Monday, December 28, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY

A2015 is almost coming to a close... it feels like yesterday I was writing the last post of 2014!!!

At Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY, we can look back on another great year and sincerely hope this was the case with all of our clients, readers and followers! Needless to say that we all wish you a great health as the number one priority. 




It has been another year with plenty of new Fujifilm gear reviews;

and it looks like, 2016 will likely be an even more exciting year for Fujifilm...

In July 2015, I looked back on my one year without DSLR gear, in my 1 year after the switch post!

Overall the Bjorn Moerman PHOTOGRAPHY Blog is becoming more and more popular by the month. We are now approaching half a million (yes, 500.000!) visitors from pretty much all corners of the globe. The review of the XF 16-55 f2.8 lens is the most popular blogpost for 2015 with over 21.000 readers.

At some stage in 2016, I might switch "blogging" platforms in order to further improve the viewing/reading experience. Any photographers/bloggers with good suggestions, I'm more than happy to take them...


See you all on the other side,
HAPPY 2016!

BJORN








Tuesday, December 22, 2015

AL AIN AIR CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 - the real UAE airshow

The last two months of the year, we have been blessed with great Aviation events in the UAE; it started of with the Dubai Airshow (more of a trade-show like the Paris and Farnborough shows), then the FAI World Air Games (12-day event around the Sport of flying) and last week the Al Ain Air Championships!

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

Organised for the first time in 2003, the Al Ain airshow is for me the only "real" airshow in the UAE as we know them in Europe and the US. Initially the show was yearly, but it seems that after 2011, it is on a two year cycle... 

Being in the middle of the desert, the background for the show is great with the sun being in the back for all of the afternoon. Overall a spectacular setting and great for airshow photography!

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

Typically the show brings in airshow acts from all over the world, mainly from the US and Europe. This year, the format of the 3 day event held from December 17th till the 19th, changed somewhat. 

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

The organisers made it into a competition of airshow acts where a specialised jury and the public (through online voting), chooses their favourite display. In three competition rounds spread over the three days, points were given for Power, Grace, National pride and WOW factor. Quite a neat idea and something different from your standard airshow! Hopefully the same will continue over the coming years...

Some of the teams presenting at Al Ain were:

GliderFX display team from the UK,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

Polish aerobatic champion Artur Keilah flying his SBach S41,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015


UAE Airforce Desert Falcon F-16E,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015


Saudi Hawks, for the first time flying a total of seven Hawks,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015


The Bronco demo team, who flew their OV-10B in, all the way from my home airport in Kortrijk-Wevelgem, Belgium,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

UAE based Al Fursan jet team, who won the "Grand Prize" at Al Ain,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

Richard Goodwin from the UK, flying his highly modified Pitts S2S biplane,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

Bravo 3 Repsol team from Spain flying a pair of Sukhoi's, 

Al Ain Air Championship 2015


The Misty Blues, an all female Skydiving team from the US,
Al Ain Air Championship 2015

Breitling Wingwalkers flying two Stearmans with two girls on the wings,

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

On the grounds pretty much all of the UAE Air Force types were displayed on static, with lots of activities for young and old.

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

For those of you wondering, Al Ain is only an easy 1hr 15' drive from both Dubai and the Abu Dhabi airports. 

Even though, they had me wait for over two hours for my "press credentials" batch, it is definitively a show I'll attend again whenever it comes back! 

Meanwhile, keep the Aviation spirit flying, UAE!


BJORN


Pic(k) of the week 52: Desert Falcon - most advanced F-16E Block 60

The last Pic(k) of the week for 2015, comes from the Al Ain Air Championship held last week at the Al Ain airport in the UAE.

Even though, I will dedicate an entire blogpost to the event before 2015 comes to a close, all of the images of the Al Ain Air Championship can be found here

The image below is of an UAE Air Force F-16E Block 60 fighter jet; the most advanced version of the F-16 ever built. Yes, it is technically more advanced than the F-16's the USAF is presently operating! It is often referred to as a 4,5 generation fighter, with fourth generation aircraft being the "classic" F-16's, F-15's, F-18's, Rafale and Typhoon. Fifth generation fighters mainly consists of F-22 and the brand-new F-35 aircraft. 

