An Aerial Photography Adventure by Ricardo Seah

An Aerial Photography Experience Over Vancouver

 Shot above downtown Vancouver from a Harbour Air Seaplane 

Shot above downtown Vancouver from a Harbour Air Seaplane 

Back story 

A couple of Fridays ago I attended the Vancouver Tourism Awards Gala at Canada Place at 6.45am (yes that's right in the morning!!! Who holds a gala that early!?!?! Ok ok calm down Ricardo, I'm sure they have their reasons..). Anyways the Gala ended at about 9am and so I decided I'd walk around the waterfront area to soak in the views of the snowcapped mountains as it had snowed the night before.

View of North Vancouver

I mean look at that view! It was gorgeous!! So I continued to walk around the convention centre and of course I'm greeted by the seaplanes by the waterfront as they took off and landed. It was not raining (a mega plus for this time of year in Vancouver) and the thought of capturing the snowcapped mountains and the city from one of those seaplanes raced through my brains.

Vancouver seaplane harbour air

It was so so tempting.. But of course I had to act rationally and so I put up a poll on my Instagram story asking if you guys thought I should go or not. I waited awhile at the lounge of the Seaplane airport and let the results come in.. needless to say, I let the results (96% said "Yes, do it!") guide my decision. 

Ready for an adventure
harbour air

I ran up to the counter to get myself on the next scenic flight tour around Vancouver, and in 15 minutes I was boarding my first ever seaplane flight. Woohoo!!! I was so excited! 

Thankfully it wasn't a full flight and I rushed to the front to be the third person to board, and was able to pick out a good seat at the back with an unobstructed view (window seat goodness).

Sat through a little flight safety video and a welcome by the friendly captain and off we went taxiing the runway (or water-way.. not sure what it's called) and up into the air with a fanatic view of North Vancouver from my side.

We went up north and checked out the mountains that had been covered in snow from the night before which was just breathtaking.

From there we circled around and made our way to Vancouver and got a good view of Kits Beach and downtown Vancouver before going over Stanley park and landing back at the waterfront.

It was definitely a great experience and I highly recommend it! The views are just amazing and the pilot really knew where to take us for good shots. Also, it will be one of the softest airplane landings you'll experience.

Check out the HarbourAir website if you're interested. I did the extended panorama tour and it was definitely worth it. They apparently also do flights to Bowen Island, Whistler and Victoria. Definitely not paid by them to say this (but of course if you work for Harbour Air please consider hiring me for a shoot). It's fantastic way to see Vancouver!


A mix of some of the shots I took with my phone and cameras 


Aerial Photography Tips:

  • Have the right lens attached to the body of your camera before the flight.

    • Trust me, you DO NOT want to be changing lenses while flying. It can get quite bumpy, space is confined, you're gear might roll all over the cabin and you are going to miss shots.
    • What I did was shoot with my phone and two camera bodies with two different lenses on each so that I was able to get a range of shots. Now of course not everyone will have two camera bodies in which case having one camera body with a zoom and your camera phone with you to capture wide shots will suffice. 
  • Sit either right at the back or right at the front of the aircraft. 

    • Unless you want to get the wing in all your shots (not necessarily a bad thing but just my preference)
  • Don't attempt to manual focus, just let the camera work its auto-focus magic.

    • Do yourself a favour and just let the camera handle the focusing. As long as the window is clear and clean there shouldn't be a problem.
  • Use a fast shutter speed. 
    • The plane is going to be moving fast and its going to be a little bumpy. I found myself fighting hard to stabilise my camera for shots while trying to fight the G-forces as the pilot pulled and rolled to steady the aircraft.
  • Shoot on continuous high setting or the highest continuous shooting mode your camera will allow.

    • This will maximise the chance of getting that awesome shot.
  • Make sure you have your gear strapped to you. 

    • The last thing you want is to lose grip of your camera or your phone mid-flight and have it roll around the cabin. 

  • DO NOT just look through your camera viewfinder the entire flight.

    • Trust me I got super nauseous looking through 3 different cameras constantly throughout the flight. And this is coming from someone who usually doesn't get nauseous on flights (I've been on everything from small planes, to commercial and military aircraft) but it's something about constantly looking through different zooms that messes with your orientation. 

    • I recommend taking breaks in-between shooting to live in the moment and enjoy the experience. 

As always thank you for coming on this journey with me! I hope you enjoyed this little adventure in the air and that it inspires you to get out there and capture some awesome shots!

Till next time, stay tuned on my instagram for the latest shots and and news on my insta stories. 

Β 

Of course, if you liked this or have any questions please leave me a like and or a comment below :) Take care, keep warm, keep exploring, and get those amazing shots!

A Spontaneous Adventure to the Rockies by Ricardo Seah

Spontaneous Overnight Photo-trip to Banff

 First stop on the photography checklist. Photographing Moraine Lake as the sun is setting.

First stop on the photography checklist. Photographing Moraine Lake as the sun is setting.

From deserts and canyons of Arizona to the cool and lush Canadian Rocky Mountains. Here’s a little summary of my latest spontaneous adventure to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. 


Q&A Time

But Ricardo haven’t you been to the Rockies before?

Yes! And the thing is I can never get enough of it! It’s just such a beautiful and picturesque place. Literally everywhere you turn is a photo opportunity and its a place you can keep returning to because the seasons change and theres always a new location to shoot.

