Singapore Trains

Singapore Trains series was a sudden burst of idea in a afternoon back in Dec 2016, i thought how a single scene with multiple tracks with each train running on it designated route look like? Honestly i was also sort of inspired by Stephen Wilkes day to night series.  I ever read online that mentioned, don’t look at other artist’s work to be creative, be original. Is like indirectly stealing visual for your own usage. I beg to differ, for me i require good visual to inspire myself to come out with my own original idea.



The 2 images above are made in Jurong East. The first round was doing scouting, sniffing out possible positions and the type of composition. The next trip was to bring my gears and returned to the spot where i will be executing the shot. I know most people don’t do scouting at all, they lug their entire gears along and start to trigger immediately. Personally there is nothing wrong with it; however scouting allows me to be more visually focus, fix the scene in my mind, ample time to better understand my surrounding as well, pre-determine what are the right gears to prepare. That is my type of preparation before any commercial shoot. For this case, personal work.

There are not many train tracks in Singapore that has more than two train tracks side by side. Much time were burnt on scouting of the location, checking out map and random train pictures from online. When the actual shoot took place for that day, i only hope for the best weather after studying the weather forecast, before that i even monitor the daily weather to see if there is a same pattern. The above two images are made in Choa Chu Kang area.

As the saying goes: “the more you practice, the better you will get.” After making  mistakes and keep on improve from it. The next shoot will always be in less difficulty, mistakes allows me to gain the experience that book never teach you. Bear in mind no 2 shoot is ever the same. That is why the experience built up is more than ever important to handle new challenge. The above image is made in Punggol area.

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Case study for work problem and solution #1

Sharing my work experience regarding arising problem on set and creating solution. Photography is not just simply taking a camera and click a picture for the professional. Is also about solving problem and issue on the ground, giving solutions through varies suggestions. These requires with years of experience and handling the situation professionally.

Above is a picture last minute requested from the client to do a portrait picture, and i only have 2 wide angle lens with me, I choose the 16-35mm to capture this picture, another lens is 17mm fixed lens which is not suitable at all. Which explains the picture have more head space on top. Going in too near will cause distortion. In this way i have to make sure my perspecitve is correct. The next problem is there are no proper background inside the shop.I will have to choose an outdoor location with a narrow white wall available as the back drop. Make use of the available tight space and natural light to do this. And this is how the result turns out to be.

A decent picture solution! Click on my website for more great pictures!

Hand work of a final image

With millions of images displayed on the web each day. Scrolling through the never ending digital data (images), leaving some good images in the dust, or waiting to be discovered like a hidden diamond buried deep in the cyber world. With so many images uploaded online daily. I wonder which picture have the potential to tell an unheard story.

Am sure many have not thought about the journey behind an intriguing photograph? For example in an exhibition, is normal for people to admire a very beautiful picture and move on to the next, and next until the last photograph. During this process, some may have studied the interesting details, observing the vibrant colors, thinking what is the story in it, or some simply couldn’t understand, because it could be too abstract, or unrelated to the person’s feeling in that moment. Whether the picture is worth it value? This depends on the individual perspective towards it.

However, viewers should have another viewpoint as well, the amount of hard work put in behind the final image. Regardless on the genre in photography.

Most people only get to see the beautiful side of things in life.

Rich people get rich because they work extremely hard to earn money. Fashion models look great in the magazine because they have a strict diet regime. A muscular man looks fit and hardy because they eat the right food, work out twice the amount than any other normal people. As for photographer in my opinion. Repetitive journey and time are used to get that one good picture.

Below is an architecture image of condos at Tanjong Rhu. An upscale residential area. Am going to share how this final image came about.

I love exploring around urban areas in Singapore. Especially tall buildings that built as high as 40th levels, it offers me a good vantage point of the environment surrounding. I have been doing this for the past 12 months since 2015, whenever i have the time. It was never a deliberate attempt to shoot anything in particular, but the curiosity to explore, search and wander around drives such passion. Along the way i discovered new scene, made attempt to get the picture i have in mind.

