I photograph dioramas, miniatures and still life with the stars and the Milky Way aiming to create realistic scenes and conceptual abstract art. What I love the most about photography is that it is a language that can be understood by everyone.
Through photography, you can freeze a great moment of time, or a breathtaking scene and share it with the watcher. You can deliver some deep meanings by expressing your ideas and concepts and convey them silently with dramatic impact. And from a simpler perspective, photography represents a time-out from the hustle and rapid rhythm of life. It is a perfect escape from the never-ending stresses of life.
I started photography many years ago and I used to shoot everything that I found interesting, I jumped from one genre to the other. And then I started getting more serious about photography. In 2010, I got fascinated with abstract and conceptual art, then I moved into landscapes and I finally landed into the magical world of Astrophotography.
I was passionate about Astronomy since I was a child, and Astrophotography was for me a perfect match: it combined my love for astronomy, my love for nature and landscapes with adventures, travel, and camping. This beautiful recipe is just perfect for me.
That strange mix of fear, excitement, serenity, awe, sense of beauty, and meditation is something that deserves the long hours of driving and traveling. That feeling you get when you step down from your car, switch off your engine and the headlights, look up to the sky and are amazed by this endless count of stars… beauty that could never be put in words.
In such places, you can really experience the sound of silence and enjoy it, and the fact that most of these remote locations have no telecommunication network coverage there adds to the serenity of the experience and the peace you have with yourself. It liberates you from all modern life constraints and you are finally back to your real humanity, blending with nature and its beauty. You finally feel at home.
I went almost everywhere across the UAE, scouting for locations, looking for different landscapes and compositions and I was quite lucky to capture some beautiful shots.
The United Arab Emirates is a mix of two beautiful contradictions: shiny glamorous cityscapes and raw nature. Basically, there are two types of landscapes: yellow-reddish deserts with sand dunes and some ghaf trees, or brownish rocky ophiolite (slices of the ocean floor that have been thrust onto continental crust) mountains with few green bushes and acacia trees.
And because cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are so busy and active, they happen to emit tremendous amounts of artificial light, and this limits the areas with no light pollution.
But like any other passionate photographer, I couldn’t get enough of that. I have basically consumed all different landscapes with every foreground possibility; mountains, deserts, trees, lakes, roads, cars, etc. I just wanted more than that, I wanted to do something different. And my passion for conceptual art was always there waiting to blend with what I do.
I started experimenting with some abstract ideas, mixing still life with Astrophotography. Every year (during the Milky Way season) I thought of trying a new idea/plan to start a new project. Blending a foreground from here on a background from there could be a solution, but it wasn’t my style and it will never be. And above all, where is the fun in that? One year, I got myself a collection of mirrors with different shapes and sizes and I started capturing stars and their reflections. I called the project Parallel Universes.
The following year, I worked on a project which I called “The Land of Nowhere” — realistic miniature photography. I aimed in this series to create realistic scenes that could easily trick you into thinking it is real.
I happened to be a collector of antiques and miniatures and, at that time, I had a small collection. Selecting the right miniature or object with the right landscape was a fun thing on its own. An old abandoned fishing boat would suit the yellow reddish color of UAE deserts, and a country house would perfectly fit with the Al-Hajar mountains in the eastern region of UAE. So I put everything I could carry in my SUV and hit the road.
The Land of Nowhere, it is the land where you can build your dreams and make it come true.
Even straight-forward still life and abstract art can blend beautifully with the stars. Meanwhile, light is an essential element of photography, and the darker the environment you are shooting in, the more valuable and more dramatic the impact your light will do.
Mixing lights and shadows is mind-blowing. It gives endless ideas and is a great way of expressing art.
Breaking the rules and thinking outside the box is something a photographer should always consider.
Getting out of your comfort zone, doing something different, and breaking the trend, adding some abstract and conceptual thoughts to your photography is what will differentiate you from others. You do not want to be that photographer whose only aim is to hoard equipment and excel settings. Photography is a form of art after all. And I am really grateful to God that I am doing it.
Disclaimer: This post was written by photographer Samy Al Olabi who has given Bored Panda permission to use his work.