Sheikh Zayed Mosque

This collection of images were taken at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (the capital the United Arab Emirates). Architecturally stunning and large enough to accommodate 40,000 worshippers, the mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007. There are 82 roof-top domes, more than 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers, and contains marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. Photo technique: All photos were taken handheld (tripods are not allowed), with the camera braced against a wall or column. Three long exposure photos (-1, 0, +1 exposure) were combined to ghost the other visitors. Photos combined in PhotoMatrix Pro. Fuji X-E1 with XF 18-55mm lens.

Click on an photo to make it larger, and use the arrows to move to the next photo.

 

 

 

Rush Hour in Kathmandu

In Kathmandu (Nepal) it is always ‘rush hour’; bicycles, bicycle-rickshaws, motorcycles, three-wheeled tuktuks, cars, vans, buses and trucks or all shapes and sizes are constantly honking as they weave between each other, passing on the inside lane, passing on the outside lane, and occasionally sharing the lane with on-coming traffic. Add pedestrians, farm tractors, two-wheeled tractors and wandering cows – and it all gets real interesting.  There seem to be no traffic rules, or they are simply ignored. The vans photographed below, had were packed with up to 30 people – far beyond their recommended occupancy limit, and were excessively overloaded

This is a small selection of traffic related photos taken at sunset in Kathmandu, February 20, 2015. Click on the first thumbnail and it will enlarge. Form there you can scroll through the larger images to see the whole collection.

All photos taken with a Fuji X-E1 with XF 14mm, or Fuji X-PRO1 with XF 55-200mm.

 

 

 

 

After the strong (7.8) earthquake that struck the Kathmandu Valley on April 25, 2015 and the many aftershocks, many of the modern and historic buildings and roads shown in these photos have been extensively damaged or destroyed, and thousands of deaths and injuries.

 

 

Day 56: Beautiful Bangkok – in black & white and color.

Three days in Bangkok is definitely not enough. Add in some serious jet-lag after a flight from Toronto (Canada) to Abu Dhabi (UAE), then onward to Bangkok.

Wow – Bangkok is absolutely amazing. We only saw a tiny part of the City, and what we saw is so diverse and sensory stimulating; sight, smell, taste, sounds and touch.

The tiny part of Bangkok that we experienced was the Pranakorn district, and we explored Khao san Road and the cultural sites in the Rattanakosin area including The Grand Palace, The Temple of The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), The Royal Ground,  The Democracy Monument and the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

The next post will have photos from Wat Pho, ‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’.

All photos taken with a Fuji X-series X-Pro1 with Fuji 18-35mm, or Fuji X-series X-E1 with Fuji 14mm lens. Some of the photos are in black  & white, and some are in color,  with notes below.

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A typical food stall on a side street in Bangkok. On the original color photo, the sun was shining through a blue tarp causing the man’s skin to have a blue tinge. In color, the blue tinge was unacceptable and the image could not be used. Converted to black and white the blue tinge is gone, and the photo is quite usable.
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A small side street in Pranakorn district.
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Good luck trying to cross the Prachathipatai Road, and remember to look Right – then Left (opposite from North America).
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Authentic Pad Thai at a food stall on Khao san Road, in central Bangkok. In former times the street was a major Bangkok rice market, and had now become a “backpacker ghetto”; with cheap accommodation, tour buses depot, many pubs and bars, and small shops that sell everything from handcrafts, paintings, clothes, local fruits, pirated music on DVDs, and second-hand books. At night, the streets turn into bars and music is played, food hawkers sell barbecued fish, insects, and other exotic snacks.
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One of the many food stalls on Khao san Road
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Fish in bags at Chatuchak Weekend Market. Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the world’s largest weekend markets and contains more than 15,000 booths selling goods ranging from Amulets, antiques, art, books, collectibles, clothes, food shops, furniture, handicrafts, home décor, household appliances, and pets. We saw many species of exotic birds, squirrels, and large turtles selling for 60,000BHT.
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Pet food ?? at the Chatuchak Weekend Market
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Delicious home-made Thai food at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Food stalls are an orgy of color, which can sometimes look good in black in white, though how would you tell the food apart if they were all shades of grey ?.
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Boy selling ducks at Chatuchak Weekend Market. The original color version of this photo was had a overwhelming range of color, all of which was too distracting to the story – a boy selling ducks at the market.
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I am not sure what the sign says. Any one read Thai ?
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Pan fried Quail eggs at a food stall in the Chatuchak Weekend Market
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Inside view of the chaos inside the huge Chatuchak Weekend Market
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The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.
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View from the ‘Bearing’ BTS station
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Above ground BTS track, and MBK Shopping Center in the distance. There wasn’t much color in the original photo – shades of bleck grey concrete. In black and white, the tones, and shades are more powerful.
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‘Old and New’. Wooden Wat (Temple) from several 100 years ago, with a modern structure (apartment building). In black and white, the orange-red-gold colors on the temple are now the same shade as the more modern, and drab colored building in the background.
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Traditional Thai show. Not sure that the show was about ??
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Boat taxi. In many ways, similar to a city bus on a scheduled route, though speeding through the canals and the fee collector wears a life jacket and a helmet.
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A busy street in Central Bangkok. I love the colors of the cars and taxis; bright pink, and bright yellow. This photo would also look Ok in black and white, showing the range of shades of gray, though in color the insane colors of the cars would be lost.
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A fancy building in downtown Bangkok – Of course, the ‘Anti-Money Laundering Office’.

