Building a Headboard

Join Misi Overturf through her creative process in designing and building a headboard in the garage of her home in Woodstock, Capetown. To learn the step-by-step process, visit to purchase her upcoming DIY book, REDD.

Shot on a 5D MKII with a Canon EF 50mm 1.2 lens
Editing: FCP
Color Correcting: Magic Bullet Looks 2
Music: Fever Fever – Beautiful Dream Instrumental

Cinematography: Antonie Robertson
Production and Editing: Razan Alzayani

Fashion Photography with Tina Chang & Mitch Baker

I had the absolutely pleasure of shooting on location with fashion photographer Tina Chang and model Mitch Baker at The Pavilion Downtown Dubai a few weeks ago. I enjoy working with Tina and really admire her lighting techniques and shooting style. I never thought I’d be interested in fashion photography, I don’t know too much about designers and brands, you’d never see me flipping through Vogue either.  However,  this production has been vastly different from what I normally do and the stories I usually cover so it’s been quite the breath of fresh air.

It was difficult to figure out this edit, I went through various sequences and cuts until I figured out what felt right. I initially tried to capture Tina and Mitch’s friendship whilst working on location – however that didn’t translate to video too much so I had to play and experiment with different angles of telling the story.  Hope you like it!

Tracking Flamingos

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi captures and tracks its 15th flamingo in a conservation effort to preserve the birds local habitat. This was shot on the Al Wathba reserve about a 20 minute drive from Abu Dhabi city.

I’ve never been so close to a flamingo before, such gorgeous yet funny cartoon-like creatures.

The Falcon Hunter

So Istabsir is coming to an end, and we wanted to go out with a bang with our last few pieces. Galen randomly found a falcon hunter on one of the secluded islands near Yas. He spends his days in his make-shift shelter, with two birds tied down by a string acting as live bait.  He sits and waits for a falcon to approach before trapping it in his net. Sound exciting? The reality is that he’s been waiting all summer to catch just one, and it just hasn’t happened.  There is a reason he’s patient though; hunting falcons sell for quite a hefty amount of money, especially in this part of the world. The day we shot was the last day of the season. He mentioned the weather gets too cold now, and that he’d probably be back around March or April to look out for falcons again.

Behind-The-Scenes of an F1 Fashion Shoot

Abu Dhabi had some serious Formula 1 fever this November. Abu Dhabi was the final destination in the Formula 1 Grand Prix and it was also the deciding race. In the run-up to the event, M Magazine’s fashion photographer Tina Chang and fashion director Katie Trotter brainstormed on how to produce an F1 Fashion shoot without the sexy femme sprawling herself on generic cars. Deepthi Unnikrishnan, our other multimedia producer, and I spent the day in the Yas Hotel and on the Yas Marina Track filming everything that went into this fashion shoot. The whole team, especially Tina Chang were SO much fun to work with. They are such a great team and feed and play off each other’s ideas so well.  The model, Bronx, looked absolutely stunning. The stark contrast of the model’s red outfits were brilliant, we really had to pace ourselves with shooting her, just because she looked so great.  I also got to drive my car on the track, probably the first and last time that will ever happen.

Hissa Hilal’s Poem Against Extremism

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Hissa Hilal, right after she made news headlines all over the world through the Abu Dhabi TV Show, Million’s Poet.

The people of the Arabian Gulf have a deeply rooted century-old tradition and a love for reciting poetry. In an effort to revive this beautiful art, The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage launched a reality TV show (very much like American Idol) named Million’s Poet.  Poets compete from all over the Gulf region, writing and reciting various forms of bedouin and arab poetry. The winner of the show receives 1 Million Dirhams.

Hissa Hilal, a Saudi housewife, stood up on a podium and recited a poem in front of millions of viewers. This poem openly attacked a Saudi cleric for his “ad hoc” fatwas; naturally the poem instantly sparked controversy in Saudi Arabia. Some viewers praised her for her courage, but some also criticized her for speaking publicly and “attacking Islam”. Hissa also received death threats.

As the show is shot in Abu Dhabi, we managed to get Hissa to come into our studio to recite the poem herself.  She’s definitely one of the bravest more inspiring and warmest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Talking to her firsthand, I could see the hope she had for positive reform in her country.

If you’re wondering how those dreamy shots came to be, some shots in this video were shot with lensbaby on a Canon 5DMKII.

Holi Festival of Colors in Dubai

This was by far the most fun I have ever had on a shoot. Deepthi Unnirkrishnan, and Edythe Mcnamee, the other two multimedia producers came along for just for kicks.  We ended up wrapping up the Canon video camera as much as we could with cello tape, in fear of the powdered colors that may pour into the lens and nooks and crannies of the camera. We then arrived onto the scene wearing (as we should) white t shirts. The whole vibe on the beach was absolutely fantastic, powdered colors everywhere, random people coming up to us and rubbing hot pinks, oranges, blues and greens onto our faces and t-shirts.  Everyone there was having a great time. Definitely aiming to shoot Holi in India in March 2011 with the Canon 5D MKII.

Building a greenhouse in the Himalayas

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In the summer of 2009, I signed up with one of i-to-i’s programs to build a greenhouse in one of the most remote Himalayan regions, Spiti.  For two weeks, my friend and traveling companion Ismat worked alongside Spiti Ecosphere, an incredible organization changing the lives of Spitians in the most sustainable ways.

Spitians are relatively malnourished as they don’t have access to fresh vegetables and fruits during the winter months. This is mostly due to the fact that the roads to Spiti from Kullu are blocked during the winter due to heavy snow. Imported food is also incredibly expensive. Spiti Ecosphere partnered up with architects worldwide and have been building greenhouses in the Spiti region for the past few years so that the locals have access to fresh food year-round.

We lived in a Buddhist monastery in Pin Valley and built the greenhouse primarily for them.

Read Ismat’s account of our experiences here.