Category Archives: Photography

Tips to Choosing the Right DSLR Camera and to Taking Better Photos

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Mary-Jo, my little girl, is a passionate little photographer. She refuses to use amateur cams and wants to use the DSLR camera.

Let’s face it, we all want to take great pictures but we rarely invest in a good camera and a bit of time to learn a couple of tricks in order to enhance the quality of our photos.

I know that it is a lot more practical and easier for us to use our mobile phones as all-in-one devices. I’m an advanced photographer and most of the time I find myself too lazy to carry a camera. But there are times, when you wish you had a good camera at hand, to capture those great moments, especially if you have kids around you.

(Left) Had to wake up at 4am to take this picture, waiting until the full supermoon and the olive tree in my backyard could be seen in the same line of sight. (Right) This was taken as we were hiking up the Qadisha Valley

I use my phone cam for everyday activities and I always make sure to have my DSLR camera all charged up and handy for those occasional events and gatherings. This way my photo library is mixed with everyday mobile pictures and the higher quality one taken with my camera.

Najib wanted to get a good camera that is easy to use and to move around with. My recommendation to him was to go with the Canon EOS Rebel T6i, (reasons listed below) it is a high quality product that can be bought for a really good price. At the end of the day, it is a home camera for amateur usage and Canon has the best cams in the market. Of course there are many good brands out there, but I’ve been a loyal Canon guy for the past 15 years.

(Regardless of the Brand):

1- Lenses:

Make sure you invest in a cam that has a lot of optical lens power (3al Libneneh: 3enda zoom). The best photographs are taken with different physical lenses. Most modern cameras nowadays come with interchangeable lenses, but if you don’t want to invest in buying multiple lenses, then make sure you buy a camera with a flexible lens that will work in most conditions for near and far objects. (i.e.18mm – 200mm)

Rule of thumb: The smaller the mm, ex. 24mm, the wider the shot and the closer you need to be to the object. The higher the mm, ex. 300mm, the better it is for capturing distant objects.

2- Video Capture:

My kids love arts and crafts and it’s nice to document their works-of-art in the making, this is a capture frame from the movie.

Make sure you select a camera that can capture Full HD videos at 25 or 30fps. Nobody wants to carry an additional video cam around. Photo cameras that have HD video capture will give you great movie results. Photography lenses give you the ability to play around with the depth of field and have videos that are not flat but rather look and feel as rich as the still photos.

3- Memory Card:

Invest in a memory card with a large storage capacity, ex. 64GB, and that is high quality with fast memory. Not all memory cards are fit to be used for cameras, especially if you are taking burst shots and videos. Each memory card has a capturing/transfer speed, the higher the speed (60MB/s, 90MB/s, 280MB/s), the better the performance. It becomes more expensive but it is worth every penny.

4- Tripod:

You are not going to use the tripod everyday, but it will come in handy with night shots or when used to shoot a fixed frame video such as a ceremony or end-of-year school event. You can purchase a cheap tripod, but most importantly make sure you choose a lightweight one. Carrying a heavy weight tripod can be very tiring.

5- Flash:

Although it’s one of my least favorite pieces of hardware because most people overuse the flash and get super flat images. But then again, there are pictures that you just cannot take without a flash. Better have one on your cam to be used whenever needed.

6- Pixel Count:
Choose a camera with the biggest pixel capacity, ex. 24.2MP. A bigger pixel count means a higher quality picture.

(Regardless if you are using a Mobile Phone or DSLR Camera)

1- Backlight:

These images were intentionally shot to show the foreground as dark objects, but we are using them here as an example. (Left) my friend Tony in Pink Floyd. (Right) Some random cat on the street.

Don’t take pictures whenever your subject is standing in front of a large source of light such as a window. You will end up with only a shadow of that subject with a very bright background.

2- Lighting:
Make sure your subject’s face is always facing the light source (such as the window).

