Winter storms hammered much of the Middle East last week with strong winds that rose seas and dropped snow from Egypt all the way to Turkey. Meteorologists claimed it was the most severe December storm since 1953 to hit Israel, northern Lebanon’s roads were paralyzed, and the Sea of Galilee rose 10 centimeters in a day. But the balmy Gulf states do storms in style, their gentler weather stunningly captured by Dubai-based photographer Daniel Cheong.
Green Prophet caught up with this self-described photography “hobbyist” (he works in the telecom industry) to ask how someone who only recently got serious about cameras can consistently produce such knock-out portraits of his adopted city.
Cheong captures the interplay of nature with Dubai’s aggressive urban canyons. These pictures vividly illustrate the free verse of American poet Carl Sandburg’s Fog: “It comes in on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.”
Cheong began shooting in earnest nine years ago after he bought his first digital single-lens reflex camera. That’s also when he also discovered the world of “high dynamic range photography”, a technique of manipulating multiple exposures of the same subject. This allows the images to seem fully in focus, regardless of distance. Color and light have a clarity and brightness not found in real-world scenes.
He told us, “‘Straight Out Of the Camera’ is a concept which I am not familiar with. I don’t pretend to show reality, but more an idealized vision of it.”
This French national, born in Mauritius, told us he is most attracted to the “blue hour”, which he described as, “This very short moment when the sky turns to a beautiful blue color. This happens about 20 minutes after sunset, or 30 minutes before sunrise. I prefer the blue hour after sunset because at that time the city lights turn on, and make a great contrast with the blue sky.”
His gorgeous portraits of his adopted city are painterly and surreal. They magically bring nature to the forefront in the Middle East’s most unnatural city, Dubai.
Interested in seeing more of these stunning images? Wish to buy prints? Check out his website (link here). Keep up with his new projects and exhibitions on his Facebook page (link here). Interested in learning this art? The photographer is available for workshops in Dubai, and offers private lessons.
All images from Daniel Cheong