When shooting a newly minted landmark as iconic as The Jewel at Changi Airport during the preview days prior to the official opening on the 17th of April 2019, any photographer at whatever level of experience will face a steep learning curve. One of the key challenges comes from the immense human traffic as 500,000 preview visit passes were issued for the 1-week event. But we went through a shooting session and came away with some tips that might just help those planning a photo trip there.
Observe the Lighting
Good photography is all about good lighting. Without ideal lighting, a picture will simply fall flat. At the Rain Vortex area, do take note of the lighting condition as it is essentially a natural-lit venue during day time. In this instance, a gloomy overcast, or rainy day can mean a less dramatic picture. During our photo session around 5 pm, we were lucky that passing clouds did not cover the sun for too long, letting the sun ray enter the glass dome ceiling with the water mist accentuating the shards of light. (Canon EOS RP, EF16-35mm , 1/200, F5.6, ISO100. EV-0.5).
Include People as Part of the Composition
Most photographers would try to frame as few people as possible as in their pictures. But in the heavily packed venue, that will be an impossible endeavour barring the use of Photoshop to remove the “intrusive” subject. But what’s an airport with little to no people? Enjoy their presence and include them as part of the composition. My Canon EOS RP swivel screen came in really handy when I go low to shoot the “human landscape”. Shoot plenty of frames to increase the keeper rate. (Canon EOS RP, EF16-35mm , 1/125., F5.6, ISO100. EV-0.5).
Less is More
Instead of using ultra wide-angled (UWA) lenses all the time, bring your telephoto lenses like the Canon EF70-200mm F2.8 L IS. Zoom in tight to convey the mood of the venue. In the picture above, I shot at 200mm length to compress the view of the visitors enjoying the wet mist coming from the Rain Vortex. The zoom lens also came in useful allowing me to shoot from further away, as heavy crowds slowed our movement. (Canon EOS RP, EF70-200mm, 1/640, F4.5 , ISO400.)
Time Your Visit
Knowing the sun’s orientation will be important as you can make use of the natural lighting to your advantage. In the picture above, it looked deceptively easy to compose but is really a confluence of ideal conditions. I used the aperture of F18 to generate Sunstar, positioning the sun to a corner of the roof structure for a more pinpoint effect, hoping the clouds do not cover it while waiting for the trams to pass along the track as otherwise the track would look incomplete without it. Likewise, the water mist from the waterfall enhances the shards of sun rays for a more dramatic outcome. (Canon EOS RP, EF16-35mm , 1/30., F18, ISO100. EV-0.3).
Have Fun, Go with Friends
To better enjoy the photo outing, do get like-minded friends to tag along so you can discuss and learn from each other experiences after the photo session. Canon EOSWorld organises complimentary photo walks regularly, so do keep a look out on the community website. (Canon EOS RP, EF16-35mm , 1/8s. F4, ISO100.)
Don’t Leave Your Tripod at Home
One of the key highlights of the Jewel @Changi Airport is the Light and Sound Show, which commences nightly after dark. You will need a stable tripod to be able to capture the show as long exposure is needed. Gorilla pod is also ideal as you can use it to secure your camera on the passageways guard rails. I would suggest a max exposure of not more than 3-4 seconds to better capture the laser trails (Canon EOS RP, EF16-35mm, 1/4s. F5.6, ISO100.)
Thanks for coming along on my pixels journey at the Jewel and hope the sharing helped. You might like to check out other photo tips at my photopage.
Footnote: All pictures used in this article are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and all rights reserved. The information and opinion expressed are factual, objective, and that of the author.