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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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It’s not a major revelation to say that I travel… a lot.  Over the past ten years I have flown over a million kilometers, which is equivalent to flying twenty-five times around the globe, or to the moon and back (and halfway there again).  This happened over four-hundred flights with more than two months – day and night – up in the air.  I’ve been as far north as Iceland, down south to South Africa, east to Seoul and west to San Francisco.

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Some of my readers were expecting photos of the Lake District (Cumbria) by now, but my holiday was deferred a week and I ended up in London instead.  The reason was an unplanned business trip for an urgent negotiation in Seoul.  Work-wise the trip didn’t go as well as we had hoped; but I was glad to use the opportunity to see the place. I only spent two days there, and they were enough to leave with a very positive impression of Seoul.

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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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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.

During a short trip to Cairo, I did two long drives for meetings in Suez and Alexandria.  We returned the same day on both occasions.  Last time, I managed to drive around Alexandria – to at least see it having done the drive.  This time, I had a chance to see the Suez Canal, for about ten minutes,  after our meeting.  Ships are kept at either end and released in groups.  We were lucky to arrive at a time when ships were sailing past.

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Yousef and I went to Bahrain over the weekend to watch my brother compete in the Middle East IKO Dojos Karate Tournament. I have a transparent belt in Karate, so I had no idea what to expect.  This was the first event of its kind in the region and participants were mainly from Bahrain and Kuwait.

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The last of my Scotland posts comes to you from Sumburgh.  It’s not a secret to anyone who knows me that I like birds.  In fact I love birds, always have done.  Puffins are a special case for me.  Ever since I was six years old, I saw a picture of one in a book and kept it for years.  Every time we visited a zoo, aviary, or if I came a cross a book, I would seek them.  I even bought a tacky Swarovski model of a pair of puffins – which I probably like a little too much.

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The world sometimes feels smaller to me than the small Shetland Islands, north of Scotland.  I live in Kuwait, I work for a Houston-based American company, with a head-office in Sens (in France), and I cover the Middle East and the UK.  Last week, I had a meeting at BP’s Sullom Voe Terminal. I later spent the late afternoon exploring the place including an hour of bird-watching.

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My wife and I visited Aberdeen a few years ago, and my limited memory of our visit is of a very grey city.  As my plane landed, I could see the long beach, the river, and grey!  Rows and rows of buildings and homes covered with local granite.

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With the brilliant blue skies draped over us these few days, it’s hard to stop thinking like a photographer.  Yesterday, I decided to capture a few shots of the water towers – something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. I wasn’t prepared for how and where to get the best shots.  Even more so, I wasn’t prepared for the welcome and hospitality of the people there.

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Three more shots from my few golden minutes in the garden yesterday.  These were taken outside, with natural light – no reflectors, no flash.  Apart from cropping and adjusting the shadows – I didn’t do any editing.

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I spent a few minutes in the garden this morning – smelling the roses.  Actually, we don’t have any roses but I wanted to get a couple of shots of the flowers on the Gardenia.  By the grace of God, this beautiful plant has survived four summers and has given it’s best bloom this spring.  I wasn’t taking the shots for the blog.  They’re for my garden log-book and are therefore less artistic and more practical.

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My last post had nothing but planned shots.  This image had almost zero planning.  It happens more often than we amateur photographers care to admit: That perfect accident when all the right ingredients jump into the baking tray, throw themselves into the oven, and instruct it on how long to cook them, and at what temperature.

A few weeks ago, I was taking shots of trucks and construction vehicles for my Mangaf blog.  This photo stood out from the rest.  It has that special feel to it – that differentiates an acceptable photo from an exceptional one.

Analysing it today, I can see why I like it.  The letters in the logo have a ‘used’ – almost abused – feel to them, which adds a rugged feel to the already-macho bulldozer.  The second half of the word is missing, but it’s such a well known brand that almost everyone will read the full thing in their mind.  The focal point is the letter ‘A’ which is also the place that Caterpillar place their emphasis via the little yellow triangle.  Finally, the way the photo is broken into the rule of thirds, both horizontally and vertically, creates an interesting result.

I did compose and take the above image.  I can’t, however, take credit for knowing any of these factors at the time of shooting.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Last week I spent the morning enjoying two passions.  It’s no secret that I love photography, and I’ve loved birds for as long as I can remember.  My brother-in-law breeds zebra finches.  I should point out immediately that I’m not talking about the bird market in Rai.  These are the best of the best.  This is a private ‘collection’ and the guys match different pairs, in order to achieve wierd and wonderful colours with their off-spring.  It’s science and art – at the same time.

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