No Cameras Allowed on Green Island

Post by Mark

A few days ago I went to Green Island with my new camera to take some pictures and was stopped on the way in. I had already purchased my entry ticket (1KD btw) and as I was walking in they spotted my camera and told me I couldn’t bring it in. I told them I had a camera on my phone as well but they were ok with that, but that I just couldn’t bring my camera in. I was like ok fine, I went back to the ticket window to return my ticket and get a refund, but I guess that would have been too much of a hassle for the guy because he asked me if I just wanted to take pictures? I told him yes so he then let me in with my camera.

I have no idea why they would be anti-photography, Green Island is a desolate place that has nothing going for it other than it being an interesting place to take some photos. So weird.


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Hello Sony A7 III!

Post by Mark

Earlier this year I sold all my Nikon photography gear because I wasn’t really using them. They were large and heavy so I spent more time using my iPhone and compact but full-frame Sony RX1 camera instead. That setup turned out to be fine for 80% of my needs, but over the past few months, I realized how much of a handicap it was by not owning a DSLR with changeable lenses. So I started looking at compact mirrorless cameras, specifically the Sony A7 series and the newly announced Nikon Z and Canon R series. Mirrorless cameras had similar capabilities as much larger DSLR’s, but they’re a lot more compact. I was kinda leaning towards the Nikon Z mirrorless camera, until I found out that AAB World had recently become official Sony camera dealers. That news made my decision easier, I was getting the Sony A7 III.

Full disclosure, I have a long-standing relationship with AAB World. They’ve been very active with me and the blog over the years and they’ve lent me lenses and camera gear to review whenever I wanted and also hooked me up with discounts. I’m a huge fan.

I’ve had the Sony A7 III for around two weeks and I love it so far. My aim with the A7 III was for it to play two roles, I needed it to be compact when I needed something small and portable, but I also needed a full frame camera I could attach various lenses too˙. The A7 III has fulfilled both those requirements. First thing I did after buying the camera was to get the compact Sony 35mm F/2.8 prime lens for the A7 III. With the 35mm lens, the A7 III was not that much larger than my RX1 (check the picture above).

The second lens I picked up was the Sony 12-24mm F/4 lens and now I’m planning to get the Sony 24-105mm F/4 and Sony 70-200mm F/4 lenses. I’m going with F/4 lenses and not brighter F/2.8 lenses because the F/4 versions are lighter, smaller, cheaper and nearly as good for my needs.

The A7 III feels really great in my hands and I’m loving all its features and capabilities. I can understand why many are calling it the best camera of 2018. I’ll be posting a more comprehensive review after I get the rest of the lenses and shoot some more with the camera. But first impressions, the A7 III is great, it’s so good that I’ve actually decided to sell my Sony RX1, something I told myself I wouldn’t do.

If you’re interested in the A7 III, AAB World are currently out of stock but they should getting another shipment soon. Here are their preorder links on their website:

Sony A7 III (Body only) – KD679
Sony A7 III (Kit including lens) – KD749


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Stairway to the Desert

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I posted the photo above on my story and got a lot of messages asking me what it was and where it was taken. So I decided I’d share the location on the blog in case anybody wants to head to it for a photo shoot.

The stairs to nowhere are located on the side of the highway that leads to Boubyan island. It’s adjacent to a large metal structure which I believe was used for a military parade a few years ago. Because of the metal structure, the stairs are pretty easy to find, if the metal structure is on your right, the stairs are right after it.

If you’re interested in heading out there, here is the location on [Google Maps]


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Kuwait in the 1930s by Alan Villiers

Post by Mark

Alan Villiers (spot him above) was an Australian adventurer who came to Kuwait in the 1930s. He ended up joining the crew of the Kuwaiti dhow ‘Triumph of Righteousness’ and set sail with them, passing through numerous East African and Arabian ports documenting his experience with words and pictures. He eventually published the book “Sons of Sindbad” as well as “Sons of Sindbad: The Photographs”. I only found out about Alan a couple of days ago and was really intrigued by his story especially since I hadn’t heard of him before.