For this scene at Tanjong Rhu, i wanted to do an architecture shot. I had made least 3 attempts on different dates and weather condition. What attracts me back is because of the layers in the scene. I divide the composition into 5 segments. First, the foreground consists of the abundance trees and river. The second layer is the clutter condo, where it’s unique feature i observes have a roof design on top of each building, with bright orange color on it, presenting a very distinct identity in the area. The third layer can be divided into 2 sections, on the left is condos under expose, on the right side, are trees, or undevelop area for now. The fourth layer is the sea where many large vessels and oil tankers ship queuing to go port. And the fifth layer is the sky where there is a plane happen to be on the top right, aviate towards Changi airport direction. So, this various observation of the elements entices me, giving me a pre visulation of the final image.

I equip myself with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 70-200mm lens. It is perfect for me to capture everything in a frame without having to crop. Even though is a daylight, with sufficient shutter speed and small aperture, i set up my tripod to mount my equipment. This will comfortably allow me to observe the changes in the scene and click to my liking without losing the composition. My persistence pays off on this 3rd trip, the light was perfect, it was shinning on my main subject (condos). While the rest behind was underexposed by at least 1 stop. I was glad there were no clouds hovering on top, am able to get some blue hue which was way too perfect! It seems magical in that moment, i made a few exposures before the scene changes, i wonder when will such a sight appear again, it will be a long wait or even more return attempts!

The rest was history, upload it onto the computer, spend some time to do the editing, keywording and description. Share it with the rest of the world.

In past weeks, i had discovered an upcoming camera technology company, Light. A pocket size camera design which offers a high quality of a DSLR. Do check it out their wonderful product!

Stephen Wiltshire in Singapore

Stephen Wiltshire was invited by Singapore Press Holdings to do a drawing of Singapore landscape. Stephen has this extraordinary skill of memory. First he took an hour long helicopter ride to have a view of Singapore skyline. He is able to record the scene details in his mind without using any recording device, and later translate his mind mapping skill by drawing onto a 4m by 1m canvas.

I thought this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness this very talented man. It would be good to document his drawing journey in Singapore.

Getting into details.

One of Stephen way to hold his pencil.

Is not easy to maintain the similar sitting posture throughout.

A moment of holding 2 drawing material at the same time.

Focus and perseverance

Smiling, he is enjoying it every second.

I can’t help to wonder what music is he playing.

Panorama view, look forward to his completion.

The rest of the pictures can be seen on my Facebook.

Do drop down to Paragon over the weekend from 10am onward to witness his special talent.

National Geographic: The Obama White House Through The Lens

Extraordinary documentation photography by Pete Souza, he is the Chief Official White House Photographer of United States President Obama. Pete basically give his best each day for years to document the importance of history. Every important moment never slip past him.

I thought this is one really good documentary photography show that i wish to show with fellow peers, enjoy.

Thaipusam in Singapore 2014

This year Thaipusam festival falls on 17 Jan. In case you are unclear what it is. It is a symbolic Hindu event celebrated by the Tamil community in Singapore. It is an annual procession by Hindu devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks. Public can witness the event starting at Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple along Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road. The festival is a visual spectacle and it often brings traffic in the city centre to a standstill, with a colourful procession full of chanting and dizzying rhythms of Indian drums.

I documented the Thaipusam Festival back in 2011. It was my first trip to witness the festival, and i would say it was amazing.

You can check out more of my mind blowing picture in this photo gallery

Christmas period in Saigon, Vietnam 2012

One of the reason i jetted to Saigon is because i want to have a sunny Christmas celebration with my local friends. Singapore has been raining for the past 2 months due to monsoon season. The feeling of dull and wet every afternoon is not a pleasurable feeling. Christmas has always a slow period for me in the past years. Staying at home watching tv, i don’t need to go church either. Is rather unimaginative.

My friend in Saigon tempted me with the best Cơm tấm (broken rice) in the city, this is also one of the reason i decided to fly over to eat. Is the most expensive broken rice i ever eaten, if your know what i mean. But it was all well worth it in the end. The rice was easy to chew on with a nice fragrance over it, the grilled pork was cooked with their speciality sauce to enhance the overall taste of the meet, the smell of the grilling was simply luring. Overall it was a very well balance meal with the necessary local kimchi style vegetable that goes with it, not forgetting the soup that goes along without fail. Perfectlicious~


The crazy traffic in Saigon was beyond my imagination, i lived there before and i thought i had seen it all. But not during the festive season. The evening traffic during Christmas eve at the round about in Ben Thanh Market is too congested. The humility was exhausting with all the carbon monoxide from the hundreds to the thousands lingered in the air of Christmas’s spirit. The usual of giving and going way on the road is something i got used to it. The horning from trucks and buses gave me some annoying moment as usual.

