Sunday, February 24, 2013

Desert Camp Egypt

Well I have returned from an extraordinary week in Egypt, full of sunshine, snorkelling and plenty of travelling. I'm not the type on holiday to just sit by the pool, though there was a little bit of that. Unfortunately, a week in the sun can go oh so quickly, but we managed to pack quite a lot into that week. The most interesting part was travelling to Israel and Palestine, to visit The Holy Cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem (not sure that is a city?), as well as a stop at the Dead Sea. So as you can imagine I have I hope plenty of photos to share, and rather than give you a whole transcript of the holiday right now, I will take each stage one at a time.

Today's picture was actually taken the day before we returned from holiday. After the exhausting trip to Israel and Palestine, we relaxed for a couple of days, but wanted to do a final excursion before returning to England. So we decided to do Camel Riding and Star Gazing in the desert. We had booked the trip through a vendor based outside the hotel and it began rather nervously, when we were collected from the hotel, by 3 men in what can only be described as a makeshift Derek Trotter minibus (blue not yellow though), complete with no ID and plenty of arabic writing inside. Having arrived at the desert and satisfied that we weren't being kidnapped, we did indeed enjoy a great evening of the previously mentioned activities, and also learned about the Bedouin (Egyptian Tribesman) lifestyle, as well as being entertained with various dances as well. So no this is not a camp in the military sense, but still a place you could easily enjoy the peace and quiet of the desert for the night. We were able to watch the sun going down from a good vantage point, and it was at this time that this photo was taken. It is a 3 shot HDR image, taken handheld with my Nikon D90.

I have been using the D90 a lot recently (for my Miami and Egypt trips), as opposed to the much bigger and better D700, simply because of the ease of travelling with it. I never planned to go back into shooting with the D90, and indeed it can be frustrating having to deal with issues again that are not a problem with the D700, such as low level light handling, and the amount of noise the D90 generates. Still, it is light, portable and has a VR (the anti-shaky thing) lens, as opposed to my 24-70mm lens I have for my D700, which is not. I look forward though now to going back to using the D700 on a regular basis, and with Spring approaching soon hopefully, will certainly be out and about getting some 'Home' pictures.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dancing in Little Havana

The Cuban centre of Miami, with all due respect, Little Havana is perhaps not a place I would venture to again in a hurry. Having got a taxi ride from South Beach to Little Havana (which seemed worlds apart), the taxi driver dropped me off at a location, which meant I had to walk quite a distance to get to the main point where the tourists visit, such as the cigar-making shops in the centre. It wasn't the most secure walk I've ever had to make, and watching a news programme later on about how many guns were handed in that day as part of a guns armistice scheme, made me somewhat relieved I had not known how many guns were on the 'street' there in the first place.

However, Little Havana has tons of energy to it, and as well as the famous cigar shops where you can see them being rolled and made in front of you (picture of that coming up soon), there is also music always playing outside and people enjoying the atmosphere. These guys were happy for me to take their picture of this wonderful scene I came across in the centre of Little Havana.

It is a single image (not HDR) but I have used Topaz Adjust, as well as Lightroom, to give the scene a bit more energy and tone, than just a standard out-of-the-camera photograph. Tomorrow I am travelling to Egypt, so won't be back on this blog for over a week or so. I shall return with plenty of pictures still to come from Miami, and hopefully some good ones from Egypt!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ocean Drive

Ocean Drive is the classic road along South Beach in Miami, that contains many of the famous Art Deco buildings, an iconic landmark of the city. I honestly did not know much about Art Deco until watching a video of Miami on the flight over, but in essence it is a row of hotels that date back to the 1920's and 30's, that are now of great historic interest.

Today's photo is not so much about Art Deco, but just a flavour of what Miami is about: the Spanish influence, palm trees, vintage cars and of course the beautiful weather. This was a well timed shot, as this car is not part of the diner behind it. It was parked there whilst waiting to be parked by the valet. The car in front of it waiting to be parked was a Ferrari (only in Miami!). This photograph is a single image and was processed entirely in Lightroom 4.

I have plenty more pictures to come from my time in Miami, and I know I have not been very good at putting them up. I will blog again tomorrow with a new picture from Miami, before I go away again on Thursday for another Egypt. As I said last time, it looks like I can get back to the travel aspect of this blog this year.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Miami Nights

Writing this blog on a cold, English Monday morning, when last week I was in 28 degrees heat, walking on golden beaches and swimming in the bluest sea you've ever seen, is obviously quite depressing and not easy. I returned from the sunshine state yesterday, having been out there since last Tuesday. Although it was a business trip, it nonetheless provided a very welcome getaway from the English winter, something I have very rarely been able to do. Miami is a truly beautiful, and indeed cultural city, of which I had not really expected prior to my visit. It was a given that I would take a camera out there, to capture the city's sights in my 'offtime' from work, and so I took out the lighter and more portable D90, as opposed to the much bigger and hand luggage restrictor that is the D700.

I'm lucky to have taken quite a few pictures, of which should be able to fill up this blog for quite a while. Today's picture is one I took within a couple of hours of arriving in Miami. This was the view from my hotel room. Although it might be easy to be sad not to have a sea view, I was not complaining at all, as I immediately realised I would be able to get one of those nighttime city HDR shots, that I have seen of so many other cities. This is a traditional 3 shot HDR, taken in manual mode, and using the hotel balcony as a makeshift tripod, having not been able to take one out there myself. Processing a picture like this is a lot of fun, even after the Photomatix stage, because you can pick the best bits to include in the picture from the 2 HDR's I created (one de-ghosted and one not) and the original RAW files.

You will also notice today that I have changed the name of this blog to Pete Halewood - Home and Away. You may remember that last year my blog was called The Photographic World of Pete Halewood, which was a title based around the fact that I would have pictures to display from around the world. Due to my lack of travel last year though (in no small part due to my wedding and house move), I changed the name to Talking Photo with Pete Halewood. This year however, I hope to 'get out' a lot more, and this is why I'm confident enough to name this blog in part as an ode to my travels, but also to reflect the large numbers I will take in the UK. Today's picture is my first HDR taken in the USA.