You can’t get Anthony my little boy to stand still in order to take a picture. Mary-Jo always helps out sometimes grabbing him to get the job done.

Avoid using the flash as much as possible as it flattens the face and gives the picture a two-dimensional feeling. Instead try to look for a well-lit place before taking your photos and use as much daylight as possible.

Always avoid using direct sunlight and spotlights as they give hard shadows on the subject. The person’s face will not be relaxed but rather squinting from the annoying light.

The beautiful thing about Sunday morning bike rides is that you can stop anytime you see a beautiful frame and take a picture.

If you are shooting outdoors, try to avoid noontime photo shoots and aim for earlier or afternoon photo sessions for softer light. It is even better to take pictures when it’s clouded without direct sunlight, the colors will pop up.

3- Angles:

I am a part-time instructor at AUB, you probably know that cats are the stars on campus.

Take pictures from different elevation points. Most people take pictures from eye-point level, because we simply point and shoot. Try to lower your cam and come closer to the subject, experiment a bit with different heights to take less boring pictures.

4- Cropping:

I love taking nature pictures after it rains, everything looks so clean and fresh.

Come closer to the subject and avoid filling the frame with useless objects. Make sure the object you are shooting is the one that takes the biggest part of your framing and avoid distracting backgrounds.

Beirut rooftops are just fascinating to the eye. I took this shot around the Burj Hammoud Area.

Use the rule of thirds and move your object from the middle, every camera comes with a grid option that you can enable and use accordingly. For example, don’t place your horizon in the center of the image, unless you want to, but rather in the top or bottom third.

The most beautiful moments on video and photo are those spontaneous ones, facial expressions are genuine and real. Mary-Jo here was caught off-guard when the water hose broke loose.

Take horizontal videos and avoid tilting the cam vertically when taking videos. So many phone users got into the habit of taking vertical videos but this is a big NO. Remember that you want to enjoy your videos on a TV/Computer screen, with vertical videos you will end up with a big back screen and a small video in the middle.

5- Keep your camera and lenses clean at all times:
Don’t remove the lens unless you really need to and if you do, don’t do it in a dusty environment. Make sure to cover up both sides of the lens and most important do not touch the mirror inside the camera or blow on it.

Avoid touching the lens with your hands and don’t clean it with any tissue. Blurry pictures most of the time are the result of dirty lenses. Make sure to get a cleaning kit. They are very cheap and available at any photography shop.

6- Settings:

Always set your cam to the highest quality settings and keep it on automatic mode if you are not a savvy photographer. It will do all the work for you if you follow the basic tips that were explained above.

Of all the Red Cross pics I have, this one is my all time favorite as it shows these men and women for what they are, proud and strong.

7- Patience:
Avoid taking 90 consecutive useless burst shots, have some patience and wait for the right moment.

I can still feel my eyes burning from the tear gas that was shot on people during the YouStink protests. But, I had to try and take this shot. I took many shots until I got it, every time the flag would fly in a different direction.

8- Storage:
Don’t keep your pictures in your camera. Make sure to copy your photos from your memory card to your computer after each use and make sure to store pictures and videos separately (we will be tackling this topic in details in a later post)

I hope this post was helpful. Enjoy using your camera!

For some cool shots, follow me on Instagram @jimmyghazal

Meet My New SLR Camera: The Canon EOS Rebel T6i EF-S 18-135mm

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canon slr

I bought my first SLR which was a Nikon D600 almost 6 years ago. It came with an 18-55 mm lens and cost me around 600$. I’m an amateur photographer so I started to read online and asked my friends on how to take great shots but the pictures were never that great and I soon lost interest and relied on my phone cameras.

canon slr2

However after my wife gave birth last year, my friend told me that I should invest in a new SLR with a better lens because phone cameras can never capture moments and expressions the way SLR cameras do and that I will regret it later. I took his advice and started looking online for budget-friendly SLRs (under $1000) and finally settled on the the Canon EOS Rebel T6i with an 18-135mm lens.


