art, friends, lighting, photography

Flashes underwater

Marie Davis casting her models 5 m under

Marie Davies casting her models 5 m under.

Although our conversation with Marie Davies took place on a dry terrace of a Dubai beachside bar, the topic we spoke of would not leave the deep-water, the Galapagos, the creatures and the strobes. Marie is an underwater cinematographer from Australia. Well actually, from UK, but one particular New Year’s Eve, she decided to see the Millennium in the land Down Under. She lived in Australia ever since. When Marie is not diving, she produces educational shows for children on ABC.

Taking photos under the sea is not only a physical challenge: buoyancy and currents, sea dwellers that refuse to stand still, time and tank capacity limitations. Lighting conditions, unpredictable visibility add to many a complexities. Backscatter — a reflection of particles caused by a flash or a strobe — could be a potential disaster for a beautiful shot.

Blairgowie (Jetty Dive, Victoria, Australia). Shot on Canon 100mm lens, Canon 5D Mark III f/18  1/80 ISO 100

Blairgowie (Jetty Dive, Victoria, Australia). Shot on Canon 100mm lens, Canon 5D Mark III f/18 1/80 ISO 100.

Marie tells us about how she always tries to focus on the eyes of her subjects, trying to light them up. The wee sea horse on the photo above as if amassed all the wisdom of the universe, and the scorpion fish below is clearly a politician, don’t you find?

Scorpion fish (Galapagos). Shot on Canon 100mm - Canon 5D Mark III f/18 1/80 ISO 100. Photo by Marie Davis.

Scorpion fish (Galapagos). Shot on Canon 100mm – Canon 5D Mark III f/18 1/80 ISO 100.

Peekaboo, false clownfish (Great Barrier Reef, Australia). Shot on Canon 50mm lens, EOS Canon 400D f/11  1/100 ISO 200. Photo by Marie Davis

Peekaboo, false clownfish (Great Barrier Reef, Australia). Shot on Canon 50mm lens, EOS Canon 400D f/11 1/100 ISO 200.

The sea world presents a diver with a perfect texture and colour, yet it takes an eye to concentrate on a subject and emphasise it. Manta rays are tricky to shoot. They are blank on top and white underneath, and the right exposure really defines a good photograph.

Manta Ray is a difficult type

Manta Ray is a difficult type

“I’m self taught, says Davies. I worked on a dive boat as a photo/video pro and had to teach underwater photography. When you dive 60 times per month shooting video and taking photographs you learn pretty quickly.”

P.S. All photos in this post are by Marie Davies, and Light Intelligence published them with her permission. Marie shared her settings for each shot, which you can see in the caption under the photo. The list of equipment used: 

Camera Canon 5D Mark iii with Nauticam housing, Canon lenses 17-40mm (W/A) and Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS USM macro. Strobes – 2 x INON z240

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design, fashion, friends, lighting

A New Field of Science

This post somehow got incepted and talked about and even written on the plane. Call this serendipity, but light fixtures created by Dan Vakhrameyev and Kateryna Fedorenko have a great load of air in them. No surprise that some of our readers see this post in an airport or perhaps even aboard above the Arabian Gulf.

We got in touch with the duo from Kiev — The Fild — and asked them to tell Light Intelligence about their light fittings.

Dan and Kateryna. Light is in the air

Dan and Kateryna. Light is in the air

Dan, Salvador Dali International University Alumni, has started The Fild in 2012. Path to lighting trailed through successful collaborations in the world of fashion and graphic design, when Kateryna Fedorenko and Dan have joined forces. Kateryna has before successfully founded a fashion brand L’UVE and brought with her unique fashion vision.

Their collection Sustainable Origins (SO) consists of eight objects. As Kateryna describes it “Light is simply one of the necessary decorative elements of interior design. We have just expressed the ideas that visited us!” Designers describe their style as clean minimalism and seek inspiration in graphic design. Texture is a key, and to metaphysical light, they add wood and metal.

SO1 from the Ukrain duo

SO1 from the Ukrainian duo

Dan and Kateryna meticulously select their suppliers and demand only the best quality of LED light sources and gears. Impossible to miss, textile cords that match the color of wooden base, are a sign of good taste.

SO8 inviting into a cosy warm hotel of light

SO8 inviting into a cosy warm hotel of light

We loved the suspended linear fixture SO8. A sheet of metal lovingly wraps around the wooden base and leaves an opening just enough for the right amount of light to pour. We won’t be too much far off if we predict this fixture would even meet EN standards for glare control!

