Process of photograph lightning

May 28, 2015 Leave a comment

Last evening was the first time i encountered lightning scene while i was doing a personal photography project on a high ground at Bukit Batok, Singapore. I notice the lightning was occurring very frequently, why not try to capture this phenomenal moment since i did not try before.

Basic equipment i have that time:
-Remote shutter release
-Wide angle or telephoto lens

Quickly set up my tripod, used a 70-200 F4 lens, mount it and adjust the composition i desire. Not sure how much time will the lightning keep striking. The camera setting was put to BULB mode, F/16, ISO 200 and expose it for 73 seconds. Below is the 2nd exposure result. My adrenaline starts to kick in!

shot 1

I changed to a prime wide angle lens and capture the scene again. Still in bulb mode, adjust camera exposure to F/13, ISO200 and expose it for 38 seconds. However i did like the walls on the side of my frame. Hence i decided to use 70-200 for more shots.

shot 2

Making correction during the process
Now am pretty sure the lightning is going to keep occurring at that particular area after observing how frequent the lightning strike. I re-adjust my composition a little more and shot a few frames landscape mode, realise i was missing out the lightning high up. I turn my camera to portrait/vertical to have more space on top. Over a short period the strikes of lightning start to slow down. I don’t want to expose my shutter for a long time. Hence i set my next exposure to F/8, ISO 320 and expose it for 35 seconds. Below are the most amazing result i got after my composition correction!

shot 3

shot 4
29 seconds exposure

Once you decides the composition, set your lens to manual focus. Auto focus might jump off or struggle to focus when the auto focus point is aiming at a dark spot in the night. How i get my focus was pointing the auto focus point on the transmitter tower, once it is fixed i push the button to manual focus on my telephoto lens.

Set your exposure time to around 20-30 seconds would be good, unless you know the lightning is striking so frequently, adjust your exposure time accordingly to your need.

Initially you need to conduct a few test shots to get your exposure correct, i share my setting here is not a guide line to follow but a reference for you to understand.

Editing lightning image
Post process is usually one of the fun part to let your imagination be as creative as possible, i transfer the images to Lightroom and did my tweaking.

shot 5
Original RAW files from my 5D Mark III which looks unexciting.

shot 6
Adjusted the white balance to my ideal final image. It looks more dramatic in this sense, making the lighting ‘pop”.

Stacking your lightning images
If you are lucky, you can get multiple lightning in a single exposure. Not all the time lightning occur so frequently in every few seconds. By stack up the images 3 & 4 in photoshop to get the dramatic result i want.

shot 7

Hope you like my experience sharing here.

Architecture of Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

May 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Singapore finally had a natural museum! Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is located at NUS. This museum strives to be a leader in Southeast Asian biodiversity – in research, education and outreach. The architect is Mok Wei Wei from W-Architects Pte Ltd

Witnessing it progress for several months since late last year, the building finally takes shape. Through the news to learn that the museum is open to public. I took time off and headed down to photograph the musuem. Here are some of the pictures during the evening time.

Afro Asia Building in Singapore

Wandering in Central Business District during the weekend prove to be the most effective way for me to do architecture photography exploration. The area is almost free from human and traffic interruption, allowing me to be focus on capturing pictures. Is also a good idea to bring my not-so-light-tripod and set it up anywhere without hindrance and getting weird stares.

In Sept 2014 i came across Afro Asia Building, a commercial building in Raffles Place district. It has this old MPH bookstore on the ground floor, there ain’t many of it in left in Singapore as compare to more than 10 years back. The building gives me a feeling of struggling against the resistance of time against all the steep cost modernised building as the nation progress. Afro Asia building gives me a disciplinary design identity. It is also prominent and hard to miss for the first timer’s visit.

I went back a few more times throughout the months to capture the building in it most presentable moment,hopefully. If possible i want the light to be as beautiful when light reflected on the building with minimum traffic distraction. As is this a personal work, i can afford to choose the best time and day to return, or when am available for the day. Funny to say it never happen to have the best light, let’s say out of 10 trips, 9 doesn’t work. I started to study why it was so difficult to get it. Because the building is surrounded by tall buildings in a circle. Light is blocked from the east and the west. The only decent light is only from mid afternoon to about 2pm. I was extremely lucky to encounter a great shot in this time slot.

