CNN’s Daily Snapshot

Posted by Mark

Kuwaiti sailors fix the old Kuwaiti flag on a dhow during preparations in Kuwait City on July 11, 2012, for the upcoming annual Pearl Diving Festival, meant to honor the nation’s former trade mainstay.

Kuwait’s on the main page of cnn.com under “Daily Snapshot” [Link]


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Star Trails Photography Workshop

Posted by Mark

The Q8 Expats Photography Club is organizing a star trails photography workshop this weekend. Star trails photography involves long exposure shots of either the sky or landscapes where the movement of the stars in the sky form light trails in your shots.

If you bring an extra camera or if you get bored trying to capture star trails they will also be painting with light so you could participate in that.

Here is a list of gear you need to bring:

1. A DSLR
2. A tripod
3. Cable release or intervalometer (for star trailing shots)
4. Bring extra batteries or at least fully charge yours
5. A high capacity memory card
6. Torch/Lights/Flash (for light painting)

The gathering will take place in Al-Rai outside The Sultan Center right next to McDonalds on the 4th Ring Road. It’s opposite all the car dealerships. The meetup will be at 4:30PM and they’ll then depart to the main location at 5:00PM. For more information visit their Facebook page [Here]

Photo above taken by Saleh AlRashaid


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Fujifilm X-Pro1 Review

Posted by Mark

Late last month I picked up the Fuji X-Pro1 camera from Xcite to review and after spending a lot of time with it I can confidently say I loved it. How much? Well I wouldn’t mind it over the much more expensive Leica M9 but more on that later. I took the camera with me to Lebanon while on vacation and I carried it around and shot with it as much as I could.

The first thing I loved about the camera is the way it looks. When I first saw pictures of it online I was like I need to have it! It’s a simple black boxy looking camera that has a very timeless look to it. It’s bigger than I expected it to be but not that much different from the Leica M9. One thing that’s a lot different to the Leica is the weight. While the Leica M9 is a pretty hefty camera, the X-Pro1 is a lot lighter and that’s a good thing. I walked around with the X-Pro1 strung across my shoulder and I never felt the camera was bothersome or heavy. On the other hand I’ve walked around with a Leica M9 slung over my shoulder before and it’s presence was felt very quickly. Although the camera doesn’t look very ergonomic it felt comfortable in my hands and during use.

The X-Pro1 is a 16MP camera with a sensor that’s similar in size to most DSLR’s. I had the very bright 35m f/1.4 lens for the review and it’s really the only lens you need. The 35mm lens is equal to a 50mm lens on a full frame camera and that’s generally considered the most popular focal length since it’s close to what the eyes see. There are two knobs on the top, one for the shutter speed and one for the exposure. The camera also has a quick menu button which brings to focus the most commonly used options and a customizable FN button which in my case was calling up the ISO list.

Carrying the camera around and shooting with it was a lot of fun. The camera has a hybrid viewfinder similar to the Fuji X100 which is always fascinating to use. The hybrid viewfinder is something unique to Fuji and it’s basically an opticalviewfinder with information digitally displayed on top of it. There is also a switch on the front of the camera which when pressed turns the hybrid viewfinder into an electronic one. I didn’t use the EVF much since I’m not a fan of them but many people will appreciate it’s accuracy over the hybrid viewfinder. Although I read online about the camera’s focusing issues I didn’t run into any while shooting with the camera. I didn’t shoot any sports or fast action but I was shooting with the camera wide open and in different lighting conditions and maybe only once or twice did I have difficulty getting focus. ISO performance is another thing this camera is good at. At ISO1600 the noise is barely noticeable.

I have a few issues with the camera but none very major. First the on/off button gets switched on by mistake all to often and I can’t even count the times I found the camera on when it should be off. I have a similar issue with the aperture ring on the lens, it’s too loose and easily rotates with a minor bump or rub. Another more important issue is manually focusing with the camera. Manually focusing using the hybrid viewfinder isn’t an easy task since there are no markings on the screen to aid you and you can’t estimate using the focus ring on the lens since the focus ring works digitally (it also rotates infinitely).

Now the difficult part is deciding if this camera is right for you. If you’ve always wanted a Leica M8 or Leica M9 then get this camera. Other than the fact the Leica is nearly 4 times more expensive, the X-Pro1 has another advantage and that is the fact it has auto focus. The lenses are also like 10 times cheaper so really it’s a no brainer. If you’ve considered the Sony NEX-7 at one point then you should also consider the X-Pro1. I think the NEX-7 is a great camera but let down by a terrible collection of lenses. Personally I want this camera but I can’t seem to figure out when I would use it. I have the Panasonic GX1 which is my compact camera I take on vacations and dinners. Then I have the Nikon D800 which is what I use for my important stuff. The Fuji would have to replace one of those two but it wouldn’t be able to do the job of either of them right. It’s not compact or versatile like my GX1 and it also doesn’t have the large full frame sensor of my D800 or the lenses to compete with it. As I said earlier, deciding on this camera is the most difficult part.

