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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Night Street Photography


Tonight I'd like to talk about night street photography. In case you do not know that I do lots of day time street photography and it isn't the first time I did night street photography. I used to shoot color negatives on my Nikon FM10 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens at night. Did a little with my Nikon D70s with the same lens. Hand-held shooting technique certainly poses a great challenge for night street photography.

The night photo shown above was taken in the same wee hours after my visit at the Fort Canning Park (the Fort Canning Lighthouse). I was heading back home and walked past this back alley, next to this Ritz Mansions condominium. Literally I walked past the openly displayed couches. I did noticed but subconsciously my mind told me to turn back and I'm glad I did. I set up my tripod and made two quick exposures at 15 seconds each.

Lighting condition was drastically great in contrast with super hot spots from the street lamps on the far right frame and some from the wall lights on the signboard and under. The 2-persons seat couch on the foreground was lit and illuminated by the street light on left behind camera, while the other couch on the background was lit by the street lights as shown.

Really love the lights and shadows displayed here, with vertical lines, shapes, textures which caught my attention in the first place. I managed to get the "correct" exposure timing. In post-production, I tried to retain the original output results in Camera RAW and Photoshop but couldn't get the desired result I wanted. So I resorted to apply HDR effect by tone-mapping and some color correction adjustments.

Next, I converted the color to black and white just to see how this scene looks like and it looks great. Somehow it rekindles my love for night photography on film and digital night street photography.


Each medium would produce different results. Night photography on film is more towards fine art style and project basis. Night street photography is similar to day time street photography where daily night activities/events are captured candidly. Some film examples of night street photography I did back in October 2006 which I posted here. Some other night street photos using Nikon D70s below.
Simple Contentment
Dozed off
Indian Store
I'm planning to do more night street photography, both on film and digital, perhaps every fortnightly, and lesser light-paintings as I've mentioned before that there are lesser or no ideal abandoned places in Singapore left to make good light-painting photos. Well, I've always keep a lookout and keep searching. Alternatively I'd have to venture out to overseas where there are many interesting subjects, though not necessarily doing light-paintings.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Urban Lighthouse

Urban Lighthouse
This urban lighthouse, also known as Fort Canning Light or Fort Canning Lighthouse, was built in 1903 on the southern side of Fort Canning Hill. It was formerly one of the 13 important lighthouses in the Straits of Malacca, which was to guide ships safely towards the Singapore Harbor.

Due to its historic significance, a replica of the Lighthouse was later erected near its original site by the Singapore Government. Though its lights are fully functional, it no longer serves its original purpose but stands today as a legacy of its contribution to Singapore maritime history.

FENIX TA21 was used in the making of this night photograph, light-painted on the left side of the Lighthouse which took 15 seconds exposure.

Below is another night exposure under 15 seconds with a medium size aperture to capture the clouds motion across the beautiful night sky. Same flash light was used on the top of the Lighthouse. Actual crop and composed on camera.

Fort Canning Light
It was a disappointment that those strong daylight white spotlights were not switched off after midnight. It would be good to do my own light-painting. Well I don't think I'd go back to remake for a long time.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Return of Singapore National Theater - Part 2 (Nocturnes)

National Theater Sculpture
This is a follow-up to the Part 1 blog posted on 27 February. I went back to take a few day shots because I couldn't see much in the low light condition during my first visit there, using my phone camera. With the naked eyes, it's still visually clear under that low light condition but I just wanted to make sure I can find the best angles and perspective to make night photos of this iconic structure.

Continue after the jump...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dragon of Whampoa

Dragon Fountain
This is the Dragon of Whampoa. It used to be a water fountain with water spouted out of its mouth. I called it Water Dragon. Take that leap to read more about this fascinating landmark.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Night After Sidewalk

Night After Sidewalk (HDR)
This is one of the many night photographs I made last night at Fort Canning Park. This part of the Park is very dark with one lamp illuminates a small area with its light. I found the atmosphere moody and as dramatic as its ambience contrast.

So I thought I would process it into a HDR effect using Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro. This is a single image made with my Nikon D300 and exposed for 178 seconds. This is my second attempt on HDR for night photography and I'm quite happy with the result, which has this painting effect and the whole dark ambience is brightened up with strong hue and saturation of the surrounding greenery. A little back track, my first attempt on night HDR was back in 2012, of an old school dove playground. If you want to read more, click on the hyperlink for the past blog article I wrote.

Anyway here's the original processed in Adobe Camera RAW.

