Library of Inspiration

Be One with Nature

Singapore’s unique blend of human and natural environments coexisting in harmony makes it a playground for aspiring nature photographers. This month, Dr. Ray Chua dives into the finer points of nature photography in Singapore with the Nikon School, and here are some of some of his thoughts on getting started:

Mark these locations in your diary

• Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Sungei Buloh is at the top of my list. From September to March, the reserve serves as a stop-over for migratory birds from as far north as Siberia on their way to their wintering grounds in Australia. Some of the more popular birds that you can find here are the Mongolian plover and curlew sandpiper.

• Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Singapore’s green heart is home to 40% of our nation’s flora and fauna, and remains a perennial favourite of those seeking to connect with nature and trek up Singapore’s highest peak. With over 500 species of animals, it’s a great introduction to Singapore’s wildlife.

• Pulau Semakau
The world’s first offshore landfill site, Singapore’s active landfill is far from a garbage heap, and home to a flourishing mangrove and marine habitat. From anemones to urchins, it is abuzz with Singapore’s less commonly seen residents; both feathered and finned, and makes a delightfully educational afternoon.

Feathers in Focus

When tracking rapidly moving subjects such as parakeets or monkeys, a camera with a fast intelligent autofocus module always comes in handy. More autofocus points grants you the flexibility and reliability in tracking your subjects, making sure your shots are sharp, clear and in focus. The Multi-CAM 3500 II autofocus sensor found in the D750 is an excellent autofocus sensor for low light photography, capable of tracking subjects at dusk and dawn: when wildlife is most active. You’ll also need a decent telephoto lens, preferably one with ED glass to reduce chromatic aberration/colour fringing which may arise when capturing light-coloured birds from a distance.

All creatures great and small

When on the lookout for smaller critters, such as butterflies, insects or even flowers and foliage, it becomes critical to capture and isolate the subject to bring out finer details, textures and colours. For photography outings with this in mind, pack a lens with a larger aperture. Such lenses have a shallower depth of field, allowing you to get closer to your subject, while providing natural background blurring. Bigger apertures allow more light into the sensor, which also improves low light performance, when you’re scanning the leaf litter for an interesting subject to shoot.

Part Sherlock Holmes, and part Indiana Jones, nature photography has the ability to elicit curiousity and fascination from almost anyone. Our little green island has no shortage of wildlife wonders just a short bus or boat ride away!

About Dr. Ray Chua:
Dr. Chua is a Senior Consultant with the National Dental Centre and Honorary Museum Associate with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at NUS. Through his stunning images, he weaves stories he hopes will highlight the beauty of the region’s natural heritage. Dr. Chua has also produced 6 coffee-table books on nature, and has won the NParks “City in a Garden” as well as Nikon’s VIP Access, “I AM AN EXPLORER” competitions.