Old Singapore Playgrounds

Dragon @ Ang Mo Kio, All Rights Reserved

Dragon @ Ang Mo Kio

This is one of my personal favourites of these series. It’s a nice design (there’re quite a few dragon playgrounds in Singapore) but the body/spine of the dragon is a bit tricky to climb and navigate, especially when there’s a time exposure window to meet.

This series was created to remember and celebrate a part of Singapore’s history. These old playgrounds were built in the 80′s and early 90′s, and have a distinctive retro design element which is unmistakable. These were all located in the vicinity of HDB estates – which are estates of public housing. So these wonderful playgrounds were public spaces where and entire generation of children(who’re all grown up now)  gather to have fun.

Light painting was used in these series to capture the whimsical mood of the playgrounds, and also to show a different side to these spaces not usually seen at night. The purpose of light painting in this series is to augment the whimsical feeling of these places, rather than as a artistic work in itself.

Pelican @ Dover, All Rights Reserved

Pelican @ Dover

This is the very first night light painting I attempted while embarking on my series of old Singapore playgrounds. I remember it was kind of a chilly night and there were plenty of mosquitos buzzing about as I ran to and fro the camera and the playground with my torch. The inexperience does show in the image… It just doesn’t seem polished. But I’ve decided to keep it as it is because it represents the steps and mistakes I’ve learnt along the way.

My favorite part of this image is the light painted swings – the actual ones have been removed.

Bumboat @ Elias

Light Painting at a bumboat playground in the Elias estate of Singapore.

I remember there was a kopitiam (a casual coffeeshop for you international readers) nearby and the lighting from that lit up the playground fairly well, so my exposures had to be fast and I had only a short time window to do my exposures.

Elephant @ Pasir Ris

As I recall, this is one of the last playgrounds I went to because it is not easily accessible. This is also one of my favourites, because sliding down the trunk of an elephant is just apt. My favourite part of this image is the tail- which I think turned out quite well.

Dove @ Dakota

I remember that this estate was extremely quiet, and that I had to wait a couple days to do the shoot after the initial scout – during which an open air exhibition was done on the grass patch just to the right of this image.

As usual I got some curious stares from a couple onlookers – domestic helpers i think – but nobody came over to interrupt the shoot. I remember bringing my son over to this playground during the daytime and he had great fun on the slide, which is just to the left of the dove.

This playground and the estate have been the setting of a drama TV series in Singapore titled Hero.

Watermelons @ Pipit

This Watermelon Family Playground at Pipit does not look very exciting light painting wise – but I had an interesting encounter while setting up this particular shoot. A small group of about 3 young men in their late teens approached me – this was late at night past 11 pm or so – and I was worried that I would be “relieved” of my photographic equipment.

But it turned out that the 3 young men were interested in what I was doing, and even thought I was filming the paranormal! What eventually transpired was me giving a quick and superficial tutorial about light painting to them before they went back to the void deck to chat amongst themselves.

Clock @ Bishan

Similar to the Bumboat Playground, this Clock Playground was also brightly lit from a nearby kopitiam as well as a bus interchange. This necessitates quick action even at low ISOs and small apertures due to the small exposure time window. I remember running straight into the roof edge (the part that is just above the left hand of the clock) and getting a substantial baluku (cephalohaematoma) as a result that lasted for a few days.