A new time-lapse video shows the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Abu Dhabi’s most iconic structure – in all its glory.
The Voyage, a two-and-a-half minute film by Beno Saradzic, a producer and filmmaker who has been based in the UAE since 1991, won the time-lapse category for the annual Spaces of Light competition (hosted by the mosque’s management team). The video is set to a haunting score titled A Late Night’s Wandering, and uses a clever mix of monochrome and colour to bring the curves and angles of the structure to life.
Saradzic, who is from Slovenia, captured the magnificent building at various times throughout the day, including sunrise and sunset. He began filming in January after receiving special permission to access the mosque after hours. He used a technique called motion-controlled time-lapse photography, taking a picture every five seconds, and within that interval moving the camera slightly to produce sweeping visual sequences.
“As a filmmaker, I always need to hone my craft and experiment with latest techniques to improve myself and see what I am capable of,” he says. “Motion-controlled time-lapse photography has a surreal effect – it highlights the things that happen too slowly to notice with the naked eye.
“For example, you see the shadows moving, the 12-tonne chandelier in the centre of the mosque swaying, and the light dancing across the screen. The technique renders the invisible parts of the world visible.”
Saradzic estimates that he must have shot over 20,000 images in the making of the film. In the end, almost 4,000 made the cut, which were edited together at a rate of 25 frames per second to create the poetic film, which he describes as a “heightened state of reality”.
Interestingly, Saradzic’s relationship with the mosque began in 2003 when he was commissioned to photograph the site and create a series of 50 architectural renderings. Since then, he has visited the mosque several times to photograph it.
“In Abu Dhabi, it is the only one true landmark as far as I’m concerned,” says the photographer. “It is an architectural object of immense proportions, with unbelievable finishes, and what makes it even more unique is that it is one of the few mosques in the world where photography is permitted for all visitors. This is in the greater spirit of openness and tolerance that Abu Dhabi stands for.”