Pardon the pun, but there may be a new filed of science happening here. Aetherophosology, we shall call it, with a great load of light in the air.

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alternative, dubai, energy, friends, renewable

On the use of the Sun

A question that gets asked a lot around here: why solar power is not that spread across the UAE. It seems logical to ask: the Sun is in abundance in the Middle East, and yet this country only plans to diversify its energy sources and get up to 24% of it from clean sources*. Our old friend, one of the brightest people we know and the Sun expert, Anthony Bassil, shed some light on the solar power. He also sketched the schemes for this post.

Solar energy harvested via photovoltaic panels can be classified into two main schemes: off- and on-grid. Off-grid, or stand alone system needs a large battery bank to store the collected energy, charge controllers and inverters to change from direct current to alternative current (AC/DC, and we are not on about ‘Rock or bust‘ here)

Off-grid system on paper

Off-grid system on paper

Such system is bulky, takes a fair bit of space and demands extreme safety measures. Standards require the place where batteries are stored to be properly ventilated. As battery emits hydrogen, every schoolboy knows, it behaves funny when it meets with oxygen (yes, b-o-o-m!) This makes the off-grid solar installation costs go up and lead to longer return on invenstment (ROI) period.

However the costs even for the off-grid system is now shrinking. A decade ago, a user would pay about ten USD per kW, and now — only around five. Yet, on-grid installation offers even higher savings (2.4 USD/kW) and estimated 3-5 years ROI.

An example of a grid-tie system

An example of a grid-tie system

Recent changes in the energy policies in Dubai, allowed investors to look at the on-grid solutions. It is a leaner installation that needs no batteries, and its core advantage is in the ability of a user to sell the unused energy back to the grid. Say, your warehouse consumes a smaller amount of energy during the night, and therefore gives unused electricity back to the network.

A growing number of clients are expressing interest in locating the panels on the roofs of their buildings, both new and retrofit. Why not? We have probably 350 days of uninterrupted sunlight each year. New regulations allowed investors to look differently at this renewable source of energy. Other sources are limited by the climate: moderate winds and waves along the UAE coast would not allow to harvest sufficient amounts of energy. Off-shore wind turbines are possible, but then again you need to transport energy from far away in the sea.

This country is looking forward the having so called solar farms.

Shams means Sun

Shams means Sun

Concentrated solar plants would allow to collect and transform to electricity enormous amounts of sunlight. Thus, Abu Dhabi based Shams 1 launched in 2013 is the largest solar thermal power plant in the Middle East. It is built to generate 100MW of energy. Unlike photovoltaic principle (energy is created due to chemical reaction), solar thermal stations heat water and then convert it to electricity.

Engineers in the Middle East are working on the challenge of dust. It too is in abundance in our desert land. Where a manual labour could be used to rid of the dust on a parking ticket machine, you’d need a more serious machinery on the farm.

We will continue to monitor the Sun power situation. The weather is good for both us, the users, and investors (heard of Google spending 300 M USD on it? The search-masters bough a share in the US SolarCity plant, 377MW).

* State of Energy Report in the UAE 2015

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architecture, 照明, design, effects, friends, interview, lighting

Calling of Light

Michel Zayat

We met with Michel Zayat, a prominent architect and artist, in a cosy art nouveau interior of Cafe Belge in DIFC to talk about architecture and light. Michel lives and works in Dubai, UAE, has an exciting history in his home Damascus, Syria. There together with his wife and a friend of his life, Salma, they run a famous designer store Yabe and Yamo. He taught arts and architecture at Damascus University, worked in Rome, Italy. Geography of Zayat’s projects is as vast as the Middle East: from UAE to Jordan, and to Saudi Arabia, and spread onto Algeria, North Africa. Michel’s father, Elias Zayat, is one of the most famous Syrian artists, and our conversation veers to paintings.

Nikita Che: “Is there a parallel between a light on a canvas, and in the panes of a building?”

Michel Zayat: “A painting emits light. Masterfully schemed onto the canvas, it pours out and captures the observer. He is caught! He is inside the plot. Remember Caravaggio ‘Calling of St. Matthew?’ No visible source of light, yet it penetrates the room and spills beyond the canvas. A candle, a shade on a protagonist’s face, a window, all play their role in shining the light from the painting.

