If the credit crunch has gobbled up your art-collecting ambitions, dust off the camera you routinely reserve for your holidays and try creating your own works of art right outside your door.
Forget the usual overdone photo ops – the Merlion, Esplanade or (yawn) Sir Stamford Raffles’ statue – and seek out the island’s unpolished edges. Not only will you see Singapore with a fresh perspective, there’s also that lovely smug feeling you get when a visitor admires your masterpiece.
From urban cityscapes to rural outposts, photographers Lester V Ledesma (Sky Light Images), Mark Teo (Mark Teo) and Benny Hoh (Benny Hoh Photography) pick nine prime locations to get your camera kicks.
Kampong Buangkok (MRT: Buangkok or Hougang, then take a taxi to Lorong Buangkok, along Gerald Drive)
Dubbed ‘Singapore’s last kampong’, you won’t find this traditional village on a local map. Dotted along a network of dirt roads, wooden houses with zinc roofs shelter residents desperate to hold on to a more relaxed way of life. Chickens scratch in the muddy shade of rambutan, jackfruit and banana trees. But the clock is ticking for this vestige of living history as developers turn their eyes to this valuable slice of Singapore.
Punggol (MRT: Punggol, then taxi or bus 82 to the end of Punggol Road)
A haven for landscape photo fans. When you’re standing on Punggol beach, you’re actually closer to Johor, Malaysia than Singapore’s CBD – and you feel a world away. With its L-shaped jetty and mosscovered rocks that peep out from the blanket of sand at low tide, this undeveloped shore is one of the few places where you can see fishermen casting nets and setting crab cages. As an extra bonus, just minutes off Punggol’s main road, you’ll find wide-open fields full of swaying, feathery Lalang grass with just an occasional wide-canopied tree to break your line of vision. A rare chance to take a landscape shot without a high-rise looming into view.
Kranji Farms (MRT: Kranji, then Kranji Express)
Hop on the Kranji Express bus and explore some of northern Singapore’s rural industries. You’ll find 6,000 croaking bullfrogs at Jurong Frog Farm (Tel: 6791 7229; website), goat-milking at Hay Dairies (Tel: 6792 0931; website), and fruit swelling on trees at Fire Flies organic farm (Tel: 6793 7875; website). If you have time, stop at the Kranji Dam for marshland views.
Little India temple
Streets of Singapore
Chinatown (MRT: Chinatown)
Look past the ‘doll’s house’ renovations of the major tourist streets and you’ll find signs of old-style Singapore – a Taoist godstatue maker at work in Mohamed Ali Lane, barbers sharpening razors in side alleys near Thian Hock Keng Temple, and seniors playing checkers or comparing songbirds next to Sago Lane.
Little India (MRT: Little India)
Classic street-life scenes can be captured any day of the week in this lively part of town, but Sunday is when the area really pulses with activity. Head for Buffalo Road and Campbell Lane, where bright rows of jasmine garlands hang next to piles of heady spices and clay oil lamps.
Esplanade Basement (MRT: City Hall)
On Friday nights, take the underpass from Esplanade to CityLink Mall – this is where you’ll find a group of B-boys and six-gear cyclists performing tricks. Just ask to see their favourite stunts and they’ll usually be happy to be photographed in action. The lighting is quite low so use your flash and ISO 800-1600.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park( Bus: 52, 74, 93, 157, 165, 852 or 980. Alight at Lornie Road)
Six-foot monitor lizards, flying lemurs, and troupes of cheeky monkeys call this vast swathe of rainforest home. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a rare shot of the Malayan pangolin (scaly anteater) or a banded leaf monkey. Try shooting on an overcast day – the clouds soften bright beams of light that cause contrast confusion for your camera.
Sungei Buloh Wetlands (MRT: Kranji, then bus 925 or Kranji Express)
A jewel in Singapore’s ecological treasure trove. Phenomenal foliage and thousands of migratory birds make this a photographic eden. The mangroves are also teeming with mudskippers and climbing crabs.
West Coast Park Beach(Bus 176 stops directly in front of the park. Buses 30, 51, and 143 stop at Clementi Woods Park, a 5-minute walk away.).
A great location for a coastal sunset shot. Boats embedded in the sand provide a solid foreground against fiery skies. For those with a taste for industrial Singapore, shipyard cranes in the distance make a striking silhouette.
West Coast palm trees in the sunset
Where to get started
• The Camera Workshop (#01-31, Peninsula Plaza, 3 Coleman Street; Tel: 6336 1956) sells used equipment and does repairs.
• Canvasart.com.sg (#17-01 26 Bayshore Road; Tel: 8322 1920; website) is for special shots that deserve wall space.
• Cathay Photo (#01-05, #01-07/08, #01-11/14 & #01-46A Peninsula Plaza; Tel: 6337 4274; website) is a long-established camera store. A favourite amongst professional photographers.
• Fotohub (#B1-44G Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road; Tel: 6533 0433; website) develops prints or create calendars and coffee-table books. Six branches plus online ordering.
This story first appeared as 'Pic your spot’ (May 2009)
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