How long was this adventure? 

It was literally a 2 Days 1 Night spontaneous adventure

So where in the Rockies did you go to this time?

 

This time I visited Banff and due to the time constrain only managed to photograph a few locations. The primary objective of this trip was to photograph Moraine Lake at sunset and sunrise the following day. 

The secondary objective was to photograph other lakes within Banff such as Peyto Lake and  the famous Lake Louise. 


Here are some of my shots from Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake and Lake Louise

My tips for photographing the Rockies during this time of year:

  • Have a tripod.

    • I cannot stress this point enough. Especially if you want the best sunset-landscape or astrophotography shots, you are going to need a proper tripod. Do yourself a favour and invest in a good one, not that cheap plastic/tacky ones. The last thing you want is for your tripod to fail on you and have a tripod leg break during your trip (just ask my buddy @guangyow whose old tripod broke while doing astrophotography).  

  • Bring gloves and dress appropriately.

    • Although I brought the right attire and shoes, I’ll admit, I totally forgot to bring gloves. And because of this my hands were absolutely freezing especially since my tripod was made of metal. But its a good lesson to learn from and the pain was worth enduring for the pictures.

  • Get to desired shooting locations before the crowd.

    • If you know you want to capture a specific event such as sunrise then you should be aware that you aren't the only one who has that in mind. Get to the location before the crowd does because the last thing you want is a bunch of tourists with selfie sticks in your frame. 

    • Arrive an hour beforehand if possible, this will allow for time to find parking and will allow you time to find the right spot. This will also hopefully help you avoid those big bus loads of tourists. As I left Moraine Lake after getting my sunrise shots there were at least 6 buses that were going in while I was going out (that would have been at least 200 people to deal with).

  • Include buffer time.

    • Related to the previous point, allow yourself some buffer time to get to locations because there is considerable traffic at certain times of day approaching places of interest such as Moraine lake. Parking can also be a hassle because of the sheer amount of people who want to visit the location so take into account that it might take some time to get a parking spot.

  • Bring extra batteries & memory cards.

    • The last thing you want is for your battery to die or realise you don’t have anymore space on your card while a magical moment unveils (eg. sunrise/sunset). Batteries die faster in the cold so bring a couple of spares. Since you are probably going to be shooting in RAW file format (recommended if you are doing any post-processing), you will be filling up those memory cards fast so definitely bring extras and keep them in a proper case to keep them protected.

  • If you have polarising & ND filters bring them.

    • This will help bring back some of those blown out highlights in the sky while exposing for the landscape/foreground. (i.e. these filters can help you get a more evenly lit shot)

  • Take all the shots but be intentional and don’t delete anything.

    • I don’t know why but especially when I was first starting out as a photographer I just didn’t take certain shots because in my mind they weren’t going to be perfect or were just inconvenient.

    • But think about it. you’ve travelled all this way and that one shot you didn’t take could have been "the one". Whats there to lose? Just take everything you have in mind and don't give in to self doubt and irrational fears. It's better than going home and hating yourself for not shooting it from up there or from down low or across there.  

  • Take a couple shots where everyone is then move.

    • Shoot where all the other tourists and instagram folks are shooting from but move on after that to find the shot that will make your image unique. 

    • I like to to spend 10% of my time on locations taking the "popular shot" or "postcard shot" and 90% finding "my shot". Find a way to make your images different or stand out by shooting from a different angle or by including different elements.

  • Don’t shoot for the first 5 minutes.

    • As photographers we always want to get right into it. We tend to get excited when we come across amazing scenes and dive right into it.  The problem I find is two fold:

      • 1) we tend to settle on the first composition which we think is β€œthe one” and negate ourselves from exploring other (potentially better) angles & compositions. I always tell my students to take 5 steps to the left and right, go high, go low. In essence what I’m saying is to explore the environment because it is foreign to you, understand it and look for nuances that make it unique and give it time to speak to you.

      • 2) Once we start shooting that scene we don’t stop and before you know it the moment is lost and the only memory of it will be looking through a viewfinder. Take 5 minutes to soak it in, the visuals, scents, air, vibes,  the way it makes you feel. Take time to be in the moment because you travelled all the way there.

  • Lastly, don't forget to take a self portrait 

    • Don't forget to take a self portrait on location to remember the moment and place yourself within the environment. 

    • I'm guilty of this and as such I don't have shots of myself on location the way I see the scene. Too often I live behind the lens and I'm sure many fellow photographer do too, but it's a nice change to make yourself the subject and places yourself in perspective of the body of work you are creating.

My turn to be in-front of my lens!

That concludes my blogpost on a super spontaneous trip to Banff and I hope you liked it!

More photos of this adventure can be found on my instagram account @ricardogtaphy so don't forget to check that out! πŸ“Έ

I hope this has inspired you to get out, explore and take some awesome shots! And as always, don't forget to leave a like below if you enjoyed this and share this post with family and friends!!

Thank you! 

Photographing Arizona by Ricardo Seah

An Arizona Adventure to Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon & Horseshoe Bend!

An Arizona Adventure

The past weekend has been a crazy adventure. I photographed two locations that were on my "must photograph places list" and I thought I wouldn't survive what nature had to throw at me but thankfully I'm alive and have pictures to help tell the story. Here's a summary of my Arizona Adventure! 

