Daniel Cheong, 500px Ambassador, explains how he uses Autopano Giga to capture phenomenal panoramic images

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Have you heard about Dubai? Daniel Cheong, professional photographer, does not hesitate to use the city’s occasional foggy nights and the plethora of high vantage points to capture the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates as we have never seen it before. Daniel granted us an interview to talk about his work and share his view about panoramic photography. Don’t miss it!
Daniel, you have phenomenal panoramic photographs in your portfolio. Can you tell us the story of how you first got started in panoramic photography?
Since I use a digital camera, I have always been interested in panoramic photography. I knew that using wide angle lenses would be perfect for taking photos in any enclosed space, where actually it would be impossible to capture an image with a longer focal length but unfortunately, this technology was not available at that period of time so I always created panoramas by stitching images.
Describe your favorite panoramic images you have taken. When and where did you take these photos, and why are they special to you?
This panorama was taken during a foggy night from the 70th floor of the Index Tower – tower which has one the best view on Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world with its 828 meters height.
This panorama was taken from the 73th floor of Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina during a foggy morning. I am always fascinated how the fog can create a complete sci-fi surreal atmosphere, specially in a city like Dubai which has very tall buildings and very strong city lights, which creates those amazing colors in the fog.
This one was shot from the Dubai Marina Mall and is one of the most complex panorama I ever stitched. This is a multi-row panoramic image with 5 columns and 2 rows. Each image was a blended bracketed shot of 3 exposures.
Do you use any specific hardware to shoot panoramas?
I use a tripod with a leveling head which to my opinion, is mandatory to shoot panoramic images. Most of the time I shoot panoramas with my Nikon D810 bundled with the Nikkor 19mm tilt shift lens. Thanks to this lens, I do not need a panoramic head to shoot multi-row panoramas as I just swing the lens up and down.
What features of Autopano Giga do you like the most and why?
Autopano Giga is an amazing software. I love its ease of use and the way it solves vertical banding problems especially when sky looks lighter in one frame and darker in the next. I am very confident when I run Autopano Giga as I know that it will overcome any stitching issues without any hassles.
Trough social media platforms such as 500px or Instagram you have a lot people who support and comment on your work. How did you build such a strong following?
I started to use social media platforms in 2006 with Flickr where I slowly got some followers. At that time, I spent hours commenting other people photographs. Then, in 2009 I created my Facebook page and I got even more followers. Lastly, in 2012 I decided to use 500px to expand my network of friends and peers. For now, I have over 44,000 followers on 500px, 62,000 followers on Instagram and 124,000 followers on Facebook.
What have you learned from your extensive experience in photography that you could share with our readers?
First of all, I would encourage them to shoot what they like, and not to follow any trends because they are popular on social media platforms. Then, they have to keep in mind that “sharing is caring”. Indeed, I use to share my knowledge and teach my complete workflow through lectures and workshops all around the world.
About Daniel
‘Straight out of the camera’ is a concept which I am not familiar with. I don’t pretend to show reality, but an idealized version of it. I am a “rooftopper”, I find the city most appealing when it is shot from the highest vantage points, and specially at the ‘Blue Hour’, and I live in Dubai.
Daniel Cheong – Professional Photographer
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