Thursday, November 11, 2010

Singapore Night Hunt Experience + 1 Good News

Sound of Darkness
© 2010 Martin Liew Photography

Tonight I'm going to share with you on my Night Hunt experience. Last Saturday night, there were reportedly about 160 participants turned up at City Square Mall for the first ever night photography marathon contest solely organized by Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF). Upon seeing the people who turned up and the sight had my friends and I all jazzed up and ready for the great fun and excitement that awaits us.

Follow me as I share more of my night adventures.

About an hour or so later and it was still raining outside, Gwen Lee, founder of SIPF started the event briefing. We were each given a instruction sheet with the 4 themes stated as followed. 
  1. The breeze brushed by my cheek...(Continue the sentence with your own image)
  2. Night Occupation
  3. Starry Starry Night
  4. Sound of Darkness
Well, looking at each theme, my mind started working and came up with a few ideas. The event kickstarted at 10:00 PM and I gathered my friends around to brain-storm on each theme. Each of us were really engrossed in the process and eventually we had enough ideas for each one of us and we moved out to our first destination.

Side track here - One of the challenging factors of taking part in such event is transportation. The photo-marathon started from 10:00PM and ended at 6:00AM the next morning. During these 8 long hours, we have the flexibility of completing any of the theme we find deem fit and not in any order. So for those fellows who don't drive, they either do lots of walking or take the late night cab which is very costly.

Second factor is sleep. Participants have to keep themselves wide awake through out the whole night to complete all 4 themes. The energy level is crucial for one to think properly and know what to do in the dark making long exposures or thinking and making street shots all at the same time. I reminded my friends to take afternoon nap with at least 3 hours of sleep to last them till the next dawn.

Due to these factors, most partcipants gave up before they even complete one single theme. It can be very tedious and exhausting for first timers. Well, two of my friends were driving and hence transportation wasn't a problem. Everyone's energy level was quite hgh and wide awake, too.

One last factor is weather. This is one from Mother Nature that we couldn't do anything about. However the rain didn't stop us. Since the briefing time, it was already raining and kept on until it stopped after 11:00PM. Though it was a cool night to do night photography, the rain came back right past mid-night. We were in Chinatown area and I made my very first exposure on the ID Photo Machine, as shown below.

Night Occupation
© 2010 Martin Liew Photography

As most of us will interpret the theme Night Occupation as someone who works at night e.g. Night Watchman, Night Shift Patrol Attendent, Night Security Guard, Graveyard Shifter, etc just to name a few. The judges might be looking for night portraits. But it would be too common. So we changed our perspectives and switched our attention to machines that work 24/7 and one good example is the vending machines. I came up with the ID Photo Machine which I've always wanted to make this image. Finally I got it!

My next image is Sound of Darkness as shown on top of this blog. In this image, I was using colored lights for the house interiors to symbolize sound or noises; activities inside the house in contrast with the dark and quiet surrounding outside. This is my interpretation.

Next, we drove down to this location simply for my Starry Starry Night theme. We were attacked by mosquitoes. While the rest were standing at a "safe" distance, I went through the ordeal and made this image.

Starry Starry Night
© 2010 Martin Liew Photography

I brought along a LED light which I use for my wardrobe cabinet. I have this idea of using this LED light to create some interesting light effects for my nocturnes work and it came at the right time for this theme. I was trying to interpret that the stars are declining from the stairway, gathering and resting on the green field. It was cloudy due the early rain, but I guess it was a blessng in disgust. The clouds certainly spiced up the drama in this image.

Lastly, we ended up at Upper Seletar Reservoir. We could see storm clouds approaching. When we were ready for some exposures, the rain came abruptly. It was a passing storm cloud so the rain stopped shortly. As the condition is quite unstable and we wouldn't know if it is going to rain again, we picked up the pace to finish the themes we wanted to make. Well, guess what - it started to drizzle and gradually getting bigger. We were making images in the rain. What a rainy night we had on that day. This is the image I managed to do it.

The breeze...
© 2010 Martin Liew Photography

Breeze or wind has no physical form. We can only feel it brushing by our face. The only visible evidence of wind is when something light in weight flies off in the air, or wind brushing through a lady's long hair. Only then we are able to see wind in that certain "form". In this image, the cold night breeze was blowing strong and the water was rushing in on the rocks in the foreground, causing the blur effect during the long exposure.

Hence I was using the blur water effect to symbolize the wind and to complete the sentence with my image of what I saw before my eyes, as "the wind brushed by my cheek".


OK here's the good news!

I've won the 3rd prize!

OK I know I'm exaggerating here, but it is true and real. I couldn't believe it myself. This is my first time winning in a photography contest. It serves a great learning process for me to see how other photographers interpreted the themes and made their winning images.

On an overall view of the 12 images, each winner has covered almost every aspect of night photography. There are black and white, night street (or portraits)  and light-painting, all in their own unique compositions, perspectives and aesthetics.

The closing ceremony for SIPF 2010 will be held on this coming Saturday afternoon at 4:00PM, along with the prize giving ceremony at 2902 Gallery, Mount Sophia. Yes I'll be attending to receive my prize. It'll be the happiest day of my life.

Here are the winning submission on SIPF website.