I basically wanted a camera that is easy to use, takes great pictures and videos, has a touch screen, built-in WIFI and most importantly comes with a flexible lens that works in most conditions for near and far objects. Jimmy, who’s an enthusiast and advanced photographer, approved my choice and told me that it’s a fantastic cost/quality product. In fact, prior to my search, he sent me a detailed email on what to look for in a camera and how to choose the one that’s most suitable for me. He will elaborate on that topic in a future post for those who are clueless about SLRs like myself.

canon slr3

It’s been 3 months now that I’ve been using the Canon EOS Rebel T6i and I love it. The only thing I’m unable to capture though are macro shots but I’m fine with that. I bought it from Amazon for $970.

BabyBrian_151227_0370 Shot by Jimmy using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a fixed 85mm lens – I need some time before I get there 😀

8 Stunning Pictures From Inside Lamartine/ Mezher’s Palace, Hammana

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La Martine Palace  3 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

The famous Mezher palace located in Hammana and overlooking the valley was once the residence of the famous French poet and statesman Alphonse de Lamartine. The Mezher palace was dubbed the Poet’s dream and quoting Lamartine* “surpasses in elegance, grace and nobility all that I have ever seen of its kind; It may be compared only to one of our most marvelous Gothic castles of the Middle Ages”. The 19th century poet went on to describe the surrounding Hammana valley as “one of the most beautiful views that men have ever beheld, an opportunity to paint the creation of God”, and that “painting or words can describe only one detail of the fairy like treasure with which the Creator endowed Lebanon. The greenery, the trees, the orchards and the forest are renowned, going down in succession and filling the valley with their riches…”.

Lamartine lived there with his wife, and his daughter Julia. In 1933, a French mission visited Hammana and placed commemorative plaque inside the palace in the room where the great poet had slept.

My friend Jad Ghorayeb was visiting the palace last week and was able to get inside and take some stunning pictures which I’m sharing. The Mezher palace is a private residence and its owners have kept its authenticity and beautiful appearance throughout the years.

The pictures are shared with Jad’s consent of course. Make sure to follow his [Instagram page] as he explores hidden gems from all around the country.

LaMartine Old Photo Credits: Amine Saad

Hammana Village of Ba’abda Kaza is located on the Western Lebanese Mountains’ chain at an altitude of 1200 m making it best as an ideal summer resort . The word “Hammana” may have come from the name of the Phoenician god of the Sun “Hammon” or “Hamman”. These two names are derived from the word “Hama” that means: The Heat Of the Sun.

Hammana was first full of Muslim Druze families but from the 16th and 17th centuries on wards, Christians flowed into Hammana at the invitation of Druze Leaders, coming as farmers, technicians, workers and craftsmen. The Mezher Muqqaddameen received them with open arms, giving them free pieces of lands , while Abu Hussein Mezher allowed them to build churches so to pray and practice their religion. Source: Baldati

La Martine Palace 6 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace 2 - JadG Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace - JadG Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  10 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  9 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

La Martine Palace  7 Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

foutain la martine Photo Credits: Jad Ghorayeb

* Source: Voyages en Orient – 1835.

TIME Recalls The 2006 Lebanon War Through The Eyes of 18 Photographers

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patrick-baz-lebanon-israel-war Photo Credits: Patrick Baz

I was crossing the Mdayrej bridge three days ago when it hit me that it’s been 10 years now since that bridge was partially destroyed by Israeli warplanes. The 34-day long military conflict was tough on all the Lebanese, especially those who were living in the South. More than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians were killed, over 1 million were displaced, and our infrastructure was severely damaged.

On the 10th anniversary of the conflict, TIME asked 18 photographers to select and reflect on the images they took. I am sharing few excerpts from the article but I recommend you check out all the testimonies [here].