For myself and lot of other aviation geeks, the F-16 remains one of the sexiest fighter jets ever built; although the F-16E model with the integral fuel tanks on the side of the fuselage, has lost some of that visual appeal...

The UAE Air Force presently operates 54 F-16E's and 25 two seat F-16F's' and is the only Air Force operating the E and F model. An excellent write-up of this top of the line Block 60 "Fighting Falcon" can be found here

Al Ain Air Championship 2015

Image details:
Fujfilm X-T1 with the XF 50-140 and XF 1.4X Teleconverter
ISO 200, 112mm, 1/200s, f7.1
Lightroom CC 6.2 for RAW development
Nik SilverEfex Pro for Black and White conversion
Final dodge and burn with Photoshop CC 

Yes, at 112mm I could have removed the 1.4X teleconverter and shot with the 50-140 on its own...  But given the excellent image quality of the TC, I didn't even bother! An updated review of the XF 1.4X TC can be found here.




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

WORLD AIR GAMES 2015, DUBAI (UAE)

A few days ago, the WORLD AIR GAMES 2015 came to an end in Dubai. This 12 day event, I like to refer to as " mini Olympic Games for Aviation". "Athletes come from all corners of the globe, competing in a whole range of disciplines. 



The International Air Sports event is organised by the Federation Aéronautique Internationale  (FAI), an organisation which was started in 1905 in order to regulate the sport of flying. 

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

I must admit that even as a avid Aviation Geek, I wasn't very familiar with the event before it was coming to my home city of Dubai... 

Even though, the event is meant to be held every 4 years (like the Olympic Games), only a handful of editions have taken place; 1997 Turkey, Spain 2001 and Italy in 2009. Lets hope the 2015 World Air Games (WAG) will bring a change to that! 

The WAG consists of a large variety of competitions, from Aerobatics (powered and glider), Aeromodeling, Ballooning, Gliding, Helicopter, Microlight (trike and gyro), Skydiving to Paragliding. 

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

The core of the event was held at the Skydive Dubai Palm dropzone; an amazing  aircraft carrier like airstrip next to the manmade island Palm Jumeirah and just in front of high rise buildings of Dubai Marina. A more spectacular setting one can hardly dream of! 

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

However because of the wide range of competitions, some of them took also place at the Skydive Dubai desert campus, about 30-45min inland from the city center. Because of the different locations, it turns out hard to be able to follow all of the disciplines; one has to pretty much pick and choose at the start of the day.

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

The first few days were mainly concentrated around Aerobatics; both glider aerobatics, which I didn't have that much previous exposure with;


World Air Games 2015 Dubai

and the standard "powered" aerobatics, using high performance aircraft like the Extra 330SC and SBach's, 

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

Some top-class aerobatic pilots were competing in Dubai, such as FAI World Aerobatic Champion, Aude Lemordant, and Freestyle World Champion Robert Holland.

Skydiving had a wide range of disciplines, such as precision landing;

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

Distance swooping;

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

And of course free-fall disciplines such as 4-way Open, with the Belgian team "Haybusa" winning the competition! Congrats to my countrymen...



Microlights were competing along a pylon circuit in both the "Trike" class (Motorised Delta Planes);
World Air Games 2015 Dubai

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

And the Gyroplane class;
World Air Games 2015 Dubai

A very unfortunate accident happened during the competition on December 9th, just after 2pm, where one of the Dutch pilots (Arend van Randen) lost control (reason unknown for now), of his "borrowed" Gyroplane over the water.  My thoughts are with Arend and his family, and we are all hoping on a full medical recovery! The image below is of the crashed gyro, earlier that day, during an engine off landing with a different pilot as part of the competition. 

Post-editing: Unfortunately Arend lost his battle with life and passed away on Friday December 18, 2015.

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

It was probably the Ballooning competition that got most of the attention as more than 50 hot-air balloons took to the skies at different locations around Dubai, for several sunset and sunrise flights.  

