Since Chinese New Year is just around the corner (literally less than a few hours away; yay to ang baos), we decided to pay a visit to one of Singapore’s remarkable but lesser known heritage sites, the Chinese and Japanese Gardens! Joining us for the first time on our photography adventure was Sandra’s friend, Kit Yeng, who is also a photography enthusiast like us!
Located in the far West of Singapore, the Chinese Gardens (裕华园) was built in 1975, intended to be modelled after the Chinese imperial palaces of their time. When we were walking through the Gardens, it did feel like we were in another place and another time (bar modern technology of course).
Unfortunately it was evening and dark when we reached Chinese Gardens; to our surprise and disappointment, the Gardens lacked Chinese New Year decorations or festivities. It turns out that the Gardens is only open until 11 pm each night, and it was dimly lit. Furthermore, the adjacent Japanese Gardens is only open until 7 pm, which meant that we could not access the beautiful and tranquil park.
Nonetheless, we created our own fun through photography! Night photography is always a challenge; it is often a matter of guesswork, trial-and-error and experimentations. But the results can often be surprising and delightful! In this situation, a tripod would definitely help (unless you have unusually steady hands).
We did not manage to explore every area of the Chinese Gardens due to the late night and dim lighting. Furher, the Gardens is not as vast as previously anticipated, and you can spend a good two hours exploring the various parks! You can check out a map of the Gardens here as you follow our expedition below!
While walking through the Gardens, we felt like we were walking through the Forbidden City! Everything seemed larger than life and was well-maintained; even the courtyard near the museum feels spacious!
Before crossing the bridge, we decided to try our hand in light writing!
Our technique in producing these effects was simply to reduce shutter time; here a tripod is paramount because the shutter should be ideally open for 5-10 seconds. We set a timer, periodically capturing different shots of our largely experimental light writing and the different movements. We also ensured that our background was not as dark and of us standing on the Arch Bridge!
We ended up taking a lot of light writing photos, which only added to the enjoyable atmosphere! Due to the timer, we were pressured to take photos and admittedly ran out of creativity in a jiffy. FYI, these lights were taken with our handphone flash.
As you would see in some of our photos, we brought our trusty Lomo’Instant camera! We played with the multiple exposure function, and boy were we pleased with some of the outcomes! Here are some of our favourite instant films:
All in all, we were surprised to see many ancient Chinese structures in the park. We felt like we were not in Singapore, but in China! We were disappointed with the lack of Chinese New Year decorations; nevertheless, it was a great adventure to get away from the hustle and bustle of crowded urban life, enjoy a nice evening stroll at the Chinese Gardens with three friends sharing similar interests in photography 🙂
Lastly, we wish all our Chinese friends a Happy Lunar New Year; 新年快樂, 恭禧發財!
Till next time,