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Blogging for 2 Years…. What The ?

After the last blog post went live I received a nice little icon in the notifications bar that said ‘Happy Anniversary’ from wordpress which told me in a rather nice way that I have been blogging for 2 years and it was really a WTF moment ! has it been that long and what I have been blogging about for the last two years, has it been a waste of time, have I learnt anything from blogging. Well I would say that I have learnt a couple of things and one that stands out is the one rule that you shouldn’t be using the words ‘I’ or ‘me’ in your blog posts because no one wants to read about what ‘I’ have done but rather use the words  ‘You’, ‘We’ and ‘Us’.  So every time a blog posts gets hammered out, sometimes in a day and others over a week or more I now try not to use the words ‘I’ or ‘Me’. This simple rule is not that easy to follow but does make you look back at what you have written and how you have written it. You seem to spend quite a considerable amount of time reworking what you have written. That is not as easy at is sounds.

wordpress.com notification

I must admit that I was surprised at 2 years of blogging (there I go again with the use of  ‘I’) so deciding to do some research into the last 2 years only to realise that there have been 124 blog posts published. Wow, never thinking that so many posts would have been publish over that time or even if this blog would survive that long. That works out at about 5 blog posts published every month. So into the stats the researcher went (me) only to discover that the stats that accompany all those blog posts are incredibly distressing (reaching for the tissues). Surely the stats must be wrong, surely someone must read this blog, surely it can’t be all that bad, can it ?

Some bloggers do a synopsis of their most popular or controversial blogs posts for the year which is normally released around this time of year and I must admit that they are usually a pretty good read. I considered doing something similar but there is no possibility of celebrating what I have achieved blogging this year. So an idea was born to highlight the failures of this blog, highlight the posts that were not popular or didn’t even register on anyone’s radar. Looking back at what went wrong and why it went wrong is an effective way to improve. Improve in many areas such as writing, photography skills, topics and when is the best time to post (still trying to work that one out) etc.

So here are the top 5 worst blog posts that were destined to be never read, liked or even commented on.

1.  A Letter to my Wife from your Photographer Husband

Deciding to try some humor and then fatefully deciding to write an open letter to my wife about about what I wanted last Christmas, did I get it ? Noooooooo I didn’t !!!!! but there was plenty use of the word ‘I’ and ‘Me’. Did it register on anyone’s radar, sort of, not the people that I hoped to read it but rather some of my wife’s friends and they all commented that they liked it and only to be told that I had no hope of getting what I was asking for.

2.  Do I look Stupid Doing This ?

This is all about a self portrait project that was undertaken early in the new year in the hope of learning what it was like to be in front of the camera and Yes, I did look stupid doing it but I did enjoy myself and I learnt a lot.

3.  Watermarking Your Images

I actually managed to attract a number of comments and one blogger even liked it, unfortunately nearly all of the comments were spam………There is also a poll which attracted two votes (Whoohoo) and I still have the same argument with myself before I upload images to the web.

4.  Alphabet Spaghetti Photography

Designed to be a fun project photographing some slippery food which is slightly out of the ordinary and if it all fails, well at least you can heat the Alphabet Spaghetti and eat it.

5.  Dubai: A city of Many Souls

If there was a list for the most popular, this would have to be on the list, actually I don’t think that it could be categorised as a list with just one item on it. Its my first crack at travel photography/ blogging and I do think its not a bad effort if I don’t say so myself.

Ok, I know that I said 5 of the worst but please don’t make me go back into the archives again and those stats……it’s soooo depressing. Alright, there was all of the POTD (Photo of the Day) posts that were posted nearly every week for quite some time. There is no logical reason why they were posted, absolutely none. That makes 5 of the worst. There were other lessons learned as well like blogging is not a waste of time. Blogging is actually enjoyable and I learn something every time. It is worth the effort of sitting down, writing or posting photos even if its just for myself, for a few or several thousand loyal followers (I wish).

For those of you who do read this blog, get it in their inbox, RSS feeds etc, Thank You for taking the time to read and like it.

I would love to hear your thoughts on my worst 5 for the last 2 years and if you know of any more that have been posted, please let me know.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Divers B&W
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Dubai: A City of Many Souls

This post was originally intended to be titled ‘Dubai: A Soulless City‘ and the only reason is because we were yet to find the heart or the soul of the city. That one spot or several spots that define a city such as the markets that ebbs and flows with the traffic of traders or people buying their goods, river banks where people sit, eat lunch and talk, where people gather to talk and exchange ideas, discuss politics but none has been found. You know the spot that’s in your city. Well, our search didn’t find the soul, the heart of the city but rather what has been found is that Dubai is a city of many souls all mixed together.

Silver Divers, Dubai Mall

Burj Khalifa Tower – Dubai

Many days were spent walking the ridiculously large shopping malls (thank you for the very large food court), main roads, back streets and all the tourists hot spots to find the heart and soul of Dubai. We never found what we were looking for in the main streets, in the malls or in the tourists hot spots but we did find it in the back streets, the spot that tourists rarely go. We found that people were happy and pretty much friendly. We approached many people for photographs and all but a few were more than happy for us to photograph them. Through our attempts at the local language and the locals broken english we found that many of the people we had come across were from countries that we didn’t expect and they were far and wide with countries represented such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and even expats from Australia, United Kingdom, United States.

