Interview with landscape photographer Aws Zuhair

Aws Zuhair is an Iraqi landscape and travel photographer based in Malaysia.

Aws Zuhair

Tell Us a Bit About Who You Are.

My name is Aws Zuhair.  I am a landscape photographer from Iraq living in Malaysia. I have a PhD. in Electrical Engineering and am working as a researcher at the National University of Malaysia (UKM). Photography is my hobby and passion.  Since I enjoy being in nature, I like to capture all the stunning views that our planet has to offer. I have a vision in photography which is “I am looking for beauty and translate it to an image”.

What Are Your Favourite Locations?

Indonesia is my preference as it is a country with many stunning locations. My favourite location is Mount Bromo which is so unique.  This is a great location to capture the Milky Way and star trails.  I would also recommend Mount Ijen, Mount Rinjani, Bali, Nusa Penida and Padar Island. There are, of course, many other beautiful locations in Indonesia.

I generally travel alone, especially when visiting a location for the first time. Each trip is carefully planned beforehand so that I know my schedule. To keep the cost low and safe, I book three-star hotels and use public transport (if available). Generally, for the sunrise excursions, I book a private taxi or rental car.

What Does It Entail Being a Brand Ambassador?

Being a brand ambassador is something which every photographer aspires to. The main reasons being that the photographer will gain more popularity as well as get support.  Support may be in the form of free or discounted photography gear or travel, etc. I am a brand ambassador for Athabasca and YouPic.com as well as a representative for Fujifilm Iraq.

Athabasca is a Chinese company producing high-quality camera filters which are important for landscape photographers. YouPic.com is one of the largest photography community websites on the internet.

When choosing ambassadors, the companies are assessing the photographer’s work and knowledge. They are also assessing what he can provide in return through reviews, videos or workshops.  The photographer’s social media following is also important.  Sometimes they are also looking for photographers whose names are already a brand.

Tell Us About Your Go-To Gear.

My cameras that I am using are the Nikon D850 and the Fujifilm X-T3. I selected the Nikon D850 as I personally feel it is the best landscape camera. It offers excellent quality, dynamic range and ISO. On the other hand, the Fujifilm X-T3 was selected because it’s the perfect combination of excellent image quality and lightweight. I use only two lenses with each system as I like to keep my bag light. They are the Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8 and Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 for the D850. For the X-T3 I am using the Fujinon 10-24mm f4 and Fujinon 18-55mm f2.8-4.

Related Article: Best Fuji Lenses

For landscape photographers, a tripod is the most important accessory.  I am using a Sirui N2204X carbon fibre tripod and Sirui K30X Ball Head as my main tripod. This is a good brand which offers good value for money. I selected this model specifically because it is lightweight and sturdy.

High-quality camera filters are also important. I am using Athabasca filters because they are premium quality and do not produce any colour cast in my images.

Being a landscape photographer means a lot of walking and hiking so this requires a light, well balanced and durable backpack. I am using a Benro Ranger 400 backpack which is perfect for my needs.

Related Article: Best Camera Backpacks

Why Has SE Asia Captured Your Eye?

Since I live in Malaysia, all my photography trips are to the south-eastern Asian countries. Among all the SEA countries, I prefer Indonesia. The landscape in south-east Asia is very beautiful. Besides the landscape, the cities and architecture are very modern and beautifully designed e.g. Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Singapore.

How Do You Capture the Perfect Image?

Capturing stunning images requires being patient in the first place. I usually start by searching online to have a general idea about the location. I arrive at the location at least one hour before shooting time so that I can scout the area. At this time, I also try different compositions for my style of photography. Landscape photography often depends on chance.  Sometimes I have been lucky enough to capture the perfect shot on the first attempt.  Whilst other times I have had to visit the same location many times to get the perfect image.

In my photography, I focus only on sunrise, sunset and blue hours so my shooting time is basically two hours per day. For my taste, these are the perfect times for capturing the landscape and cityscape images. The sky colour and lighting, especially in the cities, give me the best combination for a perfect image.

What Is Your Editing Workflow?

Post-processing makes up an important part of the final image. I use very advanced and powerful post-processing techniques in my workflow such as digital blending and blending moments in time.  I am not using any third-party plugins and software as I do each step manually. My main focus is to produce the most realistic image as possible.

My workflow starts with basic adjustments via camera raw in Photoshop (white balance, highlights, shadows and contrast). I then move to Photoshop and deep dive into processing.

Any Upcoming Workshops and Courses?

I have several workshops planned namely a workshop to Mount Bromo – Indonesia (Astrophotography workshop) and then another to Bali – Indonesia (Landscape workshop). There are other workshops in the pipeline but these are still to be announced.

I am also organizing several post-processing workshops both in Iraq and Malaysia. More information can be found on my website. Finally, I am working on three online post-processing photography courses which will cover beginner to advanced level. They will be available both on my website and Udemy.com platform.

Related article: Photography Workshops Guide

What do you enjoy in your free time?

I try to balance my time between all my commitments. But every week, I dedicate one day to my family. Most of my free time is spent on YouTube as I like to learn new things and increase my knowledge.


If you would like to see more of Aws’ work, check out his website, Instagram, Facebook, YouPic.com and 500PX

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About the author

Jennifer Venter

I am a passionate trained photographer currently living in China. I love travelling & meeting new people so my photos tend to fall into those categories. I love coffee, fashion & Christmas. The only thing that makes me run away in horror are scorpions. Contact me via email ([email protected]) or Instagram (@fleetingtimephotography).

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