Night After Sidewalk (original)
Well, most of you know I love monochrome photography and I believe there's no harm in converting this great image to monochrome and so I did.

Night After Sidewalk (mono)
Somehow monochrome still retains that aesthetic and as close to the actual scene as I saw it. By flushing out all the colors, makes it so timeless and minimal.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Walk In The Park

Waxing Gibbous Over FCP



A night time ago I visited Fort Canning Park. I climbed up the long stairway located right besides MITA Building which leads me to the Light House. It was a cooling windy night. Occasionally some passing clouds. I was trying to find the best vantage spots to frame and compose the light house with my phone camera. Here are 2 shots.



Light House @ Fort Canning Park
The main purpose of this visit was in fact, a re-visit and location recce for my night photography. I've visited the light house a few years ago and somehow spent some time making some night photos. I can't remember what format and camera I used back then, but I do know it didn't work out well. So this year I'm going to make an effort to make some good night photos.

I do have a little concern though in regards to the day-light white spotlights shining on the light house. Would it be switched off after mid-night? I wonder. Once those lights are out, I'll be able to do my own light-painting. Of course before lights off, I can make some shots with my Variable ND filter on, so as to stop down some excessive light (probably about 4 or 5 stops) and to add my own colored light, especially on the top part. Test trial is necessary but being conscious not to waste too much battery power on the large power searchlight. I'll see how it goes tonight.

All images shown here are taken with my Samsung S3 on Low Light mode in Incandescent WB with post-processing in Snapseed app. All copyrights reserved.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Feature Photographer: C.S. Lee

Bridge Underneath
When was the last time this blog site featured a night photographer's work? In fact three photographers' work were showcased 7 and a half years ago in August 2006, and the last one was in April 2010.

Once I mentioned that there are lesser ideal/interesting places and objects to do light-paintings in Singapore, and even more scarce to find like-minded night photographers. Six months ago in a blog posted on Sept 2013, I mentioned about a night photographer from Penang Malaysia and his name is Lee Chin Sheng. Tonight we're featuring his work right here on this blog site.

Stay on to read and understand more about Lee's work after the jump.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Return of Singapore National Theater

National Theater
This is the former Singapore National Theater, formerly situated at the road junction of River Valley Road and Clemenceau Avenue. It was built in the early 60s and demolished in 1986 due to architectural structure reasons. There's a blog written by our local Singaporean here in which he shares his fond memories of this unique building.

A couple of days ago I was commuting on a public bus travelling along Clemenceau Avenue and I saw a sculptural structure that resembles the distinctive National Theater pointed cantilever roof. So I paid a visit last night and have had a good look.



Despite the sodium-vapor street lamps along the road, the ambience around the structure is quite dark; dark enough to do light-painting. I'm kinda excited about it as it's scarce to find good subjects for light-painting. So here's a shot I took with my mobile phone and post in Snapseed app.

I will definitely go back there to make some good nocturnes this coming weekend. Do come back and tune in for new images post.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

New Tool for Light Painting (A New Addition) & The Forgotten One

I was shopping at the local supermart yesterday afternoon when I came across this Mini Maglite flashlight displayed on the shelf rack. The whole package as shown here, comes with 2 AA size battery cells (which I've loaded into the flashlight), a filter lens holder and 3 filter lenses namely Red, Blue and Clear (if only they include a Green filter), a wrist lanyard and a removable pocket clip. It has a durable aluminum alloy case. It also comes with a reasonable price tag.

Somehow I got interested in this product and it got me thinking "What can I do with this light?"

Find out more after the jump.

Monday, February 03, 2014

First Nocturnes in 2014

Wormhole - Bamboo installation by Indonesian artist, Eko Prawoto
Needless to say, the following images including the one shown above are the first nocturnes made in 2014 - the year of Horse. I hereby wish all my Chinese friends and readers a Happy Prosperous Lunar New Year. May the year of Horse brings great Happiness and Prosperity to you and your family. Make that horsey leap for more nocturnes.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Bridge to New Sports Hub

Bridge to Stadium
Recently I paid a visit to the new Sports Hub construction site, where former old National Stadium was situated. Construction started in 2008 and it seems progress is slow. Workers have to work overtime to meet the completion deadline in 2014.

