Understanding the Images used in the Design of the BOOK

front cover



Black and silver (grey) as background and text in white or black

back cover


The rare Copper-throated Sunbird (female) sucking nectar from the scented flowers of the rare Mangrove Apple. Usually the bird lands on top of the flower unlike this bird that uses the flowers for support (note the pollen falling). The flowers are transient; lasting only a few hours before they fall to the waters in the late morning. The image appears on the book cover and set the colour tone on the book design - black, grey and white

Waited 2 hours for this shot.

Sampan ride

This image is rather surreal for it looked like a painting. It was a rare opportunity to course the waterways of the Reserve using a sampan.

Thanks to Jeremy Ang for paddling the sampan.

Shot from mudflats to Main Hide

NParks gave me only one day (bird disturbance is reduced) to photograph the Main Hide from the mudflats. Unfortunately it rained that day but the American models still came! I had to use flash to reduce the blue colouration from the rain and Photoshop the image to add a little saturation. Otherwise I have to shoot the image from afar ie from the Aerie.

Kate Thome, Lois and friends - thanks

Roots - Early beginnings

This was shot using a 16mm fish-eye lens. The focus was the root ramifications enriched with green algae. Fallen leaves were removed to help uncover the vivid green. Image gives a sense of seeing the unseen. The intricate root patterns of the mangrove ecosystem revealed.

Took 45 mins to tidy the roots

View from Aerie

With only a small opening when viewed from the Aerie, a concept shot was planned using 2 models. It was shot early in the morning just before the sun could exert its wash-out effect. The image was used in the opening chapter of the "The Trails". Some trimming of the Sea Hibiscus was necessary so that the walking path can be seen


(Models - Cheryl and Mandy)

Autumn colours

For only a few days in a year, the leaves of Buta buta will change colour from yellow to red before dropping off. This image was shot in September 2009


Took more than 30 minutes to plan the shoot as some of the leaves had to be rearranged.

Mangrove Arboretum

An accidental concept. It was planned to photograph the other side of the Boardwalk (to show also the circular water puddles created by the Tilapias) but the models came late and the Sun was too harsh, so a switch was made. Even then there was only 5 minutes to spare before sunlight overwhelmed the scene.

(Models - Cai Xin, Beatrice, Melissa Yew & Melissa Tan)

Fresh water pond

Three models were selected to highlight the rich fresh water pond life. To the left was a sign board and the right - a tree was too close to the camera; so only one angle to get a good shot. Have to make sure water was still in order to get the reflection. Shot early in the morning to avoid harsh highlights from the Sun.

(Models - Constance, Ai Lian and Nurul). with help from CK Teo

Art classes by Pui San

I chanced upon an Art Class conducted by Pui San and the timing could not be better with the backlight and I used fill-in flash to illuminate the faces. The girl next to PS was gorgeous and I just focused on her eyes.

Art class by the Main Bridge

Praying for painless death

Whilst talking to Nparks management staff at just before the Main Bridge, a Changeable Lizard fell to the ground and in its mouth was a praying mantis. It took quite some time before it could fully devour it; by then many frames were shot with 400 mm lens. I decided to approach it instead. This was the last shot with a 105mm Macro lens and it looked at me squarely in its eyes. I was just a meter away before it fled.

Lucky to be at the right place at the right time.

Monitor Lizard and Milk fish

Dead fishes from the kelongs found their way to the Reserve and it was a feast for the already robust Water Monitors. The lizards were spoilt for choice. I even had the opportunity to video-tape the feast. My favourite was this with the Milk Fish between the lizard's jaws.

Mangrove Pitta and slug

Whilst resting from the fatique (from too much walking), a bird silently flew into the thickets. When I realized that it was a rare Mangrove Pita, the fatique was soon forgotten and I followed it as it was hunting for food. The slug in its mouth was a bonus.

Thanks to Luan Keng for her company

Purple Heron and Catfish

It was surprising that this Heron lived for so long. Its main problem was, it had a perforated floor of the mouth; evident from the dangling piece of tissue . Everytime it swallowed the catfish, the fish slipped down the perforation into the water. It was only after 7 or 8 attempts that it managed to swallow the fish. As a photographer, it was great, for there were more opportunities to record the event.

Taken from the Main Bridge

Emerald Dove

For about a week, this dove was merrily feeding on the ground at the Visitors Centre, oblivious to all visitors! It was constantly on the move and after about an hour or so, it decided to take a rest. Viola. Subsequently, i never saw it again.

Taken next to Exhibit area

Netting birds for Research

Had to position myself to ensure the backlighting effect from the Sun. Used fill-in flash to highlight the presence of the mist nets and to light up the faces. Also wanted the bird (main subject) and faces to be visible. There were numerous takes but only liked this image.

Fill-in flash used. Thanks to NParks staff for their co-operation.

The Four-lined Treefrog had no chance at all. The Painted Bronzeback took more than 2 hours to suffocate the frog and only took less than 5 minutes to swallow it. Moments later the snake had to stretch its mouth open twice (right in front of me) to relocate its dislocated jaws.

Was notified of their presence by Ms Kim and I had to rushed to SB at break-neck speed. But the snake brought its victim deeper into the bushes. I had pry open the vegetation with one hand and use a 105mm macro lens with the other and hoped the autofocus worked. I only had 2 shots as it was too difficult to access and camera set-up was too heavy to handle with one hand.
Shield Bugs galore

On your lucky day, you may be able to see the conglomeration of bugs under the leaves of mangrove plants. Once disturbed, all the bugs will suddenly fly off.
Tripod with fill-in flash. 500mm lens

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