You can find both his books on Amazon [Here] and [Here] but, you can also find some great photos of Kuwait taken by him in the 1930s similar to the ones in this post. The photos are from the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich) and are available to purchase. So if you want to check out Alan’s photos of Kuwait, click [Here]

Supposedly there are still thousands of photos taken by him of Kuwait that need to be digitized.

Update: Supposedly both books are available for sale at the Al Hashemi Marine Museum.


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Tour of The Avenues – Phase 4

Post by Mark

Earlier this morning I was able to tour the new phase of Avenues, Phase 4. The Avenues extension is set to open on February 25th and so they invited the media today to walk around, explore and take photos.

Avenues Phase 4 includes expansions of existing districts like Prestige, Grand Avenue, and The Souk. But, they’ve also added new districts that include Arcadia, The Grand Plaza, The Forum, Electra and The Cinema, as well as a five-star and four-star hotel.

Phase 4 is HUGE, and its beautiful. They’ve basically taken the Grand Avenue indoor-but-looks-like-outdoor-look and built on it. It’s bright, airy and the main street is wide with lots of little alleyways that connect the various districts.

From what I saw there won’t be much open by February 25th other than a bunch of Alshaya brands, but it will still be a great space to wander about and explore.

If you want to check out more pictures of Phase 4 then check out my story on instagram. I’ve archived the story and so it should be up for some time. Check it out @mark248am

Update: I was just informed that February 25th is the target date but they’re still unsure if they’ll open by then. Also I uploaded a bunch of photos in hi-res which you can view [Here]


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Kuwait Stock Exchange by Andreas Gursky

Post by Mark

Yesterday I found out that the popular German large format photographer, Andreas Gursky, had captured two photos of the Kuwait Stock Exchange. The one pictured in this post was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for KD280,000!

His two Kuwait Stock Exchange photos were captured one year apart. The first photo was captured in 2007 and you can view it [Here] while the second photo which is pictured in this post was taken in 2008 and you can view the larger version [Here]


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Kuwait 1985-88

Post by Mark


Kuwait City 1987. Vintage store front.

Mark Lowey (AbuJack), a construction project management professional and an amateur photographer lived in Kuwait between 1985 and 1988. The past few months he’s been scanning and posting some of the pictures he took during his time in Kuwait (and KSA) on his twitter account. I’ve taken a few of his photos along with the captions and shared them here but you can check out more photos on his twitter account @molowey


High technology in 1987?


A man and his dog, Mangaf Beach, Kuwait in 1988.


Shopping in Fahaheel, 1988.


Jack bin Mark and neighbor friends in Mangaf, Kuwait, 1988. (One cool kid has a sling-shot.)


Toshiba power plant at Mina Al-Zoor in southern Kuwait. Under construction in 1985; nearly completed in 1987.


Kids-R-Us, Kuwait City in 1985.


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Do you fly drones?

Post by Mark

With the introduction of compact drones like the DJI Mavic and the super tiny DJI Spark, I’ve recently been considering getting into drone photography myself. They seem super practical to travel with and I could really have taken advantage of one on my trip a couple of weeks back. I’m currently checking with Fajer the Lawyer to see what the latest laws on flying drones in Kuwait are, since I know last year they proposed a bunch of things. Until she gets back to me I figured I’d ask my readers, do you fly drones and if yes, have you run into any issues with cops or people?

Also on a side note, if anybody is bored of their Mavic and wants to sell it, let me know!


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Printing Digital and Film Photos

Post by Mark

A few years ago I posted about my favorite place to print digital photos, Boushahri off of Baghdad Street in Salmiya. Since that post two things have happened, first they merged or got bought out (not sure which) by their old competitor Ashkanani who used to be located across the street from them. The second thing that happened is they changed locations.

Saturday night I passed by their old Baghdad Street location to print some photos and found them closed. So I passed by yesterday morning and they were still closed. I just figured their Ramadan timings were weird and I was missing them. Then by chance last night, I was walking over from my apartment building to the ATM machine in the building next door when I came across their new location. I recognized all the employees before I noticed the sign outside and walked in. Turns out they had just moved to the new location this past Saturday.

Ashkanani can print your digital photos in various sizes, I usually print them in 10×15 and it costs 150fils per photo. For film lovers they also sell 35mm film in their store and they can also develop any size of film including 35mm and 120mm (as long as its color film).

