fuji s5 proDigital night photography: night buildings

night water reflections

Night buildings are a natural choice for digital night photography.

The tendency of many photographers, however, is to take night pictures of famous landmark buildings. In Singapore, these would inevitably include, for example, The Esplanade, City Hall or the St Andrew's Cathedral.

No harm in that. In fact, when a building has been over-photographed, whether during the day or night, it becomes all the more challenging to capture and present it from a different perspective.

I find it more interesting though to take photographs of lesser known night buildings, such as the Madras Hotel in Little India. My friend David had pointed out to me the beauty of the building's art deco architecture and I do agree that it looks charming.

Here's my "mad" take of this boutique hotel.

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The Madras Hotel was a bit of a challenge to photograph. There was a wire across the front of the building, and an extremely bight spotlight -- much brighter than the one in the picture -- on the right, beyond the blue Madras sign. Thus I had to shoot from very close to the building, only facing left and with the bright spotlight behind me.

Because of this limitation, I took only one shot and did not expect much from it. It came out a lot better than expected, thanks to the nice interplay of light and shadows and the interesting mix of cool blue and warm yellow / red colors. And thanks to the Fuji S5 Pro for capturing those colors so beautifully.

Across the road facing Madras Hotel, I shot this. Even anonymous night buildings can make interesting pictures:


night buildings

Much easier was taking night buildings photographs of the Red Dot Design Museum at Maxwell Road. This was previously the headquarters of the Singapore Traffic Police, now painted all red and converted into "the creative centre of Singapore" housing mainly advertising agencies and design studios.

I was first attracted to the "red man" of the pedestrian light in front of the building:


night buildings


My friend suggested that I broaden the view, I experimented with a few compositions and settled for this image, which has a broader mix of colors and tones. :


night buildings


Notice that there is an inverted "red man" in both the above pictures of night buildings, a faint one below the actual red man in the top picture, and a bright one on the right of the entrance in the second picture. I am not sure how it got there. I suspect it was introduced by my cheapo lens (Nikkor 18-55 zoom). But apart from occasional quirks like this, I cannot complain about this lens, which has been quite highly rated by reviewers despite its very low price.

Walking further down the road, I thought a lamp post -- flanked by two trees -- dividing the building almost exactly into two equal halves would make an interesting night buildings picture. I start with some horizontal and vertical variations of this picture:


night buildings


I was quite pleased with the results, which I called "Symmertree".

But then I decided to try a more conventional composition with the lamp post and the building to one side, showing a bit of the side lane with more lamp posts. This is a more "ordinary" composition, but in this case I feel it works well:

night buildings


Note that the color of the lamp is different. In the top picture, I adjusted the white balance to produce a warmer tone. In the second picture, I left it as is, but made a small adjustment on Image > Adjustments > Hue / Saturation, to make the Yellow channel just a bit more red. I think both versions have their merits.

Another interesting night building in Singapore is the new Cathay Building. Its predecessor used to be the tallest building in Singapore (before the Second World War) and it was a landmark for pilots flying here. The new building does not look very nice during the day, but at night it is quite magical.


night buildings



And here's the Cathay building from a different angle.

Incidentally, the lights at the top of the building keep changing colors, my camera did not make a mistake:


night buildings


For more famous landmarks, click here to view my night buildings photographs of St Andrew's Cathedral, and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple / Sultan Mosque.

I have yet to photograph the Esplanade. Perhaps one day -- or night -- I shall take up the challenge.


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FUJIFILM S5 PRO
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