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View From My Window….

Mar 31

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 7:22am


In Abu Dhabi, as the guest of the AbuDhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and their wonderful emissary, Bader Alnomani.  Teaching here to coincide with the Emirates Photo Competition under the auspices of the ADACH and the FIAP (International Federation of Art Photography). Having a terrific time, seeing portfolios, teaching about light, and in general enjoying Abu Dhabi, which is a city where, previous to now, I had only visited the airport. I see the above scene from my hotel window every morning. It is an immediate reminder that I am not home.

Lessee, my work flow on this one might be instructive.

Wander jet lagged through hotel room in pre-dawn dark. Look out window. The Sheik Zayed Mosque. Also known as the Great Mosque. Nice. Pretty.

Let eyes wander upward to…full moon. Stand there slack jawed, toothbrush hanging from lower lip. Put two and two together. (Not easy for me even on 8 hours sleep.)

Race around hotel room, grab Gitzo, D3X, 200-400 zoom. Look again at moon. Disappearing behind clouds. Curse.

Open patio door. Setup tripod, camera and lens. Hope no one notices I’m still in my u-trou.

Make rushed, bad exposure of moon. Calm down.

Dial in minus 2.7 EV. Make another exposure. Better. Swing camera to Mosque. Adjust EV to minus 2. Make shot. Looks okay. Clouds closing in.

Program camera to DX format to get bigger moon. Program 2 shot multiple exposure. Make shot of moon, swing camera to Mosque. Make second exposure. Doesn’t work. Why? I thunder thumbed and programmed the multiple exposure wrong. Curse.

Do multiple thingy button on D3X properly this time. Zoom. Get big moon. Place in upper left. Swing camera to Mosque. Zoom out. Make another shot. This time both exposures pop up in LCD. Say thank you to St. Jude.

Repeat. One more frame. Moon gone.

Sit. Launch card into Aperture. Cool. Push some sliders. Saturate, contrast, sharpen. Got a preset for blog. Go click. Pic on desktop. Put into blog.

Go to breakfast. Try to remember to put on my pants.

More tk….

111 Responses to “View From My Window….”

Fayyaz Ahmed says:

on March 31, 2010 at 10:30 am

Joe, its rare one gets to see photographs like this. The mosque might be beautiful but what you have done here makes it look magestic. Not to mention now I have a reason for a 400mm lens.

Sheikh says:

on March 31, 2010 at 10:41 am

Wow, fantastic view from your window. wish i was there too.

M.D. Welch says:

on March 31, 2010 at 10:44 am

Pants are good Joe, very good.

Beautiful shot.

Inge Skliros says:

on March 31, 2010 at 10:44 am

Absolutely stunning image! Isn’t it wonderful to work with only adrenaline driving you? :-)

Richard Schmon says:

on March 31, 2010 at 10:48 am

Fantastic image followed by an absolutely hilarious post! You sir, are the man.

Craig says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:03 am

Hahahahaha. Great shot, though.

Dave Coley says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:14 am

Joe – you never fail to put a smile on my face with your antics. Awesome shot.

John says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:17 am

Joe, you are too hard on yourself. The clouds really help make the moon not standout too much and dominate the shot.

Christian says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:34 am

Great! Thanks for the class!

Howard Haby says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:38 am

Good entry, great photo. Wow, I heard about the multiple exposure feature before and then never thought about it again. Now I can see how useful it could be. Very, very cool. And what a view!! Thanks for sharing Joe, you’re awesome.

pixelmixture says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:40 am

my 2 cents with aperture

“touching contraste slider you should not”

look at the histogram, push the contrast slider to the right and you will see clipping
look at the histogram, draw an “S” shape with curves and TADA no clipping.

wonderful photo by the way

Clint Bittenbinder says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:40 am

thunder thumbed is the greatest thing i have ever heard. I’m stealing that for the next time i screw up.

max says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:41 am

This is awesome. Is this the ‘image overlay’ mode in the D3X? Would love to see more details on how you did this.

