Architecture Exploration in Shanghai

I was in Shanghai in 2016 during the Aug period. This has always been a dream trip for me. This was mainly a couple trip to celebrate our 1 year anniversary together. Our plan was to arrive in Shanghai, immediately head to Hangzhou for sightseeing and back to Shanghai for the remaining days. Am not diving too deep into the details for now.

Shanghai is a city with a population of more than 24 million. About 24 times more than Singapore, absolutely crazy i know. I just read that Shanghai is China biggest city and a financial hub, i thought Beijing was the biggest. Browse a few pages of the travel guide where to visit in Shanghai and you will discover there are so many places to visit! How many days should you stay if you asked me? Well, you need to take at least 5-6 days of leave, stay least 5 nights to explore this populous city in general.

If you have been following my blog closely, i have been sharing tips on how i work on my architecture photography. This time is a different ball game. First, this is an overseas holiday, not the plan to explore and wander to make pictures. Second, i got no time to do any location scouting for any architecture picture taking – the focus of this trip was more on bonding as a couple, spending time together. I did my research of the city but it is quite hard to visualize or imagine how does it feel to be on the ground. Basically, i explore like any tourists do. Move around the city and capturing nice pictures that caught my sight, immersed into the local culture and atmosphere.

The architecture set am sharing is Bank of China Tower, Shanghai (simplified Chinese: 上海中银大厦) No particular reason why i choose to capture this building. Built by Nikken Sekkei Ltd, a Japanese firm. I ponder, “why is it a Japanese firm that designed it? Very interesting.” Another reason i want to take pictures of this building is that of the weather – the lighting is acting in my flavor. I took the opportunity, at the right place and time. More importantly, the entire structure stands out from the rest of the neighbor. This makes me more attracted to it. Guess i have some good luck which i often doesn’t have.

Bank of China Tower is located in Pudong, a district of Shanghai located east of the Huangpu River across from the historic city center of Shanghai in Puxi. The elevated, magnificent architecture in China is more modernized than it seems to be, i immediately felt how China has quickly expanded in the last 2 decades into a very powerful country today.

Bank of China Tower is a 53-storey modernism skyscraper, exterior mainly tinted in blue color. Mainly is used as a commercial building. Completed in the year 2000. The structure remains in harmony with the surrounding for many years till today.

Close up of the curtain wall and facade

During the process. I try to keep sight of Bank of China Tower even from far. I wanted to capture a different perspective, together with the surrounding environment. Another problem i am facing is not having any local knowledge – where are the spots to go, where is the high ground i can find etc. That is why pre-scouting is included in the quotation for overseas job. Is very important to be familiar on the ground.

Lenses i am using that time were the 17mm tilt-shift and a 70-200 F/4.

Found a great view (pic below) to see most of the large-scale buildings lining up in Lujiazui.

Mission Impossible III was filmed there as well. Tom Cruise made a bungee jump and landed on the steep slope of the facade. What a stunt it was!

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Photo Walk at National Gallery Singapore

The local weather has gradually turned hot after weeks of cloudy day and occasionally rainfall in the afternoon. I feel absolute rejuvenation to have the sunshine. Getting a good sweat out with much walking and exploring. It seems like a really long time. But I had a very enjoyable feeling to be able to bring my camera out for a good daylight street shoot on architectural and anything in general that caught my eye.

I have been browsing a book that wrote about architectural photography. The book compiles some very well established architecture photographers from the 19 century till today. I was blown away by their work of portraying architecture pictures. In term of composition, i learned a lot from the picture.

I wanted to observe a few scenes that offer many layers of an element from the foreground to the depth, how do i compose it in the best way. How do i balance the scene when there are many different elements in the picture? Where is the limitation i am facing from what gear i have? Then, visualizing it, before using the camera to capture it. Is part of a self-training to keep improving, learn to see a slightly more complicated scene on a deeper level.

My photo walks took place at National Gallery Singapore. My equipment for the day is the Canon 5D Mk III, a 16-35mm and a 70-200 f/4.

