Best spots to catch NDP fireworks and tips for that perfect shot

A view of the National Day Parade preview fireworks visible from Boat Quay on Aug 3, 2019.
A view of the National Day Parade preview fireworks visible from Boat Quay on Aug 3, 2019.PHOTO: COURTESY OF SINGAPORE RIVER ONE

Celebrations include observance ceremonies, carnivals, and parade and fireworks finale

Photography enthusiasts and pyrotechnics fans are in for a treat on National Day tomorrow when fireworks will illuminate the night sky at three locations, including the Singapore River.

Media planner Calvin Lee, 31, has been assiduously snapping images of the fireworks at the parade rehearsals. They were set off at different spots: One set was fired from a barge in Marina Bay and another, the Padang.

Tomorrow, he is taking his trusty DSLR camera to the Singapore River, where, with a few friends, he aims to capture more than one dazzling snapshot of the six-minute fireworks display.

"What we realise is the fireworks at the rehearsals and the actual day are usually a bit different. And photographing fireworks requires practice. Sometimes the visuals can be quite different," he said.

He plans to be at the River as early as 1.30pm, about seven hours before the fireworks, to reserve a spot as good vantage points tend to get occupied quickly.

While the fireworks may be the grand finale, a slew of activities has been lined up for the day to mark Singapore's 54th birthday.

Across the island, grassroots organisations will hold National Day observance ceremonies.

For instance, in the western part of the island, the celebration will start around 7am when more than 4,000 Yew Tee and Limbang residents will walk or run around the Pang Sua Canal.

The event will end at Gain City Megastore in Sungei Kadut, where there will be a carnival with stalls offering free refreshments and games such as mini-soccer and mini-basketball.

Similarly, a carnival will be held at Farrer Park Field. To mark its history when it was known as a football training field and a race course for horses, photography stations will be set up for residents to take pictures with ponies and former national footballers such as Mr Razali Saad and Mr Noh Alam Shah.

 
 

These symbols of its past are in line with the Bicentennial theme, said Mr Richard Lew, deputy constituency director for the Moulmein-Cairnhill office, the carnival organisers. "We hope the residents will know more about its past and learn how the area has evolved."

Those without tickets for the National Day Parade at the Padang can watch it on giant screens at local landmarks, including Marina Barrage, Changi Airport Terminal 3, the National Museum and Our Tampines Hub.

The parade will start at 5.30pm tomorrow.

Where to catch the fireworks display on Aug 9

1. Boat Quay


ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Fireworks will be set off from the Singapore River for the first time, in front of the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Nearest MRT stations: Clarke Quay and Raffles Place

2. Merlion Park


ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

This spot will offer one of the best views of the fireworks. Head here on foot.

Nearest MRT station: Raffles Place

3. Helix Bridge


ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

Ditch your car and head down early if you intend to catch the fireworks from the Helix Bridge. The roads around the Padang and The Float @ Marina Bay will mostly be closed for the parade.

Nearest MRT station: Bayfront

4. The Promontory @ Marina Bay


ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Driving to this spot might be possible if you are willing to set off early and park in the Central Business District. 

Nearest MRT station: Bayfront and Downtown


ST photojournalists share tips on taking photos of fireworks

1. Find a good location, preferably with a landmark. This will give your shots some context and a sense of time and place.

2. Use a tripod. Fireworks need to be photographed on a slow shutter speed to capture the falling embers.

3. The first few bursts of the fireworks are usually the "cleanest" shots. The sky will usually be covered in smoke soon after, unless there is a breeze to blow the smoke away.

4. Go early to reserve your spot. Photographers mark their spaces using their tripods.


IF YOU ARE SHOOTING WITH A DSLR CAMERA:

• Use a smaller aperture (between F8 and F16) and a longer shutter speed. This will keep your photos sharp and capture multiple bursts of fireworks.

• Set your lens focus to infinity on manual mode so that the focus does not automatically shift.

• Use an auto trigger to avoid accidentally shaking the camera. If you do not have one, use the camera's two-second timer shutter release function.

• To capture several bursts of fireworks, keep the shutter open for a longer period of time by using the camera's bulb mode. Cover the lens with a black card or cloth in between bursts, while leaving the shutter open, so as not to overexpose the shots or let too much stray light in.


IF YOU ARE SHOOTING WITH A MOBILE PHONE:

• Find a support for your phone, be it a ledge or even on the floor. Your phone should be mounted on a mini tripod with bendable legs to allow for easy adjustments.

• Phones are unable to execute long exposures, but there are apps that allow this. Slow Shutter Cam for iPhones and Long Exposure Camera 2 for Androids are two popular ones.

• Most people shoot videos on their mobile phones, instead of photos. Be sure to have enough memory space on your phone to be able to capture the six-minute-long fireworks display. You can also capture it on the time-lapse mode to speed it up in playback.

Lastly, do not forget to enjoy yourselves and remember to watch the fireworks in their full glory, rather than through your camera's viewfinder or phone screen.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'All set for Singapore's 54th birthday bash'. Print Edition | Subscribe