I swear I wasn’t expecting to see a futuristic-looking city appear in my first-sunset-attempt-of-2013 photograph. That “futuristic city” is Pulau Bukom, if my geography isn’t messed up. I think if not for the Reflections at Keppel Bay buildings I’d intentionally included on the left, no one would’ve guessed.
Today’s photo-trip was solo and spontaneous: I was getting ready to leave my house to meet a friend for lunch when I decided to also pack my camera backpack. It rained the whole afternoon so I was really expecting to not be able to get any good shots at all. But my effort of a 25-minute steep walk from the foot to the peak of Mount Faber paid off, and I was so glad! Thank goodness Mount Faber isn’t really a mountain, or else my chest pain from all that climbing would’ve killed me before I even had time to set up my tripod.
There are actually a handful of routes to choose from to get to the top from around the foot of the hill but I’d already tried the easy, scenic and comfortable route once (lots of steps and even ground), so I decided to challenge myself this time by choosing the route that skirts the road, constantly sloping, no steps, no rest points and no flat ground to have a breather. Honestly, I’m proud of myself for going all the way without stopping.
My walking route from a bus stop at the main road to the peak of the hill, approximately 1.7km distance and 100m inclination. Once at Point B, there’s a pedestrian-only path going to the lookout point. I pointed my camera south-west for all the shots. (Zoom out twice (click the minus sign) and switch to Map or Satellite to see Pulau Bukom)
I believe this is my first time heading out with Rosa (that’s what I call my cute, pink Sony NEX C3) with the intention of catching a sunset. Back in 2012, I’d participated in a photo outing in the early hours of 1st Jan to catch the sunrise, and that was just horrible. Cloudy skies from overnight showers + facing the wrong direction + arrived a bit late = dull cityscape shot. I never forgot that failure, and I wanted to redeem myself this year but sunrises are a bit difficult for me to get up in time for (and all that time spent travelling to the right location) so I decided to make do with a sunset.
When I saw the opportunity for the above photo, I wanted so bad to accentuate the rays. This was when I realised that a lower f-stop means lesser rays and a more diffused-light appearance. So I cranked my manual 50mm Olympus OM lens up to its maximum f/16. The result is meagre, but at least I learnt something today! (On hindsight, it’s a good thing I didn’t try to force the camera on a low f-stop, because that means opening the aperture wide, allowing more light in and that could cause the camera’s sensor to get burn damage from the direct sunlight.)
My wide-angle lens has been in bad shape (grey specs keep appearing in the photos I take with that lens!) (I already did a thorough cleaning but it still happened, gotta find out what’s the problem) so to capture the sky in all it’s dusky glory, I had to rely on my trusty 50mm and just rotate the camera. I wanted to show the colours blending into each other, the different types of clouds going on, and the way the receding sunlight was affecting it all. And now that I’m looking at it, I think the photo is slightly off-angle; when I was composing this, the (black) thirds grid lines display on my screen was lost in the darkness of the shot. I might consider getting one of those spirit levels and attaching it directly to Rosa.
It was 8pm by the time I decided to pack up. Walking up at 5pm was perfectly fine, but not walking down at this time due to the dark, silent and lonely paths. Singapore is generally safe but I don’t wanna get caught accidentally falling over with no one around to hear my cries. So I trekked a very short distance down to the Jewel Box (that’s where you can board the cable cars to Sentosa) where there’s a taxi stand, and waited patiently for a cab to drive me down to the foot of the hill where I can board a bus home. Really it’s a pity the public bus only plies up and down the hill on weekends and public holidays. I was told there’s a shuttle bus service but the information I got seemed a little outdated and when I’m tired, I’d rather stick to what I’m certain of.
All images shown in this post have not been edited; they’re fresh out of Rosa! Please leave your comments below if you have suggestions on how to improve my photography based on my photos you see here, or a good location in Singapore for sunsets, or if you wanna be my spontaneous photo-trip buddy, anything!