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The last post on this blog, time to move to a new home

Over the years this has been home for my photography journal, but now its time to put this blog to rest and migrate to a new home. 

For all of those who have followed my work here, or if you happen to find this blog and want to see what I recently have been up to please re-direct your browsers to

http://blog.laithmajali.net

Much thanks to all.

 

 

 

The Last Quarter of 2012 – Photos with the Fuji X-Pro1

001001DSCF5605 002002DSCF5677 003003DSCF5679 004004DSCF5680 005005DSCF5652I’ve been quiet on the blog since Ramadan, but pretty much I moved down to the Jordanian desert and lived there for a couple of months. I was a co-producer on a new Jordanian feature film that promises to take Jordanian cinema to a new level I hope. Most of the photography I have done recently has been on the set of the film and those photos are embargoed till the marketing plan for the film rolls out. Yet I still had the Fuji X-Pro1 with me at all times and I thought i’d share some of the pictures I made with my new favorite camera. Also the good people at Fuji Middle East came through after seeing my work with the camera and have loaned me two lenses (the 35mm & the 60mm Macro) and the Leica lens adapter they make. It’s been a pleasure having more than one lens for this camera system and also testing out my Leica glass on the camera, although I got to say, with this camera I’m happy with having an auto focus lens on it.

Anyways here are some of the moments i’ve captured in the past couple of months with as minimal writing as possible.

The first series above was shot with the Jordanian Heritage Revival Company, which has a show down in Wadi Rum for tourists, where they recreate a raid on a train from around 1916. Some of the photos were picked up by Jazeera Airways magazine for a story on the company.

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Before heading down to the desert I visited the film set of Cherien Dabis’s new feature film “May in the Summer.” I got to meet Alia Shawkat who is known for her role in Arrested Development, we got to talking and a couple of days later she visited me and we shot some portraits. I got to say she was super cool and down to earth, and she made for a fun shoot.

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Made a quick trip to Cairo, the three frames above are my favorite shots from the trip. The first photo is of Abyusif, one of the new faces in Egyptian Hip Hop, who has quickly made a name for himself on the scene.

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Then came the deserts of Wadi Araba and Wadi Rum, I have thousands of photos from my time there mostly for the film, maybe a book will come down the line.

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I tend not to shoot much landscape photos but I found myself shooting more and more since getting the Fuji, maybe it’s because it goes with me everywhere and I don’t have to worry about carrying it with me even if I’m climbing a mountain or going for a location trek. Also the desert tends to surprise you with some amazing vistas and moments for a good landscape photo.

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Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d throw in a wake boarding photo from Aqaba.

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The difference between Amman and the quietness of the Wadi Rum is immense and I haven’t fully adapted to the city life again. I shot one of the Friday protests and tested the lenses Fuji loaned me one night. The Xpro1 is a pleasure to shoot after the sun goes down.

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The photos above are from a couple of days in Beirut.

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Another aspect of the camera that I’ve been exploring more is the panoramic mode and as you see from the results above, the camera does a wonderful job and gives you the option of two sizes when set on Panorama. The photos show you the difference between the mountains of Amman, and those of Wadi Rum.

I should get back to working on the last touch ups for a viewing of the first assembly for our film which I’ll be showing to the director, I wish I can disclose more about the film and post some of the photos, but soon enough I’ll be able to share some more information.

Till the next post….Salam.

B&W photos from the streets of Amman in Ramadan – Fuji X-Pro 1

As promised here is the continuation of yesterday’s blog post, but this time the photos posted are in black and white, which tends to be my preference for this type of photography, yet the X-Pro 1 has been pushing me to shoot a bit more in color and look at things differently. The photos were shot in Amman during the month of Ramadan, and the b&w conversions are all done in SilverEfx Pro.

It seems more people tend to read in Ramadan, its natural to see more people read the Quran

While others read the newspapers

Cellphones have come up as a recurrent theme in the past post and this one

Sleep is another recurring theme…some sleep at night

While others doze off during the day

I think if i waited a bit more he would have fallen asleep too

Youthful energy

Trying to get a point across…Arabs and Italians share the hand gestures

Unloading sugar cane

The mess left by fruit and vegetable vendors at the Abdali market

Late night Ka’aak sandwiches

I’ve also been using the panoramic option on the X-Pro 1 and it constantly surprises me, the next post will feature images shot with that feature….till then, Peace.

