Arabian Nights

On my way back from Burma in February, I planned a 2-day layover in Dubai for a chance to witness firsthand what this renowned emirate/city is truly all about. Can’t say I was impressed to be honest. True, they now have the world’s tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), they’ve managed to build a ski resort inside a shopping mall in the middle of the desert and a 7-star hotel on an artificial island. All these are great accomplishments and marvels of engineering, but for me it all seems a bit too artificial. The city itself lacks character – a blend of a westernized modern city with an Islamic middle eastern undertone, done in a fairly distasteful manner. In my view the phrase “building castles in the sand” is true in this case both literally and metaphorically.

I spent more than half of my time wondering around the malls, but the highlight of my short stay was the afternoon I spent on a safari in the desert. It was quite the experience – being in the back of a 4×4 driving over the sand dunes, witnessing the sunset over the sand hills and having an amazing dinner in a camp in the middle of the desert. To add a bit more authenticity to the whole experience, we also got this beautiful belly dancer to entertain us over dinner.

Belly Dancer - 1920c

 

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Canon 50mm F1.8 prime lens at ISO 3200, F1.8, 1/200sec.

Break dancer

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to join my photography class on an on-location photo shoot at the Rebel Dancers studio in Nicosia. There were 4-5 different classes going on at the same time, ranging from Belly Dancing to Break Dancing, mostly attended to by teenagers and the occasional adult. The owner there was nice enough to allow twenty or so photographers lagging all their cameras, tripods and flashes to enter any of the classrooms and shoot at free will.

I must say that getting a decent shot was by no means an easy exercise. Freezing motion in a precise and eloquent way, is truly a tough skill to master and requires a bit of luck to be on your side as well. You are in a studio indoors with harsh, unflattering and inadequate lighting, constantly fighting motion blur, taking shot after shot, praying that at least 1 of those shots comes out tack sharp. I brought with me my Canon 24-70mm F2.8L lens, a fairly fast lens one might say, but even at F2.8 and an ISO bumped all the way to 3200, I could barely get 1/100 – 1/250 sec shutter speeds.

I must have taken close to 500 shots, and this was one of only two or three shots that according to my criteria came out half decent. By no means a stellar shot, but given the amount of effort that went behind this exercise, I believe it earned a place on my blog page!

Taken with my Canon 60D camera, at F2.8, 1/250 speed at ISO 3200.

Brake Dancer 1920c