I am honored to be invited as part of the media crew to cover the River Hongbao Opening Ceremony. Having no prior experience to cover event of such scale and significance, I followed closely to EastCoastLife, the president of our Association of Bloggers (Singapore), listening to her advice on who is who, what to anticipate, and the general tips to cover events and etc.
In this blog entry, I am going to share two photo albums with you.
- Click here (or onto the image above) to view my personal favorite collection created using Nikon Capture NX2
- Scroll down to view the event collection created using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.2
On the Event
From now till Feb 1, there are many reasons to visit the Floating Platform just off Marina Square. First, you get to walk around the platform built originally as a temporary location for the National Day Parade. The last time I visited the same location was during the National Day Parade Preview back in 2007. One fine piece of work built by the Singapore Armed Force, MINDEF, and DSTA.
Second, there are lots of photography opportunities. Beautiful light with lots of color. At the center of the Floating Platform is a performance stage. Check out the show schedule here. Lots of talents. EastCoastLife and I enjoyed the cultural performance thoroughly.
Third, admission is free. The venue is well organized and secured. Tripods are allowed so bring your family and friends and take some memorable shots! If you drop a link of your photo album here, I will gladly take a look. Let’s learn from each other.
A Media Crew’s Journal
It was the first time I stepped into a Press Conference. We were side by side with the traditional media. And I am happy that my camera is of an industrial standard as compares to what the pros are using. We are all Nikonians, we are friends immediately without the need to exchange words.
Peggy Chen, our friendly media point of contact, walked us through the program in Mandarin. I tried very hard to understand what she said (I am a Cantonese) because she did give out useful information on what to expect, where to take your best photo shots. I think I understood about 70% of what she said. When she repeated the information a second time in English, I was in tears of joy.
The professional photographers move very fast. We were dashing ahead, turning around to take some killer shots, and dashed out again – as our VVIP (very-very important people) walked amongst the crowd. Over 800 shots were made on that evening and I am amazed on how Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Wong Kan Seng managed to smile in almost every photo I took throughout the entire event.
I was told that firecrackers were banned in Singapore and now recently lifted. When EastCoastLife asked the security guards if we could get up close to the firecrackers and they were shocked, politely said no. After seeing how explosive those firecrackers were, I personally am glad that I was nowhere close.
As you can see in the photos here, the performance was beautiful, professionally done. Apparently, EastCoastLife has seen the preview and was tipping me on what shots to take. Neat! My personal favorite of the entire collection – besides the picture of a very pretty Chinese girl on stage – is the 6 men stacking up in the form of a totem.
Sharing of Photography Experience
I have many photography mentors to help me with this learning journey. So, I wish to thank Ken for the wonderful tip on: bring more than one lens for the event and change on the spot. Because of this tip, I brought along my telephoto zoom lens as well. I am so glad that I did. I would have missed quite a number of shots that turn out to contain some of my favorites.
I also wish to thank Mathew to convince me that there are industrial strength battery chargers out there and with the right batteries, my camera can perform as though it is on steroid. And just the day before, I invested S$200 for a charger and countless batteries (12 high capacity ones and 8 free not too high capacity batteries that come with the charger). That makes my already heavy camera even heavier. But that is no big deal, just need to do more weightlifting. With all the quality batteries, my camera was shooting at 8 frames per second with the flash gun to match.
Two awesome tips!
Besides the two lenses – wide angle and telephoto – I brought my tripod and shutter release cable as well. That night was also the first evening I tried the MUP (mirror up) function to minimize the mechanical vibration caused by the movement of the mirror inside the camera. MUP only makes sense if you have a shutter release cable.
I have nearly underestimated the number of photos I would shoot especially with high speed shooting mode. My 8GB Extreme IV memory card was barely enough (for over 800 shots taken). I have completely depleted the 8 AA rechargeable batteries on the grip. And I reckon my flash gun would need new batteries really soon. Hence, lessons learned are:
- Always anticipate where the VVIP will be heading. And keep dashing forward (without knocking anyone down!).
- Observe where the professional photographers stand (great tip from EastCoastLife).
- If you can’t afford an extra camera body (like me), bring extra lenses for the event.
- And if you are using one of the entry level dSLR cameras, do yourself a favor and get the 18-200mm lens (for my D700, I use the 24-70mm and 70-200mm, both at f/2.8). It costs S$1,000 but you can almost shoot anything from any distance especially with the flash gun mounted. Not large enough aperture is seldom an issue with flash.
- Bring extra memory cards and batteries. Even if you may not need to use them, they offer a good peace of mind.
- Bring along an assistance to help you with your gears. Better still, bring a pretty one so that he or she can be your subject if need to too.
As a blogger who participate in the New Media movement, I can certainly see the benefit of being part of a legal entity that complies to the Singapore Societies Act. Much like how bloggers – myself included – get into company events through the PR companies, an association for the bloggers get us in touch with the events of national significance.
Being bounded by the Societies Act does have its restriction, especially in the areas that touch onto Singapore politics. But the upside is that not only the government, but also other established associations acknowledge our existence. More doors will be open for us to “promote, protect, and educate” our members. And inevitably, our key stakeholder list will expand beyond the Blogosphere – for the better I reckon.
At times I wonder how many active societies are there in Singapore. I think in time to come, there will be more and more associations for the different groups of bloggers to cater for different special needs. Is there a one size fits all? Probably not, in my personal humble opinion.