I was taking pictures in color, especially the sky was blue in hue, makes me more excited. The light and shadow can be clearly defined through proper observation. As i was browsing through all the pictures in Lightroom. I decided to covert the colors images to monochrome effect to share with everybody.  Then perhaps you can understand why i decided to convert into black and white?

Enjoy the pictures.

 

Interior architecture in black and white

When taking pictures in this low light condition. I don’t have a tripod, and usually such public place no tripod is allowed. I had to use a slightly higher ISO to compensate for the slow shutter speed. The second picture i was not afraid to rest my camera on the available space. It straight away corrected the perspective because it is straight. I would advise that don’t be afraid to make use of anything available to get the picture unless the security came up to say so. If not, the result will be so much better.


Maximum depth of field

Using a wide-angle lens requires a very good eye to compose the scene. Because everything will look small and far distance, or there are too many things in the picture. But wide-angle is usually the preferred choice for landscape or cityscape photography. I really like the dome architectural element to be fuse among the tall buildings.


Reflection in Photography 

Reflection is one of the most fun things to play in photography. That said, not many people will have a detail observation of the surrounding. For my case in the 3 pictures below. It would a huge mistake not to even notice it. The pictures provide a marvelous effect – some may think is a double exposure. In fact is a reflection from the glass and still water.

 


Composition

Earlier on when i took the picture of Swissôtel The Stamford. The lighting was decent to take pictures, the sky was in a blue hue, however before i leave the musuem. I saw the light was in even better condition than earlier. I make the effort to go up the roof garden again to check it out, the golden light was reflecting on one column of the building. I compose the circular building in the center, trying to fill up the frame empty space as much as possible, or “getting it close” in other words.

Photographers are battling with composition every day: Should i use a wide-angle or telephoto? Should i compose it in a rule of third or be in the center? Should i go for a high angle or low angle? Should i move back for a wider view or move forward? So many questions, yet the light won’t wait for you to get an answer.

The second picture (above) am using the rule of third technique. But anybody can easily do this kind of framing with the gears i have. I need to quickly find another way to make this scene a bit more special. Because the right side has an empty space, it would make a difference if i include another element in it. That’s why i included the plant that was planted on the roof. Rather than saying i want to create a balance. I would say is the co-share between nature and architecture design.


Light and Shadow in Architecture

Light and shadow in architecture work perfectly in black and white. It clearly defines the lines, shapes, patterns, and structural design. The play of light and shadow can evoke emotion to a certain extent. Offering a quality of aesthetic in a still form. The light is a concentrated source of focus. While the shadow shows a mystify, quiet and hidden potential.

Hope you like the mini gallery tour in this post.

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Architectural Photography of Marina Bay Suites in Singapore

Marina Bay Suites

Today i am going to share pictures of the Marina Bay Suites that was developed by Keppel Land, Cheung Kong Holdings and Hongkong Land. Singapore is simply filled up with plenty of luxury condominiums.

This architecture has a height of 227 meters and 66 floors. Making this one of the highest building in the republic. This is a rare residential located in a prime area. I can’t think of another better words to describe except this building gives the ultra-luxury visual!

The architect is by Kohn Pedersen Fox firm.

 

Photography

I was able to circle around Marina Bay Suites easily while taking the photos. I always try to do it when the sky is in saturated blue and the lighting is in the right direction i need to show the best side of the facade properly.

There was a challenge in case you wonder? The first two pictures were quite difficult to capture the entire height into the camera even using the widest 17mm tilt-shift lens available in the market. I was standing at a far distance than i normally would, but the scale of the building is simply massive and amazing! On the ground, requires me to make a lot of micro adjustment in my position to get the picture correctly. The tip of the building was so narrowly almost cut off from my framing.

The last picture was captured in the morning. It looks a bit desaturated due to the weather condition. I would have given this scene a miss, but somehow i like the feel of it, is not giving out a very powerful, massive aura. But the scene was softer and relax which is why i decided to keep this picture.

You can click on this link to see the high res of Marina Bay Suites or feel free to check out my photo site for more pictures!