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Day 55: Wat Pho (‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’)

The Wat Pho or “Temple of the Reclining Buddha” is the largest and oldest wat (temple) complex in Bangkok, and it houses more than 1,000 Buddha images that were moved from abandoned temples in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai by order of King Rama I. Wat Pho, officially named Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram is one of the six temples in Thailand that are of the highest grade of the first class Royal temples.

The temple is renowned for the enormous gold plated Reclining Buddha image that was built during the reign of King Rama III (1824 – 51) and represents the passing of the Buddha into final Nirvana after death. The Reclining Buddha, is 46 meters long and 15 meters high and is the largest Buddha image in Thailand. Constructed out of plaster around a brick core, the reclining Buddha is decorated with gold leaf and his eyes and foot soles are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

The Buddha’s feet are 5 metres long and are divided into 108 arranged panels, each exquisitely decorated in mother-of-pearl illustrations of symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories.

There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Visitors drop coins in to each of these bowls in belief that this will bring good fortune, and to help the monks maintain the wat. The sound of these falling coins is quite distinctive and can be heard throughout the temple.

Now – on to the photos.

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Side view of the Reclining Buddha

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Yes, All the photos are in black & white. Why ?

1) The color versions of the photos do not show the stark beauty of the gold plated Reclining Buddha image or the intricate paintings on the walls. You simply have to go there yourself, and don’t simply look at on-line photos. In black and white – you have to use your imagination.

2) The photo are also in black and white because there were so many jack-asses inside the temple, photographing the Buddha  using the flash on their cameras. Flash-Flash-Flash…..and more Flash, Flash, Flash…..on and on. This is really disturbing – and for me really the flash really destroys the moment of appreciating the Reclining Buddha.  How can appreciate the beauty, when the other tourists beside are taking a bunch of photos, and each time the flash reflects off the golden Buddha and blinds you !.

So – end of my Rant. Other tourists, don’t be a jack-ass, and try to be considerate of others !.

Metabones Speedbooster – Leica-R Lenses on Nikon and Fuji-X Cameras

Testing out Leica R 19mm f/2.8 (version 1) and Leica R 35mm f/2.8 lenses on a Nikon D700 and Fuji-X cameras (X-E1 and X-PRO1)

On the Fuji-X cameras, I also compared the Leica R Elmarit (19mm and 35mm) with a regular adapter (a simple tube with the appropriate lens mounts), and with a Metabones Speedbooster. The Metabones Speedbooster is a unique adapter that uses the full image circle of a full frame lens on a cropped sensor (APS-C) as used on the Fuji-X series. I won’t get into the specifics about the Speedbooster since there are tons of website and blogs describing how it works.

