<![CDATA[Ahmed Al-Shukaili Photography - Blog]]>Mon, 14 Mar 2016 00:54:25 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Visit to Photokina 2014 in Germany (Cologne) ]]>Sat, 27 Sep 2014 14:43:54 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/visit-to-photokina-2014-in-germany-cologne
For an amateur photographer like me , visiting photokina was one of the things in my checklist. And I guess I was lucky that Oman has won the FIAP (www.fiap.net)  biennial world cup for two categories (For youth 21- and Young 16-) and since I was one of the selection team for Oman's entry, I got nominate to go to the FIAP event and as well have a visit for the full duration of the exhibition.

For me it was really a great opportunity to visit photokina and I really donno where to start in writing this blog, but I will be more general than specific in this one and give you the consumer photographer perspective. To start you can check the facts about photokina from their website to get a glimpse at the event's scale " facts about photokina

As a consumer you will be attracted mainly at the new products released and some of the new technologies displayed for the first time and you will get the opportunity to have hands on experience with some of the newest cameras and gadgets in the photo/video industry. As for me , my main interest was Nikon & Canon sections in the exhibition.Canon's ection was the most impressive and innovative and with a focus in few products like the 7D mark II and the G7x they managed to grasp the attention to their brand and for me it was the strongest visible brand in photokina (sorry Nikon , yellow attracts but you need to put more efforts). And I was really impressed by Samsung's section and their brave move toward the mirror-less cropped sensor NX1 and giving the users the opportunity to try it.

Nikon's section was informative but it wasn't innovative enough, I really liked the speeches done by Nikon's photographers or photographers showing off projects using Nikon cameras, I got inspired by the making of Nikon D810 official AD, it's really good work. I got to test the nikon D750 and so far I got my eyes into it and will write little about it later.

But overall I have seen the trend is moving toward having higher end SLR cameras and big focus on the sport compact cameras like the GoPRO and many companies are aiming to take share at this lucrative market as well as accessories aimed for smart phones as their video capabilities are increasing by time. In terms of accessories and ability to strike deals (if you're a business owner) then I would assure you that there's a lot to find there and a visit to Photokina should provide you with all you need in the imagine industry.

What were the most impressive things that I saw:

* Nikon D750: Just like what nikon promised, the D800 is not replacing the D700 and they were true about it, the D750 is an outstanding machine.
* Canon 7D Mark II: with 10 FPS and impressive high ISO performance, I would assume this camera will set the standard in this era.
* Samsung NX1 : 15 FPS in a mirror-less cropped frame
is really impressive and 4K video capabilities mean a lot. As for the performance and image quality. Overall great machine, but it requires more tweaking and refinement (not as ergonomic as the Canon/Nikon SLR cameras, and the slow focus speed killed it)

If you're even going to visit Photokin in 2016, let me tell you that 1 day visit is not enough (I would assume 3 days is minimum if you want to check it out). Also, bring your own chair as you'll get tired. Have a break and look at the amazing photo galleries displayed there, it'll definitely refresh your vision and brain and give you  a new perspective toward photography.

Auf Wiedersehen

<![CDATA[كل عام وأنتم بخير وعافية وعيدكم مبارك Eid Mubarak ]]>Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:26:49 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/-eid-mubarak
في هذه الأيام المباركة يستقبل المسلمين في شتى أنحاء العالم مناسبة قريبة إلى قلوبهم ألا وهي مناسبة عيد الفطر السعيد , أعاده الله علينا وعليكم باليمن والخير والبركات.

أبارك للجميع هذه المناسبة الطيبة , ودعوة خاصة للمصورين بأن يكونوا على إستعداد لإلتقاط المواضيع المختلفة ومباهج العيد. عيد طيب وتصوير وفير :)

I would like to extend my greetings to you all , and especially the photographer for the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, and keep your cameras ready to shoot during those happy days , full of events , and rich in culture.

<![CDATA[A new photo , and a question in Mind "How far can I spice a photo?"]]>Fri, 02 Nov 2012 16:11:38 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/a-new-photo-and-a-question-in-mind-how-far-can-i-spice-a-photo
Here is one of my latest & one of my personal favorite shots that I have taken this year in September 2012 from Dhofar Region, in particular Salalah (Maghsail Beach). I have taken this shot after the monsoon which spans between June & September. Unfortunately this year the weather was hazy and foggy sometimes, which limited the visibility and made the photo look a bit dull.

I like this photo as I have taken several shots trying to capture the waves hitting the rock or retreating back and I have captured this one. I have taken a first shot metering the sky , and then I have set the exposure (but not changing the view) for the foreground to get the details and blended them in Photoshop.

