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Singapore. Marina Bay Sands light show Panoramic

Singapore. Humid. Clean. Safe. And, oh so colourful! Some of you may or may not know that I’m quite partial to a cityscape panoramic once in a while, so when stopping off in Singapore last year for a couple of nights on the way to Australia, I couldn’t resist using my Nikon D800 and 50mm to try capturing the incredible sights the city had to offer, especially the famous Marina Bay Sands light show!

A panoramic showing the incredible lights show of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, and partial skyline across the bay.

Singapore Light Show

SHOT COUNT: 6
EXPOSURE: 13s, f10, ISO 100
CAMERA: Nikon D800
LENS: 50mm 1.4

It’s worth noting that as the resulting image is so large at 22,993 x 5135 pixels, I’ve included a couple of crops as well, to help you get a better feel for the overall photo and the detail within it.

ROOM WITH A VIEW? BAR WITH A VIEW IS BETTER

The first challenge in getting this image was one of finding a decent vantage point that was high enough, but crucially, that I could access with a tripod! We picked the Fullerton hotel last minute, with a view of the Marina Bay Sands, but alas, although we were on the top floor of the hotel, there wasn’t an image to be made through the windows as an inaccessible balcony with potted plants blocked a decent photo.

Partial Singapore Skyline

Partial Singapore Skyline

However, the hotel had a rooftop bar and luckily, it was empty. This allowed me to set up my tripod without fear of getting in anyone else’s way or having the legs kicked during each of the six, thirteen second exposures required. I suspect, had it been busy, they would not have allowed the tripod up there either. The next challenge was giving the camera time to acclimatise from the air conditioned room to the incredibly humid Singapore evening it was now being subject too. Given enough time, the front element stopped fogging up and I was then able to shoot!

CATCHING THE EVER CHANGING LIGHTS

The biggest challenge in getting this shot, was capturing the ever changing lights of the Marina Bay Sands light show in each frame of the panoramic. I started by shooting vertically, however I quickly realised the constantly moving lasers and colour changes around the building didn’t allow for vertical photos to work with the 50mm field of view, as the building alone would require three frames to fit it all in. At 13 seconds per exposure, there was simply far too many light changes between each frame with the lasers firing off in all directions constantly and the buildings in front of the hotel changing colour every few seconds.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

And so, I opted for horizontal frames. This allowed me to capture the hotel and it’s lasers within a single frame. However I still had to ensure I timed that frame so that the lasers did not exit from the left or right hand side. Once I had the base image of the Marina Bay Sands, I then set about capturing the images either side, ensuring for the immediate left and right frames, the lasers did not enter the shot. A little bit of trial and error but worth it as the resulting shot looks incredible at full resolution. The D800 is made for this type of shot. A single frame alone is breathtaking but once you start stitching multiple frames together, the detail is nothing short of phenomenal!

Singapore Art Science Museum

Singapore Art Science Museum

Marina Bay top deck light show

Marina Bay top deck light show

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL FOLKS

If you’re wondering what the view from the Marina Bay Sands looks like during the famous light show, well…hopefully this will give you an idea. On the way back from Australia, we stayed at the Marina Bay itself and this is a single frame taken from our hotel room on the 46th floor of the far left column (as you look at it from the above photos).

Singapore, viewed from Marina Bay Sands

Singapore, viewed from Marina Bay Sands

Has to be said, I loved Singapore!

About the author

Richard Peters is a Surrey based professional wildlife photographer, Nikon Ambassador, and one of the few British photographers to receive the accolade of European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He is known for a style that often favours dramatic use of light, runs wildlife photography workshops and, from camera clubs to big industry events, holds talks about his work.

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