Rodrigo Valle says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:43 am

Hey Joe,
How many SB-900s did you use to light up the moon? Were they CTO gel’d? :D

Rodrigo Valle

SJlarue says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:50 am

Sounds like me…although I would put my pants on first…:-D

Steven Seymour says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:57 am

Well? Did you remember? The pants, I mean. (The AbuDhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, if I remember right, prefer it when their guests wear pants.)

Ken Wilder says:

on March 31, 2010 at 12:59 pm

The picture alone was beautiful enough to make our day, but the monologue was priceless. Thanks!

Tim says:

on March 31, 2010 at 1:26 pm

hahaha! great. … and a really nice pic joe. thumbs up!

Walden Leverich says:

on March 31, 2010 at 2:44 pm

So do I have it right then that this isn’t a single image, and it’s not even HDR, but rather a composite image from totally different shots, but made IN the camera? Cool! Amazing image regardless of how it’s made. Must get to that part of the world some day.

Ken says:

on March 31, 2010 at 2:44 pm


Gosh, the guys at Kelby’s business said this was the guest house for all the photo teaching staff, and you wanted the biggest room…

Ken in KY

Chris Lane says:

on March 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Wonderful view and amazing shot. I think I have had that very same workflow in a couple of my shots, particularly of a passing environment like the moon. Except I usually have the pants 8)
Nice post though!

Dirk says:

on March 31, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Awesome shot Joe, funny post too

Martin Allum says:

on March 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Great blog Joe
will be back for more

Julie says:

on March 31, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Joe, what a breathtaking shot. It’s beautiful. All that sweat was well worth it. Hope your trip was good.

Dan Kitts says:

on March 31, 2010 at 6:25 pm

That is a jaw dropping shot. And, the explanation of how you did it priceless. Thanks Joe!

Dave Hutchinson says:

on March 31, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Well done Joe, spectacular, but why would I think otherwise?

Blake says:

on March 31, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Awesome! You’re too professional to do a composite image – you are truly a master!

Jim says:

on March 31, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Great shot.

Glyn Dewis says:

on March 31, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Fantastic shot Joe ‘especially’ as this is a Multi Exposure to place the moon in the shot.

I gotta be honest changing midway through a multi exposure to DX format isn’t something I’d even considered so clearly alot more ‘play time’ is called for.

As always, entertaining and inspiring.


Simon Fleming says:

on April 1, 2010 at 1:59 am

Great image & great story – wouldn’t have expected anything less. I’ve tried on numerous occasions to produce an image in camera along these lines, always with woeful results. You’ve inspired me once again Joe – next time I have the full moon in my sights I’ll be trying the no pants approach, and see what the extra moon can contribute to the deal.

Bjorn | FotoLuna says:

on April 1, 2010 at 3:34 am

Great picture! That’s a feature that I loved about my old film canon camera, and miss on the EOS 5D: Multiple Exposures…

Carl Schaefer says:

on April 1, 2010 at 4:30 am

Beautiful pic, Joe, but I can’t help but wonder whether the composite photo technique you used to enlarge the moon is, well, cheating.

Ludovic says:

on April 1, 2010 at 5:50 am

Beautiful, beautiful picture. It alone made my day, but your thought process is priceless and has given me, once more, a lot to think about. I’ll be sure to try out your tips, especially the no pants part. I took pictures stark naked once and wasn’t really satisfied, but I think I know why : as for many things in life, sometimes you just have to compromise.

Tom McKean says:

on April 1, 2010 at 6:18 am

Wow! Nice shot Joe. And I thought I was fussy about getting a photo with my camera settings. If the moon were any brighter, it would have taken it away from the Mosque. Aperture never fails to amaze me also! Great shot. Great light! and great writing!

Mark Holloway says:

on April 1, 2010 at 6:33 am

Very cool! Really impressed with the pantless workflow. Got the shot. Nice job, Joe.

