World struck by lightning photo

Mr Soh took about 100 images of lightning flashing across the night sky. He then selected 12 images and used Photoshop to layer them into a single composite image.
Mr Soh took about 100 images of lightning flashing across the night sky. He then selected 12 images and used Photoshop to layer them into a single composite image.PHOTO: COURTESY OF DARREN SOH

Composite image in Sembawang earns local photographer online fame and interview with BBC

Admirers - and there are tens of thousands of them - are already hailing it as Singapore's 2016 Picture of the Year.

But Singapore architecture and landscape photographer Darren Soh, 40, whose stunning composite image of lightning activity in Sembawang earned him an interview with the BBC, is still in shock over its impact on social media.

"Yes, I felt the photo was a bit better than my usual ones. But did I expect this level of response? Definitely not," Mr Soh told The Straits Times yesterday.

Since uploading it on Facebook on Sunday night, Mr Soh's photo has racked up more than 43,000 likes and over 14,000 shares. It was also featured on international news websites such as The Telegraph.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong even shared the photo on his Facebook page, praising Mr Soh for having "a knack for making the everyday extraordinary".

Mr Lee wrote: "Singapore is a lightning capital of the world, but few photos have captured it as strikingly as this composite by Darren Soh."

Mr Soh's "50 in SG50" photo series last year, based on topics close to a Singaporean's heart, featured jaw-dropping images of the city landscape, HDB blocks, the haze and the 2015 General Election.

On Sunday night, from the 16th-floor stairwell of an HDB block at Sembawang's Montreal Link, Mr Soh took about 100 images of lightning flashing across the night sky. He then selected 12 images and used Photoshop to layer them into a single composite image.

This is his first time producing a composite image of a lightning storm, having previously applied the technique only in his construction photography projects. It involves photos taken over a period of time which are then combined.

Mr Soh, who has been running his own photography firm for 15 years and specialises in shots of HDB flats, said he had been chasing lightning storms on and off for three to four years, and had experienced six failed attempts before finally nailing it. He deliberately captured the cluster of HDB flats at the bottom right of the photo as he wanted to give it a uniquely Singaporean feel.

"Without a local context, it would just be another nice lightning photo that could have been taken anywhere. So I felt it was important they were included."

Mr Soh added this has been his most well-received work to date. "Weather photos always seem to strike a chord with people. I've had people who are genuinely afraid of lightning telling me they can't help but be drawn to my photo," he said. "It's very humbling to know that your work is appreciated."

• This photo originally appeared in The Big Picture - which showcases an interesting photo daily - in yesterday's paper. If you have a stunning picture which you would like to offer for this column, we invite you to e-mail it to stpicturedesk@gmail.com. Photos should be of high visual and compositional quality no more than 2MB in size, non-manipulated, and accompanied by a short caption explaining the inspiration behind the image... and please, no selfies, wefies or pictures of food or pets!

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'World struck by lightning photo'. Print Edition | Subscribe