Library of Inspiration

Cloud City

In a time where our very own technology can feel unfamiliar, the future is unfolding at a rate we can barely comprehend. With sci-fi being the muse of many, Daniel Cheong finds himself sitting atop metropolis landscapes such as Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore, aiming his lens from all angles and revealing the vertical metal works piercing our skies.

“Most of my inspiration comes from movies, especially from directors who have a high sense of aestheticism such as Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, Zhang Yimou and Alex Proyas. Science fiction movies are also a source of inspiration for me.”

With an alluring fog that gathers around the cityscapes, Daniel hones in on the atmospheric moments. Rooftops provide him with the best vantage points to absorb all that the city has to offer, producing images that strikes as unreal and gives off a slight sense of vertigo. As a fan of geometry, the shapes and depth are his focal point.

Finding his next location can prove to be a difficult task, but in true futuristic style, the wonders of Google Earth have aided him on many of his adventures. “I first decide on the location before I even pack my gear. I can either decide to go on locations I have been to before, and try to capture a different composition. If I decide to go to a new location, I first check out Google Earth for the potential views from that particular location, and the direction in which the sun sets.”

For Daniel, the next deciding factor would be light. While most photographers chase after the magical time known as the “golden hour”, a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset, Daniel opts for a more ethereal shade of light. He often awaits the “blue hour”, the time of day when the light takes on a strong blue tone, which makes its appearance after sunset and just before the moon rises. This is also the time when the city slowly plunges into darkness, allowing the night to show their colours. “In Dubai, this lasts for only 10 minutes, so you have very little time to get your shots.”

With Daniel’s theme of futurism running through his body of work, every shot is designed to have a hyper realistic feel, providing a sense of surrealism in the most powerful way. His use of digital blending also brings out the pure power of each shot. To achieve these remarkable results, he chooses a kit that includes his AF-S NIKKOR 14–24mm f/2.8G ED ultra-wide-angle zoom lens and a Nikon D800 DSLR.

“I often come back from a location with over 100 exposures of the same scene, taken during an interval of 30 minutes. And a selection of those 100 exposures will create one final shot. That's why I always say that my photos don’t represent reality, but an idealized version of it. There is always this controversy surrounding post-processing, and I have absolutely no issue with that. There is enough room for different styles.”


© Daniel Cheong