Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Singapore Jungle Nights

Singapore’s Night Safari is quite an interesting attraction. I was expecting more, so it was a bit disappointing when I went there on July 16th, but it’s still worth a visit.

Here’s the skinny: it’s open from 7:30 until midnight. Adults $22 SGD. BUT you can’t see everything from the walking paths! Many of the (granted, less-exciting) animals you can only see from the tram, which costs another $10. This really pi$$ed me off, because I hate touristy tram rides. AND the tram does not stop, so you basically can’t take photos, because with this light you NEED a long exposure.

One thing I felt I missed out on was the lions, which you can just barely see from the walking trail. Here’s a crop of the best photo I got with my mini-tripod: 1/3s, ISO 1600, f/2.

Distant lions at the Singapore Night Safari

The Night Safari is basically a normal zoo with the same old enclosures for the animals. Most of the animals are the same, too. But many of the animals you see at a normal zoo are nocturnal, so they sleep all day. At the Night Safari, they are more awake and active.

But beware: you cannot use flash to take your pictures (though a few idiots try). It’s not good for the animals. And it’s almost impossible to get a decent shot with under $1000 of camera gear, flash or not. You need great low-light performance (non-grainy ISO 1600-3200) and a pro lens of f/2.8 or faster. My D90 with the 35mm f/2 AF-D did okay, but it was still tough. A $2,700 D700 and 50mm f/1.4 would be ideal.

Here’s a great shot that I got when someone else’s flash popped just as I had my shutter open for 1/4s. The hyenas were NOT happy about that flash.

Striped Hyenas that someone (not me) flashed, just while my shutter was open

That’s still 1/4s with a mini-tripod, ISO 3200, and f/2. So I guarantee their photo with a pocket cam (2m farther away than I was) sucked, despite the flash.

The animal show had potential. But most of the animals did not cooperate. The jumping cat didn’t jump:

Come on kitty, jump for the nice people who keep flashing you

The grape-sniffing whatever-it-was could not choose the hand with the grape, it was too distracted by someone’s camera flash. Then, these recycling otters decided to play with the cups & cans instead of tossing them in the proper bins…

No, otter, put the cup IN the recycling, don't chew on it!

Overall, the park was interesting, but as I said my expectations were much higher. If you go in realizing it’s just a zoo at night, and not an amazing safari-like experience, you’ll be impressed. One thing I learned: porcupines do not shoot their quills. They back into their attacker, then the spines detach from the ‘pine and stick in whatever scared them, because of their fishhook-like barbs.

Porcupines rooting for food and squabbling occasionally

For today’s last (and I think best) photo, here’s a clouded leopard. This beautiful cat was about one meter from the camera, through a pane of glass. 4s, ISO 3200, f/2 with a mini tripod. It was pretty funny watching people try to take pics through the tinted (probably one-way-mirror) glass with the flash.

Beautiful clouded leopard at night

By the way, I can recommend the park hopper pass, where you get to go to 2, or all 3 of the Singapore animal parks for one fee: Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo, and the Night Safari. For all 3 it was $45 SGD, a very full two days worth of activities. Awesome!

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Posted in Around the World 12 years ago at 4:22 am.


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2 Replies

  1. These shots are really cool! You know I’m on search of an SLR cam. I won’t be able to take this kind of photos with my tiny one. A few months ago I went to the Auckland zoo, and tried to take picture of kiwis ( I mean the bird, not the people or fruit). It was in nocturnal room under very dim red light. They were moving constantly. The movement and the dim red light were not a good combo for my tiny cam. (obviously flash was prohibited) In the end, I got some shots that kinda show that it’s a kiwi. A camera like yours though, will have no problem handling the situation.
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..A Taste of the Greek Islands- a Day in Santorini =-.

  2. Hehe I actually had trouble taking pictures of kiwis in Rotorua with my 18-200mm lens, but it might have been possible with the 35mm f/2 (which is a very wide opening and lets in a lot of light).

    I highly recommend Nikon – easy to use menus and great lenses. The new version of my camera (the D90) will probably be announced in 1-2 months with a lot better low-light performance, maybe called D95? Who knows.

    It’s really important to learn how to use the camera right, otherwise you end up like lots of tourists who have $5000 of gear and still take bad shots, always with flash. If you lived in Munich I’d suggest my photo tour at http://guidedmunich.com 😉

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