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


Archifest Pavilion 2013, Dhoby Ghaut Green

Archifest is an annual architectural festival. The pavilion is the centerpiece of the festival and plays host to a variety of activities. This year the temporary pavilion is at Dhoby Ghaut Green, next to the MRT station. It is constructed out of what looks like building scaffolding and colored cloth.

The building in the background is the Park Mall. The MRT station and Plaza Singapura are on the right, out of the frame.

As you would expect in Singapore, the pavilion design is chosen through an open tender call.


  • Nikon D600, 35mm f1.8
  • At 35mm, f2.8, ISO 1600, 1/30 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto White Balance
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop

Standard setting for night building shots is f2, ISO 1600, 1/30 seconds. But the pavilion is brighter than most buildings so I decreased the exposure one stop after reviewing the first image on the camera's LCD screen.


River Cruise Boat, Singapore River

Electric river cruise boat. Singaporeans call these bum boats. The original bum boats used to come this very section of the river and unload cargo from ships moored out at sea. Not so long ago, up till at least the 1970s. 

Boat Quay (now mainly restaurants in the old riverside shophouses, with the skyscrapers of the financial district in the background) to the front and on the right, new Parliament House on the left. Quite a commonly photographed scene but I think not with a boat so clearly in the foreground.
  • Nikon D600, 35mm f1.8
  • At 35mm, f2 ISO 3200, 1/30 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto White Balance
  • Picasa: Crop, auto contrast
This is what you can do with today's equipment. You can take photos in almost darkness (the boat was in deep shadow, is over-exposed in the photo by about 2 stops - 4 times) without blurring out moving objects. Very happy with the 35mm f1.8 on the D600 - light, good low light performance, covers my most widely used angle. Not as useful on the D7000 with the 1.5x focal length crop, making it a 50mm equivalent. 


Mid-Autumn / Mooncake / Lantern Festival, Bukit Panjang

Mid-autumn celebration (known to children as the mooncake or lantern festival) organized by the People's Association, at Bukit Panjang, next to the Pending LRT station. This is right smack in the middle of a government HDB housing estate. 

It's mainly a variety musical show on the stage inside the tent, but there are kids playing with lanterns outside. Most lanterns are now battery-powered for safety, instead of candles.

  • Nikon D600, 35mm f1.8
  • At 35mm, f2 ISO 1600, 1/30 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto White Balance
  • Picasa: Crop, auto contrast, auto color, fill light

I'm now trying out the DX (cropped sensor) 35mm f1.8 lens on my D600 (FX full frame DSLR) as an FX lens. One website tested the 35mm f1.8 DX against the old 35mm f2 AF-D FX lens and found the DX lens sharper even at the corners. Theoretically, the DX lens shouldn't be able to cover the entire FX image sensor area, but it does. Vignetting (dark corners) is minimal, often not noticeably. You can crop out the dark corners with a photo editor and lose less than 5 percent of the photo width. 


Orchid Hotel, Tanjong Pagar

Aerial view of Orchid Hotel (centre) with a HDB apartment block on the left and Capital Tower on the right. There's a huge Singapore flag at the top of the HDB block because it's a few days before National Day.

I keep on saying this because it's true - the technical side of photography is easy. The difference lies in finding unique angles to take photos from. This means exploring, lots of leg work.
  • Nikon D600, 24mm f1.4
  • At 24mm, f2 ISO 1600, 1/30 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto White Balance
  • Picasa: Straighten, auto contrast, highlights
Handheld to avoid lugging a tripod around. Set f2 to get maximum light with decent depth of field (I'm not confident with f1.4), 1/30 seconds to reduce camera shake (standard formula for minimum shutter speed is 1/focal length), adjust ISO accordingly (check exposure on LCD).  


ION Orchard Basement Escalator

This is the escalator leading down to the basement food court of ION Orchard. The bright colors are really something. Simple but effective design - ridged curved ceiling lit by colored lights. 

Wall-sized advertisements are stuck onto the light panels that form the walls (the blue rectangles are video screens, also displaying advertisements). On this day, the walls are displaying a Fancl cosmetics advertisement.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 10mm, f3.5, ISO 400, 1/60 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop, auto contrast, fill light.
Took the photo on my second trip down the escalator. On my first trip, there was someone wearing a red baseball cap in front of me. It was too distracting, changing the focus of the photo. So I went back up and down again.


NUS University Town, Night

Most people take a photo of the Education Resource Centre on the left to represent UTown, so I thought I'd do something different and include the Residence blocks on the right too.


