What Lens is Best?

With so many options available, the decision about what is the best lens to buy is something that comes up often.  I feel really fortunate to have accumulated a pretty nice collection over the years of a mixture of six EF (for DSLR) and RF (for mirrorless) lenses.

This past few weeks, Canon Australia have kindly also loaned me an RF 100-500 4.5-7.1 lens to have a play – I mean Test!  It’s a lens that has been on my wish list for a long time so was super keen to try it out.

When I thought about how to share with people what I thought, I felt like a good review would be to go through each individual lens and what I personally use it for.  I also took the same image, with pretty much the same camera settings from the same spot, only changing lenses to demonstrate the different results.

Of course, all these lenses are the top of the range Canon glass so I’m not going to review the quality etc of the lens, as they are all epic.

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4

Retail price approximately $1,999This lens is great for creative wide angles or shooting in tight spaces.  As you see from the sample images, this image gave a full scope of the space.  It’s also a fun lens when you shoot at 8mm as it gives the fisheye effect.

Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8

Retail price approximately $3,899This is a great landscape lens.  Gives a wide view and takes in the whole context of a scene without missing anything

First image at 15mm and second image at 35mm

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8

Retail price approximately $2,899

If you are going to buy just one lens, this is the one I would recommend.  When I travel on holidays, and don’t want to take a bag full of gear, I take this.  It’s wide enough for great landscapes, it has a reasonable zoom, and with the quality of cameras these days, you can always crop in a bit more if necessary.  It’s also a great lens for portrait shooting with the low aperture.

First image at 24mm and second image at 70mm

Canon RF 50mm f/1.8

Retail price approximately $349

There’s a great reason they call this lens the “nifty fifty”.  It’s reasonably priced and a great little lens for every day shooting.  The fixed 50mm can be a bit limiting though.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8

Retail price approximately $1,399

Great lens for macro, but honestly, the reason I bought this particular lens was for portrait shooting.  These lenses are designed to capture the smallest detail so they’re perfect for not only close up detailed shots, but also for faces.

Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8

Retail price approximately $4,199

I previously had the EF version of this lens and I absolutely love it.  Again, it’s great for a variety of uses.  It’s predominantly used for sports photography with it’s great focal lengths, but again, I also use this for portraits as well as landscapes.  It’s zoom without being overkill.

First image at 70mm and second image at 200mm

Canon RF 100-500mm f4.5-7.1

Retail price approximately $4,999

This is the lens I have been wanting to try forever.  And now I’ve had some time with it, I’m reluctant to return it.  Totally completes my lens set.  As much as I love the 70-200mm lens, there have been so many situations where it’s just not enough of a Zoom.  I’ve mostly been using this lens for sports photography.  I love that I can stand back and capture the action discreetly without people knowing I’m shooting (particularly useful when you are trying to take shots of reluctant children 🙈). I did try a few shots at lower shutter speed, and found the aperture could be a bit limiting, however the alternative is the EF 400mm f/2.8 at $16,999 or the EF 600mm f/4 at $18,399 so think I can deal with it.  I did consider and extender, but to my knowledge there isn’t a Canon extender that works with the 70-200mm lens.

First image at 100mm and second image at 500mm

Pricing and information correct as at June 2021

How to Photograph Bokeh

The effect of bokeh is to blur out the background and give a soft effect to your images. Works particularly well with lights. Some photographers say the technique is overrated but the result when photographed well can be a really effective technique. If you have never shot this method before, below are some quick simple starter tips.

  • For Bokeh, the faster the lens the better, so go wide on your aperture such as f/2.8
  • Basically the technique is to focus on something in the foreground so with the wide aperture the background will be blurry and out of focus
  • The further the distance between your focus subject (if you choose to include one) to the background, the greater the effect. Plus decrease the distance between yourself and the focal subject

 

An example of Bokeh Images below including settings

ISO 100.  f/2.8.  1/50 sec

How to Photograph In High Key

Photographing in high key gives a unique and airy feel to your photos. Basically the effect is that your image is exposed lighter than the mid tone ideal. That is, you are over exposing your image and minimising blacks and shadows. A high key image is mostly whites with very minimal black tones. Unlike low key images which are dramatic, high contrast and bold, a high key image has a bright soft and playful mood. It’s a very modern and popular technique at the moment. Once you are comfortable with shooting and exposing an image correctly, high key is a great way to push the boundaries and break the rules (so to speak). Some tips for shooting and editing high key images are as follows:

  • Choose a light background
  • Choose a wide aperture to open up the lens and allow plenty of light into the image.
  • A high key image has little depth and the shadows are almost eliminated
  • For portraits, you can use reflectors to fill the shadows with light. High key backgrounds can be really effective for portrait shooting
  • In post processing a high key image, start by firstly lowering the contrast

Some examples of High Key Images below including settings

1/800 second f/8.0 ISO 250
5 seconds f/22 ISO 50
1/80 second f/14.0 ISO 100
1/125 second f/9.0 ISO 200

How to Photograph Fireworks

It’s that festive time of year – normally anyway, where there are fireworks displays going on and you want to capture that perfect image.  I’m not one for watching long YouTube tutorials or reading drawn out methods so here’s some of my quick tips on getting started photographing fireworks.