In my Capture Asia’s Facebook page, feel free to check out the short clips of me stuck on the road and the crazy traffic in Ben Thanh Market round-about road.

Feature!

I was feature in Singapore first mandarin travel, gourmet and fashion lifestyle magazine. Travellution (check out their Facebook page).

The editor did an email interview with me with a series of question that set me thinking a lot about my photography journal, my mind wandered back to the first time i operate a camera when i was a young teenager in 16 or 17 years old. Later in my young adult year i picked photography and move on to become a professional photographer in Singapore today.

The main interview was about my thoughts and discovery about travel photography, personally i have a profound love for Asia countries, that is one of the reason why i name my company name Capture Asia. The editor would like to have a series of travel photographs of Ho Chi Minh City i capture during my 1 month living in Vietnam.

As this is a mandarin magazine, i asked whether can i replied in English, as typing in chinese characters take ages to complete. She was generously kind enough to do the translation for me. Such a big relief for me. Big thank you to Evonne Leong!

Travellution can be purchased at NTUC, Cheers, Popular Bookshop, Times, MPH and Kinokuniya in Singapore. Check it out. 🙂

Why photographer charge so expensive?

Why the high cost when i want is just a few images of the board of management or CEO, Client need you to cover an opening event for 2 hrs – 4 hrs only. Are you able to give me a much cheaper rate than what you offer. Other photographer quote me a lower price, although i like your style, are you able to match the price we budgeted?

This is a stumbling process for client and photographer are typically facing each day. Why photographer charge so expensive? Photographer would think why client had so little budget for photography?

Basic photographer tool
The primary cost of equipment such as a brand new high end 20 over mega pixel camera is not relatively cheap for most professional photographers, either most of us pay it off immediately, or settle for a installment which see the cash sucking out monthly. Photographer basic tools – camera and lenses. Having to meet the basic demand of client’s need as some of them asked what type of camera we are using. Example for a commercial job, client might need to blow up the images to half a billboard size images to launch in the public. Hence size does matter! Along with a hefty price from a professional photographer.

Lighting equipment
An essential tool for all commercial photographer, no 2nd doubt about it. A decent strobe with a basic power of 400 would cost around S$1,200 and above. Not including the various accessories to match. An excellent brand new flash light would cost around $700 and above. Probably sustainable for 1 year if use almost everyday, changing the flash tube need to set another cost aside. Am not going deeper on this part as the price of it would get more scarier.

Assistant
During the set up of a commercial shoot, photographer hire 1-2 assistants to assist him such as setting up of lighting, run errands, linking up the computer, arrangement of the scene etc. These small little help ensure the photographer have a much better focus with the client during the shoot. Yes is extra head cost, but is efficient and effective for all. Client wouldn’t want to wait another hour or two to get things running if photographer handle it by himself.

Post process time
After finish capturing an event, typically a few hours. I don’t believe in handing the client the raw files on the spot (unless is urgent), expecting them to happily use it. After a shoot, photographer will sit infront of the computer, maybe with a bag of popcorns, 1 litre coke, turn on the music to start editing the images. I would say is pretty a much daunting process if the photo shoot went bad. If the exposure is decent about 70% – 80%. Life would be much easier but time is still needed to do the post process. Once done, images are burn into a disc, put it in a CD cover, run down to the nearest print lab to print a copy of the cd cover for the casing or on the disc itself, which is good presentation. We take pride in our work.

Marketing
People always think a freelancer got all the time in the world to do whatever they want. This is the biggest misconception one can think of. Photographer is like a businessman. We do our marketing, sales call, email blast, pump in money for advertising, understand and reading about SEO, blogging (which am doing now), meeting potential client for meeting, networking. Time and money are deeply consume, less time for leisure.

Conclusion
I hope you have a rough idea why we charge at such rate, not because we want to have huge profit margin. Am not going to touch on deeper in each area, writing this is NOT TO EDUCATE the client, but sharing the professional photographer perspective. Professional photographer is not a trade everyone can do, is mental and physically demanding at time. Not asking for respect, at least we want to be treated with dignity in our years of hard work and experiences, similar to lawyers and doctors, don’t you agree? (am not implicating people make fun of me). The satisfaction is not from us, but the client who engaged us for our unique vision and skill.

