Friday, December 31, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 52: Reflecting on 2010

Hard to believe yet another year just flew by. I'm writing this post, a few hours before 2010 comes to a close. Just under 12 months ago I started my Pic(k) of the week project. I clearly remember the first image made early January in a wintery Belgium.

Overall 2010, has been another exciting photography year!

It has been especially good year for travel photography. In April, I came home with images from Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur on my weeklong " 2010 Incredible India" photo tour. After the summer, I left on the amazing African photo adventure in Namibia called; "The Beauty and the Beasts".

My airline job, brought me to interesting places all over the world. Check them out in my Travel gallery.

The Yas Hotel (on the Formula one circuit in Abu Dhabi) images collection, became my most popular Architectural photography series ever. The images were showcased in magazines in the US, Europe, Middle East, all the way to Japan.

My Aviation photography highlights were the shoot for the making of the "Abelag" calendar, Air to Air photography while in Belgium last Summer and the MEBA 2010 Business aviation event held in Dubai.

Pic(k) of the week 52: Reflecting on 2010!
While shooting some Architectural work at Dubai Creek, I noticed this Indian man. To me, it feels like he is thinking about the past and future... something we often do at this time of the year. This shot is not posed or set up. Actually he probably never realized he was being photographed!

Image details:
Nikon D700, 70-200 2.8 Nikkor lens
ISO 200, f3.5, 200mm, 1/50s
RAW processed in Lightroom 3
Nik Software SilverEfex

Last but not least, since I'm a strong believer in personal photography projects, I will continue my "Pic(k) of the week" project for a second series. All images of the 2010 edition can be found here.

Happy New Year!
BJORN

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 51: Stay on the line

Most of you probably know that my day (or night) job is being an airline captain for a major airline based in Dubai. Guess which one!

Beside the line flying, I've also been holding an instructor/examiner rating for a number of years. One of the more interesting training duties is Base training, which is taking cadet pilots (ab-initio, inexperienced first-officers) out in an empty Airbus A330 to do actual take-off and landings (touch&go's) for the very first time in the real aircraft! Earlier this month I've done quite a few of these flights which are very rewarding from a job satisfaction point of view.

Pic(k) of the week 51: Stay on the line!
One of the things that feels very different in the real aircraft compared to the simulator, is taxying the aircraft. As an instructor, I frequently find myself saying to the trainees, "Stay on the line". I'm sure this explains the image caption.

The shot above is made with my brand-new Nikon P7000, a compact camera with a pro touch! It replaces my 2 year old Canon G9. So far I've been very happy with the new Nikon's image quality and interface. Initially writing a single raw file to the memory card took more than 5secs, which is really slow! A firmware update and buying a 4GB high speed class 10, Sandisk card reduces the time to less than 2secs. Very reasonable for RAW file writing on a compact camera.

Needless to say that this camera will not replace Pro gear like my NIKON D700 with 2.8 lenses.

Image details:
Nikon P7000
ISO 100, 50mm, f5, 1/1000s
RAW file development in Lightroom 3.3
Single shot HDR with Photomatix 4
Contrast adjustment Software ColorEfex

More of my Airline images can be found here.

To the ones celebrating, Merry Christmas

Click that shutter,
BJORN
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Abelag - Calendar project

Last August, I spend a day shooting at Brussels airport for the Benelux leader in Business Aviation, Abelag. They operate a large fleet of more than 20 cooperate aircraft, ranging from the prop-jet Beechcraft King-Air 200 to the Dassault Falcon 2000 EX. 


The day started very rainy but about halfway through, the sky cleared up and the cumulus clouds made for a great background!

The main purpose of the shoot was collecting images for their yearly black and white cooperate calendar. The final design of the project has been done by a local Belgian printing company and the calendar is now in the process of being distributed. So far it has been well received and feedback has been very positive!

A few sample pages can be found below. Please click on the image to see the full size.


























More of the Abelag images shot at Brussels airport and at their second largest branch, 
Kortrijk-Wevelgem, can be found in my Business Aviation gallery.

Please contact me if you are interested in a similar project for your company!

