Archive for January, 2011

Al Balad (“The Old Town”), Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

January 27, 2011 1 comment

Earlier this month I was on a short business trip to Saudi Arabia. In four previous visits I have had mixed photographic success in the Kingdom, primarily because I have been there on business and usually not in control of my own itinerary nor free to explore either on foot or by vehicle as I might do in most places I travel. Also, Saudi is not a place that's particularly used to people just photographing for the sake of it, as I found out to my detriment back in 2008 when I was detained by the police in Jeddah for inadvertently taking a picture of a royal building that was occasionally used by the intelligence service. Well, how was I supposed to know when it looked just like every other hotel on the seafront? The upshot of it is, a large percentage of my Saudi shots have tended to be taken on enthusiast compacts like the Canon G9 / S90 out the side of moving cars. Not the best recipe for photo success. 

But this photo was a rare time when we were able to slow down and take things leisurely; we were visiting the seaside town of Yanbu, which despite being by the seaside is, let's be honest, a bit of a hole. Sorry, Yanbu-ians. As is typical of the bizarro world of Saudi, the seaside is almost completely ignored except for one nice empty park, but otherwise surrounded by empty lots and vast fenced off tracts of abandoned private property. The only bit of "history" around is the Old Town, a clump of old-style wooden clapboard buildings in what was the centre of the old town. In most other countries (or at least places with tourism economies) these would have been preserved and there would have been a thriving set of restaurants and shops drawing the tourists in. Alas, there are no tourists, and no reason to keep the buildings maintained. So, they crumble, ignored, except by the poor souls who call them home. Never let it be said that the Saudis are nostalgic, at least when it comes to architecture….

The Canon 7D on the Streets of London

January 27, 2011 2 comments

I've been a bit coy about posting here so far in January – as usual, work has landed with a thud atop my head. But I thought I would post a few photos from a couple of London weekend walkabouts which I've used to try and acclimatise to my new Canon 7D. It's a whole lot of camera, not dissimilar to my old 40D, but with it's own good and bad points. My only struggle with getting into it was trying to figure out how to change the autofocus mode and select points – I had to climb down off my arrogance hill and actually crack the manual. I have also been toying with video, but I feel it will be a while before I have anything worth posting. But I've generally been very happy with both the responsiveness and the image quality of this camera. 

Christmas in the Texas Hill Country [Photos]

January 2, 2011 1 comment

This Christmas we headed over to Texas and the Hill Country therein, where my mother's small ranch (the Canyon Wren Ranch) always provides some interesting rural photographic subject material. It wasn't the best weather during our visit, but I did manage to get in some good sunrise "golden hour" shots as well as some moody intra-storm shots where golden sun poked through ominous storm clouds. 

Canyon Wren Ranch

While we were there we popped over to Austin for a night, and due to a timely influx of Santa cashola I went ahead and sprung for a new Canon 7D body which I've been ogling for the last year or so. It seemed, well, wrong not to do it, especially as the price was the same as it would have been from B&H in NYC. Anyway I was able to get out at sunrise on the last day and go down to the James Kiehl River Bend Park near Comfort, TX, and give the 7D a try-out (at least from the still photo perspective – I will get to video later). I was very pleased with what came out of the camera and I was also very pleased that a bit of sun decided to peak out behind the storm clouds yet again…

James Kiehl River Bend Park