First post in Ramadan: Color photographs from the streets of Amman with the X-Pro 1

I’ve been taking my Fuji  X-Pro 1 everywhere I go, and I can’t stress enough how much better my shoulders feel already. It’s a pleasure to shoot with this camera and although I’m just stuck with my 18mm lens at the moment it keeps on forcing me to try and get closer. In this post I’m posting some photos I shot in the past month in Amman, although the first photo was taken in Wadi Rum in a recent trip I took down there. I’ll be moving down to the desert very soon for a couple of months where I will be producing a feature film , I’ll also be doing the on-set photography so expect an abundance of photos from the desert in the near future. I wish I can post some of the photos from our test shoot but you’ll have to wait a bit to see those…embargos are a normal part of any working photographer’s life.

An expected occurrence when you drive at the middle of the night in the desert.

Been dropping by Al-Asayel stables with my cousin, thought the light here was beautiful. Got to love horses too, such majestic creatures.

Soon enough I plan to photograph a whole series on the businesses that line up the Desert Highway.

They saw the camera and asked me to take a portrait while I was walking around Al-Abdali’s Friday market

I’ve been going downtown before Iftar and making photos for about an hour every other day, the frames that follow are from those ventures.

Street Kababs

Cacti season

I wonder if these mannequins are influenced by The Terminator

Textures in a hilly city

Pre Iftar tomato shopping, I don’t think the guy on the left is too happy with me taking a photo. The vegetable and fruit market is one of the most vibrant parts of downtown.

Seems like everyone is reading, sleeping or on their mobile phones before Iftar.

Prepping the Coffee

Two generations at the mosque

As the sun starts setting Amman becomes quite beautiful

Then when the night falls a different transformation takes place…more street kababs.

The tailor’s district

Blue & Yellow

More people with cellphones and newspapers

Last call for buying the next day’s supplies

Moments of contemplation

Time to close the barbershop. Sponge Bob is everywhere.

The remnants of a full day at the fruit and vegetable market. I’ve learned to hold my breath well every time I pass this spot.

These last two photos were taken before Ramadan, but I really like how the camera handled the light and color, so thought I’d share them.

This Mercedes model is an icon in the Arab world.

I’ll try my best to post a follow up to this blog post tomorrow with black and white photos taken in the same period as the photos above. So far i’m really loving the X-Pro 1, i’ve learned how to deal with some of it’s kinks and I really look forward to getting more lenses and also eventually testing my Leica lenses on it too…I just need to get the adapter for them, maybe Fuji Middle East will be kind enough to lend me one and a the two other lenses that Fuji make :)

From California to the Jordanian Desert : Color frames with the Fuji X-Pro1

In the previous entry I posted some black and white images made with the Fuji X-Pro1, as promised here are some color images made with that camera. When photographing in the street with a the M6 I always faced the issue of what film to load and usually my default choice would be to put in some B&W film, occasionally i’d load some color film and hit the streets. Being used to thinking in shooting in B&W I never got the chance to train my eye as much with a rangefinder in terms of capturing color photos that are good, and its been a blessing having the X-Pro as its been bridging that gap for me. I’m starting to find myself more comfortable with shooting color, and i’m happy with the files that the camera has been giving me. The photos below take you from Union Station in Los Angeles, to the streets of Amman, and finally to the majestic desert of Wadi Rum.

I think this is my favorite capture in this whole series, as the doors to the metro closed he had a moment to himself.

This brother in orange was dancing on a pole in the train I was on, he kept on dancing while another train passed.

I was too close and he caught me, but it turned out to be a good shot anyways.

Trying to see how the lens handles the sun hitting it. Highland Park

While I was getting some tacos on the NE side of town, I turned around and captured the moment that made him look like he just puked.

Hollywood….Hollywood

Waiting to cross…one of the last photos I made in LA

A little dog in Jabal Al Weibdeh

At an event that was held by the Scandinavian community in Amman, couldn’t resist the light.

Getting ready for a long day’s work

I think he was already getting bored…hats galore

Late night watch repair

and an early breakfast at the famous Salahaldin bakery

The tailor in Jabal Al Weibdeh, he’s been there for ages…shot this frame after a long conversation about the neighborhood

Glad I checked my tires before a long drive, turned out it needed to be patched up and I got this photo.