Kate Brooks

For the first time in my life, I truly understood what it was to be a civilian caught in conflict, because I was one. Being in Lebanon wasn’t like being in Afghanistan or Iraq. I had no psychological protection, no place of safety to look forward to returning after my assignment.

Each time my body would grow tense and I would cover my ears. I even removed the windowpanes on one side of my flat for fear the glass would shatter. There was often no electricity or fuel for generator power. I resorted to buying truck batteries to power my computer.

spencer-platt-israel-lebanon-war Photo by Spencer Platt: The opaque nature of reality in the Middle East is captured in the image. The beautiful subjects in the red Mini Cooper driving through a devastated neighborhood took offense at how they were depicted.

Kadir van Lohuizen

It was quite shocking to see how destructive this very short war was between Hezbollah and Israel. The village was first bombed, and then the Israeli army brought bulldozers to completely flatten it.

This was ten years ago. It is depressing how much the situation in the Middle East has deteriorated since then.

davide-monteleone-lebanon-israel-war Photo Credits: Davide Monteleone

15 Awesome Pictures of Tripoli’s Abandoned Railway Station

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tripoli railway13

The Tripoli railway station is located in el-Mina area and is the second oldest train station in Lebanon after Riyak which began operating in 1891. Tripoli’s railway station used to connect to Homs in Syria and Beirut’s central station in Mar Mikhail and formed the terminus of the famous Orient Express line. The station was badly damaged during the civil war and has been closed ever since.

I passed by the old railway station a couple of weeks ago and it took me around 45 minutes to visit it all. It’s abandoned and neglected yet a beautiful site to explore and I wish someone would preserve it and turn it into a touristic attraction to showcase Lebanon’s railway heritage. You will find there several multi-purpose wagons and century old Locomotives. At this time, the site is open and easily accessible to all but be careful when walking around as the place has been abandoned for 30+ years.

We always hear of new plans to revive Lebanon’s railway but we all know it’s not happening anytime soon. Riyak’s railway station is next on my list.

Enjoy the pictures!

tripoli railway10

tripoli railway15

tripoli railway14

tripoli railway12

tripoli railway11

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14 Awesome Storm Pictures from Different Towns & Areas In Lebanon

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Mzaar via LiveLoveBeirut by @Nady83

Lebanon kicked off 2016 with a beautiful snow storm (Vladimir) that covered the whole country in white. I compiled some of the best pictures from different towns and areas in Lebanon into one post. If you have any picture you’d like to share, send me a link or email me

Enjoy and stay safe everyone!

Zahle White Zahle by Oussama Tannous

sheep I think it’s from Akkar. Source

Sawfar via WeAreLebanon by Firas 3amer

Miziara Miziria – via Miziria FB Page

Mar Maroun Mar Maroun Monastery by SkyViewLebanon

Kobayat Stunning Kobayat – by Antoine Daher

Kfardebian Kfardebian covered in snow – by WeAreLebanon

Hasroun Hasroun – by Hasroun Church FB Page

Ehden Snow Camp – Ehden via LiveLoveBeirut by renemowawadphotography

Cedars Bcharre by i_markian

Ammiq Ammiq via WeAreLebanon

Akoura via LiveLoveAkoura by Bachar Tarabay

Tannourine Tannourine by Jack Harb

Lebanon sky Lebanon all covered in white. View from the sky taken by Dany Daccache via Nicolas Sehnaoui.

Week42 : LiveLoveBeirut’s Best Pictures Of The Week

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Bekaa Bekaa by Plus961

You can follow LiveLoveBeirut on Instagram on [Instagram]. I’m also on Instagram and you can follow me [here] if you like.

Sawfar Villa Donna Maria Sursok built in 1909 – By Fouad_Khallie

Coffee How do u like your coffee? By PamelaChlala

Baskinta Lovely Baskinta – By HaigAdventures

aley Beautiful Aley – by Giorgio

traffic Live Love Traffic (Not Really) – By RiseAboveLebanon