Click that shutter,
BJORN

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 50: Festival of Blue

Along the Dubai creek, close to Business Bay bridge, you'll find Dubai Festival City. A   relative new project consisting of a residential area, a shopping mall (after all it is Dubai!), golf course, commercial offices and 2 hotels. They have an interesting one-liner on their website: "It's all happening where it all began". A reference to the birth of Dubai which started around fishing and pearl diving at Dubai creek. Just like in the early days, the saltwater creek divides the city in two parts, Bur Dubai and Deira.

Festival city hotels
The image of Festival city's office tower and hotels above, is made from across the creek, Bur Dubai side. Since the opening of the new Business Bay bridge, the overriding color of the area is blue. Due to the high dynamic range, I shot 5 images (-2,-1, 0, +1, +2EV) and combined them into a HDR image. Needless to say, that one will need a sturdy tripod to do so!

Image details:
Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-70 2.8
ISO 200, f7.1, 58mm, shutter speeds from 1s to 20s
HDR processed in Photomatix Pro 4

More images of the area can be found here.

Click that shutter,

BJORN
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Middle East Business Aviation convention 2010

MEBA 2010, Middle East Aviation, has come to an end. The bi-annual three day event held in Dubai, is a convention of everything business aviation related in the region. I attended on the opening day and had two reasons to go: 1/ Meeting with future cooperate aviation clients, 2/ Expanding my aviation portfolio. Overall happy with the outcome, I did enjoy the 60 or so aircraft on static display.

Gulfstream 550
Because all jets are parked close together, it isn't always easy to come up with interesting images. I tried however concentrating on detail shots like left engine of this Gulfstream 550. If shooting for a client I would of course have asked to remove the disturbing yellow air-conditiong hose...

Cleaning a Boeing BBJ
Just like any event with a lot of people, I do enjoy just strolling around and looking for photo opportunities. When two guys started cleaning the windows of a Boeing 737 BBJ, I immediately realized I needed to have the camera ready...

Vista Jet Bombardier Challenger 850
Sometimes the fact that aircraft are parked close together, can be used to the photographers advantage, like combining the tail of a Vista Jet Challenger 605 with the winglet of a TAG Global Express.

Al Jaber Aviation A318 Elite
There were a fair amount of large cabin business jets like Boeing BBJ's and this Al Jaber Aviation (AJA) Airbus A318 Elite cooperate jet.

Dassault Falcon 7X
My favorite of the MEBA day was this detailed shot of the center engine of a Dassault Falcon 7X. As usual I want to give it some time, but it is likely the image will make it into my Aviation portfolio gallery or at least my Business aviation gallery!

Since the late summer, I've been working on another business aviation project in Belgium. It is just about to go public, so you can expect another aviation related blogpost next week...

Till then,
Fly safe & click that shutter,
BJORN

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 49: Stripey Falcon

Over the years, photographing business jets has been one of my favorite jobs. They are relatively small, have great lines and often come in amazing paint jobs !  

Falcon 2000 EX at Kortrijk-Wevelgem, EBKT
I shot this beautiful French built Dassault Falcon 2000 EX at Kortrijk-Wevelgem airport, while I was in Belgium last week. Its full black livery with silver stripes is unique and very photogenic. Even though I photographed this regular visitor to the airport before, I'm very pleased with this latest one! Looking at the patches of snow, this one is clearly made on a cold wintery day... Oh boy it was cold!

Image details:
Nikon D700, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens 
ISO 200, 50mm, f9, 1/640s
RAW developed with Lightroom 3
Converted to Black and White with SilverEfex Pro

I'm now off to another Business aviation event, this time in Dubai, MEBA 2010 (Middle East Business Aviation). It is the Middle East's premier aviation event and a perfect place to connect with past and hopefully future clients! Even though it doesn't include an airshow, the show has about 60 or so business aircraft on static display.

Expect more on the event in a future blogpost.

Till then, take that lens cap off,
BJORN

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter flying

I just got back from a brief visit to my home country Belgium where the winter arrived early this year! With temperatures below -10C and quite a bit of snowfall, it was about as far away from Dubai I could get...