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

Beside all the competitions, there were also a few "mini-airshows" just before sunset, with demo's of the UAE National jet team, Al Fursan;

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

The Breitling Wingwalkers;
World Air Games 2015 Dubai
World Air Games 2015 Dubai



Zoltan Veres with his Aerobatic team;

World Air Games 2015 Dubai



I'm very pleased to see more of the Aviation Sports to be promoted in the UAE; hopefully this is only the beginning of more to come!

All of my WORLD AIR GAMES 2015 images, can be found here

World Air Games 2015 Dubai

My photographic set-up for all of the images, consisted of a Fujifilm X-T1 body with the 50-140 lens + 1.4X Teleconverter and the X-T10 with the 18-135 lens. Something that worked very well and that I will also be using for the upcoming Al Ain Airshow in the UAE this week!

BJORN




Monday, December 14, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 51: SUNSET OVER MOUNT DAMAVAND - IRAN

When one thinks about Iran, snow and skiing isn't the first thing that comes to mind... Iran has however some high mountain ranges which are getting a lot of snow over the winter months. Just north of the capital Tehran, there are quite a few ski-resorts where one can do some decent skiing! The most famous one is the Dizin ski resort

With an elevation of 5610 m (18400ft), Mount Damavan is the highest mountain in Iran and can be found about 65 km northeast of the capital. On a clear winter it can be seen from more than 200 km away and dominates the views to the northeast from Tehran. 

As a potentially active volcano, it has a small summit crater and is part of the Alborz mountain range which stretches along the southern coast of the Caspian sea. It holds the record for being the highest volcano in Asia and is the second highest in the Northern hemisphere after Mount Elbrus in Russia (5642 m - 18510 ft).  

The image below was taken from 36000 ft, just before sunset. I particularly like the amount of detail and the long shadows along the mountain ridges and peaks. Please make sure to click on the image to have a full screen view and enjoy it in the best way!


Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 35mm f2 lens
ISO 200, f5.6, 35mm, 1/950s
RAW Development in Iridient Developer 
Nik ColorEfex for optimal contrast

As I blogged a few weeks ago in my post "FUJIFILM GOES FLYING - AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY", the XF 18-135 is normally my preferred lens of choice for this type of photography; however since the new 35mm lens was on the one on the camera, it really shows its great potential for sharpness and the amount of detail! 

My collection of aerial images is growing steadily; check it out here !

Remember: "The best camera or lens, is the one you have with you"

BJORN



Sunday, December 13, 2015

PRIME TIME IN NEW YORK - Street photography with the FUJIFILM XF 35mm f2 lens

October 21st this year, FUJIFILM announced the brand-new XF 35mm f2 lens; my review of this great little prime can be found here

Last week I took the lens into the streets of New York city; a street photographers paradise!

My favourite shot of the 36 hours I spent in Manhattan, was shot on the New York city Subway Q line. I particularly like the fact that the lady walking in the frame is not 100% sharp; it adds to the mystery and shows a city which is always on the move!


The next two images were shot early morning at Battery Park; the Southern tip of Manhattan. This is a great place to photograph people looking at the world famous "Statue of Liberty". 



Even Santa was spotted in Central Park!

A few more images of the daily life in the Big Apple can be found below.



Since the full frame equivalent of the new 35 f2 becomes 52mm (35 x 1.5), it is obviously not as wide as the 23mm or 27mm which are often considered the "standard street photography lenses", going not as wide has the advantage that one can be a bit further away from the subject. This is great for starter street photographers which initially might be a bit shy to move in closer!

I'm a strong believer in shooting prime lenses for street photography; as one quickly adapts to the focal length being used and after a while knows exactly where to stand to frame the perfect shot! The reasonably priced 35mm f2 lens, is a great one to hit the streets with!

For the entire gallery of my NEW YORK STREET PHOTOGRAPHY click here.

Remember: "Seeing is not enough, you have to feel what you photograph" - Andre Kertesz

BJORN








Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 50: NEW YORK SKYLINE during the blue hour

Last weekend, was spend in the one of my favourite cities, New York; a photographers paradise! 

