As a first blog post of my newly revamped website, I wanted to share with everyone here of my adventures in photography as I travelled around the world with my camera gear. It was definitely a different experience for sure since we were still backpacking and at the same time, shooting as if I was travelling for short periods of time. I wont be getting into gear for this post (though, I'm sure some of you are curious about the things I brought with me.)
I'm not usually one to love skyscrapers and big city skylines but the first time I saw the Singapore in May 2016, I fell in love with it. There was something about the density of skyscrapers that still felt… comfortable; If that makes sense. I know, there's Hong Kong or New York City which has the highest density of sky scrapers but it's just too overwhelming. I've come back to the waterfront many times during the first visit to Singapore – It's not quite the story you would be telling your friends back home about your trip to an international destination but that’s what I did. I wanted a shot of the water, with the skyline and a cool sunset. It was a tall order but that was my goal.
I've used a totally different technique; requiring more post processing work than achieving it in camera. I never really had a clear vision aside from my basic criterias, so I started adding things slowly in photoshop - smooth water and an epic sunset oh and bright city lights. Not to say it was a bad photo, it was just.. Frankenstein'd. I look back at that photo and recognize that its impactful but the closer you look, it was losing a major component in a photo: realism. Don't get me wrong, I understand the importance of compositing photos together to execute a certain look but it should never be an afterthought. The practice of planning for a landscape shot should be carried through until after post processing if not, it will look convoluted.
Just a bit over a year since, I went back to Singapore (May 2017) to tackle the same skyline shot. It got a bit tricky since they were updating their waterfront fountain system so there was a lot of construction happening. Nevertheless, there's always a good spot to find and shoot. I managed to shoot at a location on the board walk where I wanted to be on my first trip. The barricade was there but this time, it was on a slight angle, leaving room for a person to enter. I've set everything up: tripod, remote and filter and waited for the sun to go down.. for 2.5 hours. Every 10 minutes, I took a shot and adjusted to compensate for the growing darkness until the end of blue hour. The later it got, the longer each shot took since I was using a 10 stop filter. Once sunset happens, I had to ensure my settings are perfect because that one sunset shot will last until it is over (at this time of year, around 15min.) The goal was to get everything I needed in-camera with only one exposure, any other tweaking will be done in Photoshop, but only very minor things.
The end result was quite different from my previous photo. Definitely less post-processing work and it doesn't look too much like a composite. I'm sure you've heard it before but I'll say it again: get as much as you can in-camera rather than do it later in Photoshop.