Ashley Brokop says:

on April 1, 2010 at 7:04 am

Joe, this is so beautiful. I wish I could hear outside your window, as you have let us see outside your window.
The call to prayer, woke me for two weeks in Jordan a few years ago…and I will never forget how wonderful, exciting and totally not-at-home I was.
Thank you for sharing this fantastic image, and for making me smile even before I had coffee ;)

Caleb Benton says:

on April 1, 2010 at 9:41 am

Joe, I think I love you. I love your photography; I love your writing. You not only cause me to see the world differently, but you challenge me to live in the world differently.

I love this line: “It is an immediate reminder that I am not home.” Your humanity is what makes you a great photographer and writer, period.


Matthias says:

on April 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

This photo looks gorgeous – at least for the first seconds. But actually, I do not like it any more. The moon is too large and exaggerated to be true – so I guessed you used Photoshop. (Which would give you a lot more flexibility)

It is impressive, how you managed to do this with a multiple exposure like in these old days when shooting film. (I remember the photo of the baby and the ball you also used this technique) Nevertheless I would have liked the same photo with a smaller and more realistic moon more.

Oleksandr Photography says:

on April 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

WOW! Awesome shot!

Kevin Halliburton says:

on April 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Sheesh… Youse guys that gotta do everthing in camera. You tryin’a make me an my little Photoshop friend here look bad? I would’n tryda make my little Photoshop friend here look bad Joe. He’s got a multi-layad persunality if ya know what I’m sayin’.

Manolo Roxas says:

on April 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Tried a similar shot (double exposure) recently but it was hard to position the moon exactly in the picture even using the grid lines in the viewfinder. It was also at night so it was difficult to see the camera controls. I guess it still takes experience to do come up with a great shot like yours!

Ken Toney says:

on April 1, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Come home from work, get a Diet Coke, start checking the 17 blogs I keep up with, get to Joe’s, read his steps, droole feverously, write comment.

Javier montero says:

on April 2, 2010 at 8:46 am

Hi Joe !!! Thnks for sharing these things and this pictures, it is fantastic!!!
I have a question: what’s that about “Program camera to DX format to get bigger moon”???

Matt Jacques says:

on April 2, 2010 at 11:14 am

Jaw-dropping is right… amazing shot. Love the almost impossibly-subtle tones in the mosque, and the moon is just gravy. Very nice, and of course the write-up isn’t too shabby either.

Chris Belyea says:

on April 3, 2010 at 4:06 am

LMAO … but unfortunately us numnuts would still “stand there slack jawed, toothbrush hanging from lower lip” and not even get close to that image .. man, that is sensational !

Kevin Steele says:

on April 3, 2010 at 10:17 am

@Javier: DX format in the D3x (or other Full frame Nikons) will crop the sensor to the smaller format DX image – effectively a 1.5 crop. It is not magnification nor does it add visual compression to the 200-400 lens, the lens is still the same, just now cropped to an effective 600mm frame at the long end. So if you are doing everything in camera you have this tool and multiple exposure (mix DX and FX frames?)at your disposal to avoid cropping and compositing in post. Nice work, Joe!

Crystal says:

on April 3, 2010 at 1:44 pm

@Carl – I tend to agree, but then, I’m disappointed. I think the whole entire thing is cheating.

Troy Freund says:

on April 3, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Great looking photo-illustration. Would you be willing to share the “real” image? It sounds like such a neat scene, I’d love to see it how it actually looked, versus how you double-exposed it. Thanks for considering, much respect,

Stephan says:

on April 4, 2010 at 3:31 am

Wow Joe, some guys have all the luck with such a wonderful view from their room ;-)
This is a beautiful and dreamy shot. Almost a perfect image! Thanks for sharing.

Jim says:

on April 4, 2010 at 9:21 am

Beautiful. Both your moon and the mosque look perfect. When I do multiple exposures I get “ghost images”. How did you avoid that?

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