Arizona Adventure Checklist :  

βœ… Photographed two amazing locations that were on my list

I've had two major sites I have always wanted to photograph in the American Southwest: Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Two spectacular sites that I managed to check off my list during this trip. 

After finally visiting and photographing these I can highly recommend these two sites which are located in Page, Arizona. I'll elaborate on each site further down but here are a couple of pics ‡️

Horseshoe bend is a must see if you are in Page, Arizona! It's absolutely free and just a short hike from the carpark. Just be prepared for the crazy amount of other tourists and have enough water because it can get pretty hot. 

 Antelope Canyon is just mesmerising. I don't think words can truly describe this place. It's a definite must see and though you have to spend some money to be with a native guide because it's on Navajo land, it is truly worth the experience.

Antelope Canyon is just mesmerising. I don't think words can truly describe this place. It's a definite must see and though you have to spend some money to be with a native guide because it's on Navajo land, it is truly worth the experience.

βœ… Visited Sedona and photographed a beautiful chapel & the landscape that surrounded it

This was the first stop on the road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon and it was amazing. The views and the way they managed to integrate this chapel into the landscape was just something else.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a must see if you're ever in the area. It is really serene and even if you aren't Catholic I highly recommend visiting it as the view of the landscape surrounding it is pretty amazing. Just be mindful that it is after all a place of worship and should be treated with respect. And although there is parking (mostly at the food of the hill) you will have to walk up a little bit to get to the top for the views and chapel entrance (which is totally worth it).

My photo-tips for shooting daytime landscapes: 

  • Use an aperture of at least F9 to get that depth of field (you can obviously go higher if you want to)

  • Use a low ISO like 100-400 to keep the noise (pixelated/grainy look) to the minimum. 

βœ… Photographed sunrise and sunset at the Grand Canyon

Ok honestly the conditions weren't the best and it wasn't as clear as I liked it to be but it was amazing nonetheless and we made the most of it. These were all shot from the south rim of the grand canyon though I hear there are some incredible shots to be taken from the north rim as well (we just didn't have the time). 

Incase you get have the right conditions, here are my tips for sunrise/sunset landscape photography:

  • Do your research! 

    • Find out where the best location to shoot from and what time sunrise and sunset is. 

  • Use a tripod, a gorillapod or a flat surface to secure your camera. 

  • Use a low ISO to minimise noise.

  • Use a higher aperture to get more depth of field.

  • Use a graduated ND Filter to balance the exposure of the sky and the foreground

    • Alternatively you can use Lightroom to apply this graduated filter 

    • Or you could take a bracketed exposure and merge the images together in Lightroom to get a HDR image.

  • Be there before sunrise/sunset to scout for the perfect location and get set up for the shot.

I also got to see some deers close up and they seemed pretty unfazed by the people around and just went about doing their thing. 

Here are my tips for photographing wildlife:

  • Don't photograph dangerous animals close up (I wouldn't walk up to a bear to take pics of it and neither should you)

  • Don't make any loud noises that might startle the animal and approach with caution

  • Use a lower aperture so as to achieve a faster shutter speed

  • Use a continuous burst mode/drive mode to capture as many sharp shots as possible 

  • If you're finding it hard to hold your camera steady then increase the ISO till the shutter speed is fast enough for you to shoot without shake in the image appearing.

  • Use a monopod if possible for stability and to avoid camera shake

βœ… Camped in the middle of a storm with wildlife right outside praying my tent would hold up

I will never forget this night! After photographing the Grand Canyon, my friends (Nathalie & Daehan) dropped me off at a AirBnB campsite in the middle of nowhere thirty minutes away from the Grand Canyon in an area called Wiliams, Arizona. And yes I thought the same thing... I was like, wait a second, people actually rent out their land on AirBnB (that seemed pretty sketchy and secondly why bother). 

Anyways I really wanted to do some astrophotography though as it turned out it had rained just before I arrived to set up my tent and a storm would hit an hour after setting up camp. Back to the story. So this "campsite"/piece of land was located off the highway and required driving off-road through a first path to get to. 

Problem 1: The car got stuck in mud on the dirt road on the way to the campsite. 

thankfully there was another person driving down the dirt road who helped us push the car out of the mud and allowed us proceed to locate the campsite.

Problem 2: Uhh I didn't really know where the campsite was exactly.

There wasn't clear indication of where the campsite was and GPS was like oh oh you're right here. So I found an opening with flat ground and decided that was the campsite. Nathalie and Daehan helped me set up my tent and then left for their proper AirBnB home an hour away.

I then got comfy, set up the interior of my tent and started taking some photographs only to realise that the conditions for astrophotography weren't right because it was too cloudy. So i did the next best thing, I took a time-lapse to make the most of the clouds in the sky. 

Problem 3: About half an hour into shooting my time-lapse I realised that I had left my bottle/water supply in the car and forgotten to take it out when I was dropped off. 

Problem 4: An hour into the time-lapse I got a notification of an approaching storm so I stopped the time-lapse and hunkered down inside the tent.

It was not good.. it was pouring heavily and the wind was just insane. It rattled the tent and I was just praying my tent would hold up as I had my hands against the side that was blowing inwards for a sense of security. 