I went back to the exact same location where I made the night photo shown above. In present day, it's a total transformation. Read on to find out more.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thoughts On My Night Photography

Ghost Town
© 2013 Martin Liew Photography
Nocturnal info: Nikon D300 on Tokina 11-16mm at 30 seconds exposure. Post-processed and cropped in Photoshop. Monochrome conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2.
Well needless to say, it's almost 6 months now since my last blog post in March and once again I'm on hiatus and it's getting longer than the first one. So am I getting lazy or got driven away with daily work life and other activities that I forgot all about it? No not at all. Absolutely no. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up writing blogs here. No excuses for my absence though I was juggling between my day job and doing lots of street photography on most weekends and a few freelance photography assignments along the way. Busy? Yes of course and I'm enjoying it.

Well tonight I want to share some thoughts on my night photography and here's a teaser night photo, shown above. Make the jump to read on.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Abandoned Playground

It seems like I'm on a hiatus again, for 3 months since my last nocturnal activity last November. So I'm back again with a little blog post tonight.

In March 2012, I embarked on a night photography project on old school playgrounds and I took the opportunity to make some night images on film. I recall my last black and white film night photography took place 2 years ago in July at the defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

In fact I got so many back-logged negatives that are developed but not scanned. It's Easter today and so I took the time to tidy up and edit all those negatives. I chose to scan this abandoned playground as shown below.

Abandoned Playground
On that same night after exposing a few frames, I switched to digital and made some interesting light-paintings.



How interesting it is to compare the images with each using different focal length. For monochrome, it's simplicity and the visual induces a mood with mystery and tranquility. For colors, it's vibrant, playful and whimsical. Both medium have its own visual impact which I like very much.

Well, more negatives on night photography are yet to be scanned and in the next couple of months I would spend more time editing and scanning the best work to be featured on my website. Will definitely post some updates here. So stay tuned.

I hope you enjoy viewing the three photographs shown tonight. Good night!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Demolition of Nissen Huts + A Tribute

Nissen Huts

It came to me as a sad news that one of the abandoned military bases is undergoing demolition at the time of writing this blog. Demolition started since August I think. Yes the Nissen Huts along Kranji Road, formerly known as Ordnance Supply Base, OSB in short or aka Woodlands Camp I, is making ways for some new land redevelopment scheme or something else. Read on for more images as I pay tribute to this great abandoned place.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My First HDR Night Photograph

Dove Playground in HDR

Since my last blog post on a sculpture in a park 3 months ago, I've picked up on HDR photography, primarily for my video project on old school playgrounds which consists of 3 parts. On the side track, you can watch the videos on my website here, or over at my Vimeo channel here. You can also read my other photography blogs on these old playgrounds, too.

The image shown above is my very first attempt on HDR for night photography. If you have already seen my videos, you would notice some HDR images in it which are all made in the day time. There's really no difference in terms of technical aspects i.e. exposing the subjects with multiple shots of five, seven or nine for more dynamic coverage with each image exposed in one or two f-stop interval of timing. Of course the variety of HDR results during the post-process, either in Photoshop, Photomatix or Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro, can be of great difference on subject to subject basis.

For this HDR image of a Dove playground, I made a total of seven exposures. Images are merged in Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro and some tweaking with its Tone Mapping settings. Lastly, some retouching in Photoshop. I wanted to create a "realistic" image that represents the actual night ambience or atmosphere I experienced. Yes, not entirely the same as normal long exposure shot but not too edgy or over-saturated. Most HDR "Surreal" effects that I've seen, look horrible with heavy ghosting halos and over-saturated colors. To each his own. Some people like it, some people don't. To me, it doesn't work for me.

After working on this image and compare with the rest of the images of the same playground, I'm not too sure if I want to do more HDR night photography. The downside is that I spent more time tweaking the Tone Mapping settings to find the desired result than the time I spent on my usual light-painted night photographs. However on the flip side, it's helpful to do it when there are mixed lightings surrounding the subject. Not every night photograph has to be light-painted or in HDR effect. It' depends a lot on what the photographer wants to achieve. For me, it's all about capturing that ethereal night atmosphere for dramatic effect.

On end note,, do check out my new work of this Dove playground on my website.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

BTS Video: Sculpture in the Park 2 (Night)

Prometheus

Yes finally it's out. The much anticipated BTS video on the making of Prometheus. Well not the actual Hollywood movie by Ridley Scott though it got the same title. In my previous blog I expressed my interest in this sculpture and thereby I incorporated the Instillation concept into the making of Prometheus and everything seems to fit in perfectly well. So make the jump to watch the BTS video.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

This Used To Be My Playground (Video Part One)

This Used To Be My Playground
A Mosaic Memento on Old School Playgrounds in Singapore



Tonight I want to show you a video that I've just created, featuring some of the old school playgrounds in Singapore. Well, it all came about when I was looking at some of the videos and images I took during my location scoutings in preparation for my night photography project of the same title. In case some of you have not seen my nocturnes work, you can view them here.

