Thaipusam Festival in Singapore – Part 2

The previous post mentioned about the date, what to see and some Thaipusam festival images i capture back in 2011.

There are questions from friends asking about what equipment to bring, is female allowed inside the temple, what to wear, what to shoot etc. Hence i would share my own personal experience with everyone.

Before i move on, this write-up is mainly for beginners and amateur photographers who are new to this arena. I hope through my experience it will able to give you some ideas what to expect.

1) Equipment – It depends what type of subject you are shooting, for a Thaipusam Festival i bring along a 24-70 to have a decent coverage from wide to medium. A 50mm F/1.4 lens to shoot during low light situation, a 90mm marco lens to shoot portrait and close-up. If you have the strength to carry 1 more, that would be a telephoto lens where most people use it to capture the moments.

A wide angle would come into good use when a “large-moving event” happen.This is a good color contrast of the, at the same time an event is happening. The yellow pedals thrown onto the air added an dynamic moment.

2) Female visitors are allowed in the temple, but all visitors are required to remove their footwear when roaming inside the temple. I suggest bring a plastic bag to put your shoes in and bring it along with you. You wouldn’t want your shoes to be bury underneath after deciding to leave the temple. Dressing should be respectful, no revealing clothing to cause any disrespect, applies to all religion.

Female devotees

3) What to shoot – This is the part where most people are interested. After you have your equipment gear up, the next step is to start taking interesting pictures. What you see is what you capture through your lens. Before that something must be able to catch your attention. What is the scene that instantly attracts your eye?

A successful photograph lie on various elements of design. The elements that bring order to photographic composition are line, form, shape, texture, pattern, and color. Whether a successful picture needs to contain at least one, or several of these elements, in regardless of the type of subject one is shooting. Keep practicing such techniques will eventually be a 2nd natural to your instinct. Hence building a more solid foundation before moving on to advance composition.

However am not going to touch on all the elements, i will use my Thaipusam festival images to relate my own style of photography during the documentation process, and what you are going to experience.

This was an intense moment to see various hooks pierce through the skin of the devotee. I waited for the moment to capture the expression and the process. Deliberately cropping the background through the lens to show the various legs, hiding the identities.

Here is one of the piercing process using a thin metal rod through the cheeks. The 2 men beside was chanting loudly to take away the devotee’s attention.

There are many opportunities of shooting portraiture. One only need to ask permission to get the devotee to look into your camera. Have an idea and composition in mind. Shoot it quickly, smile and say thank you before moving on.

This is a good example of patterns and lines. You can choose to either do a close up of the limes or a half length body image. Depending what you want to show.

If human nature is not one of your favorite subject to work with. There are still other photo opportunities for you to capture. Such as the detail of the items used for rituals, the design of the various kavadis.

Light is the most important, yet fundamental element of good photographs. The magic of light during the break of morning is not to be miss. The delightful orange glow creates a better picture chance. During the shooting process, the direction of light and the ongoing event is crucial.

See how the orange light gives a gentle lift on the capture subjects.

A beautiful light 45 degree from the rear lights up my portraiture

I hope the tips are helpful to achieve your result and improve your photography skill. If you are keen to meet up or guidance on that day do drop me a note here.

Venue: Starting from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple along Serangoon Road, there will be a 4.5km walk for the devotees to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road.


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