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Architectural Photography of One Shenton Way

One Shenton Way

A 99-years leasehold real estate redevelopment project. Located along Shenton way in the Tanjong Pagar area. This architecture consists of dual towers luxury residence that consists of 341 apartments, the tallest of which reaches up 50 stories! Completed in 2011, it is notable for its two-tower construction. Two sides of each tower are clad in gold and two sides in blue glass panels. The first floor is retail space and includes bar, cafe, and restaurants.

The two exquisite towers rise 50 and 43 floors above an elegant podium. Atop the towers stand magnificent glass and metal sculptures – a dramatic addition to the city skyline. Wish i can go up to check out that magnificent cityscape view.

Photography

Due to the congestion of the space in the surrounding. It is challenging to capturing this building from various angles which i normally do. Another difficulty is not having an access point to the nearby taller commercial buildings for the picture. Hence is always 2 feet on the low ground and finding the possible angles available. The first and third picture was in a similar angle but in the different distance, the environment can be seen in a different point of view too. But the focus point must be the One Shenton Way architectural.

If you are interested to try on architecture photography, take your time to observe the building. ‘Communicate’ with the building to build a connection. The good thing about taking pictures nowadays is a very simple task, with a click on your camera or mobile phone. An auto mode setting – the aperture, shutter speed and ISO will make a good exposure for you. The key is to “visualize” how you like your picture to be. Photography is a pretty much self-expressive art. Is not necessary to be a commercial aspect for client’s demand.

You can click on this link to see the high res of One Shenton Way, and please help me to check out my photography website for more pictures!

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Architecture Photography of DUO in Singapore

For many years i have been witnessing this DUO building working it way up to the skyline in Singapore. One particular sight i can clearly remember was seeing the construction workers assembling the tower crane in mid air on a scorching day, i was feeling the sweat and intense heat with them even i was standing under the shelter.

DUO consists of DUO Residences and DUO Tower. The entire building is like a partially commercial bee hive – with the individual honeycomb shape facade in place. The architecture design looks unconventional to me.

Hope you enjoy the pictures below.

When the night fall, the entire building is lighted up, glamouring itself with a glazing effect. It gives a different feel to the surrounding but i wouldn’t say is outstanding or attractive either. Over time it will simply blend in with other nearby high rises buildings.

Before the construction of DUO on 2012. This space used to be an empty spacious green field. Sometimes on the weekend, i can see a small group of people playing football. I enjoy walking past there when i was taking pictures of the street. Singapore’s land is considered extremely scarce. Every inch of land is just waiting to be redeveloped for either commercial or public purpose.

On the side note, i feel there is a lack of rooftop accessibility for the public. I got no idea for whatever reason why there are not many in Singapore despite so many high rises buildings. Personally, i love going up to skyscraper to enjoy the city view in other countries, i would pay money for it despite the high entrance fee, skyscraper i have visited like the Taipei 101 and Shanghai Tower offer a very generous view of the city surrounding. In Singapore, Marina Bay Sands and 1-Altitude is the only place i know in the city that offers an aerial view – both require an entrance fee. Another place is Orchard ION but the place is currently under construction till Oct 2017, although is free but is open for certain hours.

If you are interested to read more about DUO, check out Archdaily for a more technical explanation. You can also head over to my gallery too.

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Architecture Photography of Audi Centre in Singapore

Audi Centre Singapore architecture is designed by architect firm ONG & ONG.

This is the largest Audi car showroom in Southeast Asia. I love how Singapore keep breaking the record for something big for a long time before being overtaken.

I waited for a day when the sky is blue, and when heaven answer my call. I am ready to go at it.

Every architecture building has its own different challenges to capture. Even though these architecture pictures i took is a non-commission base. I am always preparing, training and increase experience.

HARD WORK AND DEDICATION

6 pictures below

As you can see in the pictures, is a mixture of vertical and horizontal images. Capturing the building from the closest possible distance and far away. This requires scouting in order to see the hidden potential.

