Testing My New Tripod System in Wee Hours, One Friendly Police Officer Stopped Me and She Asked …

Raffle Statue at Night

“I see that you are taking pictures of A LOT OF buildings, what are you shooting exactly?” a young female police officer stopped me at two in the morning, right next to the Parliament House.

Good question.  What was I doing by the Singapore River in the wee hours of the Boxing Day.

I needed to test out my new tripod system before heading to Hong Kong later in the late afternoon.  The answer is as simple as that.  And I have always been wanted to shoot the beautiful night scene of the Singapore River.  So I chose the wee hours, after attended the evening Christmas Mass. 

Bizarre things do happen in the wee hours of 12 to 3.  A band was playing in one of the pubs and as the party has ended, the crowd started to disperse.  One group – 3 Indian men 2 Chinese ladies – walked passed me, looked at my camera, and one of them asked, “It’s so dark, what do you see?”  Like magic (due to 30 seconds long exposure), first was the sound of the shutter, then came the image.  And they looked at the picture and gasped.  All of a sudden, all the guys were very animated.  One guy told me that he has the D90.  Yes, it is a good camera, I assured him.  He pointed at mine and said, “Yours is much better!”  And I reassured him that a D90 is a good camera.  We chatted and chatted and how a group of 5 managed to squeeze inside a BMW Convertible, I have no clue.  But they waved at me like good old friends do, breath of the alcohol still lingered in the air, and with a touch of the gas petal, the sport car vanished into the dark.

And that was the closest I get next to a BMW Convertible that opened its roof just moment ago.

How I love to be a – quote unquote – photographer.  People are super friendly with me.  Even though … I am a …

I don’t even know what I am anymore.

Note: All pictures shown here are mostly straight from the camera, with some very minor touch-ups – including the 7 dust spots I have discovered on my image sensor.  Thanks to Nikon Service Centre, they are now gone.

As I walked along the river, admiring the beautiful serenity dotted with couples having their own romantic moments, I heard someone said, “Adíos!”.  Spanish?!  Filipino perhaps.  From the band I reckon.

Someone was sleeping on the street with his bicycle next to him.  He must have woken up by the shutter sound of my camera.  He paced around waiting for me to go away.  I stuck around waiting for him to go away.  Reluctantly, he cycled off and that was when I was stopped by two police officers.  I reassured her that I was not taking any picture of the government buildings (common security measure even in the US of A).

Moving away from the quietness of Boat Quay, I was drawn by the light and the sound of Clark Quay.  3am in the morning, people were still doing reverse bungee.  I could hear their screaming across the river.  Some time ago someone raised a concern over such entertainment in Clark Quay.  Too much noise in the wee hours.

I climbed up an overhead bridge and took some pictures of the traffic on the street.  One white lady screamed just another flights of stairs behind me saying something like she wanted to die.  I turned around, saw her in the middle section of the bridge with one leg over the railing.  Her lover (I supposed) pleaded her to stop killing herself.  I saw the hesitant in her so I did not want to get involved.  They went on and on over I love you I love you not with drinks in their hands while I went on and on shooting for that one perfect traffic shot.  There were cars that braked hard right before my eyes (people who think that I was the traffic police with a speed camera?).  There were cars that shot past me with such ferocity.  Yes, that grey Nissan GT-R.  I nearly got your number plate.

I love my new tripod system.  Unlike cameras and lenses that the heavier the gears are, the higher the quality, but rather like the bicycles for the professionals, losing the weight without compromising the performance cost a lot, a lot of money.  I have previously carried a tripod for my entire trip to Italy in 2000.  Anything heavy I just wouldn’t use (unless it is the case of heavy weight that implies good quality).  That much I know about myself.

Night time photography can be a lonely activity.  Each shoot took a minute or more to complete – mount the camera, adjust the tripod head, compose the picture, determine the settings, close the viewfinder blind, use a 10 seconds timer release, wait for 15-30 seconds or more for the picture to be properly exposed, and if the result can be improved, restart the whole process again.  If that is not tedious enough, at times I have to wait for the people to move away, pray that people will not move into the picture (anything can happen during the 30 seconds exposure plus 10 seconds timer release).  I have to observe the wind speed over the river, and the movement of the cloud.

It is all about patience and perseverance.  And this is my passion.  Above all, I love taking pictures in this beautiful country that I call home.

~ Dec 26, 2008

Yes, I’m Singaporean! Blog Contest
Check out other Singaporeans at mySingapore.sg