Exploring Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin is a small island but despite being there 3 times for the past 5 years, I am still not familar of this place.

Lau, William & I went to explore Pulau Ubin this morning. After having breakfast at Changi Village Hawker Centre, we took the bumboat at 9.30 am. It is about 15 mins ride and it costs $2.50 per person. Usually, the bumboat would leave when it has 12 passengers. Otherwise, one would have to wait a little while until enough people turn up. Alternative, you can pay $30 and go straight away.

I think cycling is the best way to explore Ubin, so we rented 3 bicycles at $6 each (normal rental charges is $2/hr) where we can use it for the whole day.

To be continued ….

I dropped my Tamron 180mm Macro Lens!

I went out with my friend to shoot macro at Wild Wild West (end corporation road) yesterday morning. We finished shooting at about 9.45 am. We found and sat at a comfortable bench trying to pack our camera equipment into our bags. I placed my tripod with my camera & lens affixed to it beside me. Out of a sudden, the tripod gave way and dropped to the concrete floor. There was a loud sound and I know the damage is severe. I would be sending it to JEL Corporation at Changi for repair tomorrow. I hope it is still servicable and not as serious as I thought it would be.

Photographing Flower Abstract

I hardly take any flora shots during my 2 years of active macro shooting. I decided to try it out last October and the results were surprisingly encouraging.

This flower was taken at Singapore Botanical Gardens. I fixed on my 1.4 teleconvertor and positioned my camera as close to the flower as possible. My intention was to focus on the inner part and to bring out the beautiful colours of this flower. I tested using different apertures and the widest f3.5 gave me the best effect.

I received positive feedback from my friends at NPSS. I went back to the same place at SBG hoping to get an improvement shot. This time I chose a more purplish flower and I tilted my camera to get a diagonal composition. I also up the exposure a little to give it a more lively and brighter look.

This is a dorsal view of a common hibiscus flower taken at “Wild Wild West” near end Cooperation Road. The same technique was used and I am glad it did not disappoint me.

I am likely to do more on this sort of photography this year.

Photographing Morning Dews

After shooting macro regularly for a while, one may get bored especially when you have captured most of the common subjects such as ants, spiders, grasshoppers, damselflies, dragonflies, etc. Rare insects or creatures are hard to come by and it is not uncommon that you may return empty handed or only a handful of unimpressive shots despite spending a few hours in the field. Since we are seeing the common subjects most of the time, how do we make them looks more appealing in a image? Yes, dewdrop is the answer!

Dewdrop is a wonderful photographic subject by itself. Whenever possible, position in such a way that you get the sun reflected in the dews producing a sparking “starburst” effect.  Using a smaller aperture of say f16 or underexposing the image a little would have a higher chance of getting a “starburst” effect.

Dewdrop can also complement and very effective in making an original subject looks amazingly different. I always find it interesting to see water droplets clinging to a leaf, a flower, a spider web and I personally find insects cover in the morning dews most beautiful and attractive.  Also, it often gives me the nice feeling of the morning freshness.
When would you find heavy dews?
I used to have the impression that if it is raining today, it should be a dewy morning the next day which is not really the case. Basically, if it is warm at night, there will be little dew formation even if there was a heavy rain the day before. Yes, thing might get wet because of humidity but generally you would not find the little droplets of water you see in many photos posted in this forum. The conditions you want to find heavy dews is a warm humid day, followed by a clear cool night. From my experience, April & October are the best periods to find heavy dews.

What is the best time to photograph dews?

Generally, you need to be there at first light usually at 7.00 am. There are certain months such as October & November where the first light can be as early as 6.45 am. Singapore has a warm climate and therefore the dews do not last very long. It will only remain while the temperature is low and before the sun warms things up. Very often, dews are evaporated by 8.30 am. Most of my better dew photos were taken between 6.45 am to 8.15 am.

Where are the best places to find dews?

I read that there will be much fewer dew formation under tree cover than it is in the open. So, it is unlikely that you will find dews in forested areas. From my experience, Wild Wild West @ Cooperation Road End, the entrance of Kranji Nature Trail & Holland Woods have lots of bushes not under tree covers and these are some of the best places in Singapore to photograph dewy subjects.

My Talk @ Nature Photographic Society’s AGM (6 Mar 2010)

I joined Nature Photographic Society, Singapore (NPSS) as a paid member in Oct 07. In the previous 2 AGMs that I attended, the slideshows were all presented by the senior members where they showcased their beautiful images taken from their trips in various countries. This year, the committee felt that it should give a chance to relatively junior members like me to share our stories too, in particularly, our learning experience on Nature Photography. I think they had choosen me because I am not a fast learner, I am just an average performer who learned the hard way, made all the mistakes that one could possibly make, but eventually am able to get the basics right and produce quality images consistently, and along the way, win competitions.


(Group Photo)

I can’t speak well, I can’t present well and I am not comfortable speaking in front of a big audience. So, it was a little stressful for me the whole of last week when I was drafting my speech and preparing my presentation slides.

Fortunately, my talk on “My Learning Experience on Macro Photography” went quite smoothly this evening. Although I was not very fluence during my presentation, there was frequent interaction and lots of laughters from the audience. I think they find my talk interesting and it is nice to receive encouraging comments like “your presentation turned out to be the most comical, attention-getter and thought-provoking”.


(Laughters during the presentation)

(Laughing at my own joke!)
PS – I am nominated as an EXCO member of NPSS in today’s AGM. This would mean more responsibility for me and I am likely to be more active in NPSS activities in the coming year.

What make a nature photograph stands out?

Graeme Guy, an outstanding nature photographer and the founder of Nature Photographic Society of Singapore, mentioned that there are 4 elements that make a nature photograph stands out:

(1) Action – This may include a flight shot or a running cat in hot pursuit.

(2) Behaviour – The old adage of every picture tells a story is never truer than when unique behavior of a species is catpured in an instant of time on an image.

(3) Colourful – Nothing pleases the retina more than some highly saturated colours in pleasant harmony within an image.

(4) Cute – Nothing stirs the emotions more than animal babies. Fluffy duckling bobbing along on waters reflecting the mood of spring evokes pleasant thoughts.

To be a better nature photographer, I shall work more on these areas.

You fish, I photograph …

My army friend, Lau, likes fishing while macro photography is my hobby. Sometimes, we would go out together to do our favourite pastimes. In order to do so, there need to be a river, a stream or a reservior for him to fish and with lots of bushes nearby for me to find insects to photograph. There are not many such places in Singapore, one of which is a Canal opposite Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which we visit once in a while. We went there this morning again but fishes, according to Lau somehow are getting smaller and fewer here. Lau said that someone recommended him a river near Quia Hu Fish Farm and he wanted to check it out. So, there we went.

It was not difficult to find the place as the river was wide and long and we could see it from the main road. Lau was excited about it as he felt that it should have big fishes here. He was right, within minutes, he got one big fish, easily more than 1 kg in weight. This is one of the biggest catches he had and he was very happy with it. We are likely to revisit this place again.