Through the Lens: ST photojournalists share tips on drone use at photo exhibition at National Museum

(From left) ST photojournalists Benjamin Seetor, Ong Wee Jin and Lim Yaohui giving a talk on Drone Photography at the National Museum of Singapore on Oct 12, 2019.
(From left) ST photojournalists Benjamin Seetor, Ong Wee Jin and Lim Yaohui giving a talk on Drone Photography at the National Museum of Singapore on Oct 12, 2019.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - Lim Chu Kang cemetery, with tombstones laid out neatly in rows as far as the eye can see, was among the first few locations for The Straits Times (ST) photojournalist Benjamin Seetor to snap photos with a drone.

But his work, published in June 2014, turned out to be one of the last few shots of its kind.

A few months later the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore had introduced new rules governing drone usage.

The cemetery is strictly a "no-fly" zone, out of bounds for drone pilots as it is located near Tengah Airbase, said Mr Seetor, 40, during a talk on Saturday (Sept 12).

He and his colleagues, ST photojournalists Ong Wee Jin and Lim Yaohui, provided tips on drone photography at the National Museum of Singapore, as part of a photo exhibition organised by The Straits Times called Through The Lens.

Aside from ensuring one does not break the law, Mr Seetor said users should also take as many safety precautions as possible.

"Safety is always our main priority, you have to know the characteristics of the drone and its safety features," said Mr Seetor, adding that he has a "pre-flight checklist" before each flight.


An aerial view of Lim Chu Kang cemetery that was taken on June 9, 2014, by photojournalist Benjamin Seetor, before new rules governing the use of drones came into effect. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

While it may be troublesome at times, drone photography could yield fresh and new perspectives of Singapore, said Mr Ong Wee Jin.

His series of photographs on the different basketball courts around the island would not have been possible six years ago without drone photography, he added, as the device allowed him to capture aerial shots of different courts in a similar angle.


An aerial view of the basketball court next to Block 350 Ang Mo Kio Street 32 that was taken by ST photojournalist Ong Wee Jin. PHOTO: ST FILE

"Since the courts were often near HDB blocks, a personal worry was that a resident would see the drone outside their window, and think I'm a 'cheeko peh'" said Mr Ong, referring to a Singlish term for a dirty old man.

Mr Lim Yaohui, 37, on the other hand, shared his experiences photographing the Southern Islands with a drone.


An aerial view of Kusu Island taken by ST photojournalist Lim Yaohui on Nov 3, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

The photojournalist spent close to eight months getting clearance from agencies to capture footage of Pulau Semakau, Sentosa and Kusu Island.

 

The result was sweeping views of the islands, with both video and still footage documenting their rich biodiversity and features.

Around 70 people attended the talk. Among them was Mr William Tan, 60, who said he was glad to have learnt more about the do's and don'ts of drone photography.

"It's good that they can share a bit more on this topic especially since there are so many new rules; it's a grey area for ordinary people like us," said Mr Tan, a retired interior design consultant, who is also a drone hobbyist.

The Through The Lens exhibition showcases the work of Singapore and international photojournalists over the past two years and includes the World Press Photo exhibition.

The display ends on Oct 27 and admission is free. Guided tours are available at 1pm and 3pm every Saturday.

Schools requesting guided tours for students can inquire at: stprojects@sph.com.sg.