The camera is selling as a kit for KD646. The kit includes the X-Pro1 camera, the 35mm f/1.4 lens and the original case kit. It’s only available at the new photography section in the Xcite store in Avenues. I just found out the camera kit is actually available at three Xcite branches:

X-PRO 1+X35mm Lens+X-Pro 1 Case (kit) – KD646 – Available in Rai, Fahaheel & Avenues
X18MM (Prime Lens) – KD159 – Available only in Avenues
XF60MM (Macro Lens) – KD182 – Available only in Avenues
EF-X20 (Shoe Mount Flash) – KD58 – Available only in Avenues


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Qatar Airways Photography Contest

Posted by Mark

Qatar Airways currently has a photography contest taking place that’s fairly simple to take part in. The four categories you can submit pictures to are Magnificent Cities, Vibrant Cultures, Breathtaking Nature and Exciting Journeys. As for prizes they’re going to be giving away 10 Business Class return tickets and 50 Economy to the winners so your chances of winning something is pretty high. I just checked the gallery and there’s already a bunch of people from Kuwait participating so if you’re also interested then you need to hurry up since the contest closes at the end of the month. [Link]


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The Fuji X-Pro 1

Posted by Mark

Over the weekend I was at the Avenues and ended up passing by Xcite’s new photography section. Two things grabbed my attention, the first is the fact they have 4 incredibly expensive Nikon lenses on display including the 400mm f/2.8 which I’d love to have at the next Gulf Run event. The second thing that grabbed my attention was the Fuji X-Pro 1 camera.

When the camera was first revealed online my heart sank into to my stomach since I had just purchased the my Panasonic GX1 and there was no way I could buy this as well. The camera was everything the Fuji X100 was except it was better in every way.

Once I got home I sent an email to my contact at Xcite and asked him if they’d be able to hook me up with one to review and they did. Not only that but I’m traveling to Lebanon for two weeks and I’m going to have the camera with me there which is perfect since the X-Pro 1 is a great camera for street photography which is something I like doing in Lebanon.

I’m going to be using the 35mm f/1.4 lens with the camera and expect a thorough review in around 10 days time.

Update: Below is a picture of the X-Pro 1 next to my GX1.


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Automotive Photography Contest

Posted by Mark

The Historical, Vintage & Classic Car Museum is holding their 2nd ever Automotive Photography Contest starting from now till June 2nd which will be the last day you can submit your shots.

The following are the categories of the contest:
Best Photo of a car
Micro Photo of the Car
Black and White
People’s Choice
(voted on by the museum visitors)

The prizes for first place are KD500, second place 300 and third 200. Each of the top 50 will also get KD50. The overall winners will also get KD1,000 for first, 750 for second and 500 for third. So there is a substantial amount of money to be won here.

I went through the rules, everything seems ok, the only issue I had was with the following statement:

- When you participate in the competition you will grant the Museum ALL copyright of the images submitted, and you may not reclaim any rights.

At first I thought they meant that they will basically own the photos after you submit them but turns out they just mean they will have the right to use and reprint the images for calendars, posters etc.. without requiring your permission which is fine by me.

I’ll most likely be taking part with my McLaren and Fiat 500 shots if I can figure out where to get my photos printed and boarded. If you’re also interested to participate then download the PDF with the full details of the competition from [Here]


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Instajelly

Posted by Mark

I found out about Instajelly from a Forum user and after trying it out I think it’s the best web Instagram viewer out there. I like the way it displays all my images in a nice clean format and I also like the fact you could read the comments and then comment on photos all from within the website.

I think I’ve kinda slowly slowly been moving away from Twitter towards Instagram. Pictures are always a lot more interesting than words. Anyway you can check out my Instagram account using Instajelly right over [Here]


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Rent a photography studio

Posted by Mark

I’ve posted about Photolenders before, a local website that rents out cameras and lenses but it seems they now also rent studio space. Prices seem reasonable, it starts at KD25 for 2 hours and includes strobes and triggers. Could be useful if you’re interested in studio photography. [Link]


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Urban Decay: The Hot Box

Posted by Mark

I passed by this strange abandoned old villa over the weekend that was full of random quotes (that barely made any sense) spray painted all over the walls. Here are some I managed to make out:

– Nothing is real unless you think it is… way cup
– Everything starts with a puff
– When I smoke dyin’ to live… penis
– House is made of brick and stone a tree house is made of weed
– All the other kids with the pumped mess you’d better run better run faster than my bullet

Pretty weird funny stuff.


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DigitalRev for all my photography gear

Posted by Mark

Last month I posted about how a friend ordered photography gear from DigitalRev.com and ended up paying just KD12 for customs. Shipping was free, they cover warranty in Kuwait and more importantly their prices are either similar or cheaper than Amazon. Since I posted about them I know of at least 3 other friends who ordered gear from DigitalRev as well as two other forum users and everyone reported the same thing, that DigitalRev is basically the best place online to order photography gear from.

There are a few advantages to ordering with DigitalRev over for example Amazon. First of all shipping to Kuwait is for free and they use DHL to ship the items so they arrived in just a few days. That’s quicker than the Amazon+Aramex combo. Plus you have to pay Aramex while they ship the stuff for free. Secondly on average people are paying just KD8 for customs which is pretty cool, I was expecting at least double that. The items are also wrapped as if DigitalRev are aware of the state of the postal service here because their packaging are drop proof. The items arrive in a box and inside that box the item is rolled in a ton of bubble wrap. So if the box is thrown around you don’t have to worry about anything getting damaged.

Not sure why I only recently found out about DigitalRev but I guess it’s better late than never. They’re selling the D800 for example for $150 more expensive than Amazon but with Amazon you pay tax which is $320. That means DigitalRev are selling the D800 for $170 cheaper and that includes DHL delivery to Kuwait. If that’s not a good deal I’m not sure what is!

Anyway you can check them out [Here]

Update: Ignore my last example since I can’t calculate to save my life!


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