Category Archives: Dushanbe

Concert photography

Dushanbe jazz festival

Dushanbe was bubbling with Jazz last weekend. Once a year the ethno-jazz festival takes place in town. This year was no different. Concerts were organized on concert photographyFriday, Saturday and Sunday in various places in town. Bands flew in from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and of course Tajikistan to perform their best. With concert halls fully packed and a bunch of enthusiastic musicians it turned out to be a great event. Great opportunity to shoot some nice concert pictures. My first steps in to concert photography. I was curious to see what I could get away with.
The first impulse was concert halls are dark, so we’ll need to add some flash. Wrong! I tried it and didn’t like the results. The flash was giving nasty reflections on the instruments and threw ugly black shadows on the background. Since there was nothing I could bounce of the flash I gave up on that idea. Plan A trashed. Concert photography Plan B was required. In my case that meant cranking up the ISO to a 1000 and more, and opening up to the biggest aperture possible. With my lens, a 70-300mm zoom, that meant aperture f5 or so. I point measured the light at some bright spots and ended up with a shutter speed of around 1/125. I decided to shoot everything in manual mode at that speed. If you keep the camera really steady pictures will be pretty sharp, even when zoomed in over 200mm. In aperture mode I’d risk shooting at too low shutter speeds. Plan B turned out to work pretty well actually. No at least thanks to the brilliant ISO performance of my Nikon D700. With a DX camera results would very likely be less exciting. You can check out the full photo series here.

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Outdoor lighting for photography

Using studio strobes on location

The other day a fashion designer asked me whether I could shoot some outdoor shots of a couple of her latest designs. Sure, why not I thought. Usually I shoot in the studio, so it sounded like fun to try an outdoor photo shoot. I’d wanted to practice outdoor lighting for photography for a while anyway . The first task obviously was to find a good location. Since I don’t have a battery pack for my strobes (yet) it had to be a place where I had access to a power outlet. I remembered a place in town where they recently put up some cool graffiti on the walls. That might be a nice contrasty background. After I explained the management of the place about the photo shoot they were all for it. Luckily a socket was in reach with an extension cord.
outdoor lighting for photography
So we found the place. Next thing was to decide what kind of look we wanted. Since we were going to shoot against a grungy graffiti background I didn’t really want to use a flattering soft light source. A hard light that gives more contrast and lots of shadows felt much more appropriate for this type of background. Hence I packed a strobe and a 21cm reflector, which for the occasion I fitted with a 30 degree grid. You don’t want to light the heck out of the model and the wall. You want the light to be on the model, with just enough exposure on the graffiti to feel the texture and the color. With a grid spot I could do just that. By the way, I was using an Elinchrome strobe of 300Ws, and I had all the power I needed to shoot outdoors.


With the location set and the lighting scenario in mind, we packed all the gear we needed and drove off to the site. And now came the hard part: I got exactly one hour to set up the gear, measure the light and make the shots. The models were waiting outside getting cold and wanted to leave early.  The manager of the place was already looking at his watch before we even got started. Working fast was the message. Ok, so you want a simple lighting setup. You can’t waist time messing around with a bunch of lights and reflectors and whatever have you. I quickly set up the strobe with the grid and started measuring the light. Under these conditions you really start appreciating a light meter.

outdoor lighting for photography

I started with the strobe at full power. It was still daylight and I figured I needed all the flash I could get to overpower the sun. Wrong! My light meter went to f25 and I was blowing out the whole scene. Nice surprise! I knew these Elinchrome strobes are good, I didn’t know they were that good! After some fiddling with the meter and the lights I ended up lowering the output with 3 f-stops, at half the maximum output. That gave me a reading of f11, just where I wanted it. By the way, when shooting in daylight, your modeling lights are useless. So you really need to have a light meter to check where the light is going. Especially when you’re working with a narrow beam of light from a grid spot. I guess you could go for the hit and miss approach with a test subject, but I didn’t have that luxury.

outdoor lighting for photography

Once I had the light at the right output to get a good exposure the rest was easy. The key was to choose a shutter speed that will allow the strobe light to blend in with some ambient light. At 1/125 of a second I got sufficient ambient light mixed in to light the background, but still keep the overall mood pretty dark. Like this the model would really stand out and catch the attention of the viewer. If you want the background lighter, that’s easy, just lower the shutter speed, and keep the strobe at the same output. Setting up and measuring the light took me around 20 minutes. That gave me another 40 minutes to do the actual photo shoot. Plenty of time to get some nice shots. You can see some more images of the session here. All the shots were taken with a Nikon d700, at ISO100 with a 70-300mm lens.

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Photo Exhibit La Grande Dame




La Grande Dame  17-31 March

Pascal Vlieghe is pleased to announce his first photo
exhibit in Dushanbe!

Both talented and versatile, Pascal presents an
all-round collection of photographs from Tajikistan and other countries. The display
features glimpses of daily life in Tajik residential care facilities, fashion
& beauty photography, macro and studio shots as well as nature and

The exhibit is made up of 50 colour and B&W framed
photographs, from small to poster size. The exhibit will run from 17-31st of March in La Grande Dame.

