Saturday, August 19, 2006

Nikkor 80-200 F2.8

Nikkor 80-200 F2.8
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
I got hold of this superb lens last month - but did not get much opportunity to use it until now. When you hold this lens in your hands, you immediately realize that this is some serious glass.

It weights in at 2.84 lb. So even if you don't get good pictures with it, you will at least build your upper body strength carrying this beast around.

This week, I got my first opportunity to use this lens. The occasion being the Independence day celebrations at the Indian Embassy. The lens was perfectly suited for the occasion. The zoom range meant that I could take portraits such as this.
Band Member

At the same time, the wide aperture allowed me to throw background out of focus. Even when the lens is kept wide open at F2.8, it is beautifully sharp.

At $900, this is not a cheap lens, but at the same time, it is the best bargain Nikon has on offer for this range. The other alternative is the 70-200 AF-S VR which costs almost twice as much (approx. $1700). Optically, both lenses are about the same. The more expensive version provides faster and silent focusing, and the VR (Vibration reduction) features means that you can shoot hand-held, which is very difficult with my lens. My solution is to use a $70 Manfrotto monopod, which gets the job done.

Rating: Highly Recommended.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Photographers right's in Kuwait

Kuwait Political Hotbed
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
Photographing public places in Kuwait is always a tricky thing. There are no laws (that I am aware of), that can prevent someone from taking a picture of a public building.
Even Saudi Arabia loosened it's tight grip on photography recently - allowing public buildings to be photographed.

I generally don't have any problems while photographing public places. However, on a few occasions, I have had people come up to me and question me why I am taking pictures. Few months back, while photographing this building, a woman walked up to me and wanted me to stop taking the picture because she thought that she and her friends - who were sitting nearby - might get included in the shot. I quickly took the pictures anyway, before she reached me.

This week, I was photographing the National Assembly building. I setup my tripod and the camera and started taking some long exposures. A Kuwaiti guy walks up to me and wants to know why I am taking picture of this particular building - and whether I am a presss photographer. Unfortunately for me, I don't know much Arabic and all I could communicate was that I am taking the pictures for personal use. He seemed to become suspicious and it looked like he wanted to call the cops or something. Luckily for me, my wife and kids were around, and when they walked up to me, he seemed to lose interest.

Moral of the story: When taking pictures of public places in Kuwait, it's good to have your family nearby as insurance !

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Proud to be an Indian

Proud to be an Indian
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
I have been living in Kuwait for 14 years and never once attended the Independence day or Republic day celebrations held at the Indian Embassy. I always meant to go, but the time (7 AM) was a bit too early for me.
This year, I was motivated because of my new lens that I purchased few weeks back. I just knew that this lens was ideal for this kind of event.
I reached the Embassy just 5 minutes before the ceremony began. I was a little worried that the security would not let me get in - because the camera with the 80-200 lens mounted looks quite menacing. Plus I was carrying a monopod.
To my surprise, I found that everyone simply assumed that I am a professional photographer, and I could walk just about anywhere and take whatever photo I want (including going right in front of the Ambassador during his speech).

Here are some more of the photos that I took.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Summer in Kuwait...

Moonlight Over Kuwait Beach
Originally uploaded by Cajie.
What can I say? Summer time in Kuwait is.... Well, it's hot.
Starting from May, temperatures stay in the 40+ degree celsius throughout the day. It is not unusual to see a day where the temperature reaches 50 degrees.

The worst part of summer is that it is practically impossible to get any decent photographs. Extreme heat makes the desert sand dry causing huge dust storms that can last for days.

I am eagerly waiting for September, when temperatures will cool down.