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Skyville at Dawson

Skyville@Dawson is another one of the more interesting public estate in Singapore. Designed by WOHA, a Singapore award winning architecture firm.

This estate caught my eye for several reasons. First, I love the zig-zag looking design which is different from the typical estates for many decades in Singapore. Second, this is 46-storey testate that connects laterally with sky bridges, offering a continuous “luxury” panoramic view as i stroll around. I love heights, the higher it is, the more breathtaking the view is.

Check out these set of pictures series i have taken in 2016. I also took part in a photo competition organized by WOHA on Instagram and managed to win some of the categories.

Each picture has a meaning and also focus on the design and functionality. Hope you are able to see the meaning in my picture.

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How to capture better architecture pictures

Currently, i know am not the best in architecture photography. I am not the most searched architecture photographer in Singapore on the internet.

However, in my mind i tell myself i am the best architecture photographer in the world. Is better to think am the best than troubling how to go about it. I will continuously hard work on my goals and the answer will eventually reach me.

How to capture better architecture pictures?

Study the great architecture photographer’s work
Study how the 21st century and 20th-century great photographer takes pictures.

Go to the library, dig in books published by photographers and architects firms.

Observe really hard how they compose an architecture picture, read their golden words carefully.

Repeat, and repeat till it gets stuck in your head.

Go read books from Julius Shulman.

Go out and fail
Nobody likes to fail, in today’s world. Most people typically want to achieve an immediate result. If the result is not favorable.

Most people quit.

I strongly encourage you to go out to take pictures and be prepare to fail. Then go out again in the next day or next week, or when the weather is good. Until you got the final picture.

Stay focus on the architecture
Select a building you want to work on.

Circle around the building like a hungry wolf. Observe how the mood of the building change during different hours and days.

Every building has a different surrounding that will affect the final quality of the picture.

Know where is the best spot to take a picture.

Never limit yourself, keep exploring to discover a new spot.

Feel for the architecture
If you are unable to feel for the building, that means you are not spending enough time with it.

I always return to the same building i am working on for many times. I want to develop a positive vibe with it.

Find a spot to stand or sit, marvel at the architecture, be fascinated and curious about it. Have an open mind, then a feeling of excitement will open up to you.

One-time affair
One-time affair is only a short pleasure. The result yield limitation or none.

Nowadays most people use the camera to make an easy picture and spent more time to edit in photoshop. If you want to be the best, take the difficult path.

Buy a tilt shift lens to do great architecture work. This lens is the minimum you must own to start doing architecture.

Start to develop a long term relationship with the exterior or any of your photographic subject, only then you will be able to discover unknown possibilities to achieve a great picture rather than a mediocre.

Building the hype
If i have planned for a shoot day. I usually woke up earlier, celebrate the feeling of excitement by eating a huge breakfast for energy, looking forward to visiting the location. Knowing today will be a wonderful beginning.

I tell myself i will nail it today. I am beginning to build a positive vibe before leaving the house.

I visualize the sky is bloom in saturated blue, the building looks exceptional outstanding on the day.

“click”

Purging from social media images
I am proud to say the purging process i am doing is an excellent way of freeing my mind. I refrain myself from seeing online pictures. Why so?

We’ve admired other people’s work too long. Precious time is wasted on finger browsing images, example on Instagram. We need to release ourselves from insecure, jealousy and time wasting from online browsing.

We must never lose our originality in the practicing craft.

To be special or different, we need to be original in your own way. The secret is to keep practicing and practicing till you are going through the motion.

Don’t let other images that have thousands of “Likes” to swallow you up. Instead be the king of kings.

Uninstall Facebook and Instagram in your smartphone. Now you got more free time on hand, go out to make more meaningful pictures for yourself. Happiness and art can only be crafted by your own hands.

If you are using these 2 social media platform for digital marketing and business, by all means, please go ahead. Traditional advertising needs $$$. Online is almost free if done correctly.

Keep pushing
If you think you are done, you are so wrong.