There are different theories on the best settings to use for fireworks but it’s worth having a play around. As you will see in the 3 examples I have given, they vary in shutter speed from 4 sec right up to 30. Depending on how dark it is, I personally find it easier to shoot longer exposure as you get more fireworks in the shot. We usually know when fireworks are going to happen so it’s best to set up the tripod, set your camera and just keep shooting :

  • A really important thing as with any type of photo is to get your composition (aka vantage point) right and this is something you can plan ahead of time. Fireworks need to be the hero, but try and include as part of an interesting landscape theme
  • Always use a tripod as shutter speeds will always be slow with fireworks being at night
  • I find the optimal aperture around f/10
  • You will find that the longer the shutter speed, you will get the trails of the fireworks
  • On shutter speed, when I am shooting on a slow shutter speed, I usually use a remote release, or if you don’t have one, set the 2 second timer so that you eliminate any shake when pressing the shutter release button
  • Using a low ISO will reduce noise reduction
  • Never ever use a flash
  • I set the focus at infinity

 

Pic Settings
ISO 200
8 sec
f/10

Pic Settings

ISO 1000
4 sec
f/10

Pic Settings
ISO 50
30 sec
f/10

The Canon R5 Review (for Dummies)

I’ve recently taken on the role of Community Manager for the Canon Collective Facebook Page Group.  One of the perks of the job is every now and again, I am treated to some of Canon’s products to try out.

The new Canon R5 is receiving some bold headlines, such as “Game Changer” in mirrorless technology and this is a big call.  I currently shoot with a Canon 1DX, 5D IV and 5Ds and these are all exceptional cameras with some specific qualities for certain types of shooting.  But if I’m totally honest, there are a few tweaks on my wish list of features to really have my “dream camera”

So when the Canon R5 showed up on my doorstep (after doing a little happy dance), I pretty much took it out of the box and headed to my local park to take it for a test run.  I didn’t read the instructions.   I had seen a few online reviews about some of the features so had some idea what I was wanting to try and so I figured, how hard could it be, it’s still a Canon Camera after all.

In hindsight, maybe that wasn’t the best strategy as, although many of the functions and usability is similar, there are some big differences in the operation of this camera compared to the 5D and 1D (all more user friendly once you get used to them), particularly the focusing with animal and people “eye detection” which I was super keen to try out.  To be honest, I came away a little dejected.  I got confused with some of the settings and kept changing the ISO and shutter speeds by mistake.  Is this camera really the revolution everyone is going on about or just some great marketing by Canon?  My first instinct was to just go back to my 5D.  I’ve been shooting with one for over 5 yeas and could pretty much operate in my sleep.

Then I got home and downloaded the pictures!  Granted, a few were out of focus, but I think that was more the fault of the driver than the machine, but the images that were in focus – WOW.  The clarity and detail is truly incredible.  And being a 45 mega pixel camera means you can crop and zoom in on images without losing quality.  Particularly shooing wildlife on my first outing, this is a great feature as it allows you to keep your distance, but still achieve the image I was wanting.

So, I have now read more instruction manuals and reviews and spent a couple of weeks using the R5 in a variety of situations.  Let me start by saying that even though I have studied photography, I am not one of those overly complex people.  I find my photography more artistical than technical.  Some online guidelines talked in way too technical terms and seemed to make things more complicated.  When I take photos, I usually have a few settings and go to procedures I use in 90% of situations and I try and keep things simple so I can actually get on and enjoy what I am doing.  I don’t really change my settings much during an actual shoot.  If that’s you, here are some of my insights to get you started while you familiarise yourself with the R5.  Many of the features and setups are the same as a 5D so I am assuming some knowledge and only highlighting the differences.

 

SOME COOL THINGS ABOUT THE R5

  • First of all, a big feature from say the 5D range is the swivel rear screen. This made the camera easy to use in awkward positions like very low down as you can manoeuvre the screen so it is easy to see.  I even read a review that stated one of the big “game changing” features of the swivel screen was it allows you to take better selfies as you can view the screen whilst taking a selfie – I guess in today’s modern world of “influencers”, that could be a priority?
  • I think one of the biggest features for me is the R5 allows focus points across the entire width and height of the full frame which is often a frustration for me on the 5D range, not being able to move outside the centre focus points. I often want to widen the range of focus outside the centre of the screen particularly when shooting portraits on a low aperture and I don’t want to focus then move the camera
Focus on the eye is outside the usual centre focal range points