Note: There is no Metabones Speedbooster Leica R to Fuji-X adapter. The Leica R lenses were modified with a Leitax (Leica-R to Nikon) adapter. See www.leitax.com/leica-lens-for-nikon-cameras.html for more info on the Leitax adapter. Although Leitax does make Leica-R to Fuji-X, I used the Leitax (Leica R to Nikon G) adapter to allow the Leica R lenses to be used on my Nikon D700.

These images illustrate the different ‘looks’ with different cameras, and the different field of view between the different adapters.

Since the settings on my X-PRO1 and X-E1 differ, I have included sample photos from both. None of the images have been edited, other than default setting in Lightroom.

Compare Leica R 19mm f/2.8 (Manual Focus)

From left to right Leica 19mm on Nikon D700, Fuji X-PRO1, and Fuji X-E1. Both X-PRO1 and X-E1 had the regular adapter. See info below. Click on the image to Enlarge.

 

Leica-R 19mm on X-PRO1 with regular adapter (left), and Metabones Speedbooster (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.

 

Leica-R 19mm on X-E1 with Metabones Speedbooster (left) and regular adapter (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.

Compare Leica R 35mm f/2.8 (Manual Focus)

From left to right Leica 35mm on Nikon D700, Fuji X-PRO1, and Fuji X-E1. Click on the image to Enlarge.
Leica-R 35mm on X-E1 with Metabones Speedbooster (left) and XPRO1 with Metabones Speedbooster (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.
Leica-R 35mm on X-PRO1 with regular adapter (left) and X-E1 with regular adapter (right). Click on the image to Enlarge.

 

Compare Fuji-X 35mm f/1.4 on X-PRO1 and X-E1 (Auto Focus)

Fuji-X 35mm f/1.4 on X-PRO1 (left) and on X-E1 (right). Click to Enlarge.

Compared to using the Leica R lenses on a Fuji-X camera, the Fuji-X 35mm f/1.4 definitely has the auto focus advantage. Will I keep using manual focus Leica R lenses on the X-PRO1, and X-E1 ?. Even with the zoom function on the ‘M’ setting, it is still a challenge to focus and I certainly don’t recommend using a manual focus lens on a Fuji-X camera if the subject is moving.  Using Leica R lenses on the Nikon D700 is much easier thanks to the super large view finder and also has focus confirmation making manual focus relatively easy.

Reviewing the photos taken with the regular adapter and the Metabones Speedbooster, the images appear sharper and have more contrast with the Speedbooster. The Metabones Speedbooster isn’t cheap, then again, neither are Leica R lenses, so you get what you pay for.  According to the previous owner, the Speedbooster that I purchased was defective since it did not focus at infinity, and it would have cost too much $ to send the Speedbooster back to have it adjusted.  There is a real easy fix to the infinity problem with Metabones Speedboosters.

1) Loosen the small screw on the rear of the adapter.  2) Take note where the lens element is in its rotation. 3) Turn the lens element to move it closer or further from the film plane. 4) Tighten the screw. 5) Check infinity focus. 6) Repeat until happy.

17628b17b36fb81e3280b585f61828Photo and instructions from

fredfred27 November 2013 (http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/5770/metabones-lens-speed-booster-adapter-focal-reducer/p25)

See also the instructions on the Metabones webpage (http://www.metabones.com/article/of/infinity-adjustment-speed-booster-only)

Although not shown here, I’ve also been testing the Metabones Speedbooster with my other Leitax adapted Leica-R lenses, including the 19mm f/2.8 Elmarit Version 1, 35mm f/2.8 Elmarit (version ?), Leica 80-20mm f/4 ROM, 90mm f/2.0 Summicron, and 135mm f/2.8 Elmarit.   All work fine, and are easy to focus. The 35mm Elmarit did have a problem with infinity focus that was not related to the screw adjustment in the Speedbooster, instead, a small metal flange in the lens was hitting the glass on the Speedbooster. Having taken the back end off the Leica-R lenses swap out the original Leica-R lens mount and attaching a Leitax Nikon lens mount it was an easy task to once again open up the back of the Leica-35mm lens and wrap up the lens with tape and tissue, then carefully file down the small piece of metal flange. The while process only took a few minutes.

Will I keep the Metabones Speedbooster ?, right now I am undecided.