And just when I thought things could get any worse.. I heard a bunch of animals (not sure what they were but my first thought was cows) approaching my tent. I was so freaked out because they were like literally right outside my tent and breathing heavily and making noises which didn't sound very happy. Can you please tell me what you think the animals were from this audio clip: 

My older sis messaged me saying it was a bear while my younger sis just laughed.. Anyways back to the story. My first instinct was to just remain as still as possible and not panic (hard to do when all that separates you from the wildlife is tent fabric that you are unsure will hold up in the storm). 

Lots of people have asked me if I saw what it was and the answer is NO! I wasn't about to open my tent in the middle of a storm just to greet the animals outside that could potentially charge in an wreck my tent and my gear and I guess hurt me. 

I tried to sleep it off but kept being awakened by the noises the animals were making and the rattling of the tent from the storm. It was truly an experience I won't forget. Anyways about 2 hours into the ordeal I managed to fall asleep only to be awaked by Nathalie and Daehan who had come to pick me up to catch the sunrise from the Grand Canyon.

It was the best way to spend my first night of the Arizona Adventure, feeling the force of mother nature and being close to the wilderness and wildlife. 

Take-aways from my night in the dessert:

  • Don't book sketchy, middle of nowhere campsites on AirBnB

  • Don't assume that because it's a desert it will never rain

    • The one time it does rain could be when you are there and least expect
  • Be confident with your gear (I should have tested my tent before coming or at lest tried setting it up before the trip)

    • I guess after this ordeal I can recommend the Coleman Tent I bought because it held up in the storm
  • Always have extra water in the bag  

  • Have protection (not that!) I mean like a knife and a bright torchlight with a strike bezel just incase/as a last resort. (I had those and thankfully didn't have to use them)

  • Try to have a buddy with you if possible

βœ… Photographed amazing landscapes from the edge of cliffs without falling

Oh boy was my heart pounding whenever I was close to the edge. Like palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy... Well not that bad but suffice to say it got my heart rate up every time.

Don't worry Ive done this countless times but always with caution and safety in mind. Here are some of my tips when it comes to taking shots in such situations: 

  • Don't do it if you aren't confident/don't have good balance/don't have proper footwear.

  • Don't do it if you have vertigo. 

    • Vertigo: a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; giddiness. 

  • Have shoes with a good grip (definitely no heelsπŸ‘ , crocs🐊 or old shoes). Preferably hiking or approach shoes (rock-climbers will understand).

  • Look for something in the environment to grip onto like a cactus 🌡or a tree🌲 (preferably a tree though because I've been told grabbing onto a cactus isn't comfortable) for an added sense of security just incase.

  • Ideally have a harness and rope so you can tether yourself to three secure anchor points (but lets be real you ain't going out of your way to buy climbing gear for the shot). 

    • The next best thing to do is have a friend who is in a secure position or holding onto something secure to hold onto you. 

  • Don't look at your screen for too long, take some time intermittently to look at the horizon so as to maintain a sense of balance and not go into vertigo.

To be very honest, I felt more worried for all the tourists/unexperienced folks that were crowding the edge doing ridiculous things like leaning over to get a shot, sticking their cameras/phones over the edge without a strap and posing for photos standing on one leg.. like come on guys, really?!?! 

Just always remember: Safety should be your number one priority!

βœ… Witnessed a guy drop his girlfriend's phone off the edge of Hoseshoe bend 

There were like a bunch of tourists at Horseshoe Bend and so so many people were at the edge trying to get a shot with the bend behind them (including many with selfie sticks). So there was this couple trying to get a selfie next to me and as the guy was trying to take the selfie with his girlfriend's phone attached, it slipped out and fell into the abyss #byebyephone. There was a short "OHH" from the crowd followed by complete silence as he looked at her with nothing to say... Not sure how the rest of the trip went for him but that sure wasn't the best way to impress a girl with one's selfie skills. Oh well I guess theres the iPhone X he can get to make it up to her.

And though I didn't witness other people dropping stuff I definitely saw some belongings on the bottom of the cliff such as this (can you spot it?) 

Did you spot that pink bag??? 

That's right.. someone dropped their bag!!! Like people please keep your sh*t together! 

Pro Tip: Don't use your cheap selfie sticks that don't have a really secure grip/connection when taking selfies on the edge of a cliff. If you really just wanted a couple shot all you have to do is ask someone to take it (no shame in that). If you absolutely have to use your selfie stick then try not to take pics in portrait mode. That just places stress on the grip mechanism and increases your chances of buying the new iPhone. Also, if you absolutely need to carry your sling/handbag with you to the edge, make sure it is secured around your shoulders. 

βœ… Thought I wouldn't be able to shoot antelope canyon due to a heavy down pour & flash floods 

I almost broke down on the drive from the Grand Canyon (where we caught sunrise) to Page (where Antelope Canyon is located) because it was raining and I knew they would cancel the Antelope canyon tours due to flash flooding caused by the rain. 

True enough, by the time we got to Page it was still raining and we called the Lower Antelope canyon tour company only to be informed that there wasn't going to be any tours for the Lower Antelope Canyon that day. 😒 All hope seemed lost so we decided to just get Starbucks coffee at a supermarket nearby.

I kid you not.. 3minutes after stepping into the supermarket it blacked out/lost power I guess due to the downpour (the first time I've been in a supermarket without power). So we waited in a dark supermarket for about half an hour before deciding to just leave and cross the street for some "Thai Food". You guessed right. It was far from what I know Thai food to be and Nathalie who is Thai agrees. 