Robin DR400-120 OO-FBI at Kortijk-Wevelgem airport
No short break to Belgium is complete without a flight in a general aviation aircraft! We flew a single engine Robin DR400 over the white fields of Flanders. The semi-bubble canopy is not ideal for photography, but the low level winter flying combined with some interesting shots, made my day!

winterview of A17 highway Kortrijk-Brugge
Navigating over snowy landscapes is very different due to a large change in contrast. Snow cleared roads stick out very clearly while some items like railways and high tension lines are barely visible.

EBOS, Ostend airport, Belgium during winter
Even though we didn't land there, the Ostend airport at the Belgian coastline was open and ready for traffic. Airports with a single runway like Ostend, are often temporarily closed due to snow removal.

EBUL, Ursel air base, Belgium
Before heading back to the home airport ( Kortrijk-Wevelgem), we landed at Ursel air base, a dis-used but standby military base in the middle of a forest, used by two civilian aero-clubs. Always a great place for an afternoon cup of coffee!

Fuel depot at Roeselare, Belgium
Aerial photography is great for industrial buildings like these brand new fuel tanks along the Roeselare-Leie channel. Each large tank can hold 30 million liters and takes up to 2 months to fill up. 


Castle of Rumbeke near Roeselare, Belgium
Just before landing at Kortrijk-Wevelgem airport, we overflew one of Belgium's oldest Renaissance castles, Rumbeke castle. The place gives me a lot of childhood memories and about 18 months ago I shot a series of HDR (High Dynamic Range) images at the site. All of them can be found here.


Those of you interested in my Aerial photography, make sure you check out my book, Focus on the World Below.

Combining my two great passions, aviation and photography, always gives me this warm fussy feeling... Nice when its -10C outside!


Take that lens cap off,
BJORN
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 48: Hard night in Madrid?

Once in a while a bunch of images do not get processed straight away. This was the case with a group of photographs I made on a brief visit to Madrid, Spain over a month ago...

As often is the case, while shooting, I felt that a lot of them would be turned into Black and Whites. Using the dark blue sky with a red or orange filter (using Silver Efex Pro) I feel like Ansel Adams! Click here to view my Madrid images.

Hard night in Madrid? Plaza Esapgna
My Pic(k) of the week above, of three sleeping guys, was secretly shot in a park near Plaza Espagna, Madrid. I believe that the harsh contrast between the dark shadows and the bright sunlight breaking through the tree branches, makes for a nice Black & White photograph.

Just as I framed a third image of the scene, the center guy woke up and did not look happy!
Time to move on...

Not sure if they really were recovering from a hangover, but it kind of felt like it to me!

Image details:

Nikon D700 with Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8
ISO 200, 24mm, f8, 1/200s
RAW processed with Lightroom 3
Black and White conversion with Silver Efex Pro


Click that shutter,
BJORN
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 47: Four in a row

Lately, I seem to be in my night photography mode... I had marked yesterday as "full moon photography" in my calendar.  And so I did !

For those of you that are not up to speed with the Lunar phases, on a full moon night, the moon rises at about the same time as the sun sets. Of course on opposite sites! Normally a good moment to photograph a moonrise. 
Using the iPhone app "Magic hour" (the former Vela Clock), I determined that the moon was rising at 1759 at an azimuth of 063 deg (close to East North East). 

Before leaving home, I used Google Earth to find a good spot to photograph with a desert background. About 15 mins before the moonrise I was all set up. Perfect timing.

While the moonrise images were fine, it did not make it to my Pic(k) of the week. Click here to see an example of it.  

Pic(k) of the week 47: Four in a row
While the moon was climbing above the horizon, I decided to do a 4 exposure moonrise image without the desert background. The image is straight out of the camera, using the "image overlay" function in the retouch menu of my Nikon D700. To be honest, this was the first time I used it and I'm very pleased with the result! One basically needs to fix the camera on a good tripod and then take several timed exposures. Activating a function on the camera then merges all images. I used 4 minutes between all 4 exposures. The final image reminds me of the game, "Four in a row".