Reception Friday 16 March from 19:00-21:00 hrs!

You’re all welcome to visit and join Pascal for a drink and chat at the
opening reception.

Also posted in photography, Tajikistan

support to disabled people in Tajikistan

disabled children and old people support in Hissar, Yavan and Dushanbe

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough getting the opportunity to visit some centres for disabled people here in Tajikistan. In fact I was asked to go and shoot pictures. Now that was great! Unless it’s for professional reasons you probably won’t get access to these places let alone shoot photographs.Tajikistan children travel location photography people disability adults social health care And now I was given a chance to do both at the same time! I didn’t think twice to accept. I packed my gear and off we went. I expected limited time to set up so I took only the most important stuff: my camera, a fast 50mm lens, a 70-300 zoom, a speedlight and one of those practical pop-up silver reflectors, in case I run out of daylight. Forget about tripods, remotes or strobes and umbrellas. Don’t want to drag that up the stairs of a four floor building. It turned out I guessed prety well that day. When we left Dushanbe it was cloudy and raining. Good I brought my reflector I thought.  And throughout the morning we rushed from location to location and floor to floor. Not bad to travel light either.

A specialist in the social sector had warned me to be prepaired for some distressing situations the day before, so I braced myself for gloomy spaces with crying kids in run down facilities. Boy, I got it wrong, thank god. We first visiting a centre for disabled kids in Hissar, some 30km out of Dushanbe. It turned out to be a happy place filled with toys and cheers and an army of friendly nurses. And they all wanted to be photographed. One particular fellow followed me throughout the centre and kept popping up in front of my lens.  After a few hours of shooting and when we were about to leave I realised that actually the best light was in the entrance of the building. Luckily a brave boy was learning how to walk at the very moment, encouraged by a therapist. I took my camera back out of the bag and continued shooting. Two good lessons for the future I thought: first look for the light, and never pack your camera until your back in the car. The other places we visited were no different. It resulted in us having a good feeling about social centres in this countrty and me having a series of great shots. You can check them out on the images from Tajikistan gallery. For more info on social support for disabled people in Tajikistan go to or



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fashion show dushanbe 2011 Tajikistan

fashion show dushanbe 2011 Tajikistan girl mode serena hotel catwalk central asiaLast saturday the Dushanbe fashion show took place in the Serena hotel, right here in the center of town. If you were there I don’t have to tell you how great it was. If you weren’t, you missed without any doubt the fashion event of the year. It turned out to be a glamourous feast with beautiful models showing some of the finest clothes you’ll ever see in Dushanbe. First the clients got a go on the catwalk modeling the dresses they had tailor made by their designers. Tajik models followed in a number of amazing dresses and outfits, each more spectacular than the other. And I got to shoot al this. Since it was an outdoor event that started prety much at dusk, I was worried sick about the changing light conditions. Not a bit good for photography. Luckily I decided prety much last minute to take a strobe and a large umbrella. I positioned it at the end of the catwalk and bingo, it threw enough light to get some great shots. Probably just as well the show started late afternoon. Like that I could shoot from the start in manual mode at a shutterspeed of 1/160 which I needed to sync my strobe. Used my ISO to account for distance and the changing light. Probably not the most professional solution but hey, it worked and that’s what matters. You can check out my official pics in my beauty/fashion gallery or on the Dushanbe fashion website. I’ll upload more in a couple of days.

Also posted in design, Fashion, modeling, photography, Tajikistan Tagged , , , , , , |

Second fashion show rehearsal in Dushanbe


fashion model dushanbe tajikistan girls catwalk serena hotelA few days ago the second rehearsal for the Coctails and Catwalk fashion show took place. And guess what, the choreographer was sick in bed. Bummer! Not much will happen around here I thought, but what was I wrong. It went perfect, or as perfect as a rehearsal can be of course. It was amazing to see how 40 girls or so took command and started doing there thing on the improvised catwalk. A bunch of them even spontaneously started to practice in front of the building. The best part was when they all started to comment on each others strut. Anyway, it was big fun and the girls were already performing a lot better than at the first rehearsal. I got some great shots out of it too, go check them out at the Dushanbe design website. Don’t forget to buy your tickets, the fashion show is this Saturday already!

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It’s all fashion again in Dushanbe!

On the 1st of October the Serena hotel in Dushanbe is the place to be. fashion model dushanbe tajikistan girls catwalk serena hotelAn exciting fashion show is organised that day that will gather the cream of the local fashion scene. The rehearsals only just started and already things are already looking  very promising. The girls are practicing their moves and smiles in the Pioneer House. The place has plenty of beautiful soft light that allows for some great shots without additional lighting. Lucky me.

OK, so if you’re a fashion fan or just want to have an enjoyable evening, buy a ticket and make sure you’re there. AND it’s for a good cause, so another reason to join! Surf to the DesignDushanbe website for more info.

And I’ll be there to shoot the event, what did you think! It’s going to be a bit of a challenge cause it’s outdoor and the show starts late afternoon. That means we’ll be starting with daylight in the late afternoon and end with artificial light in the evening. Curious to see how that will work out. Come back to check out the pics, they will be available soon after the event. Click here for the pics of the first rehearsal.



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