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Using light to your advantage

Reader photographers are selected for their best photographs published in February, 2017

  • Zulfikhar Ahmad's winning photograph is from the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, India.Image Credit: Zulfikhar Ahmad
  • Zulfikhar AhmadImage Credit: Supplied
  • Sajeesh Aluparambil captured what he calls a ‘magical evening’, at Jumeirah Beach, Dubai.Image Credit: Sajeesh Aluparambil
  • Saleem Moopen said he saw this road while driving through the famous Icefields Parkway in Banff, CanadaImage Credit: Saleem Moopen
  • Saleem MoopenImage Credit: Saleem Moopen
  • Sajeesh AluparambilImage Credit: Supplied
Gulf News


Light is often considered the single most important element in photography. Even those who only take the occasional photograph can acknowledge the importance of light – too much or too little of it, can spell a picture’s doom.

But light is more than just a tool to capture a scene. The quality of light adds to the feeling of intimacy in the moment, according to James L. Stanfield, a photographer at National Geographic. So, soft light is best when taking portrait photographs – it causes facial features to soften, and the eyes to communicate. Shooting into the light, or ‘backlighting,’ adds a halo effect to hair and clothing and other details of a subject.

One trick when learning about light, is to try different exposure settings on your camera to see what choice makes best use of available light.

Over the past few years, Gulf News has received hundreds of pictures of the sunset. But how do you get yours to stand out?

Stanfield writes: “When shooting at sunset, don’t just shoot the sun itself. Often the best scenes are those being ignited by the warm light of the sunset.”

Use light to your advantage, but remember that it doesn’t have to be the focus of the image. Stanfield notes: “When used well, light takes us by the hand and leads us to the important parts of an image.”

In February, our top reader photographers knew just how to manipulate light.

We asked Gulf News’ twitter followers to pick their favourite reader photograph as part of February’s Reader Picture Competition. They retweeted the picture they liked best. The pictures were ranked based on the highest number of retweets. Here, we present the winners.

Editor’s note: Do you want to participate in our monthly Reader Picture Competition? Send us your best photographs, with captions, at


Zulfikhar Ahmad is a freelance photographer, based in Dubai.

His winning photograph is from the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, India. He said: “This photograph was shot during sunrise, when herders take their camels to the exhibition grounds, to sell. The morning light and flying dust created a wonderful moment, throwing them all into a silhouette effect. I took the picture during my first ever photo tour with the Photo Walk Dubai team, and I would like to sincerely thank my mentor Subodh Shetty.”

Ahmad’s picture came in first place, with 25 retweets and 28 favourites.


Sajeesh Aluparambil is a logistics assistant, based in Dubai.

He captured what he calls a ‘magical evening’, at Jumeirah Beach, Dubai. Aluparambil said: “Some children were feeding seagulls there. It allowed me to take a picture of the Burj Al Arab from a different perspective.”

His photograph garnered 20 retweets and 20 favourites.


Saleem Moopen is an ophthalmologist, who has been working in the UAE for the past 15 years.

He said: “I saw this road, with beautiful autumn colours and a green mountain range in the background, while driving through the famous Icefields Parkway in Banff, Canada. By late September, the autumn colours arrive, and you get to see an incredible number of fall colours, as the spruces and aspens change shades. The scene was beautiful on its own, but I wanted a point of interest or focal point, so I waited patiently. My effort didn’t go in vain – a red car appeared and the picture was made.”

His picture came in third place with 11 retweets and 24 favourites.