Definitely didn’t expect this in the bathroom of a hotel in the Dead Sea.

Visited the stables, thinking of going back to horseback riding.

The camera holds good sharpness even in a panning shot

The token pigeon flock over the Amman sky as the sun sets

A view of downtown Amman from Jabal Amman.

While in Wadi Rum, I had to test out the panoramic feature of the X-Pro, i’m still trying to get used to it, but i’m happy with how the camera figures it out.

I usually don’t do landscape type shots, but thought i’d share a beautiful sunset.

The camera’s low light capabilities still surprise me, shot this handheld and the light on the rock is coming from an iphone.

Fuji X-Pro 1: Is this the camera i’ve been waiting for…and can afford?

The decision to buy a new camera is something that a photographer has to go through from time to time…and I can’t front , it’s a tough one sometimes, especially if you are buying into a new system. Last week I took the dive and bought myself the Fuji X-Pro 1 alongside their 18mm F2 lens, there are many reasons that made me take that decision, the moment I held the camera in my hand it felt right, albeit considerably lighter than the Leica M6 that I’ve been shooting with for years. The images i’ve seen come out of the camera have also been quite impressive and asking a friend or two who have been putting the camera through the works made me not think twice…and you know what…the fact that Fuji are releasing a lens mount for the Leica lenses I already have,  sealed the deal.

The M6 I’ve been using is not mine and needs to go back to its original owner…plus the fact that shooting B&W  film in a place like Jordan is quite difficult ( no place to buy it, no labs, no scans) and the increasing cost makes it even more difficult. For example in the past week I have made about 1500 frames which is equivalent to shooting about 40 films…the cost to get those images into my computer = $650

Anyways, what about the camera?

I can’t really judge within just a week and not putting it through real stress tests…but i’ve already shot two assignments with it, including one with HM the King of Jordan and my only wish was that i had the 35mm or the at least the leica lens mount so i can use my 50mm leica lens and get more varied angles and shots. The camera keeps on surprising me with the results…the image quality and performance in low light is beautiful and more importantly the camera is just a joy to shoot with (once you get over some of the quirks). I can now also carry my camera all day with no stress on my shoulder…I have already stopped carrying my Canon 5d MarkII around, as it is now retired to special assignments/needs and video work.

This first blog post i’m just including black and white images shot in Los Angeles and Amman, Jordan. All images were converted to BW using SilverEfx Pro.

I wish I can write my comments on each photo as usual, but I got a trailer to edit…

Keep an eye for for my next blog where i’ll post some color images.

Also make sure to check out my tumblr page where i’ve been posting single images as much as I can.

Http://nomadiclens.tumblr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amman: Ramadan Captures

Ramadan marks one of my favorite times to walk the streets of Amman with my camera. Over the past week I headed downtown  a couple of times before and after Iftar and captured some images that i’m sharing on the blog today. I spotted a bakery that makes Tanoor bread and spent sometime there. I got to say I don’t know how I resisted tasting the bread while fasting. The baker turned out to have worked in Karak for a number of years and knew a couple of my relatives, i guess that made it easier for me to hang out and shoot. Anyways, enough with the writing, enjoy these moments.

In Solidarity with Syria : Taraweeh Prayer in Amman

Last night after iftar I headed to the Syrian Embassy in Amman, where Taraweeh prayer was being held in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Syria. There was a big crowd and a makeshift prayer area was created across the street from the embassy. It was beautiful and moving to see such a number of people out in times like these. After the prayers a number of speeches were given, poetry was read and of course the requisite chanting against all the killing that was taking place in Syria. I leave you with some of the frames I captured.

Bangkok in Color

A couple of months ago I got the chance to visit Bangkok for a week to photograph and attend a friend’s four day Palestinian-Indian wedding. As usual I had a bunch of film cameras with me and shot tons of film with the Leica, the Rolleiflex and I even pulled out my Widelux Panoramic camera and ran some film through it. But before sharing those photos on the blog I thought i’d post some of my favorite color frames captured with the Canon 5D. So here we go…

While visiting the Jim Thompson House I spotted this clock made by James.

The waterways in Bangkok make for some beautiful photos…many people live on the water banks and also use it for transportation.

Long live the Queen…and the King too. Their photos are everywhere including the locker room at the Jim Thompson house.