  • Nikon D600, 28-300mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 28mm, f4, ISO 3200, 1/15 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto White Balance
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop, auto contrast, glow. 

Time is 7:36pm, rich color in the sky. A few minutes later and the photos I took had a black sky. I was photographing a school debate and finished just at the right time. 


Yishun Aerial View, Night

View from a HDB flat (common corridor) a few hundred meters north of Yishun MRT station. You can see an MRT train at the bottom left. Photo is exposed about two stops brighter (4x) than what you would see with your eyes, which is why night photos look prettier than real life. 

  • Nikon D7000, 35mm f1.8
  • At 35mm, f2, ISO 1600, 1/8 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, incandescent white balance
  • Picasa: Crop, glow

Incandescent white balance to correct for the sodium vapor street lamps. 

You can get a surprisingly wide depth of field at f2 with the 35mm lens, so don't be afraid to use it at f2 for landscape photos. I don't use the 35mm much. I carry the 35mm as a backup lens in case the zoom breaks. It's good to use it once in a while so I don't forget how it handles.  

I wouldn't dare use the 35mm handheld at less than 1/30 seconds (the lens has no image stabilization) but I was supporting my hands on the balcony, so 1/8 seconds worked out okay.


RSS Intrepid, Singapore Navy Frigate

The RSS Intrepid was berthed at VivoCity for three days in March 2013 for a public open house - members of the public could go onboard and tour the ship. It carries a Seahawk (navalized Blackhawk) helicopter in the rear. One of six frigates of the Formidable class, based on the French La Fayette class.


If you look carefully, you can see two Jedi sparring with light sabres underneath the cannon.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 30mm, f5.6, ISO 3200, 1/5 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop, auto contrast.

With a stabilized lens and zero vibration from the electronic shutter, you can take handheld photos with the V1 at 1/4 seconds. 


Escalator to Imbiah Lookout, Sentosa

Near the Merlion at Sentosa, this is the first of a series of about 5 escalators that go to the top of the hill.

You can see from this example, the amount of attention that is paid to even mundane items on Sentosa. The psychedelic colors make me think of a heavy metal album cover, not any album or group in particular, it just feels like one.

  • Nikon D600, 24mm f1.4
  • At 24mm, f5.6, ISO 6400, 1/30 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto White Balance
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop. 

The top sign is over-exposed because the contrast range of the scene was too great. I decided to sacrifice it and expose for the escalators.

Could have opened up the aperture and used a lower ISO, but I was testing the high ISO performance of the D600.


Odeon Towers Entrance

Odeon Towers is an office building with a few restaurants, bars and clubs. As far as I can tell, there are no retail outlets. This is the view from the public pavement. It's located opposite Raffles Hotel.

I liked the way the different colored blocks were arranged, giving a clean graphic look, but with enough details to be interesting. I would have preferred it if there weren't any ceiling lights to clutter up the top left, but they aren't too bad.  

  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 10mm, f3.5, ISO 400, 1/125 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop


Choa Chu Kang Chingay Celebration

Chingay celebration at Choa Chu Kang, during the end of Chinese New Year. Held at an open field near Lot One shopping centre and the Choa Chu Kang MRT station.

There are some floats parked next to the field but the celebration is mainly about the stage show. It was more a concert than a parade. The field was packed full of people. You can security personnel at the bottom left, with red shirts and green reflective stripes, keeping the crowd from spilling onto the road.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 15mm, f4.2, ISO 1800, 1/30 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Crop, fill light
The camera's auto exposure handled the lighting well. I later boosted the fill light one stop when editing the photo, but it isn't strictly necessary. 


Stewords Riverboat, Marina South Pier, Night

Replica of a Mark Twain-style Mississippi riverboat, permanently berthed at Marina South Pier. There's a restaurant, a cafe, and a multi-purpose hall.


I took this photo on the way back from a boat trip to Kusu island. I hung back behind the rest of the passengers, to take the photo and ended up being the last one through the customs checkpoint.
  • Nikon D7000, 35mm f1.8
  • At 38mm, f2, ISO 1600, 1/15 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto white balance
  • Picasa: Crop, glow
The reflections off the water are an important part of the composition. I had to consciously aim the camera downwards to capture them in the frame.

I carried two zoom lenses on this trip, together with the 35mm f1.8 prime. I switched to the prime when it got dark, not just because it was the brightest lens but also because I was stumbling around in the dark and didn't want a big lens hanging off my camera.


