Friday, May 31, 2013

Deep South

Rural Road, Edisto Island, SC  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Velvia slide film)

A scene on Edisto Island symbolizes the way many envision the Deep South...
a tunnel of live oak limbs festooned with Spanish moss,
arching over a rural road... y'all.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Throwback Thursday - The Battery's Blooming Oleanders

Flowering Oleanders, East Battery, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Velvia slide film)

Years ago one of the spectacles of Charleston was the colorful and profuse blooming of oleanders along the entire length of East Battery. It was one of my favorite places to go to capture the picturesque beauty of the city.

But in recent years the parks department has kept the fast growing shrubs trimmed low, and the abundant flowers no longer frame the views of the old antebellum mansions.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Peaceful Beginnings

Old Canon and General Moultre Statue, The Battery, Charleston, SC
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Click on image for larger view)

A quiet morning at The Battery shows an old canon and a statue of General Moultre facing sunrise over the harbor. William Moultre's defense of the harbor at Sullivan's Island prevented the British from capturing Charleston in the early stages of the American Revolution.

Even with all the military reminders at The Battery, it is the perfect locale for a peaceful day's beginning.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Accent in Green

Tidal Marsh Grass, Mt. Pleasant, SC  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Velvia slide film)

I made this image of wavy salt marsh grass looking straight down from the Ravenel Bridge several years ago. I was captivated by the strong color and texture, a perfect match for the Velvia slide film I was using at the time. Spoleto chose the shot as an accent image in this year's ticket brochure.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Noh Play to Miss

Dock Street Theatre, French Quarter, Charleston, SC
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Velvia slide film)

A spotlight venue for Spoleto performances is the old Dock Street Theatre. Included in this year's shows is 
Matsukaze, a Japanese Noh play made into an opera... sung in German with English subtitles... directed by a Chinese director... in Charleston's French Quarter.  You don't want to miss this one!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Iconic Landmark

Steeple of Saint Philip's Church, French Quarter, Charleston, SC
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Saint Philip's Church is an iconic landmark in Charleston's French Quarter, where many art galleries and restaurants can be found. The French Quarter is also a busy locale for Spoleto events.

The city of Charleston holds its own version of Spoleto called Piccolo Spoleto. Historic Saint Philip's Church is the venue for one of the Piccolo events, a choral music performance featuring the Singers of Summerville.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lights on Shem Creek

Bokeh Lights, Shem Creek, Mt. Pleasant, SC  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

This is one of the images used in the design of the Spoleto Festival USA ticket brochure... it makes a nice soft background for overlay of copy.

Friday, May 24, 2013

2013 Spoleto Festival USA

2013 Spoleto Festival USA Ticket Brochure Cover
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Spoleto Festival USA begins in Charleston today. It is a much celebrated annual event that runs for about two weeks, and is one of the largest international arts festivals in the world.

One of my ironwork images was selected for the ticket brochure cover this year. The marketing department at Spoleto favors images that have a strong graphic design while also hinting at the unique character of Charleston. The talented designers at Stitch Design Co. chose one of my photographs and transformed it into a terrific cover image.

I am honored to have a guest appearance on the Spoleto Festival USA blog this year as well. I wrote a brief entry on how I go about making photographs of Charleston.

I also have Spoleto prints for sale in the Charleston Crafts gallery at 161 Church Street near the Market.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Palace Coffee Room

Coffee Room, Al Ain Palace, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Of all the rooms in all the palaces and hotels and resorts in the UAE, this one would be my favorite... the coffee room in Sheikh Zayed's palace. This is where he entertained his guests while serving fresh Arabian coffee straight from the coals.

Coffee is an excellent word... a very excellent word... one which I love to use freely in daily conversation. Yes, it is derived from the Arabic qahwah, which means any stimulating drink, but especially the one which Doug drinks with relish

Today's post concludes our UAE series. 
I hope you have enjoyed them as much as we did! Tomorrow I will switch to regular programing, featuring images of Charleston and other points on the compass. But because I have so many images from the UAE, I will continue to post them occasionally.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Oasis for the Biker

Bicyclist, Al Ain Oasis, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Click on image for larger view)

One way to get around the brick paved lanes of the sprawling 
Al Ain oasis is by bicycle, but we chose to walk because we were bird watching.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tower with a Twist

Infinity Tower, Dubai, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Construction work nears completion on the Infinity Tower of Dubai. It will be the tallest skyscraper in the world with a 90 degree twist. Incidentally it is designed and engineered by the same American firm that did the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on record.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Courtyard Oasis

Courtyard, Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

A courtyard at Sheikh Zayed's Palace in the oasis town of Al Ain was a refuge from arid desert. Walls built around the palace enclosed an area that was ideal for shade trees and quiet rooms for retreat from the heat.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Room with a View

Observation Deck, Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

The view from 124 floors above Dubai shows the expanse of the UAE's desert landscape. Needless to say there is plenty of room
 for the city to expand out there.

