Fifty Two Weeks project - Week #1

Lately it has felt like I've been spending more time talking about & writing about photos and not enough time out shooting. Though I am enjoying creating content & reviews I've decided it's time to try and devote extra time to my own photography! Starting this weekend I'm hoping to post one new photo a week, the favourite of all I've taken, with a short description about the scene and how I shot & processed it. My intent is to keep the quality as high as I can throughout.

Here we go, wish me luck...

This first photo was shot from the balcony of a friend's condo near the centre of Singapore. It's a panorama of three separate issues and looks out over the river & the new national stadium. Normally, at this time of day, the sky would be a vivid blue with clouds rolling in and, on the horizon, a chain of bright, twinkling lights from the endless flotilla of ships anchored on the Singapore Straits.

Except recently Singapore has been experiencing the worst "haze" in nearly two decades. The source of the haze, caused by farmers in Indonesia clearing field space for palm oil by slashing & burning, normally lasts for a few weeks and is never more than annoyance. This year, the haze has persisted for nearly two months and is reaching levels hazardous to health. 

Singapore has only caught glimpses of blue sky in the last two months and at night the entire city is choked in this fog. It made for an unusal set of colours & glow as the haze reflects light & obscures parts of the landscape which are otherwise much more prominent.

After merging the three photos together in Lightroom I teaked the shadows & highlights to increase the difference between the light & dark areas to more match how it looked from the balcony. I was tempted to use the new de-haze tool in Lightroom to increase the level of haze but once I'd seen the resulting merged image I decided I didn't need to. I then altered the tone curve to reduce contrast slightly and then selectively altered the saturation of blues & oranges to create a more cinematic colour-grading effect.

The final result is a pretty good outcome. I was hoping to have "islands" of bright lights with the blank spaces between devoid of detail, like parts of the city are missing. This is because with the haze getting worse, that's how it can sometimes feel living here.