Welcome to the ME Dubai Hotel at the Opus, designed by architectural legend Zaha Hadid! Taking us on a little ole visual tour today is Lisbon based architectural photographer Francisco Nogueira. Francisco photographed this project just days before COVID19 forced the borders to be shut down, and fortunately so, because this series is a masterpiece.
Truthfully I could go on and on all day analyzing what makes each photo so great, but there are SO many that Francisco knocked out of the park, and I think it’s more impactful to let them — and Francisco — do most of the talking here.
Francisco introduces us to the ME Dubai by starting “This was a shoot for the hotel to have press and PR photos. It was supposed to be a 2-day shoot, but I ended up spending an extra day to wrap it up as I should.
More than 95% of the time I shoot alone — but on this particular project — the client asked me to bring my assistant which proved to be really important in order to maximize our time. I shoot only with available light, and directly to camera — not tethered to a computer — as I prefer the flexibility and freedom in movements and the speed going quickly from one place to the other it provides.”
How epic is the continuation of the skyline reflected in the glass of the hotel? It makes me feel like we are in Inception, and I love it!
“Compositionally, this project was very interesting to work on. I am always looking to play with the lines and trying to make the most of it to get strong and graphic images.”
This series is very graphic indeed. Francisco’s use of light, line, and perspective enhances the impressive sculptural nature of Zaha Hadid’s design.
I was curious to know what particular issues Francisco ran into while photographing such a massive and complex space. He relayed, “One of the greater challenges was shooting all the spaces at the best hour light-wise. It was rather tricky to shoot the rooms with the harsh light during the day in Dubai, but chasing the sun and the best room orientations, managed to get the most of it too. Of course, getting around the hotel and managing the availability of the rooms and other spaces with the best sunlight wasn’t particularly easy, but with some planning on the arrival day, we eventually did it!”
“To me, images should look the most natural possible, almost as they were not retouched. But of course, in order to achieve this, it takes usually a quite good amount of time editing! For the interiors, especially because of the hard light and difference between the outside and the inside, had to rely on merging different bracketing exposures, most of the times as HDR in Lightroom, and then using brushes to control exposure, shadows and highlights selectively in the different areas of the photo.”
Francisco goes on to tell, “As far as the exteriors go, the building is quite big, so it was challenging to shoot from the other side of the street in order to get the whole building without too many distractions and “noise” such as trees, street lamps, etc. In some of the shots, I had to do a few different exposures with different 17mm lens shifts and then merge them together into a much wider final image. Then, of course, I went on to do some minor distraction removals in some images via Photoshop.”
With the light outside darkening, we are better able to see the glow of indoor lighting, making more reflections and a greater sense of wildness and movement. Francisco’s photographs convey such a great sense of place and a feeling of life and light here. They make me feel as if I’m walking through the vast and exciting lobby of the hotel.
“I like to chase the light around the building and choose the best time of the day to shoot each space,” Francisco says. “Having more than one day always helps to be able to revisit a space if needed! For some of the exterior shots, it was nice to have more than one sunrise and sunset to get the golden hour/twilight photos from different points of view.”
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