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The Soul Of Singapore: Chinatown Street Photography - Sony RX100 III

Street Photography in Chinatown, Singapore - Sony RX100 III © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Candid shots from the streets - May 2017
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I have to be honest, the Sony RX100 is a great camera, but the only reason I shot with it here was because my Ricoh GR II battery died. Haha...however, I was surprised to learn that the RX100 is quite capable out on the streets, too!


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  Words & Photos By Nathan Allen


 

One obvious reason is that with an f1.8 lens, I can still shoot at night or in low light. The photo below was taken at Chinatown complex after dark. This group of men is hanging on every move of an intense Chinese chess game.

 

Men Playing Chinese Chess Game  in Chinatown - Sony RX100 Street Photography, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Men playing "Dum", or Chinese Chess - Chinatown complex

I shoot RAW and do my own black and white conversions, but the RX100 has nice B&W and effect modes as well.

 

"Zone Focusing"

 

My Ricoh has a "snap focus" mode, which really helps with split-second street shooting. The Sony does not, but I still found a way to set it up for zone focusing. Basically I set the aperture low, like f8...then use a fast shutter speed, like 1/500 of a second. Then, in manual focus mode, I use "focus peaking", so I can see where (and how much) of the scene in front of me is in focus.

 

Man & lanterns at Buddha Tooth Relic Temle entrance - Sony RX100 Street Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Temple worshipper & lanterns in patchy sunlight - Sony RX100 III

The shot of the man & temple above was probably focused around 1.5 meters in front of me. With those settings, most of what you see behind him will be in focus as well. Keeping the camera set up like this enabled me to take plenty of lightning quick shots...and make sure they were all candid. By the way, I realized that the RX100 has a nice focus ring...my Ricoh does not.

 

In the Chinese zodiac, we are celebrating the "year of the rooster" now. The photo below shows a massive lantern display, right in the middle of the busy Singapore streets. This will give you an idea of just how seriously the Chinese community takes their calendar traditions.

 

Long exposure giant rooster lantern - Sony RX100 Street Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
13-storey Rooster lantern @ intersection of New Bridge & Upper Cross Roads

I used a relatively long exposure setting, so that I could capture the motion of the pedestrians and traffic passing by. It was taken handheld, thanks to the camera's superb image stabilization. For more about this, you can check out my Low Light & Night Photography w/ RX100.

 

Below is another black and white evening shot in Chinatown complex. Don't worry, this old man is only resting.

Old man sleeping with Chinese Chess game in distance - Sony RX100 B&W Street Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Elderly man napping during Chinese Chess game behind him

The Crowds on Pagoda Street

This is probably the best place for street photography in Singapore. You'll find a never-ending stream of people...and from all walks of life. The arc of the sun falls in line with Pagoda street...so you have nice, even morning and afternoon lighting.

 

Tour group on streets - Sony RX100 Street Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Tourists and lanterns on Pagoda Street

 

I walked through the shady corridor until I reached the entrance of Chinatown Food Street, another great location for afternoon shooting.

 

Chinese women w/ sun hats - Sony RX100 Street Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Young women in sun hats @ Chinatown Food Street entrance - Smith St

Temple Landscapes

The atmosphere around Buddha Tooth Relic temple is just electric. I found a lot of inspiration here. I love the way the afternoon sun drops lantern shadows on the walls. The later in the afternoon, the more pronounced the effect is.

 

Man on street near Buddha Tooth Relic Museum  - Sony RX100 Street Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Local man outside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple


After exploring the temple inside and out (highly recommended), I made my way back to Pagoda Street.

 

Boys & old man on Pagoda street - Sony RX100 III Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Men..young & old - Pagoda streetscape

The shadows were growing taller and taller...a sure sign of fading light to come. My favorite time to shoot is about 2 hours before sunset. The low angle of the sun provides perfect lighting – with a lot of dramatic shadows. 1 hour before sunset might be a bit too late in a city environment like this, because the tall buildings may already be robbing your subjects of sunlight.

 

(continued below, but I do hope you'll consider following along with me...)


Photographer Nathan Allen Bio via @idreamedofthis

 

If you're more interested in photography than travel, you might want to follow me here:


 

Before hopping on the Chinatown MRT, I noticed one last opportunity for a shot. It turned out to be one of my favorites.

 

Vintage style photo of older man on Pagoda Street - Sony RX100 Photography - Chinatown, Singapore © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Stylish gentleman walking near Chinatown MRT

Overall, I was impressed with my impromptu RX100 street-shooting session. I mean, I already knew this was a versatile little camera, but I seem to be reminded of that more and more each time I head out and find a new use for it. Hope you enjoyed part 2 of this series...be sure to check out the 3rd and final part below.

 

Those interested in this awesome little camera can find it on Amazon here:

 

I'm curious if you've used the Sony RX100 for street photography?

 

Do let me know if you have any questions.

 

 

Part 1: Singapore Streets  <  Part 2: Chinatown  >  Part 3: Little India

 

 

- Nathan Allen

www.idreamedofthis.com

 

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share.

 

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