We started making calls for the tours we had booked later in the afternoon for Upper Antelope Canyon just to check if they would still carry on the tours if the weather got better. But I wasn't able to get through to the company I booked with because too many people were calling them. So after lunch we headed to Horseshoe Bend and a glimmer of hope broke through the clouds. The weather began to clear up and the sun was up again!! Woohoo!!

After some time at Horseshoe bend, we promptly made our way to our separate Upper Antelope Canyon Tour companies hoping that the tour would be a go thanks to the change in weather. And it was such a relief to know that the Upper antelope Canyon Tours were operating! Our luck had turned and they dropped me off at my Tour company site "Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours" before heading to a separate Antelope Canyon tour they had booked with another company. 

There were so so many people on tours in the canyon! If I wasn't on the special photography tour I was on I would have been able to get the shots I got. Btw thats my guide in orange and helped make sure no one got in my way.

I booked the photography tour package with "Adventurous Antelope Canyon Tours" and was the only person allowed to bring my tripod into the canyons and was allowed time to capture the shots I wanted with the help f my guide who also helped me control traffic. Other sightseeing tourists didn't have much time to take pictures in the crowded canyons as their guides ushered them along promptly (you have to be with a guide at all times). There were at least 150 people in the canyon which wasn't the best for photography but thankfully my guide was awesome and helped me ensure no one stepped into my shots. 

It was a truly amazing experience and I highly highly recommend visiting Upper Antelope Canyon with the Adventurous Tour Group. My dreams came true and I photographed this unique and spectacular canyon that had been shaped by mother nature over hundreds of years. 

βœ… Spent a day in Phoenix at a Hole in the rock thinking I was going to die from heat exhaustion

After Antelope Canyon we drove back to Phoenix Arizona where we spilt off because Daehan and Nathalie were leaving the next day while I stayed a day longer. I spent that extra day in Phoenix at a place/rock feature called "Hole in the Rock" in Papago Park. It was literally a hole in a rock with good views of the landscape.

What I wasn't prepared for was the intense heat! It was a blazing 42 degrees celcius β˜€οΈπŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

I thought singapore was hot but oh boy this place was something else. I could feel the heat through my hiking boots and the sun just slapping me.  I ended up finishing the two bottles water I had with me before the sun had set and I can tell I was starting to get dehydrated. 

Nonetheless I got some nice shots from the hole in the rock where I stayed to catch the sunset. Unfortunately I didn't take many sunset shots as the place gossiper crowded with people catching the sunset. 


That about sums up my Arizona Adventure! 

It was a heck of an experience visiting amazing places and photographing spectacular scenes as well as being put in situations I didn't expect. I'd like to thank the following for making this adventure possible:

  • Shout out to Daehan and Nathalie for inviting me on this trip and letting me be DJ.
  • Nathalie's cousin Caroline for letting us use her car
  • Adventurous Antelope Tour group for the great tour, service and guide
  • Coleman for making a tent that stood up to the storm 
  • Mother nature for the surprises, wonders and views
  • And of course, my main man JC (Jesus Christ) for always looking out for me 

And Thank You!

You are the reason I create and share content like this! I hope you enjoyed reading this rather long blogpost and that it inspires you to get out and go shoot!

If you liked this, please give it a thumbs up and share it with family & friends #sharethelove. Also don't forget to comment on what you think that animal outside my tent was, I'm still really curious and want to find out.

Till next time! Stay tuned on my instagram for more shots and keep shooting πŸ“ΈπŸ˜ŠπŸ™ŒπŸΌ

Take care!

How to: Spontaneous Photography Adventures by Ricardo Seah

Spontaneous Photography Adventures 101

Here's a silly little guide not to be taken too seriously for you my fellow explorers and adventurers. Enjoy, have fun, get out there and never stop exploring (just don't forget to stay safe). 


What you will need :

  • A bag that will fit everything (preferably a backpack not a hand bag or messenger bag because it's more comfortable for those extended adventures)

  • A camera! (one where you can adjust settings manually like a DSLR) 

  • A tripod (preferably a light weight one or even a Gorillapod)

  • A torchlight or headlamp with a red-light setting (because you might just get lost in the dark)

  • No more than two lenses (because you don't want to break your back carrying too much gear) 

  • Adventure buddies (friends who will go out/call you out for an adventure at a moments notice) 

  • Some snacks and water in the bag (you might be out for some time and far from civilisation)

  • Music & the aux cable (chances are you will be going on a road-trip as part of your adventure and good music = good vibes, and while most cars now have a bluetooth audio system bring an aux cord just incase)

  • A weekend/holiday/day-off (I advise against just leaving the office/class for a spontaneous adventure)

  • An open mind and an adventurous spirit! 

Note: All my recommendations for the gear can be found on my gear page.

What to do?

Now that you have a load-out kit ready to go at a moments notice, all you need is an itch to get out there.. Here's a guideline for those who don't know where to start.

  • Find a friend/group of friends who will be your adventure buddies

    • Close friends, old friend, new friends, people who share that spirit of adventure. Just gotta make sure everyones on the same page for that specific adventure (i.e. not a good idea to bring a friend who's afraid of heights on a climbing related adventure)

    • Also important is to trust these peeps because they're gonna be your first responders should anything go wrong. I recommend having someone amongst your adventure buddies who's a survivalist incase you get lost in the woods or something like that.

