Long Exposures And Longer Walks Around The Dubai Marina

in photography •  5 months ago

While researching photo locations around Dubai, one particular area kept popping up in every Google search - the Dubai Marina. Already being such a renowned location, I was skeptical of shooting there, as I felt that it would be difficult to create something that hadn't already been done. But hey, it won't hurt to go and try anyway right?

Interestingly, for such a "popular" location, I'd read mixed reviews about shooting here, with most online forums claiming that security guards hassle anyone with a tripod (but strangely enough - it's completely fine to shoot without one). Well, guess I'll have to go and see for myself.

30 second exposure / f9 / ISO 100 using the 24-105 lens

But first, a small detour

I arrived at my drop off spot - the Jumeirah Beach Walk - a bit earlier than intended. Since this road is conveniently situated midway between the actual marina and the beach, I took a walk to the beach and sat on the incredibly warm sand, watching the sun set. Naturally, I had to use this occasion to try and get a sunset photo, which may have been a tad bit too late. But anyway, results below for your perusal.

It's also worth noting that I must have looked incredibly creepy, taking photos on the beach with a huge DSLR. Therefore, I didn't give this one many attempts, since it was only bound to end badly if someone started asking questions.

15 second exposure / f7.1 / ISO 100 using the 24-105 lens

In case you're wondering, that huge ferris wheel doesn't move. At all.

But now back to the main attraction

With the sun finally out of sight, I took a walk back to the side of the marina, and elected to set up on one of the 3 main bridges that span across the waterway. Trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible, I fired off a rapid succession of long exposure photos once I'd found an angle that I liked - even pulling out my Tokina 10-17mm fisheye for a photo, which transformed into probably one of my favourite ones from the bridge.

30 second exposure / f11 / ISO 100 using the 10-17 fisheye lens

30 second exposure / f8 / ISO 100 using the 24-105 lens

Note how much more vivid the fisheye photo looks. I've always thought the colours in that lens "pop" more.

So far, I'd been here for over 10 minutes and no one had even given me a second glance. Figuring it would be worth pushing my luck from the next bridge over, I took a long walk around and set up my equipment on the next bridge down for some closer shots with the 24-105 lens. While the fisheye is nice, it produces exactly that - a fisheye effect...not great for showing architecture.

30 second exposure / f9 / ISO 100 using the 24-105 lens (zoomed to 47mm)

Considering the evening a success, I elected to head back to my hotel, as I had only arrived in Dubai this morning, and the lack of sleep from the flight was starting to catch up.

But that's not all...

I did revisit the marina on my last night, using my fisheye again to capture a photo of one of the bridges crossing over the waterway. I was halfway through one of my exposures when I heard the sound of a security go-kart approaching. To my relief / surprise, the security guard merely slowed down a little, took a look at me and my camera, gave a slight nod, and continued on his way. Guess they don't mind people taking photos after all?

Or maybe I just look really intimidating... probably that.

Anyway, thanks for looking / reading!

30 second exposure / f10 / ISO 100 using the 10-17 fisheye lens

Equipment Setup

CameraCanon 6D
LensesCanon 24-105 f4 L Series / Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye
Additional EquipmentManfrotto tripod
ProcessingPhotoshop CC
LocationDubai Marina - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

DISCLAIMER: All photos and writing are my own original work.

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I was there three weeks and took 2K photos and never have any issues with security. Great shots.
You made me wish to go back.


Thanks for letting me know @oldtimer, good to hear others experiences.

I had a scroll through your profile and found the photos :) I see you also mentioned the issue of taking photos in public with other people around, hence why I was very dubious about shooting on the beach.

Breathtaking shots! Dubai really looks like it's out of this world. I'm definitely getting 24-105mm lens next haha.


Love the 24-105, but be careful as the ribbon cable within it can wear over time due to the way that the zoom mech works. That can result in erratic IS and focusing. Happened to me in the middle of Nepal. Very frustrating.


Thanks for the warning @markangeltrueman - wouldn't be ideal to have the lens start malfunctioning while on a trip somewhere. Mine is 2 and a half years old now (roughly), and still behaving. Let's hope it stays that way for a while.


Thanks for taking a look. Yeah, the city is pretty unreal, especially when you consider than most of it has only appeared in the last few decades. Reminds me of those places I used to build in SimCity 3000...

The 24-105 is a good all-rounder - I'd say I have it on at least half the time while shooting. Can't really fault it.


Dude @garethb, I Love SimCity!! :p


Haha, that's a good portion of my childhood right there.

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It is beatiful.