My Dubai Photography Experience

My Photography Background

I have been passionate about photography, in particular in its landscape and cityscape forms, since the beginning of 2010 when I bought my first full frame camera (Canon 5D). Having lived in Scotland definitely made my passion more reachable with Scottish Highlands located within a four-hour drive from the town where I lived. I took occasional breaks from the landscape photography to visit other places such as Barcelona, Croatia, London and Paris. I really enjoyed city breaks and cityscape photography, mostly inspired by the remarkable work of Martin Stavars.

Creative Drought

In the beginning of 2014, I moved from the UK to Dubai. I felt very excited about the opportunity to be exploring the city with my camera, focusing on cityscape as well as street photography. After arriving in Dubai, my enthusiasm for its photography potential quickly waned. Terrible lighting conditions, plain grey or yellow sky and disgusting heat immediately discouraged me from any photography exploration. In Dubai it is nearly impossible to simply take a walk around the city to discover it because of the distances, weather and many areas being inaccessible to pedestrians. You need to know the spots you are targeting prior to any action, so the potential for spontaneity is limited. Lacking the ability to find the inspiration coming from the city itself I began my search online and offline, in the art galleries. The research made my perception even worse – I did not like most of the photographs I found on the Internet, as they were duplicative and boring. I was not interested in attempting to replicate or provide my own interpretation of the popular captures of Dubai landmarks and I did not come across any inspiring or exciting work in terms of street photography at the time. The only photographs of Dubai that stimulated my emotions were the famous and elusive fog shots taken from high-rise points around Downtown and Dubai Marina. However, I did not know how to access any of these rooftops and, more importantly, how to predict the fog. I gave up capturing Dubai, focusing on travel photography and wanting to travel more and to more exotic and fascinating destinations.

Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Palm Jumeirah

Burj Khalifa, Dubai
At the Top, Burj Khalifa

DIFC, Dubai

Downtown Dubai
Downtown Dubai covered in thick fog

Turning Point: Digital Blending Workshop

In March 2016, I participated in the workshop organised by Canon Middle East – The Art of Dynamic Image Blending. The event was more of a lecture than actual workshop, delivered by Beno Saradzic. First of all, Beno is an inspiring personality and great speaker who shared a lot of his knowledge during the session. Secondly, this workshop changed my perspective and made me realise how much I lost by always striving to rely on self-learning. I felt that I had learnt more during these few hours of listening than over a number of years of practising. The presentation was simply packed with juicy content. It helped me gain a much better understanding of the Photoshop Camera Raw plugin and discover the abilities of the Google Nik collection, especially the Viveza tool. I also comprehended the concept of fine art photography and its purpose. Although I felt the event was the turning point in my photography journey and a great source of inspiration, I still thought I would never have an opportunity to apply my new skills to images of Dubai as I still had no idea how to reach the rooftops. Fortunately for me, this was going to change couple of months later.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Burj Al Arab and Downtown Dubai as seen from Palm Jumeirah

Downtown Dubai
Downtown Dubai covered in thick fog

Burj Khalifa, Dubai
At the Top, Burj Khalifa

My gear:

  • Canon 5D Mk3
  • Canon 5D Mk1
  • Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
  • Canon 17-40mm f/4 L
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  • B+W 77mm MRC 106M Solid Neutral Density 1.8 Filter (6-Stop)
  • Manfrotto tripod

Recommended software:

Useful links:

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