Here comes a question in mind , should I edit? over edit? what's the rule in this one? What's my limit? I will answer it from my own personal perspective and please don't kill me because of it. And it's just a matter of opinions and no right or wrong about it.

I see photography to be not only a tool to document a scene, it's a way to convey a feeling or your own view of what you see or sometimes feel. I do love editing my shots , especially when I end up with a dull shot, so I tend to give it a kick of light and balance the light to get a more attractive photo that might not show the place 100% as it is, but give it more of a feeling and add make it more vibrant.

I always tell my students "Editing a photo is like cooking a meal, it's always good to spice it up, but beware that adding a lot of it makes less of a good meal". Edit, but be careful about it, edit and watch out for the artifacts and your edit should always add to the beauty of the photo rather than take some of its beauty.

After all, Photography to me is a for of art and something that I personally enjoy doing, if I start making rules then it wouldn't be as much fun as it's now to me.

How did I do the photo above?

  • Went to the location and composed my scene, and I attached full-ND filter to get slow shutter.
  • I first took a photo where I got the details of the mountains and sky clear.
  • I took a second shot where I got details of the foreground (waves and rock) and kept shooting the waves until I am satisfied with one of them. 
  • In Photoshop I blended the two images using mask.
  • Added more colors and adjusted the temperature to be more in the warm side (since it's sunset and the actual scene was warm)
  • Made few selective color saturation retouches.
  • Selective dodge and burn in the waves to add more contrast to it.

<![CDATA[Nikon D600 : A rival ? or a companion?]]>Fri, 14 Sep 2012 15:10:16 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/nikon-d600-a-rival-or-a-companion
Nikon D600
Nikon recently has announced the Nikon D600, the first full-frame in the mid-range level targeting enthusiasts photographers seeking a full frame (35 mm equivalent) camera. With the 24 MP resolution and based on the D7000 technology, it's hard to tell whether this camera is a rival to it's older sister the D800 or a companion that goes along with it.

I have been a Nikon user for almost 5 years, and it seems like that the digital camera world took a giant leap since then. Cameras became more advanced and expanding the photographer's capabilities and meeting the requirements of all levels of photographers from beginners to professionals.

Recently, whenever someone wants to enter the photography world and asks me about what camera to start with, I simply say, close your eyes and pick one according to your budget, and you'll never go wrong. Saying that, if a question came from someone asking to enter the full-frame arena, then I will definitely tell them to go to the D600.

Want a full frame Nikon?

Why should you choose the Nikon D600 over the D800 ?

  • 24 MP should be more than enough for you (I have been in the Nikon D700 with the 12 MP and I print up to A0 and think it's doing great). If you shoot alot , then the 36 MP resolution in the Nikon D800 will be a hassle for you and you better get ready for a multi-terrabyte  storage  solution.
  • Lighter and easier to carry around. (Although most full-frame pro lenses are heavy and bulky)
  • Approx $1000 cheaper than the D800, which you can invest in a new lens. 

Why should you choose the Nikon D800 over the D600?

  • If megapixel matters a lot to you, then 36 MP will really make a difference when you make large prints.
  • More robust and well built camera body, the D800 body is fully made of mag-alloy which makes it more tolerant to abuse and harsh use. While the D600's body contains mag-alloy on top and back only.
  • HDR and exposure fusion fanatic? Then you'll definitely find the 7 shots more advantageous and will help you get better resolution on high-contrast scenes (especially if you love nature and you like to shoot directly facing the sun)

    To sum up, I believe the new member in Nikon's family really adds value and it will open the door for more photographers to enter the full-frame arena. And you can always go and compare the cameras in www.dpreview.com as you'll find all what you need to make the decision yourself.

<![CDATA[The Long Awaited Nikon D800]]>Fri, 24 Feb 2012 08:02:07 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/the-long-awaited-nikon-d800
Probably this camera is the most highly anticipated camera and rumors around it has been online for the past few months and some started even last year. The Nikon D800, showing off with its 36 MegaPixel full-frame sensor & Full-HD video capabilities all comes at a price tag of $3000 . Targeting mostly professionals and top-end enthusiasts. 

Nikon say it's not a replacement for the Nikon D700 model, but sit alongside with it.

What's new with the Nikon D800?
36 Mega Pixel of details, almost similar to some of the medium format cameras. Cropping is not a matter and large prints with rich details, I would assume that landscape photographers will love this camera for this fact. Yet I believe it will create an issue in terms of storage as the 14-bit full size photo will be around 74 MB in size. Which will mean, the need for more storage, longer time to transfer the photos and longer time to post-process the images. Yet,  It seems like the megapixel count still dazzles the photographer's heart and it will satisfy the never ending crave for more and more details and quality.

