architecture

Dark city: Beauty of Dubai skyscrapers captured in monochrome

Updated 14th October 2019
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Dark city: Beauty of Dubai skyscrapers captured in monochrome
Written by Kieron MonksNourhan Elkallawy, CNN
Mysterious, dark, and foreboding, Sajin Sasidharan's black-and-white photography gives a vision of Dubai that looks closer to Gotham City than the glossy destination of vacation brochures.
Sasidharan's series on his adopted city -- he moved to Dubai from his native India in 2010 -- was chosen as one of the featured exhibitions at the recent Xposure photography festival in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
This adds to a growing list of honors that includes prizes at the Fine Art Photography Awards and the Moscow International Photo Awards.
View of the skyline from Downtown Dubai.
View of the skyline from Downtown Dubai. Credit: Sajin Sasidharan
Sasidharan is drawn to shooting architecture above other subjects, and he finds Dubai an ideal setting.
"When I look at a building as a subject I seek out shapes, lines, patterns, silhouettes, textures and try to find a rhythm in the structure," he says.
"Dubai is one of only a few locations worldwide where iconic architecture is not only encouraged, but actively pursued. As long as it is eye-catching it seems that anything goes, from the sublime to the outrageous, and sometimes a combination of the two."
In this series, the photographer takes on many of the city's most iconic landmarks; from the futuristic Emirates Towers -- seen shrouded in mist -- to the Meydan Bridge, and the mighty Burj Khalifa skyscraper.
The latter presented a particular challenge as the tallest building in the world is naturally difficult to capture in its entirety. Sasidharan navigated this problem by shooting the tower from long range, or through artful framing of the summit.
Summit of the Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world at just under 830 meters.
Summit of the Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world at just under 830 meters. Credit: Sajin Sasidharan
The photographer says he aims to give viewers a fresh perspective on a city and its architecture, even with a subject as familiar as Dubai.
Shooting in black-and-white is key to this ambition, which lends an image "something mysterious, nostalgic, and dramatic," says Sasidharan. "There is so much beauty in the simplicity of using just monotones."
Simplicity is also maintained in composition of a shot, the photographer says, keeping the frame uncluttered for a "clean, smooth, and relaxing feel." He uses long exposure to heighten this effect.
But what Sasidharan calls his most important work happens in post-production, with the finessing of images into fine art prints. Color and tone are at the heart of this process.
"I spend a lot of time in altering tonal relationships in my photos by making white what once was black and vice versa," the photographer says.
"I create shadows where there was nothing before and I create light where there were only dark gray tones."
The result is a haunting new look for the 'City of Gold.'
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