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.

I remember vividly as a little kid, I looked in awe at the sight of the Dragon, spouting water from its mouth and its pose, as if ready to take off to the bright blue sky. The 3-storey high Dragon fountain was built in 1973 by the Housing Board. There's a block of 3-room housing flat right behind the Dragon fountain, where the entire void deck area used to be the Town Council office in the 1980s. Every month my mother would bring me there to pay Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC). The area surrounding the Dragon fountain was a park until it gave way to the construction of Central Expressway (CTE).

Fast forward to this day, the Town Council had since moved out in the 90s, and followed by ceased operation of the Dragon fountain. The Dragon's slender body "skin" or scales are made up of bits and pieces of porcelain, placed manually piece by piece from head to claws to tails, fixated by cement, I think. It's quite similar to Mosaic Art using bits and pieces of tiles to form patterns or animal pictures, etc. Mosaic Art was popular back in the 60s and 70s.

It's just fascinating looking at the Water Dragon close-up as well as at a distance. The inner circular parameter around its foundation, which I believe it's the basin of the water fountain, was left empty until recently it was filled with small plants, perhaps to beautify the fountain, as shown in the photo above. It is one distinct landmark in Whampoa.

There was a news report in 2012 that mentioned the current Moulmein-Kallang Town Council has had plans to refurbish the Dragon fountain, which will involve improvements such as applying anti-algae treatment. However, it would remain dry as having water in the basin will lead to maintenance problems and could lead to mosquito breeding. Well it still looks great in its current state and I believe the residents are proud about it.

Well let's talk about the making of the night photo shown on top. I have made a few night photos back in 2010 and I went back there last Saturday 15 March. Here are some of the photos I made 3 years ago.

I didn't really spent much time walking around it, trying to find the best vantage spots to make some good photographs. So on that night I did find the best vantage spot as shown in the top photo. It's a really low angle shot with my camera placed about 5 inches above the ground. There's one more vantage spot where I need to be on higher ground instead. Which means I will have to find the right storey height on the housing flat behind the Dragon fountain. With that said, I will go back there again. Real soon.

There were light-paintings during the making of the top photo. Four separate exposures were made with three exposures, one on each tree; one on the extreme left, the one next to it and the extreme right, and one final exposure for the Dragon. FENIX TA-21 LED flashlight was used for the light-painting with full-stop CTO gel at full light power on the trees. The Dragon was lit well by the daylight white hot lights which are blocked by the trees.

This is the reason why I said it's the best vantage spot because almost all street lights are blocked by the trees. In post-production, I applied the stacking method by stacking the trees pictures on top of the main picture i.e. the Dragon fountain. Then I added Layer Masks to selectively mask each tree on its respective layer. After all maskings are done, color correction was made for the entire photo and that completes the whole post-production process. This is how the Dragon Fountain night photo was made.

I will follow up this blog with new night photos in regards to the next best vantage spot I mentioned earlier. Until then, lights off!


28 March 2014, Friday: This is a followed up on the photography status. Yes I went back to the Dragon fountain tonight, not with my full gear but to find out which floor level is ideal for the shot I wanted to make. Yes I've found it. Here's a couple of recce images with my cell phone camera.

Well, as you can clearly see that the so-called vantage spot is not that suitable, don't you agree? Two street lamps in daylight-balanced lights which obviously would create unwanted flares. I like these 2 vantage spots, standing on the 4th storey; the perspective and angles are great but those 2 street lights are really annoying.

Unless I opt for HDR technique otherwise no point making these 2 shots, but again it would be a waste not to make them. Considered these shots as previews. I'll pay another visit soon.