I wanted to do an interesting video with a mixture of still images and footages. Honestly speaking I know nuts about video production and editing but I just want to do some creative stuff. I know there are lots to learn in videography and cinematography, let alone photography. Previously I've used Apple's iMovie with which I couldn't get much controls out of it. Hence I chose Adobe Premiere Pro.

At the moment I'm working on the second part of this video as well as one BTS video on the sculpture which was featured in my previous blog.

So do stay tuned. Meantime I hope you enjoy watching this video. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BTS Video: Sculpture in the Park 1 (Day) + 1 extra news

An Enclosure For A Swing
Panorama made with Sony-Ericsson Vivaz phone camera.
 © Martin Liew Photography

Tonight I want to show you readers a short and simple video clip made during my location scout of this sculpture located in the newly developed Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. Make the jump to watch it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Stack of Zeros - The Making of

Stack of Zeros

Today I want to present the making of one of my nocturne images which is shown here, titled Stack of ZerosIn this picture, there are parallel and perpendicular lines, symmetrically speaking with the metallic shelves topples over the other like Dominoes.

So make a jump over the deck and I'll show you how I made this picture, step by step explanation with images.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Re-organisation

Space Bike

I have re-categorized all my nocturnal images into four separate galleries. All under one main title NOCTURNES: The Art of Surrealistic Landscape. The three new galleries are Railway StationsSingapore National Stadium, Urban & Nature Parks, and Decommissioned. One new gallery is coming soon. So do stay tuned.

Meanwhile, you can check out seven of my new nocturnes work here. Displayed on the top left, first seven images. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoy making them. I will blog on the making of one of the images. So do come back for new blog post or you can subscribe to my blog site.

Thanks for reading and viewing. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Sketch Exercise & The Power of Pre-visualization + Photos (updates)


A week ago, I posted a blog on my other photography blog site, in which I talked about the power of pre-visualization using the sketch exercise. Click here if you missed it.

The sketch shown above is the one I have pre-visualized only after I made my first trip to the old school playground. Hop right in as I would show the final image I made on my second trip.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sharing Session @ LIGHTOLOGY


Here it is. One of the few images taken by a friend of mine, Bryon Wee who was kind enough to take some shots of my nocturnes presentation last night at LIGHTOLOGY Photo Adventure: i Light Marina Bay 2012. BTW that's Juliana Tan from URA who is the host and person-in-charge of this event. Make the jump for more coverage.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

LIGHTOLOGY: i Light Marina Bay Photo Adventure + 1 good news


Just a quick blog post here. My dear friend Calvin Huang called me last week and he wanted to invite me to share the stage with him in this great event iLight Marina Bay 2012 where we will be sharing and showcasing our own night photography work. Of course I gladly agreed. The sharing session will be held on this coming Saturday, 10 March 2012 from 6:30PM to 9:30PM. Registration is required but it is closed now. After the sharing session, we'll be doing a couple of light-paintings demo at the Marina Bay City Gallery. So come on down and you might get to see us doing light-paintings.

Good news is, this will be my second talk and sharing session in major public art event since Digital Night 2010 @ SAM. I guess it's a good way to publicize my work and reaching out to more audience.

I was invited to their Media Preview last night and the light art installations are beautiful. I wouldn't blog about it nor do I have any photos. But you have to see for yourself. Opening ceremony will be held on 9 March 2012, Friday. Check out their website for more details.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

This Used To Be My Playground - a Teaser Nocturne

Home Sweet Home
© Martin Liew Photography


Hi everyone! Hope you are doing well. More than 6 months since my last blog post here. Apology for my absence. Weather wasn't really kind in the last few months of 2011 and it got better in the first 2 months of 2012. A brand new year and good weather, I hope, to kickstart my night photography again. Well so it seems. Come on in and let me share a little news with you.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Light-painting in the Day

Capitol Theater
© Martin Liew Photography

Last Sunday I gathered two of my friends to join me for the exploration of the old Capitol Theater located near City Hall MRT Station. I was there a day earlier for location recce. Some of the pictures I took with my mobile phone camera can be seen on my other blog site.

It's more than 10 years since the last time I visited the theater for movie screenings. It comes as a big thrill to me and I would like to share with you the pictures I've made. So come on in for some visual treats.