Check the sample gallery provided by Nikon

Full HD Video with Broadcast quality:

I will not go into details with this one, but the camera video samples show that its a promising camera in this field, and I am sure it will compete head to head with the Canon 5D Mark II.

* Full HD 1080p at 30/25/24p or 720p at 60/50p in AVC format

Nevertheless, Nikon claims that the Nikon D800 has 36 new features/improvements compared to the Nikon D700.  Personally I think that the additional MP count and the HD video are the two main improvements that Nikon users were waiting for. Although, I was craving for higher performance at high ISO, performance close to the D3s or D4.

Built-in HDR??!!

This is something I personally thing it's going to benefit landscape photographers the most, it will make their life much easier.  The camera can combine 2 exposures at up to 3EV.

Finally, Nikon has decided to introduce another model which is the Nikon D800E and Nikon claims that the E version give a little bit more sharpness then that "standard" model. The difference is that the Standard model comes with an Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) in front of its sensor to slightly blur the image at a pixel level in order to reduce the occurrence of false colors and moiré that can appear when shooting repetitive and/or fine patterns.  (Click here to know more about Moire` And false color)

The E version is specifically targeting landscape and studio photographers who aim for that extra bit of sharpness, but as a tradeoff it increased possibility that moiré and false color will appear. And Nikon decide to include a new filter in its CaptureNX application to remove the effect. So, which one is for you, it's your decision.

Nikon D800E Sample Gallery from Nikon
100% crop you can see the additional sharpness and moire` effect and false-colors.
In conclusion,

Many will be dazzled by the 36 Megapixel sensor the D800 provide and many others will buy it for the HD video capabilities. It's a great camera and an impressive addition to the Nikon DSLR family. 
<![CDATA[To Lensbaby or not to Lensbaby? ]]>Fri, 27 Jan 2012 16:51:12 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/to-lensbaby-or-not-to-lensbaby
Swords Fight - Muscat Festival (Nikon D700 with the Lensbaby Composer + Sweet35 Optic)
Two years ago I came to know about Lensbaby and their optical system which gives the photographer the ability to have selective focus on the subject , which blurs the photo except for the "SWEET" spot you select. I was not really interested at that time since the "APERTURE" is changed manually by inserting a different aperture every time.

Lensbaby introduced last year the Composer Pro with the sweet35 optic which allows you to change the Aperture from the lens itself without the need to change the aperture disk. I was interested in it and thought of giving it a shot. I bought it from adorama.com at $400.

My personal Experience:

I have received the lens last week, and today I tested it in the field as it's the first day I go shooting in Muscat Festival, as it's a place where I love to shoot portraits and people. And here are my PROS & CONES of the lens from my personal perspective.

  • Well built and easy to tilt around in a smooth motion
  • Light and compact which makes it easy to go around with
  • Easy way to change the aperture from the top ring of the Sweet 35 
  • The selective focus along with the wide aperture give a new experience in isolating the object. which makes it easy to shift the viewer's eye to your subject.

  • Overpriced for its optic quality, which for me I think the quality at F2.5 is not usable as you can never get a very sharp image, that's why I use it at F4 and F5.6 most of the time.
  • All manual function, the camera couldn't give me any readings and I had to use the Manual mood and the light meter doesn't even help you, thankfully in the digital era you get to experiment.
  • Dim Viewfinder : While you go to F8 the viewfinder becomes dimmer and it will be difficult to use, that's why I had to move the the Liveview mode.
  • Evil focus and sweet spot: It's really hard to focus and set the sweet spot and it takes real effort to do so, shooting people is not practical with it unless the model/person is willing to cooperate and stay still for 5 minutes till you get it right. (I wear glasses and I almost got headache after half an hour of shooting)
My Final Verdict:

I would say the lensbaby is a great lens to play around and have fun with or to produce a theme in your mind. It works well, at F4 and F5.6 the sharpness is not an issue as long as you get the focus right. I would prefer it on static objects rather than shooting people since it will be very hard to focus while people are moving. And I think by time you get used to it. Finally, it's a lens that you either like it or not, there's nothing in-between.

<![CDATA[To Blend or not to Blend?? Exposure Fusion ]]>Tue, 03 Jan 2012 15:53:06 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/to-blend-or-not-to-blend-exposure-fusion
Desert Beauty from Sharqiah Sands
In this article I am going to talk about Exposure Fusion (EF). A lot of photographers nowadays are familiar with High Dynamic Range (HDR) Techniques. Which is mostly used to capture the high contrast scenes by taking a series of "Bracketed" exposures or shots that capture a wider range of light than the camera can handle in a single shot. After that the photos are blended using any of the HDR software (e.g. Dynamic Photo HDR). Mostly the result with have high level of color saturation along with extraordinary shadow and highlight details. Which again is tone mapped to create the final result.

