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Saturday, August 26, 2017

This Used To Be My Playground serial – PEACE Tank playground (2017)


This is one of the many newly designed playground equipments built in the modern city of Singapore. I came to know about it while doing some research on the internet and I find it pretty interesting and decided to make night photographs of it. 

This playground is located in the west region of Singapore and it's not too hard to find it. Like any other playgrounds, it's situated right in the Housing Estate residential neighborhood where children love to play at and probably a favorite haunting spot for group of young teens hanging out in the wee hours.

The Tank poses many lighting challenges but it was still fun and leaves plenty of room for creativity. I spent a great deal of time lighting it at various angles and it may sounds tedious but the end results make all the efforts worthwhile.

Make the jump to see the fruits of my labor.


A week prior to the night outing, I came by to recce in the day so as to see for myself on which angles are the vantage spots that are best showing the shapes and awesomeness of this unique equipment. The equipment's white varnish structure is made of round holes perforated metal sheets. The interesting part is the subtlety of the molded wordings and symbols.

Eventually it all came down to 2 basic camera angles for composition i.e. about 45 degree to the left and right of the Tank, at 2 different camera heights. I wanted to make one straight upfront shot at a low angle for that "cinematic" view, similar to the bottom right image shown above, but I didn't as I wanted to do it on my next visit.

One of the few test shots under natural ambience.
I started out on the right side to the Tank, initially using natural daylight flash to light the interior, just for some test shots to see how the lighting effects look like. Well, it turned out great just like what I have had pre-visualised. Those wordings, symbols and floral patterns show up as silhouettes. They are only visible and prominent when lit inside out.

It may seem strange and uninteresting to see all these lightings on each part of the Tank on separate individual photos. Well, they are part of the creative lighting process. You'll see why later.

After many attempts of lighting, climbing up and down the equipment, walking back and forth chimping, making sure I made enough coverages for post-production, I moved on for some colorful creativity. I put on color gels on the small strobe fired Purple and Green light, at back right and front left to the Tank respectively.


For the interior, I tried to repeat the same lighting as before and to ensure I made enough shots for post-production. After chimping and ensuring all shots are covered, I changed to the next camera position and repeated the whole process.


In post-production, it's pretty much straight forward in the work flow. I browsed through all the RAW images on Adobe Bridge to pick the best lightings with enough details and did all the necessary adjustments in Camera RAW. Later on I opened all the images and selected one as the base image and slowly stacked the rest one by one right on top. Next, I selected all the stacked layers and changed the Blend mode from Normal to Lighten. The main functionality of Lighten Blend Mode is to retain all the bright and lighter colors in the image and makes all the dark ones invisible, blending with the layer beneath. This is one of many Photoshop digital imaging techniques which is time savvy and produces good results, especially so in my type of nocturnal work. 

THAT"S IT! Pretty simple isn't it? Lastly, some fine-tunings were applied before all layers were flattened and saved for web displays and/or for prints. Finally here are the results for your viewing pleasure.





I am very happy with the results and these are by far my new favorite night photographs. So much so that I'm considering to make some large prints and perhaps put them up for sale on my website.

This group of photos would be categorized under the project title, This Used To Be My Playground. Like the Dinosaur Fossil playground featured previously, it couldn't be any more appropriate to add them in the collection. The old school playgrounds were designed based on themes in the form of animals like elephant, rabbit, turtle, pelican, doves, lion, ostrich and even sea monster and dinosaurs. Some were based on tropical fruits theme like water-melon, mangosteens and pineapple.

So I think it's interesting to see some modern designs that are based on military theme like this tank playground and a battleship playground which is almost the size of a basketball court. Well, we got one each for the land and sea except the air. It would be good if they design and build a Chinock helicopter or a fighter jet playground equipment. A domestic airplane would be nice, too.

We have come to the end of the blog. Thank you for your time to read. If you like my blog and my nocturnal work, do subscribe or leave comments down below. I do appreciate that. Cheers!