I keep going back to the same place over and over again. I thought i was done making it. Until i realize there was actually more to it, or even better. Steve McCurry was that type of photographer that goes back to the same place again and again to capture images that turned into iconic images. Images that can let the next generation to study the past.

Develop other processes as well. Instead of capturing architecture in colors, go for black and white architecture images.

Am not sure is developing A STYLE is enough in today market. I feel is better to learn more techniques/method/style than sticking to one. Let’s be jack of all trades and master of all.

You will not be restlessness anymore if you continue to pursue your craft really hard.


This post took me 3 hours to write over nine hundred words. I totally skip my lunch to write on an empty stomach… Is incredibly hard but i will keep doing this.

I know i am not a great writer, I believe there is always room for improvement, i may not realize what is still needed in order to be better. If you have any suggestion please feel free to leave a comment below. However, i wish to share this useful information as much i can through my own experience, and i hope you may absorb something from my writing. If you like today’s blog, please support me with a “like” and share my page on your social media channels. If you have a comment or suggestion, i would love your input too.

How i started Architecture Photography

Dear readers,

This is a short story how i fall in love about architecture photography.

Many years ago, an architecture photographer shared with me about his thoughts of taking architecture pictures. He said, “You must feel for the building, talk with the building.” At that point, i thought he was mad. How do i even talk to a building that was built with concrete and steel? The interest for architecture was not in my biggest interest at that point in time. However, those words turned out to become a golden advice. I have to apologize inside my heart thinking he was mad.

How did architecture embark into my life? About 4 years ago, i was required to visit several places in Singapore for a German start-up company. This company sent me a long list of the brief of the Do’s and Don’t for their picture requirement. That was how i truly understand about capturing interior and exterior photography, i also further study it through books and online to increase my knowledge, go out to the field to practice, and finally the editing.

On a personal note. I left my good career as a soldier to pursue photography 11 years ago. Only recently, i start to understand what i want to achieve. Visualize my career goal is ultimately an established commercial photographer (architecture, interior, corporate, industrial), jetting all over the world to take pictures for many top companies, providing them with great pictures for their marketing materials, let the world see my pictures. Commercial photography jobs have developed into the​ main stream for me. I truly love visiting​ various type of companies to capture a ​different set of photo requirement or a visual telling story requirement for clients. I never hate the traveling part, is always a very refreshing experience. I loved the challenges that were thrown onto me. My company always aims​ to provide a picture solution for all my client.

I have recently reshuffled my photography website. I have categorized​ all my photos of architecture by the name. Rather than putting various architecture pictures all on​ a single page, which can look​ so shambles. It was a lot of hard work to do it, but i think it is really worth the pain to look more organized, and professionally presentable. I had a clearer picture what i can do to make the picture better.


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I know i am not a great writer, I believe there is​ always room for improvement, i may not realize​​ what is still needed in order to be better. If you have any suggestion please feel free to leave a comment below. However, ​i wish to share this useful information​ as much i can through my own experience, and i hope you may absorb​ something from my writing. If you like today’s blog, please support me with a “like” and share my page on your social media channels. If you have a comment or suggestion, i would love your input too.

I Love Architecture Photography!

No doubt

No second word needed

Pure love for architecture photography

Love to study Julius Shulman work

Reason?

I love picture of building to be in vertical, neither converge or distort.

I want to truly justify the hard work of the architect, engineer and builder.

I want to show the building immensity regardless of size.

I do it because i love it.

For the Art or Money?

I choose both. Been allow to be creative yet at the same time been paid. Best of both world.

Why Should I Hire You

Ultra committed to a project.

Relentlessly chase for the pictures i had in my mind until i got it.

Never get sick of going to the same place over and over again.

I always want to do it better.

I know am unique in my own way, you won’t regret it.

Able to work on client’s brief. (see testimonial)

One of my big dream is to travel around the world shooting architecture pictures for international architect’s firm.

Come hire me to capture your beautiful building.

 


If you are new and wish to find out more about my work

Commercial Photography
View Of Industrial Vehicles
My Work Flow On Corporate Photography