The one hour of the day when you can snap through the haze
Have you ever spotted an amazing photo opportunity in Dubai, whipped your camera out in excitement and eagerly snapped away, only to be disappointed by the grainy, dull results? Yes, us too. Expert photographer Catalin Marin, 33 – originally from Romania, and a Dubai resident for the past six years – is here to help. His often digitally enhanced images are so clear and stunning, they’re almost eerie. In fact, you may remember our beautiful cover image of Salalah in Oman a few weeks ago (‘Fantastic 48-Hour Getaways’, June 16-22), which was taken by Catalin. Yet even a skilled photographer finds the summer a tricky time to capture perfect images. ‘In summer you just don’t shoot as much,’ he explains. ‘It’s so hazy and the light is harsh. But if you do want to continue, the evenings are the best time. We call it the ‘blue hour’ – the time just after the sun goes down, before it’s totally dark – because you get a nice colour in the sky. Although the sun sets so quickly here it’s more like the blue half-hour!’ Here he reveals more expert advice for shooting at that hour, as well as some of his beautiful images taken at dusk. For more tips from Catalin and to see his photoblog, visit www.momentaryawe.com.
‘Ripples’ Taken at 6.30pm How it was shot ‘It’s one final image made up of three separate identical shots with different exposures. The camera was positioned very low to capture the ripples. A lot of people don’t realise that things look different from the ground – there are different proportions and it’s a more interesting perspective than the point-and-shoot at shoulder level.’
‘Dubai Lights Up’ Taken at 7pm How it was shot ‘This, of course, was taken from the Burj Khalifa. There aren’t really many options up there, unless you get special permission to go anywhere other than the viewing deck. I leaned the tripod against the gap in the glass and zoomed out so none of the glass was visible.’
‘Emirates Towers from DIFC’ Taken at 6pm How it was shot ‘This is a full HDR photo [the merging of many photos to allow a greater range between the light and dark parts of an image]. It features seven exposures, blended with software called Photomatics. I had to do this because there’s a lot of contrast – Emirates Towers is quite light, but the building to the right is quite dark. When I took this shot I had a big camera and tripod and the security guard came up and said, “Are you going to take photos?” I said no, and he said, “Okay, but if you were going to take photos, just don’t do it in front of the security cameras.”
‘JBR on the Rocks’ Taken at 6.15pm How it was shot ‘This is seven exposures; I did this to get a nice contrast on the moss on the rocks. It’s taken from where they do the skydiving at the Mina Seyahi. I’ve lost a lot of flashes in the water from taking shots like this.’
Catalin’s night photo tips • The sky loses its light very quickly in Dubai, so pick your location in advance and plan carefully.
• Take your camera out of the bag about half an hour before you want to shoot, so the lens stops fogging up.
• Use a good tripod and a remote so you don’t move the camera when you press the shutter button. Alternatively, if you don’t have a remote, try setting the timer.