One can see the change in color and brightness as the moon gets higher. This has to do with the amount of atmosphere the moonlight has to cross. A low moon crosses through more dust and atmosphere than a high one. More info is available here.

Image details:
Nikon D700 with Nikkor 70-200 2.8 + 1.7 teleconverter
ISO 200, 340mm, f7.1, 1/125s 
in camera merging of the 4 exposures
single RAW developed in Lightroom 3


For a long time, I've been after a specific moon shot. Until today, I still do not have the shot, but yesterday I did come close... Check out the Bjorn Moerman Photography Facebook page for more!

Take that lens cap off,

BJORN
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 46: Full moon desert

Last Thursday was our 4th get together of this years winter season! The shot below is made at our Belgian BBQ spot ( 50km SE of Dubai ) about 4 hours after sunset. I'm always amazed how much light a full moon gives us!

Moonlight desert drive
No flash used. Only a little bit of light painting onto my car with a small flashlight and of course a sturdy tripod for the long shutter speed. To finish it off, I switched on the car's  interior lighting. 

Image details:
Nikon D700 with Nikkor 14-24mm 2.8 lens
ISO 200, 24mm, f5.6, 50sec
used Bulb mode in order to shoot at a longer shutter speed than 30sec
RAW processed in Lightroom 3
no other software used

If you like it, feel free to have a look here at some more moonlit images made the same night!

I surely would like to do more of this in the future. An inspiration has been the work of Troy Pava. His nighttime moon photography is amazing! Check it out at www.lostamerica.com


Take that lens-cap off,
BJORN

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Friday, November 19, 2010

NAMIBIA -Beauty and the Beasts- Closing thoughts

As promised some closing thoughts on my recent trip to Namibia. For those of you that missed the initial posts here you go: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

All of the Namibia -Beauty and the Beast- images can be found here.

PREPARATION
We ( my wife also actively participated in the planning ) started preparing for the Namibia -Beauty and the Beasts- trip early 2010, leaving date-8 months. Pretty early we decided on the way of transport within Namibia, since a lot of the further planning depends on it. 


The decision was made to rent a 4x4. Even though a lot of the stuff is accessible by normal saloon car, I do definitely not recommend to do it that way. Most roads (>90%) are gravel and sand roads and a car with good traction control and increased ground clearance makes the trip much safer and more comfortable. If on a tight budget, a little Kia will do the job just fine.
Next we had to decide on our overnight stays. In most places there is a large selection of lodges available ranging in price from mid range to very expensive. 

We wanted to combine a bit of camping with some lodge overnights. So it quickly became evident that our best option would be a 4x4 with a rooftop tent. Even though none of us had travelled with one of these before it turned out to be a great experience. The tent large enough for two adults, is comfortable and sets up in less than 5 mins. Actually, some of our best nights sleep were in the tent!

Now that we knew what to drive and where to sleep, it was time to start the road planning.
Early 2010, I found a very detailed classic Namibia paper map while over on a trip to South-Africa. Next, a website called www.namibian.org also proved very useful. They are a tourist agency based in Windhoek and have different online tours varying from a few days to almost 3 weeks. 

Map of NAMIBIA  -Beauty and the Beasts-
We ended up combining different tours and booked a tailor made 14 day tour (click  above for more details)) with them just under three months before leaving. Booking early turned out to be wise since some of the more popular lodges like the ones in Etosha and the Sossusvlei lodge fill up quickly. Even outside the school holidays.

We had used the Lonely Planet books for our adventurous travels in the past and were once again not disappointed! Further on, I used the power of Google Earth extensively in order to check on small things we couldn't find in any of our travel guides.

A few months before the trip, I got a 64GB Apple iPad 3G. This together with the application GPS Motion X was extremely helpful for the navigation on the road. It allows one to download Google Earth maps and use them with the iPad's GPS, which strangely enough only comes with the 3G version. On the main roads signs are fine, but it just makes live so much easier with a good electronic map. 
Drinking Elephant family at Etosha-Goas waterhole
As an example, at home I downloaded a list of all Etosha waterholes GPS coordinates, which made it dead easy to drive from one animal drinking place to the next one. Always make sure you are familiar with entering coordinates in your device, be it an iPad, iPod, Garmin or any other GPS unit.