On a different topic, we switch from one view to another...

My photographer friend, George Munday, of Waterford Co., Ireland 
is finalizing a book project, a collection of his fine art photographs called 
"Waterford, A County Revealed". 
Please take a moment to check out this link to his website to learn more.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Hardy Ghaf

Ghaf Trees, near Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Arabian ghaf trees grow in extremely arid conditions where water is seemingly absent. Yet, because of their deep tap roots (as long as 100 feet), they are able to survive by finding subterranean water tables. 

Ghaf trees were an essential source of food, shelter and medicine 
for desert tribes and therefore cherished by them. But in recent decades it's survival has been threatened, which is why it has been declared a protected national treasure in the UAE.

As you may have guessed by now, if you have been following our UAE posts, this image was taken from a camel as we rode through the desert.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Golden Glow

Dome Finials and Minaret Balconies, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Like a scene from the tales of the "Arabian Nights", g
olden balconies and finials glow in afternoon light on the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Gold is used through out the detailing of this amazing edifice. I can not imagine how much of it was used, but I can assure you it is worth its weight in visual impact.

The English word carat comes from the Arabic qirat, a small unit of weight, specifically the coin weight for the medieval Arabian gold dinar.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Desert Flowers

Old Mercedes Benz with Flowers, Miracle Garden, Dubai, UAE
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

What else would you do with an old Mercedes Benz in the desert? 

It only seems logical to decorate it with vibrant flowers.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Desert Livestock

Worker and Goat Pen, near Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Click on image for larger view)

On a livestock farm in the desert near Al Ain, a worker opens the door to a goat pen. Desert farms such as these raise goats, camels, horses and sometimes even ostriches. This is another image taken from the back of a camel as we passed through the area.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Inside Knowledge

Jet Skis and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi Creek, Abu Dhabi, UAE 
 © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved


A pair of young Emirati ride their jet skis at full throttle on Abu Dhabi Creek, with the impressive domes and minarets of the Grand Mosque in the distance. 

A perspective such as this would not have been possible with out the inside knowledge of our hosts, who drove us to the Fairmont Hotel for this wonderful point of view. Like expert local guides, Debi and Dale revealed to us many fascinating locales throughout the UAE.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What's Up is Down

Shopping Mall Ceiling and Reflections, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

You know about tongue twisters. Well, this image is a mind twister. This futuristic fantasy is actually an image looking up at the ceiling of a shopping mall. All I did was invert the photo after processing. The auto and admiring bystander are on the star-shaped floor of the mall and are reflected in the glass of the ceiling. In the circular ceiling there are more windows reflecting bits of the floor's colors and designs. Look at the picture upside down and it may make better sense.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Palms in the Limelight

Palms of the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa at Night, Dubai, UAE
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

A row of glowing palms sets the stage for shoppers and restaurant goers at the Dubai Mall. The Burj Khalifa serves as an ever present backdrop as it dominates the night time skyline. Although it is not the sharpest of photos (I snapped this shot handheld at 1/6 of a second shutter speed), it gives a sense of Downtown Dubai's atmosphere after dark.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Erg

Waves of Sand Dunes, near Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Click on image for larger view) 

Like a storm tossed sea, tall waves of sand dunes pitch into the distance outside the city of Al Ain. This picture is a hint of what the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Desert must look like. The Rub' al Kahli extends from the UAE into Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen, and is the largest sand desert in the world. 

This image was taken from camelback while passing through the desert near sundown. Taking pictures from a moving camel is a bit like being on a storm tossed sea... a constant rocking up and down motion. 

Erg is a geological term derived from the Arabic erq
meaning "a vast desert landscape".

Friday, May 10, 2013

Interior Light

Chandeliers, Main Prayer Hall, Sheikh Zhayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

A row of large chandeliers add light to the interior space of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. These chandeliers were made by the Faustig company in Munich, Germany and consist of millions of colorful Swarovski crystals. The carpet that you see is considered the largest single piece ever made, and took two years to complete by nearly 1300 knotters 
in Iran.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Steps and Stuff

Steps, Fairmont Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

For a change of pace, this post shows hotel steps. If you wanted to see a gerbil who likes to macrame a loofah holder while eating apricot flavored sherbet, then today's picture will be a disappointment.

P.S. The English words gerbil, macrame, loofah, apricot and sherbet are all derived from the Arabic, jarbu, miqrama, lufha, al barqooq, and sharab respectively. 

Just needed to catch-up on our English/Arabic word lessons.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Three Wooden Window Screens, Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain, UAE
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Although I have never been to the Alhambra of Granada, Spain, I imagine its design is rich in fanciful patterns, like these window screens in Sheikh Zayed's palace in Al Ain.