Ascentia Sky Condominium, Under Construction

I came across this rather striking building on Alexandra Road, while on my way to an appointment. The wide and thin structure, combined with the colors and the pillars embedded in the front, made it a stand-out compared to your average apartment block. 

Redhill MRT station is just behind.

There's more information at the official Ascentia Sky website:
  • Nikon D600, 28-300mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 32mm, f8 ISO 100, 1/250 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, auto White Balance
  • Picasa: Fill light, color saturation
The building was backlit against the sky, creating a dull image, so I later edited the photo on the computer to bring out its color. 

Standard setting for outdoor shot - ISO 100 for low noise, f8 for high lens sharpness.


Lion Dance Troupe, Packing Up

I stumbled across this lion dance troupe near Pickering Street (financial district). They performed in front of a shophouse but I found this scene of them packing up to leave, more interesting. 

You can see them hauling their huge drum up into the truck. The lion is already in the truck, rear right. Love the old-style wooden beams on the truck. Guy in red on the far left is the God of Wealth, the guy next to him is holding his head.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 30mm, f5.6 ISO 400, 1/60 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop, auto contrast, fill light


Lion Dance at The Cathay

After Chinese New Year, Lion Dance troupes perform all over Singapore, usually at commercial outlets. I think individual shop owners pay them to come. They seem to do it for themselves, for luck, not to draw customers because the performances are often during business hours on weekdays. 

I accidentally walked in on this one when on my way to watch a movie. The whole performance took about 15 minutes. I missed the first few minutes of the movie, but it was worth it.

Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
At 20mm, f4.8, ISO 1600, 1/400 seconds
Auto-everything except ISO manually set to 1600
Picasa: Crop, straighten, auto contrast, fill light


Kranji Primary School

It still surprises me, how much of a difference some bright paint can make to a building. With colors like this, you don't need a blue sky.

Photo was taken from onboard a passing MRT train.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 22mm, f5, ISO 100, 1/400 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Crop, straighten, auto contrast, saturation, glow

Original photo had a gray film over it due to the dirty windows on the train (double glazed too, so more flare). Picasa's auto contrast function managed to neutralize most of that. I also increased color saturation and used the Glow function to punch up the colors. Without any people in the photo, you can boost the color without worrying about skin tones.  


Bishan HDB Apartments, Night

I passed these blocks of flats on my way to photograph a wedding. I was particularly impressed by the grassy slope and the two high blocks on the left with the slanting roofs (most HDB blocks have flat roofs).

But it was raining then. I told myself that I'd pass by again after the wedding, and if the rain had stopped by then, I might get an even better photo because it would be night.

Night photos are interesting because they can look very different from what you see "live." By over-exposing the photo, you can get strange but beautiful photos like this one. I got lucky with the clouds - enough to nicely pattern the sky, but not too thick to block it completely. 

The photo works because there are three bands of interest - the sky, the buildings, and the grass. With only two bands, the photo would be too simple.
  • Nikon D600, 28-300mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 28mm, f4, ISO 12800, 1/8 seconds
  • Manual exposure, center-weighted metering, 2500 K White Balance
  • Picasa: Fill light

White balance was set to 2500 K to counteract the orange light from the nearby sodium vapor street lights.

Without a tripod, night photos are an exercise in seeing which camera setting you are willing to sacrifice first. I had already opened up the lens aperture wide, went down to 1/15 seconds shutter speed and ISO 64000. Still too dark.

I decided to risk ISO 128000. Still too dark. I didn't want to go to ISO 25600, too much noise so I sacrificed shutter speed instead, 1/8 seconds. Luckily there was minimal camera shake because the lens vibration reduction really works. Photo looked okay on the LCD playback but back home on the PC it was still too dark, so I boosted fill light by one stop.


Holland Village, Aerial View, Night

This is the famous Holland Village shopping and restaurant/bar area, a sort of mini Orchard Road. The large curved building is the Holland Road Shopping Centre. Most of the night action takes place behind it, along Lorong Liput and Lorong Mambong (lorong means "lane" in Malay). Main road on the right is Holland Avenue. It forks at the top right and the right fork becomes Holland Road.

Holland Village MRT station (Circle Line) is underneath there somewhere, completely underground. The surrounding area is mainly residential - a mix of HDB public housing, private condominiums and terrace houses ("landed property").

Not surprisingly, Holland vilalge has its own website: http://www.holland-village-singapore.com/
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 10mm, f3.5, ISO 3200, 1/30 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Auto contrast, glow
Cloudy and rainy evening. You can see the clouds blurring out the horizon. It's 7pm, so there's still some light in the sky.


