Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Hatta Pools Project

The Hatta trip was born out of the need to have a fashion shoot. And so in just a few days time, a plan was hatched. An outdoor fashion shoot on the rocky pools of Hatta. And how rocky it was!

Jan 30 09 6:00 a.m
A Foggy Morning and a pee break

We chose Hatta since we haven't been there and it was a popular place for many outdoor photographers. The weather was quite cool at this time of the year.

Hatta is on the northern part of the emirates about 100km drive from Dubai. It is nestled among the Hajjar mountains which borders the Sultanate of Oman. The elevation is quite high compared to Dubai hence the milder climate of Hatta attracts tourists and residents during the hot summer months. The ancient village dates back four centuries ago and is now a historical site with its watch towers, mud huts, mosques and a traditional water supply system called the Falaj.

We hit the road early at 5:30 a.m and was greeted by a very thick morning fog that slowed us down.

7:00 a.m

The fact that the visibility was so low we missed our directions since we couldn't see a single road sign, we found ourselves heading to Al Ain, a part of the capital Abu Dhabi.

7:15 a.m
After a few questions asked and countless roundabouts we are finally on the Dubai-Hatta road.
Sunrise was not that spectacular viewed inside a running car and fog has already dissipated. We stopped for a brief shoot.

7:30 a.m

We reached Hatta proper by 7:30 and was met by a promising sky.

7:40 a.m
To the Hatta Pools

We stopped for a quick look at the map going to the Hatta Pools. While they were busy, i ran down a dry river bed and took lower POV for these rocks.

7:45 a.m
Hatta Fort

Situated on a hilltop, Hatta Fort is one of the most prominent landmarks , an eighteenth century military tower.
We asked for some directions from somebody who said go right but was gesturing his hands to the left.
We asked again from somebody who just gave us a stare and a head shake.
We asked the kids pushing a dead car.
We asked the local goat herder.
We asked the goats.
We asked anybody we met.
We even asked ourselves where are we?

9:10 a.m
Rocky Mountains

Mountains of solid rock paving the way to the location. We actually got lost the second time, overshooting the trail by going straight a few more kilometers. After hitting a concrete highway, we knew for certain that we are already beyond our target.

9:15 a.m
The 4X4's

The lead carThe wingman

Although four wheel drive vehicles are highly recommended for this place, a sedan will do the job, but only for major roads. Offroading is a no-brainer for people with SUV's, which in my opinion is much more fun!

By 9:30 we are still lost. We cannot find the wadi pools even though we followed a small dirt trail that we thought is the right way. My ProTrek came into the action ( my dear bro forcibly gave it to me during my last vacation back home, haha). Its got a cool compass and many other stuff except a microwave oven.

The map says its this way. After turning myself like a ballerina trying to match the maps coordinates, my watch pointed to the direction. (photo for ref. only)

9:35 a.m
The Hajjar Mountains

It took us to this point where we had breakfast on this view of the Hajjar Mountains. Beyond is the Sultanate of Oman. A few meters further is a slope where the Falaj water system can be found just below. It resembles a small great wall of china, about a foot high running along the side of the hill. Water is transported through its channels. It has been rebuilt with concrete cement now but during the ancient times it must have been made of rocks cemented with tar.

Believe it or not but we saw fishes on the Falaj! Funny how they got themselves trapped in there.

And we can see some pools now but still we are not satisfied. We still couldn't find the exact spot even though we are on the right direction.

Heavy Gear(s)
When you gotta go, you gotta go! (photo by wifey)

11:00 a.m
To the pools

Photo by wifey. Now it runs on the family hehe
D40 + 18-55 kit lens. Way to go!

After breakfast we saw some some 4x4's coming down from the dirt trail and disappearing beyond the road we are on. We suggested to follow them and after a few moments our guys came back with smiles on their faces.

"We found it! Its just a half a kilometer from here but we have to walk since sedans cannot go there"

11:30 a.m
Hatta Pools

The supposed 30 minute drive from the Hatta village took us hours to find.

Finally we found what we came for. The rocky pools of Hatta. But there was little water left at this time. These pools are spring fed and water only comes here during the winter months and its supposed to be deep enough for swimming. Deep crags on the rocks are everywhere and i think this is formed by strong currents of moving water centuries ago. The smoothness of the rocks are evidence to that.

Though it was a little disappointment for me to find the pools less than half full of water and mindless idiots left their messages and mobile numbers scrawled on the walls.

Why would someone do that?

"hey im calling since i just found your number on one of the pools of Hatta. How are you by the way? My name is blah blah blah. Can we meet? Maybe we can plan which place next to leave our artworks"

Simply, plainly IDIOTIC! Mindless freaks! You are better off drowning yourselves on a tub!
Shame on you vandals!

11:50 a.m
The Shoot

Photo by wifey

It was late, the sun is high but the air is cool. So we didn't mind the "exposure" lol.
That's me as a light man. And that's "Albert" my speedlight mounted on a light stand.
We were trying to be strobists and the first time i used my silver/black reflective umbrella,
a gust of wind knocked it down and wrecked the umbrella beyond repair. Luckily it shielded Albert from the fall.

Photo by wifey

I didn't do much shooting. I was keen on lighting the model while they do all the firing.

