New Camera and Photography Lessons at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

I recently treated myself to a shiny new camera in anticipation of all the fantastic travel blogging I plan to do now I moved to Asia. I purchased a Canon EOS 6D Digital SLR with 24-105mm lens, which is a reasonably priced full-frame camera with a decent enough lens for a beginner. However there is no point having a fancy camera if you don’t know how to use it, so I promptly signed myself up for photography lessons with Pictorial in Singapore and spent today taking some great shots at the Botanical Gardens.

Pictorial offer a series of different courses for photographers of all levels and I joined the City Discovery Beginners Course that covers all the basics but is more focused on spending time outdoors taking photos rather than sitting inside listening to theory. The main guy Keith is fantastically knowledgeable and spent time optimising everybody’s camera settings and helped us with our composition.

Our first challenge was to use an ISO of 200 with aperture of 5.4 for depth of field to take photos around the botanic gardens. We could control the shutting speed to ensure the photos were not over or under exposed but we needed to apply the rule of thirds, which means ensuring the subject is never at the centre of the picture. Below are a selection of my favourite photographs that I took. I particularly liked the brightly coloured flowers contrasted against a vibrant green backdrop.

In the next part of the class we focused on composition. Keith emphasised that when taking a photo you need to think about the title, caption and story you are trying to tell with the image. Just shooting randomly is unlikely to produce a good result (although occasionally you can fluke it). We used the Chang Kuda statue as our subject. Chang Kuda is a children’s game from the 50s and 60s that involves a piggyback type of race. Keith asked us to think about how we could capture the essence of competition and a bygone era in our photo. With a lot of guidance, I produced the below image that was shot with the settings f5.6, 1/50 and ISO 200 in monochrome. In the photo I made eye contact with the loser whilst also capturing the triumphant pose of the winner. Keith said the photo would have been better if I had taken it from a slight angle to give the impression of running, and if I had not cropped out part of the foot of the boy.

During the last part of the day we explored two types of camera settings for photographing waterfalls. The first type is very typical of Chinese photography and is a setting I can use when I visit Guilin later in the year. We used a combination of small aperture and slow shutter speed, applying the settings f22, 1/4 and ISO200. The result looked very dreamy as the slow shutter has a blurring effect on the moving water so it looks like it is just magically gliding by.

The second setting we played with was the exact opposite, speeding the shutter speed and amping up the ISO so that we captured as much detail as possible in our photo so you can actually see the droplets of water in the waterfall. The below photo used settings of f5.6, 1/1600 and ISO 3200 whereas the very last image is more blurry and used the settings f5.6, 1/4000 and ISO 25600.

Downloadable original files are available of all my photos. By clicking on the image you will be directed to my Flickr page where you can view the original images in full screen.