Light Panels, ION Orchard

An entire backlit wall. It's used for large advertisements, but was empty on this day. The bare texture is still interesting enough on its own. Girl with the phone happened to be there and is the final piece of the puzzle. Photo would have been too plain without her in it. It's a common trick, having someone in the photo to add interest, but it works. 

Orchard MRT station is only a few meters to the right.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 21mm, f5, ISO 1200, 1/160 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Crop, auto contrast, auto color, glow
The actual scene was brighter, the camera was fooled by the bright light. I think it looks better this way, so I left it alone except for some minor tweaking in Picasa.


Kallang Aerial View

Aerial view of Kallang, looking south-west. Kallang MRT station in the center (you can see a train entereing the station from the lower left), Kallang river at the center top, Suntec City and financial district skyscrapers on the horizon.  

You can just make out the Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer ferris wheel at the top left. Gardens by the Bay at top far left. Yellow rectangle at the center top is the Golden Mile Tower. Not many yellow buildings in Singapore. 

I was in an apartment, photographing my friend's wedding. 
  • Nikon D7000, 18-105 f3.5-5.6
  • At 24mm, f8, ISO 100, 1/250 seconds
  • Aperture priority, center-weighted metering, auto white balance
  • Picasa: Crop, auto contrast, straighten
Lots of light, so set ISO 100 for low noise, f8 for good lens sharpness and depth of field, use aperture priority and let the camera take care of shutter speed. 

Natural reaction when photographing scenery, is to place the horizon in the middle of the photo. You need to stop and think about how you really want to frame the photo. I got lucky with this location. Problem with many scenery shots is that there is nothing interesting in the foreground. The LRT station makes this photo work.

Throw in some margin around the edges to be safe, you can decide the final crop later on your PC. I ended up throwing away 20% of the left and bottom of the photo.  


Bus Stop, Bras Basah Road, Night

The new bus stops have a simple design that blends in well with the urban environment. Older bus stops had a curved corrugated steel roof with yellow and orange stripes, which didn't look as good.

The bus stops are at least partially supported by advertising. You can see a red lighted poster on the right. There's also one on the left but it is over-exposed so there's only some red visible at the top. The two square panels at the center of the bus stop are bus service and schedule information (always up to date). The green and red LEDs at center-right are estimated bus arrival times, updated in real time, part of Iris (Intelligent Route Information System - http://www.sbstransit.com.sg/iris/overview.aspx)

Building in the background is the Rendezvous Hotel. I took the photo because they recently started lighting up the exterior of the building, which transformed the scene. School of the Arts is on the left, Manulife Building is on the Right, Singapore Management University is behind the camera.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 10mm, f3.5, ISO 1400, 1/30 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Straighten, crop
Using the Nikon V1 again. Handled this tricky scene on full auto, no problem. Didn't need any exposure tweaking in Picasa. Pleased with the high dynamic range of the photo - you can see details in both the dim areas in the bus stop, and the lighted signs and windows.


Marina Bay Sands, Lunar New Year 2013

Chinese New Year decorations at Marina Bay Sands. The red thing on the left looks like the bottom-half of a Chinese lantern. It's made out of large cloth banners and is at least 10 meters across.

Rainy day on a Sunday afternoon, so the sky isn't too bright. I had some fun walking around to get different angles on the decorations. The lighted ball on the right helps to balance out the photo. If it were just the red lantern, the photo would be boring.
  • Nikon V1, 10-30mm f3.5-5.6
  • At 21mm, f5, ISO 1100, 1/30 seconds
  • Auto-everything
  • Picasa: Crop
I bought the Nikon V1 after its price was heavily discounted in December 2012. I wanted an every-day-carry (EDC) camera that was lighter than a DSLR, didn't look as intimidating (didn't scare people or security guards), but with decent image quality.

The V1 is Nikon's part of Nikon's new "mirroless" Nikon 1 system which has a 2.7x focal length crop. It's Nikon's answer to the Micro Four-thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic. I chose the V1 because it:
  • Uses the same battery as my D7000 and D600
  • Has the FT1 lens adapter that allows it to use Nikon F-mount lenses. My 55-300mm DX zoom becomes a 810mm f5.6!
  • Is an underdog. When people first heard about its small sensor, most dismissed it as having poor image quality. But the high-ISO sample images on the websites looked good.

I'm happy with the V1. Turned out as I expected. High-ISO performance is better than the D80's, Nikon's top consumer 1.5x crop DSLR from not that many years ago.