The classic jump

Fellow trekkers buddy and george, me, wifey and the powerpuff girls. (beth, kat and fiesty mae), and the rest of the gang.

We were all dead tired after an hour and we decided to wrap it up. We meet some campers setting up their tents upstream. There was still too much to explore, the narrow rock passage ways, more spring-fed pools, the waterfalls, and the plain view of the sweeping rockscapes are a dream to a landscape photographer.

Maybe next time.

Just like that

Back on Hatta, we meet several fourwheel drives rushing to find the spot where we have been.

Somebody on a Toyota Landcruiser stopped to ask us

"Where is the water?"

We just pointed our fingers back and answered " Its just there!", laughed to ourselves and drove on.

It took us almost half a day to find it. We're not going to give it to you...just like that!

We patted ourselves on the back. ha ha

Thursday, 12 February 2009


Jan 24 09
Backhoe tripping

Saturday afternoons are always tempting for a quick spin around the city for some casual snaps. This time of the year, noontime temperature is a cool 20 degrees C.

And just a few days ago we found a great spot which we decided to keep for ourselves for a while, while we enjoy its "magical beauty" to say the least. I opted to be a bit greedy. =)

But that will be for later.

We decided to visit Jaddaf shipyard on this particular Saturday, since three years ago when i first started photography, I've been there and found the place to be of much interest to the detail/texture-particular snapper.
Its was supposed to be open to the public where old wooden dhows can be found on the shore, their final place of rest.
I was hoping to have some new snaps.

Much to our surprise and a bit of ignorance, the place has been developed and there are fences and gates now. Its no wonder actually since Jaddaf shipyard has been integrated into the mother company, which is where i am working for at the moment.

All we found is that old wharf just outside the yard.


We then found a service road that leads to a highway under construction. I thought that a powershovel is better than nothing and decided to climb aboard. No one but us on that stretch of concrete and sand. If the Dubai police caught us, its another story.

High and wide

(Boi) Edouard trying out his GND filters.

Martian landscape

I imagined myself on a giant rover on Martian soil. No life here Houston.


This place is quite near to the city, or the city came nearer to this place.
You can see the Dubai cityline at the far distance.

Me too! (photo by boi)

Just for posterity. So that you can have a clearer view of the cityline. lol


Sunstars can only mean one thing, it means that very high apertures revealed the hidden dust bunnies on my sensor and how they are thriving like microbes!
There is more life in there than this piece of land.

Monday, 9 February 2009


Jan 15 2009
the avenue,

We went for a spin one late afternoon trying to find a good spot for a night shot.
We found the Downtown quite scenic for its ongoing construction of the worlds tallest structure ( soon the be the worlds tallest building) the Burj Dubai or the Tower of Dubai. (Burj is the arabic name for "tower").

I think the Downtown is once the business hub of Dubai during the early times, once called the old town.
Located on a the Business Bay District, the Downtown development offers a very relaxing spot that imitates Venice with its watery canals. Business and pleasure.
Restaurants, beautiful villas, towers and luxury apartments dot the place. Architecture is a mix between modern Arabic and European.

Old and New

It was a freezing 5 am when we got to the place. And it started to rain. This was the second time i tested my D80 was weather proof after all. =) you can see the droplets of water at the lower portion of the photo.

The Bridge

This bridge leads to a chain of restaurants and cafes. The canals below are not yet filled with water. We came here for a night shot. So rain cannot deter us from setting up our tripods.

Light is changing fast. The blue hour is coming.

How wide is the Burj?

No its not the wrong question. The Burj Dubai stands at more than 800 meters high. But for me i measure it by the focal length of my wide angle.
Because the Burj is so tall, a minimum of 15mm DX is required in order to capture it at this distance at eye level. Longer than that wont do it at all. This image is uncropped vertically.
The Burj Dubai is not yet operational so there are no lights on the floors. We waited for the blue hour to come.

Orange Morning

By 9:30 a.m we had enough of the Burj Dubai. We headed for the nearby Jumeirah open beach to test a friends Cokin GND filters.
No, i used a blue grad here. Swapped the blue to orange. Why orange? It sounds better to me.
The Burj Dubai is still imposing at this distance, like a pencil sticking out of cluttered table top.

My first try for GND to follow...

Saturday, 7 February 2009

enter 2009

"Three Poles"

I guess the coming of 2009 has been a turning point for me in terms of how i see my images. I never cared to blog before but lately i see it as a great way to share my photos and thoughts to family and friends.

I love to make stories on every photo i take, and before photography came, writing has always been a passion for me (as well as attempts for watercolor painting, pastel, clay modeling and as a weekend bass guitar player)

I am an overseas worker based here on Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This country is rich in culture and heritage providing me with new sights, colors and flavors.

I will be posting some of my adventures and creations here.
The U.A.E has lots to offer for the shutter savvy. It has beautiful d
eserts, rocky mountains, wadis, beaches and historical places that reflect the old life of the desert wanderers before settling on this place permanently.

"Three Poles" marked my first photo for 2009.

These photos are taken on a New Years morning on Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi (pronounced as Abu Zabi for the locals) is great for holidays as the city is as modern as Dubai but not as busy and crowded.

Vegetables at the local market.