During the Eid holidays, we planned a trip to Failaka Island. After doing some research we found out about the Failaka Heritage Village package. They have a fairly decent arrangement and the boat ride itself is awesome. It takes about 50 minutes to get there and they have two nice boats (Bint Al-Khair and Umm Al-Khair). I found the boats to be very comfortable and in this weather it was excellent to go on the deck and really enjoy the ride. It costs KD.13/adult and KD.9/child. Children under 2 years old go free. The package mainly consists of the ride to and fro and a lunch buffet. They leave at 10 am and return at 4 pm on Thu, Fri and Sat from the Marina Mall docks. For the remaining days its a 9 am departure and return at 5 pm.
View from the boat
Once you reach the island they pile you in a bus and take you to the ‘heritage village’. This is where they hand you the lunch coupons and they’ve got some interesting stuff going on there as well. You can roam around and you’ll find camel rides, fun activities for children, play areas for kids, a mini-zoo of sorts and a boat ride in a beautifully decorated, yet small lake.
If you come out of their premises you will notice that a lot of people are riding dune buggies. They rent them for KD.10/hour and its not too shabby. I’ve heard they also rent jet skis there but I didn’t explore enough to find them. They also rent out chalets if you plan on staying the night but personally I didn’t think there was enough action for a 24 hour trip.
The boat after the trip
Rohail had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
I’d recommend people to try this out at least once because its a nice change from regular life here in Kuwait. I also got a chance to take a lot of pictures and try out my new Sony H50 camera. In fact, I’ve replaced the header image in my blog with a photo taken on this trip. Here’s the link to some more pictures.
Last weekend, the three of us went to Ayubia and Nathiagali (scenic hill stations in Pakistan) with a good friend of mine from Islamabad, along with his wife and son. We had a great time and his son is about the same age as Rohail so the company was well matched.
While driving from Islamabad towards Ayubia, we could feel the weather get very cool as we climbed up the mountains. The drive was very scenic and we saw a lot of monkeys along the way.
After checking in at a nice hotel in Ayubia, we headed straight for the chair-lifts. It was an interesting experience, especially getting on and off the chair lifts. Not as refined as you would expect. We also went to a trekking path called Pipeline but had to give up mid-way due to rain and hail.
The next day was a brief stop-over for breakfast at Nathiagali where the view is breath-taking. We also touched Murree for some ice-cream on our way back to Islamabad. The trip was hectic (especially for the guy who was driving!) but a lot of fun.
You can see some of the pics here.
Currently I’m in Lahore for about a month on an official trip and Maliha and Rohail have accompanied me. Last week we got the go-ahead for a team outdoors trip. We decided to visit the Khewra Salt Mine which is located between Islamabad and Lahore. It is a very scenic trip on the Motorway and the whole gang stuffed into a van and we had a great day.
It took us about 3 hours to get there from Lahore. The weather was simply amazing with a lot of rain and by the time we got there, we had a quick lunch and headed towards the mine. They had a rickety train that took us to the depths of the mine and from there onwards we had a guide who explained the various things and showed us the various salt related exhibits they have put up there for the tourists. It was very interesting to see the different types of salts and their colour and light properties. Rohail had a great time as well which you could tell from his excited shrieks.
Fun Facts: The daily production is 1200-1500 metric tonnes and the mine is on multiple levels and ventilation is done through dedicated ventilation tunnels (there is no formal ventilation or AC inside).
This is a unique thing and I would advise people to check it out if they can.
You can see all the photos here.
Published June 2, 2007
Fun , Kuwait , Photography
On Thursday I thought it was time to practice some of the night photography theory that I had been reading up on lately. You have to start somewhere; so I went over to Eureka with my trusty Z612 and picked up a tripod as that is probably as important as the camera itself if you’re going to be doing any night-time photography. My first stop was on the parking strip right beside the Kuwait Towers on the Gulf Road and I tried to capture some shots of the grand Towers themselves.
This was my first time playing around seriously with the aperture and shutter values. I was pretty impressed at seeing the whole concept in action where I could get different lighting effects just by playing around with these values. Thanks to digital photography where one can fool around as much as he wants without any fear of financial repercussions in the form of film roll usage. I also took a picture of the beach in front of me which was completely dark, however, the result I got on a 13-second long shutter-speed showed me stuff that I couldn’t even see with my eyes.
Then we all headed over to a fishing spot further along the Gulf Road and I captured some more shots. It was kind of humid and we soon called it a day and headed home.
Conclusion: Needless to say, easier read then done! However; practice will get me there.
More photos may be viewed here.
Today I got a chance to finally make use of the BestPic feature on my K800i mobile. Once you enable this feature, all you do is focus the camera where you want to and then semi-depress the button. The moment you see something you want to capture (like a lightning in my case); you completely depress the button and it takes 9 shots.
Here’s the interesting bit – 4 shots are taken from before you pressed the button and the remaining after it! How it does it is that it probably stores the images in a buffer while you’ve got the button semi-depressed.
More pictures of the recent rains in Kuwait, here.
I’ve been reading my photography book and trying to follow the instructions to see what sort of results I get. One issue I faced was that while taking pictures I knew what values I set and it was ok to compare the result with the next image with different settings of aperture, shutter speed and ISO right then, however; later on when I reviewed the images on my PC I had no idea what values I had set. This could be resolved by writing down these values before taking each shot but come on, that is never going to happen since its just too much work.
Upon some research it turns out that most digital cameras save JPEG files with EXIF (EXchangeable Image File) data. This is exactly the information I needed to get the best out of my practice. I found this out was when FLICKR told me that my photos had been taken by a KODAK Z612 camera and even showed me all the settings I had made when I asked for details. I immediately right-clicked an image file and looked at the details and lo and behold there were all the values I wanted.
This is really cool information for me and there are also dedicated EXIF viewers that make the whole experience of comparing your photos more user-friendly. The EXIFPRO Image Viewer is one such viewer and can be downloaded here.
Read more on the EXIF format here.
We went to the Ahmadi Festival on Friday. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see as it was the last day. There were still a lot of people and it seemed they had brought over some performers who were sitting around the different stages basically looking very bored.
Nevertheless, it gave me a good opportunity to test out the stuff I’ve been learning from my new photography book. First of all, the garden at my wife’s sister’s house in Ahmadi is still in full bloom and gave me a chance to try out some macro shots – I’ve put up quite a few on my Flickr album. I really like how the colors came out and the one of the fly above, is my favorite (image is cropped). I also noticed a significant difference in image quality when I took similar shots both in auto mode and manual mode. The difference would be especially noticeable when there was some shade around and the manual mode always managed to get better exposures.
It seems that an air show of sorts was also arranged for the festival. We couldn’t catch much of that, though it was hard to ignore when this heliopter started hovering right above our garden. I quickly snapped up a dozen shots of this in different settings and am pleased with the results. It seems the helicopter was there for three fighter jets which soon zoomed by spraying the Kuwait flag’s colors in their wake. To see more pics of the helicopter, click here.
For now, the manual mode has become my friend and I’m having a lot of fun. To improve my skills, next time I will have to take notes of what settings I made for each shot so it will be easier to compare and judge later on. One disappointment for now is that I have learnt that taking isolation shots (e.g. flower in focus while background flowers appear blurred) with non-SLR cameras is extremely difficult. Will have to do some research on that.