This guy was having fun screaming at people passing by with this big orange cone…

…and of course I couldn’t let the opportunity of making a portrait of this brother be missed.

Tuk Tuk’s are the way to traverse the city, and every driver is a character.

Street food is everywhere, and although I usually am a big fan but since i got sick eating at a 5 Star hotel i decided i’d leave it to my next visit.

Tourists are all over the city and it seems that phone cameras are the way to preserve memories these days.

Even the monks are hip to cellphones….wonder what kind of photos he has on his.

Captured some monks walking through the temple grounds…I really like how the orange pops.

The golden Buddhas.

I really enjoy finding reflections to photograph…can you see what is through the glass?

A portrait of a police office on the temple grounds…shot many portraits on this trip…i guess that’s what happens when you walk around with Eric Coleman.

Some students heading to class on the temple grounds.

I wonder what this boy was looking for up in the trees.

Break time in between classes.

His missing teeth made me want to shoot a portrait of this kid…his smile is killer too.

As the tourists walked around the temple and took photos for their memoirs…Thai people were there for prayers.

Apparently white people run pickpocket gangs in Bangkok…also note that the police are white too.

I really like where all the eyes are looking in this photograph.

Tourists always like to bring their humor with them…even inside a temple.

Motorbikes are a staple of this city and you have no clue where they will be coming at you from.

One of my favorite captures from my trek down to China town.

Dee Dee Ann brings all kinds of people to shop there.

The way the cigarette dangles from this guy’s mouth is just priceless.

The motor bikes always rush to the front of any traffic light…you better watch out.

A moment of self reflection.

If i’m not mistaken this lady had chickenpox…why else would she have that white stuff on her face and arms.

Mr Eric is about to get some serious flowers.

Shot this from inside a record store…got to love that big colorful bag.

On the way back from school with pops.

Public transportation lends to sometime spent alone thinking…

…or observing the world through the window. I think this is my favorite frame from this bunch.

It was quite hard to communicate with this record store owner to try and explain the type of Thai music we were looking for…but we managed to find an Arabic record.

Graffiti catches my eye anywhere I am around the world. The textures in Bangkok are amazing.

Seems like this dog had a case of diarrhea…never thought i’d see a dog with pampers.

Can’t wait to make a big print out of this one..the covers, the records, the cracks in the wood.

Seeing this poster made me wish I was there a year ago to check out what Far Eastern Psyche is all about.

A girl kills sometime inside her mom’s record shop.

For some odd reason this reminded me of Cairo.

Again…the textures in the city are incredible.

Caught another girl going back home after school…you never know what photo you can find in alleyways.

That street food again…i promise myself to try it next time.

Pink taxis and lines.

Took this one while i was waiting at a metro station

As the sun sets…a different palette of colors emerges in Bangkok.

There is a visual trick in this shot. It’s all in the perspective.

You couldn’t ask for better street wet downs…in Hollywood you got to pay big money for this.

I’m not even going to start talking about ladyboys and prostitution on the streets there…it made me feel uneasy.

Time to cook some late night chicken…

…but me and Coleman ended up at a pizza joint owned by an Englishman. He was playing solitaire…the live version.

One of my biggest surprises was the Arabic area next to where we were staying…who would have thought i’d find a Yemeni restaurant in the middle of Bangkok.

Pictures that cater to our brothers from the UAE…and what’s up with “The Doom”

She had converted an old VW van into a food truck.

Vibrant colors, motorbikes, tuk tuks and wet streets.

Till next time…where i’ll be posting some of what i’ve captured on those films…and yeah you got the Bible and What Buddah taught in the hotel room’s drawer.

Peace.

Operation Lost Art – New Music video for Dj Lethal Skillz & Arabian Knightz

On a visit to Cairo last summer, I had the chance to shoot and direct a music video for Arabian Knightz, Egypt’s premier hip hop crew.

The track is off Dj Lethal Skillz’s upcoming album “Karmageddon” which is one album i’ve been anticipating and looking forward to. Having heard a number of the tracks on it, all I can say is that you are in for a surprise…Arab Hip Hop is maturing and the talent featured on the album is just ridiculous.

The video was shot on location in Cairo and Lebanon. Cinematography and editing by yours truly, video produced by Immortal Entertainment.

Stay on the look out for a second video I directed for Arabian Knightz’s “Sisters” which I shot on the same trip and we will be releasing very soon.

Peace.

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