So if you’re looking for a place to develop your photos, here is their location on [Google Maps]. If you’re driving there then I would recommend you park in the lot next to McDonalds across the street.


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Review: The Leica Sofort Instant Camera

Post by Mark

I’ve wanted an instant film camera ever since I was a kid since I always found them a bit magical because you’re kinda creating something out of nothing. It’s the same reason I’ve always had a thing for fax machines, you put the paper in the machine on one end then, a few seconds later, it starts coming out on another machine all the way on the other side of the country. But for some reason I never ended up getting an instant film camera, probably because I didn’t really have a reason to get one. I’ve always had cameras growing up and later digital cameras and phone cameras so the need for an instant camera wasn’t there, until I saw the Leica Sofort. I’m not a Leica fan. I think Leica M series are over hyped, extremely over priced, and I can’t understand why anyone would want to shoot with a manual focus camera. But, when I saw the Sofort I just fell in love with the way it looked. It had a great minimal and very retro design while also not costing an arm and a leg.

The Leica Sofort comes in three colors, white, orange and mint. I knew right away I wanted the Mint color but when I tried finding one it was completely sold out everywhere online. After searching for a couple of days I finally ended up finding one shop in London that still had the mint colored Leica and quickly placed my order. When my package finally arrived to Kuwait and I opened it I right away knew I made the right choice in color. It just works really well with the retro look, the orange I think would have looked a bit like a toy while the white would have just been boring (for me at least). I’ve had the camera now for two weeks and I’ve used it in a variety of different environments. What I’ve concluded is that the camera is a hit and miss when it comes to the pictures, but thats not a surprise, thats actually exactly what I was expecting from an instant film camera.

I’ll start with the good stuff, the battery lasts a pretty long time. It comes with a small rechargeable battery which I charged on the first day for like an hour. Since then I’ve used the camera to take around 80 photos and the battery is still showing as full. Another great thing about the camera is that it uses Fuji Instax Mini films which you can find all over Kuwait. I’ve been getting mine from Xcite and a double pack which contains 2×10 packs sells for KD5. That means each photo I take costs 250fils which isn’t that bad. I think the camera performed best when I took it to the “Walk This Way” sneaker event this past weekend since the photos came out looking like they were taken in the 80s or 90s which fit perfectly with the theme of the event. The portrait shots all came out great and best part is, after I took the photos, I just handed the pictures over. Like souvenirs they could keep. Even when the results didn’t come out as expected (like the ones above), the photos still had a pretty cool look.

But like I said the camera is a hit and miss. The exposure is all over the place, some portrait shots using the flash resulted in the subjects being super overexposed with washed out colors while other times the shots came out perfectly exposed with all the colors still intact. During bright sunlight a lot of shots would also be overexposed and even when I chose to underexpose (there is an option for that) it didn’t really do much. But, my biggest gripe with the camera is the fact that all the settings reset back to the default settings once you turn the camera off. One of the things I like about this camera is you have options you can choose from like selecting between four scene settings for different lighting situations, having the flash on or off, if you’d like to over expose or under expose a shot and finally most importantly, the camera has two focus modes, close (under 3m) and far. Since I mostly shoot landscape or architectural shots I would want my settings to be no flash and the focus set to further than 3m. But I need to set that up every time I turn on the camera because by default, the camera sets the flash to auto and the focus distance to close. On more than one occasion I’ve taken photos only to have them come out blurry because I forgot to set the focus or I’ve had the flash go off because I forgot to turn it off. Super annoying and I don’t understand why Leica decided to do this.

Overall though I’m happy with the camera. Yes the output isn’t consistent and sometimes random, but I like that because every time I take a picture I now eagerly wait for the photo to develop to see what I got. It’s a surprise every time. The Leica Sofort cost me around KD95 including shipping via PostaPlus to Kuwait. It’s not cheap, but it is one of the cheapest Leica’s you can buy. The camera that is the closest to it in terms of capabilities is the Fuji Mini 90 which I’ve read is what the Sofort is possibly based off. The Mini 90 costs around KD40 on Amazon without shipping or tax so basically half the price of the Leica. If you’re interested in getting the Sofort, I got it from Dale Photographic whom as of this post have all three colors in stock. [Link]


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