CAMERA GEAR
As always when traveling on the airlines, there is a limit to the amount of hand luggage that one can bring on board. Except for my tripod, checking in expensive camera gear is a big no-no for me! The limiting factor on the 4 sector flights (DXB-JNB-WDH-JNB-DXB), turned out to be the one piece of hand luggage per person (max 12kg) on the South African Airlines flights between Johannesburg and Windhoek. I know my loaded camera bag (Lowepro Compu Trekker) often flirts with the 25kg mark on the scale... Only option  to keep it below the limit was sharing a second bag with my wife. Needless to say, one has to plan and weigh this beforehand!


It is a normal photographer reaction wanting to take all equipment but the kitchen sink! Knowing this, I did leave quite a bit of stuff, e.g. Speedlights, Macro lenses...

So what "did" I take... 

NIKON D700 
Nikkor 2.8 lenses, 14-24, 24-70, 70-200
Remote shutter release
Visible dust sensor cleaning kit + Rocket Blower
Circular polarizer
26 GB digital film (mostly 4GB and 1 8GB CF cards)
Battery charger + 1 spare battery
Gitzo G1257 Carbon tripod with Markins ballhead
MacBook 12inch with 250GB external hard drive
iPad 3GB with car charger
iPhone 3GS with car charger'
Canon G9 Powershot, mostly used by my wife

Notice that the longest lens I took was the 70-200 with the 1.7 converter (making it 340mm). I surely realize that I missed some shots, but then again, I don't promote myself as a "wildlife photographer"! That 200-400mm VRII can still wait a bit... 

While on the trip I downloaded my CF cards every night to my Macbook AND to my external hard drive. Both I always kept in different places. Just in case! I only reformat the cards whenever I'm short of space... So for most images I had three copies. The golden rule of image backup.


During the planning phase I was slightly worried about the amount of dust in Namibia. If one resists from changing lenses outside, he/she should be fine. To be honest I did only clean my sensor once with the dry solution (Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly) and waited to give it a wet sweep until back in Dubai. The in camera dust removal is surely I good invention!

I initially hesitated to take the tripod with me, but in hindsight was glad I did. It proved to be very useful for nighttime photography at waterholes and I really enjoyed my first time star trail experiments.


FINALLY
Would I do it again? Absolutely. No doubt! Driving a 4x4 from Windhoek to Cape Town to explore Southern Namibia is on the list as well. But as always, the list is long!

I have a feeling that our next African Safari might be to Botswana, another jewel in the South African hemisphere. Time will tell...


A special thank you to my wife Djamila, for all help with the planning and the overall support. Thanks! 

I like to close this blogpost series by referring to a post written by top class photographer and author, David du Chemin. Please take the time to read his latest post, Life is short. In the last 12 months, David has been a big inspiration to me and once again proves that we all:

NEED TO ENJOY LIFE TODAY AND NOT TOMORROW!


Take that lens cap off,
BJORN
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pic(k) of the week 45: Skydive Dubai

A few days ago I was out at Skydive Dubai, the new parachuting club at Dubai Marina. In a previous life, I used to fly with skydivers for more than 10 years, at Moorsele, Belgium, now called Paraclub Vlaanderen or PCV. So even though I never dared to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft, I'm quite familiar with the exciting world of those strange falling people from the sky!

Skydive Dubai, less than 2 years old, is growing fast. They use a brand new Pilatus PC-6 and a de Havilland DHC-6 Twin-otter

Twin-otter just after take-off at Skydive Dubai
The image above, is made just after the Twin-otter took off from the short airstrip next to the Mina Seyahi Beach resort with a fresh load of skydivers. 

Image details:
Nikon D700 with 24-70 2.8 lens
ISO 400, 36mm, 1/1000s, f8
HDR processed with Photomatix from a single RAW file  
Color Efex for contrast improvement
LR for the fine-tuning of the image

More of my "Skydive" images here.

Happy shooting,
BJORN
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