Calling of St. Mathew, Caravaggio

Calling of St. Mathew, Caravaggio

“These elaborate techniques may as well be used in 3D spaces. Habitually we are all about lighting fixtures when we talk about light in architecture. Though arsenal of an architect is as wide as an artist’s. Colour, daylight, geometry and orientation of the room, shadows, you name it! How to get maximum light in a classroom, and decrease heat and glare? Locate it in the North of a building. “It is a pity that many architects and their clients have lost the sense of a daylight. We forgot how to make use of it, and all we do is fighting it.”

NC: “Any good examples?”

MZ: “Index Tower in Dubai is probably one of the few.”

NC: “What makes good artificial light?”

MZ: “Imagine a castle. Its dungeon would be lit with torches fixed on the walls of a passage. Scars dimmed light, barely enough for a poor prisoner to find his surroundings. Now fly up high to the tower where a beautiful princess reads romances, an elaborate chandelier with hundreds of candles lights her pages. Light follows the function of a room, and often creates this very function. Few of us now live in castles, but can easily turn their living room in a disco. A good architect, conscious about lighting matters would always give a client an option to select between layers of light.”

NC: “What is the role of a luminaire in this?”

MZ: “The choice is always dictated by client’s experience, his background, knowledge, vision. Unfortunately often it becomes shopping for clothes, and individual taste comes on the foreground. Like one is choosing a shirt.”

NC: “Can a lighting designer help?”

MZ: “I have never properly worked with a lighting designer. The nature of your projects defines the necessity to employ a designer. A hospital needs lighting designer, a school, a museum does. Hotel lobbies, restaurants are spaces where architects intuition sets the light. Occasionally lighting suppliers come into the picture and offer their scheme. I would not call it a good thing at all. A supplier would bring commercial note into the selection.”

NC: “Have you designed your own luminaires?”

MZ: “I have! Creating a lighting fixture is a sculpture for me. Light then becomes a material, like steel, marble, mother pearl. One object is especially dear for me — Corn. It is from my childhood, when street merchants used to sell corn from an immense wide halleh dara, a shallow pot. Made of thick copper, and sanded and fumed from inside to rid off toxic corrosion, the pot was always heated by fire and kept the water hot. It took one large ball of copper and a patient craftsman with a hammer to make such a flat large object.

Zayat's Corn at Yabe and Yamo, Damascus

Zayat’s Corn at Yabe and Yamo, Damascus

“My Corns were not that thick and we painted them pink, white and black from inside. The idea was to bring light in memories. One day you will see them in Dubai.”

NC: “Which materials do you use?”

MZ: “My favorite trinity: wood, metal and plastic. Plastic is a modern boisterous antagonist of the former two. They have been around for centuries, and then came plastic and disrupted.”

NC: “What is the light source you used in your luminaires?”

MZ: “I love that simple bulb in the middle of the a fixture. It becomes a focal point. That bulb and a socket base, a machine that transforms the power of electricity into light. The bulb is a simple and genius invention.”

“A candle lights a room, a bulb lights a room, everything extra is non essential. Nothing could replace an incandescent lamp, and it is such a shame it is banned now. I ask myself: a generation that would grow without the bulb, which symbol would they use when a bright idea strikes them!?” (laughs)

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finland, friends, lighting, photography, suomi

53 Weeks of Sunlight

Pirjo Collage Slide1

53 pictures, 53 weeks, a bit more than one year…

Is it enough time to observe all the subtle movements of sunlight, all the shadow play, all the colour change as the season go by, from the crystal white of snow to the tasty green of spring to the peony fire of summer and the final fade away of autumn? We were plunged into the midst of this feast (we nicknamed it Light & Nature and then it developed into something that is hard to embrace and therefore hard to find a name that could possibly carry all the beauty, all the connotations of it) thanks to our co-author and contributor, our friend and a brilliant photographer Pirjo Lindfors.

Pirjo Collage Slide2

Week by week, every Sunday there appeared a post on our Facebook page with an image that had been taken by Pirjo when she had been on a photo-hunt somewhere out there in the oh-so-distant and oh-so-beautiful Finland. And everytime it was a complete and utter surprise!

Pirjo Collage Slide3

Paying homage to our friend with those small quick collages and wishing her all the best and her book to be published soon (we are queuing for the autograph 🙂

Kiitoksia paljon Pirjo!

Originally posted on Lightintelligence.blogspot.com in Oct 2011

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