    • Here are some group-shots with some of my adventure buddies! 

  • Have a go-to list of locations (optional)

    • It's good to have a list of locations you want to hit up so that you can just wake up and decide ok here's where we're going today! 

    • Instagram can be very helpful with this research bit to help you look for locations you might want to go to. Just click on the geotagged location on the post.

    • I save my list by saving instagram posts of places I'd like to go to into a collection.

  • Spontaneously decide to go on an adventure! Wait for an adventure buddy to message you saying "hey get your bag, we're leaving in an hour.." or "meet at 7am tomorrow for a road trip to somewhere.." OR You can be the one sending that message out!

    • Just get out with your friends. It doesn't have to be totally planned out!

    • Be open and prepared for anything to happen and expect that not everything will play out the way you have it in mind. You might have to take risks and you might not get a good shot at the end of the day but you most certainly have to make the most of it. You might end up doing something dangerous and sometimes not completely legal to get the perfect shot but thats all part of the adventure! 

      • I've gone off beaten routes, climbed fences and stood on the edge of cliffs several times just to get the shot but I've always made sure that it was safe and that I trusted myself and the environment. ie. test the ground you stand on and make sure there's some form of support incase you slip or the earth falls beneath you. (might be funny to you but people have lost their lives because they went overboard just take the shot and didn't take safety into consideration)

    • Many of my astrophotography adventures are actually spontaneous photography-adventures where my friend Guang Yow (@guangyow) just goes: "Clear skies tonight, lets go!" and an hour later we are off in pursuit of the milky way galaxy or the northern lights!

    • Example 1: Just last week my friend Anas (@a.geb) and I spontaneously decided to catch the sunset at Golden Ears just hours before we left. We made it to Golden ears just as the sun was setting only to realise that to get to the perfect sot with the waterfalls required a hike to get to (which according to the park person would only take like 15mins) so we proceeded for a fast hike in hopes to get to the falls before the sun had completely set.

      30mins into the hike and without cell phone service we realised we took the wrong/long route that would instead take us to the summit (which explains all the uphill) so we had to find a way to cut back and to the side of the stream which would lead us to the waterfall. Totally unprepared haha but it was definitely an adventure. We found a route which we could cut into but by the time we cut into the downhill side route, it was completely dark. Fortunately I always have my headlamp in my bag so that was super helpful and highly recommended! We got to the falls 50mins later and it was dark and the sunset we had intended to shoot was long gone.. BUT it was an adventure and we made the most out of it and got some cool shots in the end (one of which is the cover photo for this post).

    • Example 2: Over the weekend my friend Brian (@lifeofbrianwong) decides we should go somewhere and we got Anas (@a.geb)  to join us on this spontaneous adventure which was supposed to be a trip to the sea to sky gondola to get view from the top. But ended up including a trip to Brandywine Falls and a tiring hike/climb to the base of the waterfalls which although was not part of the initial plan was extremely rewarding. 

      Of course after Brandywine falls we did make it to the sea to sky gondola and went to the top to catch the amazing sunset as the sun's rays pierced through the mountain tops. 

Here are some shots from my recent adventures that I hope will inspire you to get out and go on your very own spontaneous photography adventures! 
  • Just go out and go shoot! 

    • You miss 100% of the shots you don't take (someone smart said that but #sotrue)

    • Be open and spread good vibes (chances are you will meet fellow adventurers along the way and make some new friends!)

    • Just don't forget: safety first! Don't do anything too risky as to put your life in danger. 

I hope you enjoyed this silly little guide and that you found it useful to some extent. Like and share this post as always to spread the love :) Comment below on some adventure locations you have in mind!

Till next time, keep snapping, go adventuring and never stop exploring! Safe, spontaneous photography adventures everyone!!

How to: Astrophotography by Ricardo Seah

Astrophotography 101

I often get asked how to take photos of the amazing night sky filled with countless stars. The stars have to be one of my most favourite subjects to photograph and to share my passion for astrophotography I have put together this guide for you. It's a little long but you'll come to realise that astrophotography is simpler than you think, just follow along and you'll be shooting like a pro in no time! Here's everything you need to know about shooting the stars!


What you will need:

  • A camera! (one where you can adjust settings manually like a DSLR) 

  • A tripod (a solid one and not that cheap plastic one the store threw in as a deal)

  • A torchlight or headlamp with a red-light setting (you are going to want red light in the dark as this helps to protect your night adapted vision.. trust me, I studied this in psychology 101)

  • Preferably a wide angle lens with a wide aperture / low f/stop number (the lower the f/stop number the better. So like an aperture of f/2.8 is good, f/1.8 is better and f/1.4 is awesome) 

  • A remote shutter release/shutter release cable (this isn't absolutely necessary but will make your life easier)

Note: All my recommendations for the gear listed above can be found on my gear page.

Optional stuff to bring:

  • A human. Believe it or not these can provide good company especially in places where its really dark and wildlife might be around. (I suggest bringing a friend, preferably one who isn't afraid of the dark.)