Street Photography
The back streets of Dubai are the best place to capture people going about their daily business but don’t go down there on your own, unless you are have a black belt in something and can defend yourself like Bruce Lee. The back streets are a mean place and I highly recommend traveling in at least pairs or a small group. We were originally advised not to bother asking Emirates if they wouldn’t mind being photographed but we still ended up doing just that and we really had no trouble at all. We were also advised that photographing women in Traditional Dress is a huge No No, it is offensive to the locals and thats one rule that we really stuck to but there were plenty of street photography opportunities.
The Bearded One

The Bearded One

We approached this guy who was more than happy to have his photograph taken, we both showed him the results on the back of the camera, He smiled, laughed all the while pointing it out to come a couple of other curious locals. He kept adjusting his head scarf to cover as much of his head as possible but still have some sort of air flow to attempt to keep him cool from the heat of Dubai. He was easy to approach but on some occasions we were waived off by the local who didn’t want to be photographed. Even from a distance photographing down an alley, we still received the ‘Evil Eye’ from some, so some quick shots and we were off.
Shadow Rider

Shadow Rider

A group of young men head off through a closed alleyway of shops to the local mosque to answer the call of prayer. Most of the group walked except for one who decided to ride his bike through the shadows.
Night Photography
Probably the biggest mistake that we both made was not taking our trusty tripods, this was mainly due to the weight restrictions of the airline and the huge cost associated with checking another item, so we decided to go without the tripods. We also considered purchasing them in Dubai however we would have the same problem coming home however we did attempt on numerous occasions to take long exposures at night.
Burj Khalifa Tower - Dubai Nights

Burj Khalifa Tower – Dubai Nights

The lights of Dubai are quiet simply amazing and there are a multitude of opportunities to photograph the night. We did attempt it using our bags as a stable base which took some time to effectively master to be able to get some decent shots off. We tried to photograph the Burj Khalifa tower at night and laid down on the grass. We were pounced on pretty quick by security, his hand gestures made it clear that laying down on the grass was a no no and that we should stop immediately. We didn’t argue with him we just simply packed up our gear and moved on.
Chanel - Dubai Mall

Chanel – Dubai Mall

General Rules
Many countries have varied cultures and you should be aware of them before travelling. The UAE has some rules that may seem absurd to westerners but they are the norm.
These are some of the rules that we encountered whilst in Dubai:
1.  Women are not allowed to travel in the front seat of taxi’s.
2.  Males are not allowed to look/ stare at women in Traditional dress.
3.  Women should dress conservatively and don’t show to much skin, below the knees and covered shoulders etc.
4.  Men, if wearing shorts must cover the knee.
5.  Do not photograph Government Buildings/ Military Installations, (you will be arrested and jailed – no questions asked)
6.  Do not openly display a large amount of affection publicly.
7.  Visiting mosques, Check the rules before going in or book through a travel guide as this will prevent aggression from the guards, yes guards !
These are just a few of the rules or what’s considered offensive and there are many more. I recommend checking what the cultural differences are before heading to the UAE. Better to be informed than be begging for forgiveness.
E Street User

E Street

Dubai is an interesting place and it is extremely hard to define. Dubai mall is the largest mall in the world and the Mall of Emirates has an indoor ski slope but whilst we were there it was announced that they will be building a Mall of the World with a Universal Studios Theme park attached. The Mall of the World will be even larger than the Dubai Mall and is expected to handle over 85000 visitors a day. For me those numbers are hard to comprehend. The majority of the building are extremely new, well designed and would make for some great architectural photography opportunities. We did go in search of the old Dubai, where the old buildings with old shops and the real people who live there all their lives as I believed that this would be the place to find the soul of Dubai, but never found it. We also learned that Dubai is only 50 years young and that maybe why finding the cities soul was so hard.
We would go back to the UAE but probably to visit Abu Dhabi instead to see if we could find the culture, the soul that makes up the United Arab Emirates.
Happy Shooting

 

Airport Silhouettes
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Airport Silhouette’s

Decided to risk it and pull the old camera out at the Airport today to get some silhouettes. No one bothered me at all which is pretty good because I always thought that if you pulled a DSLR out someone from the fun police would immediately turn up and speak nastily to you.

Looks as though I was wrong !

Man, Dog and his Car
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A Man, His Dog and the Car

This isn’t really about a Man, his dog and the car at all but rather its all about a technique called Panning. Now panning isn’t really that hard to achieve at all and its a lot of fun trying this technique out.

So the idea with the panning technique is to try and capture motion or give the image a feel of motion, for example the car above was travelling about 50 – 60 km/h (30-40 mph). Instead of using a high shutter speed, use a slow shutter speed. The high shutter speed will freeze everything including the background and the woman in the foreground which is what you don’t want. By using a slow shutter speed and focusing on just the speeding object, in this case the car, everything except the car is blurred.

To be best positioned to attempt this technique you need to ensure that there are no street signs or shrubs in your field of view. You also need to position yourself in a safe spot to avoid being inadvertently being run over by an unseen car.

Unfortunately I deleted the images whilst trying to free up some space on my hard drive and I am unable to obtain the metadata for these images but from memory they were taken at the following settings on Full Manual:

Shutter Speed: 80

Aperture: F16

ISO: 100

White Balance: Auto

Now don’t be put off if at first you don’t succeed, try again or get a group of friends together and practice together. It can be a lot of fun and please remember your personal safety when doing this, stand on the footpath and shoot with a clear line of sight to the car.

Would love to hear your thoughts on how you went, and if you like, post a link to your photos because I would love to see them.

Happy Shooting.

Cloud Burst Sunrise
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POTD: The Morning Sun Peaks Over The Clouds

 

I have been busy photographing families and their friends recently which has prevented me from doing any personal projects. I would have to think that the perfect way to start the day is to see a sunrise like this and after seeing it, it was worthwhile being tired for the rest of the day. This one took some time to post process but the final results are pretty good.

 

Would love to hear your thoughts !

On the Phone  145
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POTD: On the Phone


This bloke wandered up and down the street on the phone for quite some time. Out come the camera and I just waited for him to come past me again and …..snap.

Always take you camera with you everywhere you go.

Have a great week everyone