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Daniel Cheong : Welcome to the world of digital blending

Interview led by Head Editor Yvette Depaepe
Published the 5th of November 2021

Daniel Cheong is an outstanding and skilful freelance photographer always trying to sublimate landscapes.  Straight out of the camera is a concept which he's not familiar with.
He quotes: “
I don't pretend to show reality, but an idealized version of it.
He aims to perfect the technique of Digital Blending, which consists of manually blending multiple bracketed exposures in order to obtain the maximum dynamic range, while trying to keep a very natural look and avoiding the common mistake of many 'overcooked' HDR images. This slight element of the surreal, or hyper reality often found in painting is what he tries to achieve.
Apart from the magnificent locations he visits, he also loves the city, most appealing when it is shot from the highest vantage points, and specially at the 'Blue Hour'.
Daniel's work was published in many magazines worldwide.
He also achieved two books about Dubai and organised many workshops.

Let's listen to what he reveals to us about himself and about the man behind his wonderful images.


'Enjoy the Silence'

I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Daniel!
To begin, please introduce yourself shortly and tell us more about you, your hobbies or other projects you are involved in!
First of all, thank you for featuring me on 1x! I was born in Mauritius, studied in France where I got a master degree in computer science. From 1986 I worked over 29 years in the mobile phone industry in different countries (France, USA, Japan, Singapore, UAE).
I started photography as a hobby in 2006, and in 2015 I lost my job and decided to become  full time photographer doing commissioned work (mainly interior and architecture), also giving seminars and travel/photography workshops in many countries. As a tech person I am also very interested in science and high tech.

For many of us photography is either a hobby or a way of life.
How would you define your relationship with photography?
After working 29 years in the high tech corporate world, it was an intimidating move to transform my passion into a full time job, but I don’t regret the move and I don’t see myself going back to a ‘normal’ job. I’ve always been into photography, I got my first camera when I was 8 years old.

What would be the most important experience so far that has influenced your steps in photography?
The most influence element has been joining Flickr in 2006. By that time I already moved to digital photography (got my first digital camera in 1998). But I was only sharing the photos with my close friends. But then getting into Flickr allowed me to share my photos with the world and also allowed me to interact with a lot of passionate photographers. A few months after joining Flickr I started to get proposals to be published in several magazines.

When have you realised that you would like to follow a career in photography?
When I moved to Dubai in 2008, the photographers community was still small, and I join a small community of so called ‘roof-toppers’ where we tried to gain access to one of the numerous rooftops of Dubai. My rooftops shots of Dubai, specially the ones with the fog became very popular, and allowed me to be published worldwide. Then I started to give workshops, seminar, started to have many commercial work to shoot. So photography had become almost a second job for me. So when I lost my job in 2015, there was no hesitation for me to pursue photography as a full time job.


'Foggy Dubai'


'Burj Khalifa & Dubai Downtown



'Dubai Downtown'


'Dubai Marina'

How do you maintain and grow your passion for photography?
Travelling to new countries, teaching and sharing my passion through workshops and seminars.

What do you think are the top three secret ingredients for a remarkable landscape photograph?
Patience/perseverance, light and composition, and I also like to add ‘luck’.

What are the main challenges and do you prepare carefully the locations where you want to visit?
There are different scenarios. Social media have allowed me to know a lot of photographers, so when I travel to a new country, I always try to reach out to a local photographer there, who would already know the best photography spots.
Otherwise, I do a lot of homework, already checking photos of other photographers on social media. Then using an app like Photopills to understand the location, direction of the sun, moon, position of the milky way for astrophotography.


'Roche du Pas de Cabris'


'The Star Gazer'



'Piton de l'Eau'

You travel a lot, thus having access to different cultures and photographic visions. How does this influence your work?
I always check the work of local photographers to get ideas and inspiration.

Many are of the opinion that the gear is not very important when the passion for photography is strong. However, can you please share with us what gear do you use (camera, lenses, tripod, etc.)?
I have been a ‘Nikonian’ since 2008 (D300, D800, D810, D850). I am still using the D850, I have not moved to mirror-less yet because I am still very happy with the D850.
The lens I use the most now is the Nikkor 19mm Tilt Shift, I use it all the time for cityscapes/architecture, but also landscapes. I do a lot of panoramas with it.
I occasionally use the Nikkor 14-24mm.
As I travel a lot, I use a Leofoto tripod which is compact and light, but still sturdy enough. I use a Leofoto panoramic head.