A beautiful ray of light shined right in the middle of the road, in the centre of the building. A yellow taxi came in to give a contrast to the almost dull color of the building. Lights were reflected from the opposite building to offer glittering effect. That was my first and last best light ever.

1 May 2015 i went back to check it out. The sky was cloudy as usual, i thought it was another unsuccessful attempt. As i was at the junction waiting for the red man to turn green. I took a step back into the shelter and looked diagonally across, tilted my head up to discovered these huge buildings behind Afro Asia Building. I changed my perspective of viewing it in landscape and adjusted it to portrait format. I looked into my viewfinder and was excited by the scene took place. I quickly set up my tripod to get the job done. As you can see below is the result.

I always enjoy going back to a particular area many times to search and explore, over the months i get familiar with the place and i get to see and learn more things, this process will result the fruit of labour.

Commercially doing architecture photography for client, doing a detail ground survey before the shoot is very important. Architecture photographer need to see for himself to understand/feel the building and it’s surrounding, where can he place his tripod, is there any possible high ground for an even better perspective, taking note of the light shifting, which particular spot is going to cause reflection/glare from the window at this particular point of time-is it possible to rescue in post-process, is this a decent season to photograph depending on the country season, checking the weather forecast for the next day. As all said, sometimes time is limited and i got to do whatever the time is given and budget to produce the best result.

NTU Learning Hub

March 13, 2015 Leave a comment

I was in NTU last week to do a bit of photo exploration and it happen to be the university open house. I came to NTU Learning Hub near Nanyang Business School who i had client working with in the university. Back in 2013 i saw the construction of this very unique architecture in progress. I thought it would be interesting to see the final work when it is completed. Now, the structure stood before my eyes.

I spoke to the worker who is working on the final touch up. i was thrilled to hear the building going to be officially open soon. I think the students would be very excited to make full use of this facility.

Interesting name i heard from the students was that they call it the “dim sum building”. It reminds them of stacked dim sum steamers. A cute nickname i would say, for sure there will be no steaming bao (bun) inside to fill your empty stomach.

The architects who design this is by the name of Thomas Heatherwick. One of the feature of the building is the 3D drawings on the walls, working with an Italian illustrator Sara Fanelli who did 700 drawings, the amount of time spent is really tremendous.

There are 12 different entrances to access the building rather than the conventional single entry, this let the air to flows freely throughout. Is a fantastic idea for environmental sustainability.

Do head down to NTU to check it out!

Interior photography for YSTCM

March 9, 2015 Leave a comment

Captured some interior photography pictures of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM) at National University of Singapore few weeks back. The staff were very kind enough to allow me to “work” there, as i did a night shoot of their architecture previously. The building is design by architect Mr Liu Thai Ker from RSP.

Concert Hall

Love this design


Click on the link to check out the rest of my interior photography of YSTCM.

Switch off the ambient light

March 2, 2015 Leave a comment

A wrong exposure leads to ‘switching’ off the surrounding ambient light.

At least it turns out to be a little humour for me, and maybe a new creative project is on the way.

Michael Kenna is coming to Singapore!

February 11, 2015 Leave a comment

I was escalated to learn from Ricebowl Photography Bookstore that Michael Kenna will be in Singapore for a Lecture, Q&A and book signing on 16th May 2015. In case you guys got no idea who is this man. He is a photographer who is well-known for his intense black and white landscape photography. He had held many exhibitions in many countries and constantly update on his Facebook page

I was talking to the staff in the book shop to find out more. I heard it was MK first trip to Southeast Asia and i was surprised to hear that, i mean he is such a well travelled person and he has yet been to this region. He must have dedicated much of his time in many other places he wish to focus on, because landscape photography is a very long period commitment to get the best picture.

Poster shot using my Sony Z3

A banner was put up outside Ricebowl bookstore at Funan Centre.

Early Bird: $250
Usual: $280

Initially i thought the price was a little bit steep. Thoughts of meeting the person in real life, flipping pages after pages of his photo books for many years. I think is worth the “investment” to meet the man and hope to learn some insights about his photography’s journey.

What i like about Michael Kenna images is it brings me the feeling of peace and surreality due to his long exposure techniques. He is shooting in film on a hasselblad camera, nowadays high and low end digital cameras is flooding the market each year. He truly appreciate the value of photography by sticking to his belief and creation.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94 other followers