Gardens by the Bay is visual artistry. This is one of Asia’s foremost garden destinations – and a 250-acre ‘happy-snap’ paradise!
It’s spectacular, but overwhelming when it comes to capturing the visual narrative that is Gardens by the Bay. Between this plant kingdom, its stunning modern architecture, and colourful events, where do you start?
From the moment you arrive at Gardens by the Bay, which is part of a Deluxe Collection special by Wendy Wu Tours with a 3-night free stopover in Singapore, you realise the boundless opportunities.
There’s so much to cover! Between the largest glass greenhouse (Flower Dome) in the Guinness Book of Records and, its two sister domes within distinctive waterfront gardens. The OCBC Skyway at 22m height with panoramic vistas of the Gardens and the Marina Bay skyline. The architecturally-astounding Supertrees Grove with the tallest structure measuring up to 16 storeys high, heritage gardens, more than 40 sculptures from around the world…
With all of this to absorb in one instant, the best tip is to stop, exhale and plan.
Enter your chosen glasshouse and identify your ‘wow’ factor. Look for beautiful garden backdrops, fascinating objects, and premium ‘selfie’ spots. By now, everyone else has wasted valuable battery, phone or card space, snapping dozens of the same shot with most destined for deletion…
A quick plan will also afford you time to have the ‘real’ experience, rather than becoming captive to the lens or viewfinder.
Keep it steady
One of the best tips I’ve received from professional travel photographers is holding your breath gently to stop the shakes at that critical moment. It stops the fuzzy outcome every time!
I also like to take a test picture of a complex setting. This way you can review your settings. Check sharpness, light and shadows – plus check for image noise such as rubbish, wilting flowers, unwanted people, and that annoying backpack strap!
To achieve the best album, mix it up. Not every image should show an entire city, or in this case, garden. Aim for a photo that captures the sense of place or thing. Zoom in on a beautiful blossom, rather than the entire tree. Get in close to the droplet balancing on a fern. You’ll definitely have the chance to do this in the Garden’s greenhouse representing the cool-moist Tropical Montane region.
Change your position. Crouch down and fill the lens with an exotic orchid – plants look completely different when you shoot them on their level. For a sense of movement, allow the imagination to travel through the photo when you position the subject slightly off-centre. I wasn’t afraid to be horizontal so I could capture the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 35 meters in the Cloud Forest. A technique I’ve mastered along with millions of others at the base of the Eiffel Tower!
Dim the Lights
Don’t be fooled by a crystal clear sunny day. This is not the ideal light for great images unless you really know your equipment. Thankfully, the glasshouse environment can bring beautiful moods into your work through the subtle light.
If using a phone, review the time of day and the available light. From behind the camera’s viewfinder, you’ll find amazing colour and quality of the light. Roughly an hour after the sun rises and an hour before the sun sets. In the evening, use a slow shutter mode (available in Apps) to capture edgy pics of the lights surrounding the Supertrees Grove and the city skyline.
Importantly, when you’re taking a portrait shot or a selfie, never face direct sunlight. Every facial flaw – especially when squinting – will be illuminated! I personally opt for soft light and thankfully, there’s plenty of that in the cool-climate rainforests at Gardens on the Bay.
With thanks to Michelle Grima from Australia PR