I'm a Singapore event photographer; specializing in corporate events, weddings and birthday parties.


Orchard Road Christmas Light-up 2011

The spiral decorations remind me of Tim Burton's movie, The Nightmare before Christmas.

I haven't bothered with photographing the Orchard Road light-up for years. Seemed too touristy and tacky. But I happened to be at Central and their Christmas display was pretty cool (see previous photo), so I thought I'd give the whole thing another go.

I think Singaporeans have gotten tired of images of Santa and reindeer too. Decorations are more abstract this year, which seems less tacky to me. 

The 2012 Light Up is at
  • Nikon D7000, 18-105mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 105mm, f5.6, ISO 800, 1/60 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, sunny (neutral) white balance
  • Picasa: Straighten

For most night scenes, setting incandescent (tungsten) white balance works best. It's like putting a blue filter over the lens, to counteract the too-yellow light in most night scenes.

The lights here are blue and are bright enough to neutralize a lot of the yellow light (from the sodium streetlights). I tried setting incandescent white balance and the photo looked artificially blue.

For this kind of photo, you want to collapse the overhead lights together to get a solid mass of them. This means zooming in with a telephoto focal length. Natural reaction is to place the cars in the center of the photo. You need to force yourself to tilt the camera up, so that you don't get a lot of boring empty road in the foreground of the photo.

Didn't need 1/60 seconds. Could have gone down to 1/30 seconds and ISO 400 (maybe blurred the cars a bit, but less ISO noise), but this is fine anyway.

Exposure is done by checking the LCD playback. You want to have some light from the cars and road, but without over-exposing the lights until they lose their color. In the old film days I would have metered off the road.