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News & Insight

You’ve Never Seen Dubai like this – How to Use Weather To Your Advantage

By Kishore Sawh on December 8th 2013

If beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, I recommend wearing shades before beholding photographer Daniel Cheong’s photos – and they’re likely to go viral. But anything beautiful in nature has a sting in its tail or venom in its bite, and likewise there’s a caveat; in one of his latest photos of Dubai, shot with a Nikon D800, Daniel shows us that in order to render such fine specimens you’ve got to be willing (and able) to shoot when most might find the weather is against them.  Dubai’s typically arid landscape is highly photographed, but you’ve likely never seen it like this. Thanks to Cheong,  we see it transform under a veil of fog, into an oasis that glows from beneath. The aforementioned photo was recently top on 500px and serves as another example of how varied weather can be a photographers finest muse.


Similarly this week we were treated to mounds of photos from the Grand Canyon by visitors who were fortunate to be there during a temperature inversion, which forced clouds to neatly settle in the canyon like the foam on a latte, rather than far above it. According to a Park Ranger this happens about once a decade she told The Daily Mail. And while we can’t all set up shop waiting on such a dramatic blue-moon moment, it’s fair to say most are able to glance at their local weather forecasts and head out to capture an uncommon mood at a local park, or even for a fashion shoot. The uncommon nature alone often makes for more interesting photos simply due to fact that the unusual tends to evoke a feeling.

Photo courtesy of NPS Erin Whittaker

[REWIND: Weird Weather]

One thing also immediately noticeable in Cheong’s photos is the unusual vantage point from which they’re taken. I think anyone who has gone to a famous site, or shot anything at an event, has found that most everyone’s photos tend to look the same. How many photos of the Grand Canyon or The Burj in Dubai have we seen that look identical?  Largely this is due to photos being taken from the same perspective. Taking the time to think about an unusual angle can make a world of difference as it shows your artistic expression and can set you apart. Why not try a mouse’s-eye view or like Daniel’s birds-eye view?


Cheong, primarily a telecom exec, really began his photographic life in 2006 after purchasing his first DSLR. His affection for landscapes and HDR photos pushed him to use a technique called ‘Digital Blending’ in post processing. This manual technique consists of blending a series of bracketed exposures with the goal of obtaining the maximum dynamic range, while trying to keep a very natural look and avoiding the common mistake of many ‘overcooked’ HDR images.  This slight element of the surreal seems to breathe even more personal value into his already brilliant works. You can keep up with on Facebook, Flickr, and 500px.

To learn more about HDR Photography check out SLR Lounge’s series, HDR Tutorial

[Backtrack: What is HDR Photography?]

We would LOVE to see some of your own ‘weathered’ photos. Let us know your thoughts on digital blending and what gear works well for you!

All photographs by Daniel Cheong are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mike

    The first one immediately reminded me of the opening sequence in Blade Runner. It’s breathtaking. It’s HDR done just right.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I need to watch that again. It’s been a while. But I agree with you, Daniel really found balance in his photos. Just enough HDR to make it alive.

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  2. Jeff Gelzinis

    Who’s coming to Gulf Photo Plus next year?

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  3. Jaime

    wow. now i want to go to Miami AND Dubai

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  4. Jimmy

    So true, I’ve never seen Dubai like this. Officially adding it to my bucket-list and I’m inspired to try more “weather permitting” shots myself.

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  5. Giules

    Been following Daniel’s work since 2008, having lived in Dubai. It’s always breathtaking. His Oman series is equally good.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I agree. I repeatedly go back to his work and am impressed. He’s also rather humble about the whole thing. Which is nice

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  6. Miami Rocks

    These photos are absolutely breathtaking and this article is quite well written. Looking forward to reading more of your work Kishore.

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  7. Nyron

    Excellent photos. Almost unreal apart from the knowledge that these are real place son Earth. Very good article Mr. Sawh.

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    • Nyron

      I also meant to add that this would be very helpful on my next trip to the North Carolina mountains.

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  8. Victoria L.

    What an incredible perspective from above the weather! Great piece.

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  9. Ed King

    That fog in Dubai is stunning !! Amazing city to photograph !!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I think I’m newly inspired to go now Ed. I’ll just an eye on the forecast first. Where else do you like to shoot?

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  10. Hanssie

    So beautiful! Dubai is on my travel wishlist!

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