Exposure Fusion (EF) is new approach to blend the bracketed image. The EF does not require tone mapping step as the result does not produce a photo with excessive dynamic range. Yet the result appears to be more realistic and tends not to exaggerate the tones, colors, shadows and highlights. For me I find EF to be more practical and produces results in which I can feel more natural to the eye.

The example above is made by blending (5 photos of the same scene) of a scene from Bediah Sands at sunrise.  Below you can see a sample of the overexposed and underexposed shots, I have taken 5 bracketed shots then exported them to 16bit TIFF files. After that I used Photomatix Pro 4.0 to blend the bracketed exposures.  The final result of the shot (above)  shows more balanced light in the scene yet looks very realistic and natural. Nevertheless I made little final tweaks and adjustments to the photo in Photoshop CS5 .. From my personal experience sometimes you just need 2 shots to make a perfect blend.

Go ahead try it , it's fun and it expands the limitations of the light range the camera can take.

Happy Fusion to everyone

Under Exposed
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens : Nikon 16-35 F4 VR
Tripod : Manfrotto 055 ProB
<![CDATA[A question I heard million of times ... Nikon or Canon or ...?]]>Mon, 26 Dec 2011 04:13:57 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/a-question-i-heard-million-time-nikon-or-canon

“ I always thought good photos were like good jokes. If you have to explain it, it just isn’t that good. – Anonymous

 I have been doing photography for the past 5 years, I consider my self a beginner in its vast world. Yet I cannot recall the countless times that I hear my photo friends comparing camera brands and makes (classically nikon vs canon). Or new photographers ask me , why do you use a Nikon?

My Simple Answer is , I use a Nikon camera because I bought a Nikon camera. As simple as that, then arguments come with how few additional MegaPixels can make one better than the other. I find these arguements to be endless and aimless by most of the photo enthutiasts.

What I have learned in my short 5 years is that camera brand doesn't matter. For beginners in terms of buying an SLR camera, whatever brand you pick it will be 100% the right choice and you can never go wrong. New SLR cameras are really excellent and of high quality. They produce photo quality that will never fail to impress you or your friends. It's you (the photographer) who make the difference between a good photo and a bad one. Don't get caught in brand and make fights.

People have different tastes and that what makes one prefere one against the other. Instead of researching brands, spend the time researching about PHOTOGRAPHY.

And remember, camera is the tool and you are the artist, you the photographer is the one to feel the scene or the moment to capture.

Your comments and arguments are welcomed :)
<![CDATA[Golden Curves - From Sharqiah Sands]]>Fri, 16 Dec 2011 16:52:39 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/golden-curves-from-sharqiah-sandsI have always been fascinated by the desert and the sand dunes. The curves, the texture and the golden color at the sunset. I took a quick trip to Sharqiah Sands (around 250 KM away from Muscat) and took this shot during sunset, luckily the sky was clear and no wind to blow the sand on my face and my camera.
And here is the result. In the photo I tried to show the three things I like about sand and desert (Texture , curves, and the golden tone of the), Also another version in Monochrome is available for the photo. Please like if you like what you see :)

If you are ever in Shariqah Sands for photography:
  • Look for curves and pleasant sand dune shapes.
  • Sunset/sunrise are the best times to shoot sand dunes as you get the smooth light and warm light that makes the sand shine in golden color and yet you get a pleasant contrast.
  • If you don't have a wide angle lens, don't worry. Use a zoom lens to capture intimate landscapes in the area. 
  • If it's windy, it's wise to cover your camera and lens. And avoid at any time changing the lens (best to do that inside a confined space (e.g. inside your car or your tent).
  • Finally, don't forget to enjoy your trip , it's fun.
Golden Curved Sands from Sharqiah Sands (Oman - Bediah)
Curves and Texture from Sharqiah Sands (Oman - Bediah)

Camera : Nikon D700
Lens : Nikon 16-35 mm F/4
Filters : Nikon Polarizor II

<![CDATA[Under Construction, Gallery is 90% Completed]]>Sun, 11 Dec 2011 10:17:24 GMThttp://www.ahmedshukaili.com/blog/under-construction-gallery-is-90-openThe website is currently under construction, yet i will keep this post open. I would like to hear your suggestions and what do you think of the website's organization and sections.

You can check the Gallery , it's open :)   I may add more photos in the future.

This is just a personal website trying to show what my lens captures.

Wadi Al-Khoudh (Muscat) at sunrise. Sometimes you don't have to go far away to get good landscapes