It maybe difficult to see at first, but this image actually shows three separate wooden window screens, on three separate planes, in three separate rooms and courtyards, all lined-up to make an intricate design within my frame.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Al Ain Oasis

Date Palms, Al Ain Oasis, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved
(Click on image for larger view)

Known as the "Garden City" of the UAE, Al Ain developed around a cluster of date palm oases in the desert. Becky and I walked the stone paved lanes of the largest of these havens from the heat, the Al Ain Oasis. 

It is divided into small farm plots, and is well watered by an ancient underground irrigation system called falaj. Dense shade provides habitat for birds which can be heard in abundance, especially Laughing Doves, Collard Doves, White-eared Bulbuls and Common Mynas.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Emirati Woman, Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

At first glance it would seem I have little in common with this abaya clad woman. She and her female companions were on an outing exploring
 Al Ain's historic Al Jahili Fort.

I later learned, to my utter delight, the young Emirati is an aspiring photographer. Becky, and our UAE hosts Debi and Dale opened a conversation with her in this fortress courtyard. They noticed the women were toting camera gear and told her I was a photographer. When I walked-up to join the conversation, the young woman told me of her hopes to be a photographer one day.

I spoke with her briefly, explaining to her what I did as a commercial photographer in Charleston. With her face almost completely veiled, 

all I could see were her intense and curious dark eyes.
Their inquisitiveness gave me an idea.

I asked if it was permissible for me to give her my business card. She replied yes. So I did, showing her my website address on the card. She said that she and her companions would take a look. Her enthusiasm was touching to me. I hope sharing my images with her will be a small spark of inspiration to her, like other photographers were to me when I was at an impressionable age.

This was an extraordinary moment for me on our visit... knowing that two people who come from diametrically opposite cultures and life experiences could have photography as a mutual point of reference and connection.

It is important to note that although Arabic is the official language of the UAE, English is the most widely spoken. This made our communication possible.
And if Becky was not there, it would have been haram (forbidden by Sharia law, the moral code of behavior and religious dictates of Islam) for the woman to have any sort of exchange with a man she did not know.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Burj Al Arab

Night Lights, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

It was not long ago when Bedouin tribes were enduring a hard scrabble existence among the dunes and oases of the
Arabian Peninsula. But the discovery of oil around 1960 and the birth of a federation of emirates in 1971 suddenly changed all.

Thanks to visionary leadership, the United Arab Emirates has aggressively invested its oil wealth in a western-style pro-consumer and tourist based economy. In a span of just a few decades the UAE has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world. 

Yet it has not forgotten its roots, its heritage. A prime example is the iconic Burj Al Arab, the world's only "seven star hotel". Designed in the shape of a billowing sail, it is a homage to the dhow, the traditional sailing vessel used for centuries for fishing and trading in the Persian Gulf.

This luxury hotel sits on an man made island which took three years to build. The building itself stands 60 floors high making it currently the fourth tallest hotel in the world. At top right one can see the Skyview Bar perched high over the water, which offers remarkable views of Dubai and the Gulf. 

The genie of Aladdin's Lamp could not conjure up a more astonishing hotel!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Amberous Light

Open Gates of a Villa, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Arabian desert air is often hazy with a layer of suspended particles of powdery sand which softens sunlight. This is especially true early or late in the day when the sun is low. Morning light is sometimes a translucent pale yellow, like the color of amber. In the above image, amberous light makes a warm background for a pair of villa gates in Al Ain.

As you might expect by now if you have been following our UAE posts, the English word amber has an Arabic derivation... anbar, meaning ambergris, the waxy substance from sperm whales once used in perfumery.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Algorithm Rhythm

Arches and Domes, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

Imagine the algorithms that were needed to calculate the design of this perfectly coordinated rhythm of archways and domes at the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Whatever mathematical equations were used for the engineering, the beautifully aligned patterns of curves make a high visual impact on the viewer.

The Grand Mosque is one of the largest in the world, and can hold up to 41,000 worshipers at one time. It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father and first president of the UAE, and driving force behind the mosque's creation.

Also, you might be pleased to know the English word algorithm drives from the Arabic al-khwarizmi. Khwarizmi was an influential mathematician and scholar of the 9th century who introduced the concepts of algebra to the western world.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Elixir for the Heat

Ice Rink, Shopping Mall in Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

How do you find relief from the desert heat? The remedy is to head to the nearest shopping mall and ice skate beneath giant snow flakes!

Yes, the word elixir has an Arabic origin... al iksir, the philosopher's stone of alchemy, purported to cure whatever ails you, and even better,
to change base metals to gold!

In one sense, the UAE found its own version of the philosopher's stone...
its called oil.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

In The Land of Serendip

Pathway of Umbrellas, Miracle Garden, Dubai, UAE  
© Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

To make a long story short, the word Serendip is based on the Arabic name for the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where its people were fabled to always be happy... hence the birth of our English word serendipity.

So it was with pleasant surprise that I happened upon this photogenic walkway shaded by a canopy of umbrellas in Dubai's Miracle Garden.

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