After so many years in the industry. It uncovers me long ago that this is not a glamorous job, at least is a passion that is burning each day in my heart. I have to admit i might not get richer any time soon, neither i will starve till death.

A sleeping photographer is a lazy photographer, just like this sleepy dog basking under the hot sun. :p
One can easily dream, reality is back to check once woken up .

P.S. Pardon my writing. am not a gifted writer, as this point of time this blog takes me about 2hrs to come up, including toilet break and a phone call.

How to get to Ayutthaya?

Bangkok been the capital of Thailand, is a fascinating place where tourists love to explore in shopping and food, at least from a Singaporean point of view. As an Southeast travel photographer. The opportunities of capturing interesting images are pretty endless, depending on what you interest you. Subjects to shoot such as buddhism religion, street photography, endless food, portraiture etc. As most people would hang around the capital to have holiday. Things might get a little bored.

I decide to visit Ayutthaya, especially after the terrible flood that cause the nation huge economy deprivation and life of locals. Now the question is how to get there, how long is the ride, what to see? Surprisingly some people never even heard of the place, or the famous Buddha head announced as an UNESCO site.

Here am going to share a detail account of getting from Bangkok to Ayutthaya by train. Train is proven to be a much cheaper, economically. And, less pollution to let the earth suffer. As a travel photographer i usually scout around the departure venue to have a better understanding of the situation. So things won’t go wrong on the actual day, especially not been a local has it’s disadvantage.

Take a train to Hua Lamphong MRT, eastern part of bangkok. Follow the sign or map to find the exit sign to Hua Lamphong train Railway station. Is about 3 mins walk. The train mrt underground would brings you directly to the entrance of the railway station. Visit the information counter to ask for a commuter train timetable, this will let you plan for your trip. The friendly staffs on the ground are able to speak good English, at least for the one i met.

Circle in red is the information counter

The underground towards Hua Lamphong Railway Station

Exit from the Hua Lamphong MRT or BTS

Get a ticket from the ticketing counter which costs 15 baht. Train ride begins as early as 4.20am. I took the train that departs at 5.20am. Although the timetable indicate reach Ayutthaya at 6.44am. The train ride took longer than i expected due to one long stoppage at a station. Arrived about 20 -30 mins later.

The earlier you leave, the less crowded it is. I managed to get myself a window seat, if you want to catch the beautiful sunrise, do sit on the right side of the moving train window. The train ticketing personnel was kind enough to inform me that i had reached my station, i was surprised he actually remembered where i was going after checking my ticket shortly after departure.

Ayutthaya train station

Upon arrival at Ayutthaya Station. One can either rent a bicycle across the road from heading west or take the tuk-tuk if your traveling in a bigger group. For pair i suggest rent bicycles from the various shops across the station, inexpensive for sure, and rent for the entire day!! The shop owner would be able to tell you where to take the boat ride. For individual, especially the first timers. DO NOT BE COAX by the tuk-tuk drivers. Every driver answer would be the same, “Bike rental shop is very far, so is the boat ride”. As i was rushing for the early light, i couldn’t care less, hopped into the tuk tuk and went off, which was not my plan at all, sadly.

Tuk-tuk across the bridge.

Taking tuk-tuk requires bargaining skill. The driver quoted me 100 baht, which is too expensive. I’ll managed to negotiate to 50 baht, fetched me to the destination i wanted. One can start to explore on the island by taxi, tuk-tuk or bicycle. Bicycle is able to provide you the flexibility, whereas taxi and tuk-tuk only drive you around for 2 hrs, if not pay more for longer hours if want to explore deep. Depending how much time you wish to spend on the there.

Once finish explore the province of Ayutthaya. Head back to Ayutthaya train station to buy a ticket back to Bangkok. Train timing varies, sometimes is not accurate according to the timetable, timetable only gives you a gauge of arrival. Only on the day itself will reflect the precise arrival time.

Train direction signboard

A local monk crossing the tracks to wait for train arrival.

Signaling for train arrival

Myself!

Finally the train arrive to bring me back. ^^

If need more information regarding my trip to Ayutthaya feel free to drop me a message here