painted St. Enoch Centre car park in Glasgow.

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