  • Food/snacks & enough water/tea/coffee to last you the night out

  • A portable stool/foldable chair unless you want to be like me and just lie on the ground

  • Some form of communication device incase you get lost or find yourself in trouble (you will likely be in a dark location far from civilisation and thus bringing a phone with enough juice is a good idea)

  • A good playlist of songs to keep you going through the night such as my Astrophotography playlist on Spotify

  • Gaffer tape (pretty random but I always have some in my camera bag.. this is to help you hold focus on your lens once you've found the sweet spot in manual focus)

Let's get to it!

Now that you're all gear up and ready to go you will have to... do some research :/ 
Do your research!!! 

1. Figure out which night is best suited for your astrophotography adventure. You'll want:

  • A night with little to no clouds at all (clouds usually catch on to any available light in the environment and that shows up in shots)

  • Little to no visible moon (i.e. shoot when its a new moon or before the moon rises) you can check a calendar that shows moon phases 

2. Figure out which location is best suited for astrophotography

  • A location with little to no light pollution (i.e. get away from the city! You want complete darkness) a good resource to find the right spot is the dark sky finder

3. Plan your route in advance

  • The best spots are often far away and might not be easily accessible and might not have good signal for your google maps to operate 

Settings

Now that you've got the right gear, found the right night and the best spot.. lets get to the technical side of things! Here are the settings you'll need to take note of:

Settings before you head out and shoot

  1. Make sure you set your focus to infinity, this is best done during the day and you can do this by autofocusing on something in the distance taping the focus ring with some gaffer tape and then switching to manual focus.

  2. Turn off any "long exposure noise reduction" settings your camera might have (take a look at your camera manual if you're not sure about this) 

  3. Turn your LCD brightness to the lowest possible setting take a look at your camera manual if you're not sure about this) 

  4. Shoot in RAW file format instead of JPEG. This is not necessary but is recommended especially if you want to edit your images. (Even though I don't personally like to edit much or use Photoshop, I still do some minor adjustments in Lightroom, so I recommend shooting in RAW)

Settings when you are out on location/for the shoot

  • Use your widest aperture/lowest f/stop number (this will allow for more light to hit the sensor)

  • Use the 500 rule to calculate your shutter speed (Take 500 divided by your focal length that you are shooting at to get the right shutter speed. This will help to prevent any star trailing in your shot) 

    • Ok example time: If I'm shooting with a 24-70mm lens and I set my focus length to 24mm for the shot, what should my shutter speed be?

    • Answer: 500 Γ· 24 = 20.833333 We take this result and round it down to the closest shutter speed which then gives us a shutter speed of 20 seconds

  • ISO is dependent on camera model, some will require higher ISO settings than others to get a well exposed shot. I suggest starting with ISO 1600 and working your way up till you get a well exposed image.

What to do?

Now that you have the gear, the right time, the right location, the right settings, it's finally time to shoot! (Own time, own target.. Carry on! #singaporeaninsidejoke)

Using the red light setting on your headlamp, locate the perfect spot where you can see a good portion of the sky while being able to include some elements that inform the viewer of the environment/scene (such as a mountain or some trees) this helps to put the shot into perspective and will look much better than a plain shot of the sky alone.

Set up your camera and remote shutter release on your tripod making sure that all legs of the tripod are secure (so your tripod doesn't slip or fall). 

Using the settings mentioned above take a shot. If you don't have a remote shutter release then set your camera on a 2 second timer to take shots so as to avoid vibrations caused by pressing down on the shutter button. If the image turns out too dark then adjust to a higher ISO setting till you get the perfect shot.

If you follow all these steps listed above you should get something similar to this:

Note: As you can see there is some warm light coming in from the left side of the photograph and that is light pollution coming from a town far far away in the distance (this just demonstrates that the further away you are from any city/town/street lights the better). 

I hope you found this guide helpful. Please give this post a like if you found it useful and share it with friends and family. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram for my latest shots!

Look at you... You're now shooting like a pro! Get out there and keep shooting those shooting stars! 

How to: Firework Photography by Ricardo Seah

Firework Photography 101

A guide to everything you need to know about firework photography

 Singapore's National Day Fireworks Display

Singapore's National Day Fireworks Display

What you will need:

  • A Camera & memory cards/film (preferably one which allows for manual settings. ie. a DSLR, SLR, mirrorless, Medium-Format, Large Format... you get the idea)

  • A solid tripod (preferably not one of those cheap ones they give you for free when you get a camera bundle deal). I personally use a Manfrotto tripod.

  • Water and snacks (super important because you'll be there for some time).

Optional:

  • A portable stool/foldable chair (or you can just sit on the ground like me)

  • A shutter release/wireless shutter trigger (very useful and might be frustrating to shoot without though not impossible)

  • A human or a device (you're going to get bored waiting for hours alone so bringing a friend is a good idea)

What to do:

  1. Do your research! You need to know where the fireworks are going to be firing from and what time they go off. And then decide on which vantage point would work best for the shot. (Note: It's always nice to place the fireworks into perspective by including environmental elements such as buildings in the shot to inform the viewer).

  2. Get there ahead of the crowd (like really early). I personally get to the location and find the perfect spot many hours in advance (like 5 hours ahead of time #commitment).

  3. Set up your gear! Camera on tripod and start taking some shots to make sure you got the right angle and trying your best to estimate that the fireworks will be in the frame of the shot. Once you find the sweet spot autofocus on something in the distance like a building and then switch you camera to manual focus so that you get focus locked in and your camera won't be hunting for focus when the fireworks go off. 