Can you please tell us something more about your workflow?
I use the Digital Blending workflow which consists of blending multiple exposures using Photoshop and layer masks. Most of the time I shoot in bracketing mode, where I will get exposure from underexposed to overexposed. And I always use ND filters because I like the effect on the water and the clouds.





'The Wild South, Reunion Island'


'Planet Reunion'



'Icelandic Dreamscape'

Another important part of your photographic activities is focused on teaching photography classes (workshops) and sharing your vast experience with others. What do you think are the challenges of this activity, especially in these days of coronavirus pandemic?
Yes the pandemic has been very hard for us photographers, all my travel workshops for 2020 were cancelled. I did a couple of online workshops, but this is not my favourite way. I like the human contact with the students in a classroom, or on a shooting location.

What would be your favourite photo from the last years? Please tell us the story behind it.



'The Rift Tears'

I took this photo in Reunion Island. I saw a similar picture from another photographer, and I was fascinated by it. So I asked a friend to give me the location, and I went there. The first time I went there, it was already 1 hour after sunrise (it took me longer than I thought to get there), but the light soft enough and was happy with the shot. When I showed it to my wife, she really didn't like it, so I decided to go to that place again the next day and reach there before sunrise. And indeed the result was completely different.
And what I like about this image is that people really don’t understand what’s going on, it looks like the water is miraculously coming out of the rocks. Some of the comments I got also questioned the fact that it was Photoshopped. But it wasn’t. I had to post a video to show what was causing these ‘waterfalls’.

Who are your favourite photographers or mentors whose works have influenced you and your photography?
Indeed I have been influenced by a lot of photographers, specially when I was a newbie on Flickr in 2006, the list would be too long and I would not like to forget any names.

We almost reach the end of this interview and I would kindly ask you to share with us your future plans or photographic projects you would like to be involved in.
I should resume my travel photography workshops in 2022, so far one in Singapore/Kuala Lumpur and another one in India, with more to come if the travelling situation gets better.

Some more of Daniel's work below.


'Gone Fishing'



'Victoria Peak' (Hong Kong)



'Kuala Lumpur Cyberpunk'
Image composite with cityscape elements from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shangai, Dubai and Chongqing


Great interview my friend!! Thank you for sharing our though and images. Please contact me when you visit to Japan next in your travel
Magnificent photographs seem to take people through the world of dreams, I watched them with admiration.
Amazing Work, Welldone great job. You treated very well with these photographs.
Thank you all for your generous feedback! And thanks to 1x and Souvik Banerjee for making this interview possible!
Fantastic work, Daniel. Sincerely appreciate your thought and sharing. Hope to see you in Singapore; if I get a chance to join your workshop. Welcome to Singapore.
Thanks Vincent! I did a lot of workshops in Singapore, will start again when the situation gets better!
Seriously magnificent work Daniel, thank you for telling us your story, your work is an inspiration, congratulations!
Thank you Wayne!
Fantastic work, great photographer! Merci Daniel pour avoir partagé avec nous, moi aussi je suis Nikon D850 et j'adore cette caméra. Bon courage pour tes futurs projets et je te souhaite de bonne santé !
Merci Vasil. Oui je suis toujours tres fidele a mon maintenant 'vieux' D850, et je ne suis pas pret de m'en separer. Quand il rendera l'ame, je passerai au mirroless (Nikon bien sur!).
great photographer, fabulous color treatment
Thank you very much Aguaneigra!
Awesome sublime images of the MASTER. I have always loved your work and get amazed each time. Loved to go through the interview and learn. Beautiful presentation of this magazine and great curation of the shots Yvette!!
Thank you Souvik! Looking forward to meeting you in Dubai!
Excellent article and amazing photography, well done!
Thank you Charlaine!
Am Only Trying For The Artists To My Artistic.
Thank you!
I'm a big fan of Daniel Cheong, thank you for this article.
Thank you Sebastien!