While I believe New York is probably the best city for Street photography, over the years, I've also shot a fair amount of interesting Architectural images around the "Big Apple". Last time I was there, I posted an image of "Manhattan from Top of the Rock" and blogged about the best observation points; click here for the link. 

This time around, I wanted to come up with an interesting viewpoint of the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Together with half a dozen other photographers from all over the world, we set up our tripods looking for the best spot...

The image below was shot during the magic blue hour, a short while after sunset. It consists of a digital blend of a few different exposures for a nice balanced look; pretty much how I remembered having seen it the moment I clicked the shutter.


click on the image for full screen view



























Image details:
Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon XF 16mm f1.4 prime lens
ISO 200, f11, 3 different shutter speeds between 30s and 0.8s
Lightroom CC to create a 32 bit tone mapped image
Photoshop CC for digital blending of the water


More of my New York images can be found here.

Remember: "There is something in New York that makes sleep useless" - Simone de Beauvoir


BJORN

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Pic(k) of the week 49: HAPPY BIRTHDAY UAE

Both the country I live in and the author of this blogpost, go back to 1971. Yes, that is right, we are both born in the same year! 

Today, December 2nd, the United Arab Emirates, (UAE in short) celebrates its 44th birthday. Being one of the worlds youngest countries, has both advantages and disadvantages; from having very new and forward thinking ideas to not having the full history and experience the older countries can fall back to...

Sometimes also referred to as "The Emirates", the UAE was formed on December 2nd 1971 as a federation of 7 emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm-al-Quwain and Ajman. 

The late Sheik Zayed, ruler of the capital Abu Dhabi and First president of the UAE, oversaw the development of the Emirates and steered oil revenues into healthcare, education and infrastructure. Something we all benefit from till today!

The image below was shot at the 2015 Dubai Airshow and shows an Emirates airline A380 tail with the military jet team Al Fursan, performing a heart in the background. 

Dubai Airshow 2015

Image details
Fujifilm X-T10 and XF18-55 lens
ISO 200, f8, 23mm, 1/640s
Lightroom CC (6.3) for RAW development


More "Airline" images can be found here.

BJORN








Sunday, November 29, 2015

FUJIFILM XF1.4X TELECONVERTER - SECOND LOOK - Camel Racetrack Dubai

August 2015, Fujifilm Middle-East lend me an early copy of the then yet to be launched, Fujifilm XF1.4x Teleconverter. As usual I put a disclaimer in my reviews that the equipment tested is not final and that the quality might vary. 



While my review of the 1.4x TC went online on launch day, October 21st 2015, it turned out that the quality did indeed vary significantly; it looks like that the installed lens firmware (1.0) of the borrowed unit, was of an earlier version and did not show the full potential of this new piece of photo-gear.

One month later, I'm testing a production copy of the TC with the latest 50-140 1.10 lens firmware and have seen a large difference in the overall sharpness of the files. It is now superior to the one of the 55-200 lens. 

ISO 200, 93mm, f8, 1/240s 

Even though. I've now updated my original review, I still wanted to share a few images shot with the 50-140 and the 1.4x TC at one of the Dubai Camel race track last night. 

ISO 800, 181mm, f5, 1/400s 

Even in low light the focus tracking with the TC installed is pretty good. I got almost a 100% keeper rate, using the new Zone AF mode combined with Continuous (C) focus and CL mode.  

ISO 800, 198mm, f5, 1/550s 

ISO 800, 104mm, f4.5, 1/4400s 

ISO 800, 198mm, f4.5, 1/5000s 

Given the dusty environment I was working in, I was definitively happy to have 100% Weather Resistant (WR) photo-gear; X-T1, 50-140 and the new TC which is WR as well!

Since the new lens firmware update, it looks like the XF1.4X TELECONVERTER, will now indeed replace my 55-200 lens! 

In case you haven't done so, please check out my updated 1.4X TC REVIEW here.

Feel free to share this blogpost on your blog, forum or social media platform. No prior permission is required. Thanks!

BJORN