APS Behind the Lens: Desert sands
In June 2019 I was spending a short holiday in Dubai with my family.
Dubai is a fabulous destination with a myriad of opportunities for anyone in love with architecture photography; not only from the street level but from the height of the observation deck at Burj Khalifa as well. At 452m high (the equivalent to one and a half Eiffel Towers), the observation deck is one of the tallest in the world and gives access to a 360-degree view of the city of Dubai.
Armed with my Sony A7R III and a 24-105 F4 G lens I spent a few hours taking as many pictures as I could, and I was lucky enough to watch the sun going below the horizon; a memorable experience.
Having done all the obvious tourist stuff like the Burj al Arab, the Gold Souk, and Palm Jumeirah, there was still one surprise in stock for me. Somebody has booked a trip to the desert very early in the morning so we could watch the sunrise … and do some dune bashing.
I was all for the sunrise but “dune bashing”? Never being much of an adrenaline junkie, the idea of going up, down, and sideways in a 4x4 vehicle gave me goosebumps, but in the end the sunrise won.
At 3.30am a car was waiting for us in front of the hotel and a smiling driver greeted us with “Good morning, it is a little bit chilly outside - would you like to turn on the heating?” I had a look at the weather on my phone and the temperature was already about 27 degrees. If that was “chilly” for a local, I don’t want to know what “warm” and “hot” felt like! Turns out he was only joking.
We arrived in the desert about 5.00am and we waited patiently for the sun to come up. The picture I had in my mind was a pristine dune half lit by the sun and the other half in the shadow, and I was lucky enough to find such a dune not far from where we were watching the sunrise. All I needed to do was turn away from the sun and take a few steps and there it was - no tyre tracks, no footprints, great light and just enough wind to kick up some fine sand over the top of the dune.
I couldn’t have asked for more, and it soon became obvious I was standing right next to the shot of a lifetime. No pressure, just press the shutter release button as I did thousands of times before. I didn’t even need a tripod.
After a few dozen snaps my mood was considerable better and I was ready to face the much-dreaded dune bashing in the 4x4. Fortunately, despite being afraid we would roll over at every turn, it was all for show. The driver was a pro and knew exactly what he was doing.
And then finally, a few hours later back at the hotel, I had the opportunity to see this image on a bigger screen. The editing done, I realised I had the image I always wanted; lucky me. In this case, going out of my comfort zone was very beneficial in the end – a lesson learned! ❂