Heading Back to Singapore
Singapore again? Yes indeed, this time for more blue hour and night-time shooting and to see the newly opened Gardens by the Bay. I have always been a huge fan of Singapore – the weather is usually kind to me, the streets are always oddly quiet even though it’s busy and the architecture just keeps getting better and better, especially for photographers.
As I mentioned earlier, my main reason for returning was to get some photographs of the Gardens by the Bay, a park which contains three gardens and is home to the fabulous Super Trees! I spent all day, from dawn until dusk, wandering around both the gardens and the bay, stopping for a coffee break every now and again, wearing holes into my flip flops and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. Getting another opportunity to capture more images of the attractions in Singapore was an added bonus and by the end of the trip I was really happy with my work – so unless another major attraction opens or a new assignment comes up, me and my camera won’t be seeing Singapore for a while!
“Ditch the image of Singapore as a dull, sterile Utopia – scratch the surface and you’ll discover a strange brew of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures, a rich social stew that’s anything but boring. Sure, the graffiti-free trains run on time, traffic jams are nonexistent and everyone looks clean-cut and wholesome, but who needs pollution, poverty and chaos?”
Considering that in my last post about Singapore I simply split my photographs into day and night shots, I thought I’d give you a snippet of information about each location this time, nothing too detailed but just enough so that you know some of the background and facts, and with that being said, here we go!
The Supertree Grove contains 12 uniquely designed vertical gardens, ranging from 25 to 50 metres in height, all have large canopies that provide shade during the day and come alive with an exhilarating display of light and sound at night. The grove was an absolute pleasure to shoot, and I only wish I had more time there to find new angles and really make the most of this brilliant area!
Just behind Gardens by the Bay is Marina Bay Sands, a world-class luxury casino and hotel which is topped by the Sands Skypark and is billed as the world’s most expensive standalone casino property, at a cost of $8 billion (Singapore Dollars), including the cost of the prime land. Architecture and casinos aside, the resort offers visitors much, much more – a convention-exhibition centre, The Shoppes, a museum, 2 large theatres, numerous restaurants, 2 floating pavilions, an ice rink and an amazing infinity pool located in the Sands Skypark – what more could anyone want! I chose to shoot the resort from a few different locations, but no matter where I ended up, it always looked great in my photographs – my thanks go to Moshe Safdie!
Singapore’s most famous icon, the Merlion is an imaginary creature that represents Singapore’s humble origins as a fishing village. The statue has a lion’s head and a fish’s body; it stands at almost 9m high and weighs over 70 tonnes. This unusual creature, which has water gushing from its mouth for most of the day, was conceptualised by Kwan Sai Kheong and then created by Nah Seng in 1972. During my last visit to Singapore the Merlion was undergoing a bit of a face-lift, but thankfully this time the site was free of scaffolding! I chose to shoot here at dawn, simply because the crowds don’t appear until late morning, giving me the entire space all to myself, although the water doesn’t come on until just after sunrise – but I actually think the shots are nicer without it, as you get that great reflection in the still waters.
Another dawn location, well quite a bit before dawn actually – the Esplanade. I decided after a couple of days that I wanted to shoot this area in the middle of the night, and as we had a full moon during our stay, this seemed to be the right decision! The first 2 shots below were taken at around 3am, there was not a single soul about at that time and it really was a pleasure being there (plus you’d never get a shot free of the crowds at any other time of the day!).
Linking Marina Bay to Marina Centre, the Helix Bridge is the world’s first curved bridge. This 280-metre pedestrian linkway features the world’s first ‘double-helix’ structure; an engineering feat assembled with great precision. Its curved design is created by two opposing spiral steel members, held together by a series of connecting struts, which symbolise life and continuity, renewal, everlasting abundance and growth, it also resembles the structure of DNA. Whether you are shooting during the day, at sunset or at night, the Helix Bridge really adds that special something to your shots – if you are planning on shooting at night and will be using a tripod, be warned that the bridge does wobble as people walk over it, so try to wait for a lull in the crowds…
Another great thing about Singapore is the Marina Promenade, a 3.5km walkway around the whole bay. For photographers, it gives you the chance to simply walk in a circle and shoot some of Singapore’s most iconic structures, without having to get lost on the roads and tunnels! I have always been a fan of blue hour shooting in this area and hopefully you can see why – the following photographs are taken at various points around the Promenade, at either dawn or dusk.
Last but by no means least we have the Art-Science Museum, technically one of the attractions at Marina Bay Sands and designed by the same architect – Moshe Safdie. This lotus shaped building sits just in front of The Shoppes and is softly illuminated at night. I found the museum really interesting to shoot this time around, especially in the early hours of the morning, it was just so peaceful and calm, couple that with such an interesting building and you have a great shoot location!