  4. Be patient. If you are close enough you will be able to hear the fireworks being shot out of the tubes before you see the the explosion. once the fireworks are shot out of the tubes you have to immediately trigger your shutter release. It's best to shoot as the fireworks are being shot into the air, that way you will get the trail of light followed by the explosion. If you don't have a shutter release cable then you're going to want to put a 2 second timer and do the same. 

Settings:

  • Aperture: f/11 (For good depth of field because you listened and included some scenery in the composition)

  • Shutter speed: 6 seconds (I find that to be the best, any longer and you get too much in the shot and you get the trails of light after the explosion as it fades out)

  • ISO: 200 (if you find it to dark then increase the ISO as you shoot)

Something important to keep in mind

Fireworks produce a lot of smoke! Well duh.. The point is that your best shots are going to be the first few shots because smoke will begin to build up and will kinda ruin the later shots. Here's an example of what I mean:

 Shot number 1 (No Smoke)

Shot number 1 (No Smoke)

 Shot number 7 (quite some smoke has built up and the shot just ain't as good)

Shot number 7 (quite some smoke has built up and the shot just ain't as good)

You are now officially ready to shoot some fireworks! So get out there and shoot some awesome photos!

Upcoming Fireworks photo-opportunities (Click for details - useful for the research bit):

Vancouver - Honda Celebration of Light

Singapore - National Day Fireworks Display

Please give this post a like if you found it useful and I'll consider doing more of these "how to" blog posts. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram for my latest shots!

Till next time, keep shooting and have fun!

Travel Blogpost: Eurotrip 2017 (Valencia) by Ricardo Seah

The Second stop of my recent Eurotrip: Valencia!

This is the second instalment of my Eurotrip travel blog series. Do have a look at my Barcelona blogpost if you haven't already done so. Without further ado lets  jump right into it!

From Barcelona to Valencia!

I woke up pretty early to catch the train from Barcelona Sants to Valencia and this was my first time travelling a long distance on like a proper train (not like a metro) so I was pretty excited. The south bound train ride to Valencia from Barcelona took a little over 3 hours and I have to say it was a pretty comfy ride. Needless to say, the views were amazing as the railway ran along the coast (with the Balearic Sea to the left) for the most part. 

Unfortunately I don't have any footage of the scenery as the glass on the train windows were rather reflective and not too clear (it was great to just enjoy it in the moment though). I also managed to get some photography work done on the train so that was great! 

Covering Valencia in a Day

Because we only had day to cover Valencia we got right to it! Went to the visitor centre at the train station to get recommendations and a bunch of pamphlets and we were on our way. 

After dropping off our luggage at the hotel (which was really close to the City of Arts and Sciences #supercool) we headed in search of the "Hop-on/Hop-off Tour Bus" as we decided that would be the best way to cover the most ground given our limited time. 

From the tour bus we got to see pretty much the main spots in Valencia including the city centre where we did get off to have a look around and walk to the beautiful Cathedral. Ooh we also got to the city centre as they were having some festival/event called "MascletΓ " where they were blasting fireworks into the air in the afternoon. It was interesting and definitely loud with a great atmosphere as the plaza was packed with people.

We also got off at the City of Arts and Sciences which was just breathtaking. It consists of an opera house, a science museum, an aquarium and a 3D cinema. We had tickets to all the attractions in the 'City' but we only had time to cover the OceanogrΓ fic (aquarium) section. So if you are thinking of covering the entire City of Arts and Sciences, I'd recommend setting aside a whole afternoon for it.

The City of Arts and Sciences was architecturally amazing and I definitely wish I had more time to spend there but my folks were a little tired from all the walking and wanted to just chill by the beach.

After chilling by the beach and a nice Paella dinner we headed back to the hotel and called it a day, well at least thats what my folks did... I couldn't sleep without getting some shots of the City of Arts and Sciences at night so thats exactly what I did!

Photography Tips! 

  • If you only have a day to explore a foreign land, do your research ahead of time and plan your trip based on the locations you want to see/shoot. 

- Thats right, do your homework! Go on instagram, travel blogs, social media sites, trip advisor.. etc. to figure out what you want to see ahead of time.

- If you're travelling with family, it's a good idea to make sure everyone is game and cool with your plan.

- As I was travelling with my folks who weren't too game on hitting up all the spots by foot, we compromised and took the tour-bus which hit up most of the attractions & sites. I still managed to get some great shots from the open-top tour-bus so thats cool.

- Location location location! If it is within your means, try to book your hotel near a site of interest that you'd like to shoot. 

  • Bring your tripod with you only if its a carbon-fibre travel tripod or when you know you will absolutely need it like when it gets dark and you want to capture landscapes. 

- Basically don't let a heavy tripod get in the way of your experience of a place.

  • Go out and explore at night while your family is asleep!

- If and when travelling with family, live in the moment and don't expect them to wait for you all the time as you get that awesome shot.

- Important Note: Don't forget to stay safe when you do this! Learn some martial art and know what to do incase things go south

Hope you enjoyed this short Valencia Travel Blogpost! Stay tuned for the next leg of my Eurotrip covering Madrid!

Till next time, keep shooting!