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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Beno Saradzic

Jan02

The great fog hunt

By Beno Saradzic, Monday January 02, 2017
Rolling fog at sunrise, captured from the roof on the 99th floor of a skyscraper. Featured is the spire of The Marina Torch tower which reminded me of the Tower of Babylon... floating through the sea of barley. I used a 15-stop ND filter from NiSi Filters which allowed for a three-minute long exposure. It created a very surreal and dreamy look in this scene. Taken on an EOS 5DS R with an TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens.

Rolling fog at sunrise, captured from the roof on the 99th floor of a skyscraper. Featured is the spire of The Marina Torch tower which reminded me of the Tower of Babylon... floating through the sea of barley. I used a 15-stop ND filter from NiSi Filters which allowed for a three-minute long exposure. It created a very surreal and dreamy look in this scene. Taken on an EOS 5DS R with an TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens. © Beno Saradzic

Without a doubt, Dubai is one of the most spectacular looking cities in the world. There are currently 99 towers in Dubai that measure at least 180 metres in height (591 ft). Around the same number of giant skyscrapers are currently under construction. Let that sink in. It’s a dream destination for any cityscape photographer… like myself. All of those shiny and inspired architectural masterpieces – like the world’s tallest man-made structure, Burj Khalifa – make for an incredibly photogenic subject. But there’s one rare event, the most eagerly-awaited and elusive one that takes place in Dubai, once or twice a year. It's the fabled, sensational, spectacular, world famous ‘Dubai fog’. What is it and why does everyone want to shoot it?

During the seasonal change in Dubai, from summer to winter (October) and winter to summer (April), a fog can form in the desert before moving towards the sea, where the skyscrapers stand. Weather forecasts are rarely right about it, so planning to shoot it is difficult to say the least. The fog appears in the middle of the night and by dawn, it promptly disappears. It’s an elusive and hard-to-catch phenomenon. The visuals of skyscrapers, knee-deep in dense thick fog are famous, attracting photographers from around world to catch the prized shot.

But knowing when the fog will appear is only half the battle. The best place to shoot the fog is from the rooftops of the numerous skyscrapers. But getting on the roof is easier said than done. Rooftops are off-limits and inaccessible unless you get explicit permission from the management. It took a lot of effort to make that possible; dozens of emails, phone calls and meetings needed to take place before I got permission.

Since I shoot timelapses and still photographs, I prepared two different kits for each of the two tasks and kept them ready to be moved on a moment’s notice. For weeks, I'd wake up every night at 3am, check the weather outside and if there was a hint of fog, I’d immediately make a move with my gear, straight to the top of the tower. When the fog appears, it's usually 30 to 40 floors high. You don't see anything if you're in it, but above the certain altitude, the air is crystal clear and the fog looks like a milky white ocean. It's a remarkable sight. Knowing this, I made sure to be on top of the tower which wasn't less than 60 floors high. One of my shots took me to a roof on the 99th floor, which is definitely not the best place for those afraid of heights.

The fog usually happens once or twice a year at most. But this year, we had no less than four foggy nights and mornings in a row! Here are 3 of my shots, taken between 28th and 30th December 2016. Many sleepless nights and plenty of luck were worth every effort and pain.

I've also created a timelapse film of the foggy days captured last year. Please see the film here: https://vimeo.com/142349563

Dubai Marina is one of Dubai's flagship residential and commercial developments. It is home to some of the most amazing, tallest buildings in the world. The fog only makes it dreamier, like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie. Taken on an EOS 5D Mark III with an EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and 15-stop ND filter from NiSi filters was used to create a very long exposure.

Dubai Marina is one of Dubai's flagship residential and commercial developments. It is home to some of the most amazing, tallest buildings in the world. The fog only makes it dreamier, like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie. Taken on an EOS 5D Mark III with an EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and 15-stop ND filter from NiSi filters was used to create a very long exposure. © Beno Saradzic

At 808 metres, the mighty Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower) has no equal on this planet. It's impressive at any time of the day or year but never as amazing as during the seasonal fog. This scene features the sunrise (top part) and night time (bottom part) in one seamless composite. Taken on an EOS 5DS R with an TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens.

At 808 metres, the mighty Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower) has no equal on this planet. It's impressive at any time of the day or year but never as amazing as during the seasonal fog. This scene features the sunrise (top part) and night time (bottom part) in one seamless composite. Taken on an EOS 5DS R with an TS-E24mm f/3.5L II lens. © Beno Saradzic