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Posts from Kuwait.

Building projects of all sizes are exciting.  I love how the many small details fit into fewer larger ideas to come together in creating a solution, whether it’s a dwelling, a road, a bridge, or even a whole city.  Al Hamra, both as a project and a building, is in a class of its own.  Even if one is not interested in architecture or skyscrapers, this building is different.  It will (already has) change the skyline Kuwait City for ever. The design is simple, beautiful and unique; and it brings a new level of creativity and sophistication to our city.  If that’s not enough, it also happens to be the tallest carved building, and one of tallest skyscrapers in the world.

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I spent almost three hours photographing Kuwait City from Al Hamra Tower yesterday. This magnificent building took me to the highest point in Kuwait on the 74th floor – which I’m told is about 400m high.  I will go through the 300 photos I took with my Nikon over the next few days, and will post the full story with better quality images.  For now, please enjoy this time lapse attempt.  I used a Canon G11 and held it in place, on the scaffolding, using a Gorilla Pod.  The intervals were not regular and I know I missed some of the interesting bits, but I hope it gives you an idea of the elevation and views.  More images soon…

It’s that time of year when we take back our garden and own the outside space of our home.   We maintain our small garden to give us pleasure all year from the window looking out, but during autumn and spring it offers us a more tangeable pay-back.

This post is a collection of images taken in the past few days.  It’s a small space with many users.

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Over the course of ten days, these green-haired gremlins managed what many of my friends would dream of achieving in ten years.  I’m not one to talk myself; heading as I am to Baldsville, at bullet-speed, on the main road in.  My wife bought these for the children to enjoy and they sat in the dining room where I captured the progress every other morning.  The first photo, below, was taken on October 1st; and the last one on October 11th.

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One of my favourite apps for the iPad is Flipboard. It puts all your feeds into a nice magazine-look, making many of the images and links visible.  The app is still young and full of potential. I use it for leisure reading and to stay current with all my feeds from twitter and Facebook.   As well as their suggested content, it’s possible to split your subjects by your own twitter lists.   I therefore started adding to the many photographers I follow – something I’d been hesitating with recently as I couldn’t effectively read the many posts.  My content is now getting richer and richer by the day.

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Three places outside Kuwait City have been secretly calling me for some time.  The Mutla’ ridge in the west, which I am still to visit, the station of Umm il Aish, which was unfortunately removed before I got my act together, and Doha.  I read BloggerMathai’s post and decided it was time.  My cameras were in London so it had to wait… or so I thought.

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This post was originally planned for the 2nd of August but – since I hadn’t yet taken the photos and I was out of the country – I had to be home before I could write it. Around this time last year, I saw my ‘collection’ from 1990/91 and I decided then that I would post it this year: the twentieth anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

I was just under sixteen years old when I collected these documents.  We were living in London at the time, my father was doing his research at a London University.  I still remember the day of the invasion.  I woke up hearing the news on the TV, and it was too early in the morning for TV to be on in the first place.   It was the weather and I wondered what was going on…  when my father told me that Kuwait was ‘gone!’ and that ‘we’re praying for her return’.  I didn’t understand how a place could go… Where to? How?

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Zorro is a silver java finch who was born in Kuwait January this year.  You may remember my post about the zebra finches. Well, this little boy also comes from my brother-in-law.  He kindly looked after him in the critical first couple of weeks – after the egg hatched; something only an experienced breeder should attempt.  I picked him up one evening in February, and he’s been at our house ever since.  When we first got him he was one colour.  I explained to the kids that he would soon develop his permenant colour, which would include a ‘mask’ near his eyes.  We were thinking of names at this point, and my wife came up with Zorro… The perfect name!  No-one argued.

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I bought a smaller camera for those work trips when I head straight from the airport to a meeting.  I don’t like the ‘tourist’ look that a big camera would convey.  I’m also very often visiting the same cities: Dubai, Doha, Paris, Sens, London, Muscat, Khobar and Jeddah.  During most trips, I only get an hour or so of photography time, which is mostly during bright daylight and outdoors; perfect conditions and very manageable with a small camera.  The Nikon is therefore now reserved for proper holidays, and for business trips to off-the-beaten-track locations.

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Two men, two meals, and two pastas – hence the silly title.  A few days ago, while shopping for football snacks with one of my brothers, we came across some fantastic king prawns.  We were sick of takeaways and decided to have a home-cooked meal for a change.  We added some fresh pasta to the basket and headed to the check-out.  I picked up some mince meat and penne for the following day.

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This has been sitting in my notebook for almost a year.  Soon after my short experiment with lightwriting,  I watched an episode of Scott Wittenburg’s photography podcast and the subject was ‘physiograms’.  It was the first time I ever heard the term, and as soon as I looked it up on flickr, I was captivated.

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I took this photo last year when we spent the day at an animal park just outside London.  I posted this, and a few other images, on the National Geographic website soon after.  Earlier this week, I received an email from them asking me to add it to their stock website.  It’s a great feeling to get recognition from an organisation that I respect and admire – even if it’s only for one image.  It’s like a pat-on-the-back from a close relative.

I like National Geographic.  I don’t tend to watch much of their channel, but I love their magazine.  I even managed to subscribe electronically earlier this year – which has been fantastic. Recently I saw their advert for their back-issues from 1888 to 2008.  When I mentioned it to my dear father, he kindly offered it to me as a gift. We’ll be ordering it soon.

I know it’s summer when I look around and see an empty house.  It feels strange to have the place to myself.  The garden is not used – even on nice afternoons, there is nothing fresh in the fridge, books are untouched, toys are neatly stacked and the dining table has not seen plates for days.  My brothers have been staying with me occasionally, watching football and movies.

This photo, taken back in May, is what makes a house a home.  One’s loved-ones surrounding one with joy and laughter.  I am truly blessed and I thank God whenever I remember.

Most of the conversations with friends and family this time of the year revolve around travel.  My wife’s last day at work yesterday signals the start of the family’s summer holiday, which is mostly spent outside Kuwait.  I will, God willing, join them on two separate short trips – the first of which will be late July.

The images in this video are not new.  Readers of this blog will have already come across them.  I had some fun with the globe widget, and enjoyed trying to fit it all into 80 seconds.  It’s not perfect, but I like the end result.  The background singing is of traditional Kuwaiti sea songs – something I associate very strongly with travel.

Whatever you’re doing this summer, and wherever you’re spending it, I wish you all the best.

On my photography website, BuYousef.com, I don’t write anything to accompany the images.  I choose my favourites from here and post them into themed galleries. Until recently I converted all images to black-and-white, maintaining a very simple and minimalist look and feel.  I liked the simplicity – but colour had to come back. I’ve just finished the redesign of the page, where I removed all the galleries (all the images are visible without a need to search),  there are no distractions (with contact information and links on the top instead of on the side) and colour is everywhere via the square thumbnails.

The end result will be a portfolio of my favourite 100-or-so shots, without distractions nor text.  I even reduced the file sizes to speed up image loading.  I’m still adding/removing images and will hopefully find equilibrium some time next week.  After that it will be a case of new pushes out old…

Your comments and suggestions are, as always, appreciated and welcome.