Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Abu Dhabi Adventure.....

On Mark’s latest trip to Dubai, he had the privilege of photographing the Abu Dhabi Police Department’s Agusta Westland 139. They do have more than one AW 139 at the department, but for security reasons Mark cannot disclose just how many or where they are kept*.  This is a follow up mission from 2009 when Mark first photographed their newest AW 139 after meeting with the police department at the 2008 Dubai Helishow.

*In case you did not know already Mark is quite the “Secret Agent Man”!  As last week he was photographing security operations at an undisclosed Canadian Airport.  That project unfortunately cannot be illustrated here, but lets just say your checked bag WILL always be x-rayed thoroughly at the airport. He's not quite as smoothe as James Bond though, as his heart did eventually re-start after a siren started screaming in a secured area; he thought he tripped the radioactivity alarm...Yikes!

The first shoot in 2009 was with only one aircraft so there were no aerials.  Mark wanted to obviously shoot the aircraft on its own in one of his famous “sunset” shots that have become the essence of his style.  The police department  threw a wrench into Mark’s plan by requesting that helicopter be featured in front of the Emirates Palace Hotel.  Mark reluctantly agreed to this as the "hotel" in all it's splendor would most certainly block the sunset! 

It was not long after they arrived at the Palace Hotel and Mark started taking pictures on the manicured helipads as well as capturing a couple of group shots, when hotel security suddenly motored out- explaining that hotel “had specifically owned the rights to the view”.  All Mark knew was Major Mohammed greeted the guards and in no time they drove away.  Guess National Security trumps any copyright infringements!

From what Mark describes, the crew included a couple af skeptical pilots. When the sunset behind the hotel and Mark asked to be flown to a non descript - "clean horizon" not far away to sneak in a few more end of the day shots, he was greeted with some Arabic grumbles and puzzelment (but not from his friend Major Mohammed).  It was either the fact that they thought he was crazy or that it was currently the Muslim observance of Ramadan and everyone had been fasting ALL day, waiting for sunset to arrive.  Mark really showed them and you will see below a shot of Major Mohammed holding the flash. At the conclusion of the shoot and sunset, they all flew back immediately to the base where the Base Commander was  hosting “Iftar” feast that night. A reward after a long day of coordinating one final image.

Technically speaking these photographs utilize only the equipment Mark can put in his flight suit pockets or around his neck. Weight for a civilian passenger in most Med-Evac situations limit him to approximately 225lbs including his camera, flashes with booster batteries, steel toed boots, flight helmet and his belly. These two projects were shot with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III and one Canon 580 EXII flash with an infrared trigger. A sunset filter is partially utilized, but the sunset has a 90 second window that makes the elements of filtration, the power of the flash, recharging time of the flash, the intensity of the sun, and the ideal shutter speed of 125th for the rotors to look in motion to make it all come together. Alot of elements to coordinate, especially when you are dealing with a very hungry crew.

Now flash forward to 2010, and Mark finds himself back above the Emirates Palace Hotel.  This time of course there were no altercations with hotel security and Mark was able to complete his shoot with the ADPD Airwing.  And with two aircrafts involved, Mark was able to capture shots of the AW139 flying in front of the hotel.  You will see some of these images below.  A repeat performance out at the original island from 2009 was also achieved. Also included are some amazing views of the city.  Note the fact that is very hard to find any signs of “recession” in Abu Dhabi.  Mark would like to send a special “Thank You” to Maj. Mohammed and Maj. Ali for their assistance with this project.

Until next time…"Enshala"

Original sunset shot 2009

Sunset shot revisited 2010

On the lawn of the Palace Hotel

The crew with their aircraft

Capturing some aerial shots in 2010