Al Qudra Desert, Dubai, UAE by Maarten Venter

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Picture Story

As landscape photographers we tend to avoid ‘flat skies’ as we find often judge it as uninteresting with a lack of texture. Generally skies with clouds receive a more positive emotional response from the viewers and people are in awe of burning skies at sunset.

The sky is generally cloudless, hazy and grey in the Arabian Desert. It does offer great opportunity for a minimalist approach to photography. The simplicity of the imagery is more about the emotional response rather than the actual place. With the use of the negative space the viewer is presented with a sense of calm and serenity.

The indigenous Ghaff tree (Acacia prosopis) have an amazing ability to survive in the desert by growing a tap root system that can find underground water to a depth of 60m. The trees either stand alone or often in small clusters amongst the dunes.
Shooting in the desert comes with many challenges. Though we do not often get a sandstorm, the Shamal winds do suspend fine dust particles in the air which results in the hazy skies. The best time to venture into the desert is early morning where wind conditions are relatively calm, and the sun does not cause issues with over exposed photos. Being reasonably fit is an advantage as trekking across the dunes takes some effort.

A conservation area south east of Dubai is a short drive from the city. Other than the simplicity of the natural landscape, occasional sighting of the beautiful Arabian Oryx and gazelles are a delight in the early hours of the morning.

Scouting around for a suitable tree can generally be done with a 4 x 4 vehicle until a suitable area is identified and then to continue by foot. I chose this tree as it is beautifully nestled in between the dunes which form part of the overall composition.


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