  • There’s no “live view” any more, the rear screen is on live view all the time. This could present a problem with battery life, but in all the situations I was in, I never had an issue.  If you have your eye to the camera, it switches off and also times out automatically after a period
  • On the point of battery life, I always always carry and spare and one great thing about the R5 is the battery is the same size as the 5D so if you have one of these cameras, you can interchange or if like me, you have a spare battery, it will work on both cameras so you don’t need to get another one.
  • As I said above, the R5 shoots 45 MP images (compared to say 30 on the 5D IV) which allow more flexibility with cropping and still maintaining a high quality image
  • Another big game changers for me is the eye detect focus. The camera literally has the technology to detect the eye on the person (or animal) and as the object moves, the camera will follow.  If there is more than one person, or you are shooting at really low aperture the camera will detect the eye closest to it, otherwise you can easily move the focal point to which eye you want.  I did several model shoots and this was a massive bonus for me, made shooting so much easier and the sharpness and accuracy of the image was impressive
Dancer moving during shoot with focus set to “eye detection”
  • The animal eye detection was a little less accurate. I shot both peacocks as well as lorikeets at feeding time and both times found that the camera sometimes got confused.  However being realistic, animals move a lot faster than humans and there were a lot more to get confused by.  I still found it a really accurate focusing method.

  • The focusing system does take a little getting used to and I found my method of shooting slightly changed (I changed from rear button focus to shutter button), but after a few days, I found it so much easier.
  • You can adjust the focus point using the toggle on the back of the camera as with the 5D or now you can use the rear screen with the “Touch and Drag” feature. It’s a little tricky getting used to, and I recommend you set up to just use the right hand part of the screen (this makes sense once you use) but basically with your eye up to the viewfinder and your right hand holding the camera, your thumb can manoeuvre the screen easily to adjust focus on the move
  • You can also set up the rear screen to touch and shoot from the rear screen – although personally I found this annoying and disabled the feature
  • The new file format of the R5 is CR3. Make sure your computer has the latest updated software to accept these files (mine didn’t and took a bit of juggling with Apple) so just a tip if you try to download and the computer tells you there are no files or they aren’t compatible.
  • The R5 has a new feature called the “control ring”. This is on both the adapter if you are using your DSLR lenses (as an option) or on the RF lenses. It is basically a ring between the lens and the camera body that allows you to adjust various features such as ISO, aperture or shutter speed.  It actually is a really cool feature.  I pretty much had mine set to ISO and this allowed me to change ISO during a shoot without even taking my eye away from the camera.  Be careful though, when you start using it, I had a few instances where I accidentally changed the ISO without realising so it does take a little getting used to.
  • As a great way to transition from the DSLR to Mirrorless technology, you can purchase the R5 and get an adapter to use your DSLR lenses. I used the R5 with my L Series 24-70 f2.8 lens.  There are two adapters available and I highly recommend paying the extra to get the one with the control ring feature (about AUD $100 extra).  It means if/when switching between the RF and DSLR lenses you have the same control ring feature, and let me assure you, once you start using it, it is super handy.
  • Even though you can still use a DSLR lens, the range of RF lenses is growing all the time with currently around 15 to select from.
  • The camera has a “Q Button” on the back which makes it really easy to make quick adjustments like image style, white balance, autofocus modes, autofocus operation, etc. On the 5D, I have a custom menu set up with these adjustments as these are the most commonly adjusted, so it makes it a lot quicker and easier changing from one button the rear of the camera.
  • You get an in camera preview of images shot when you have your eye to the view finder which is really handy when shooting in bright light situations where the rear screen can be a little hard to see.
  • The R5 has inbuilt image stabilisation technology meaning it can effectively reduce camera shake up to 8 stops allowing you to shoot a lower shutter speeds hand held
1/80 sec, f2.8, ISO 12,800 unedited
1/13 sec, f2.8 ISO 2000 unedited
  • Interestingly, the shutter release is really quiet so when shooting compared to other models, it’s super quiet. There is even a “silent” mode by which the camera disables the shutter so shooting is virtually totally silent
  • Camera definitely feels lighter straight out of the box
  • A big difference between the R5 and pretty much every other camera is the video quality – 8K on the R5 which I know is a huge selling point for a lot of people. Let’s be real, video is “the new black”.  Everyone is doing it and there is a lot of money to be made.  Personally I am sticking to my old school stills, it’s my passion so I’m not interested in the video side of camera capability but if you are, you can’t go past the R5.  I have to confess though I was so excited with taking photo’s I didn’t even test out the video on the R5 – sorry.

 

Price – okay let’s just not go there.  It’s roughly double the price of a 5D IV body, which for many people is a lot.  But I am constantly asked “what camera/lens should I buy” and my answer is always always the same.  “Buy the absolutely the best you can afford”.  I think if you buy inferior quality lenses etc, you quickly outgrow them and end up getting the better one anyway, so initially you may save a little money, but it ends up costing you in the long run.  This happened to me only once, I bought a non brand lens thinking I could get away with it, and honestly, I was never happy with the quality and quickly replaced it for an Canon L-series.  I personally think you are far better off just owning one body and one great versatile lens than trying to get a bit of everything for the same money.  So my advice is, if you can afford the R5, it is truly amazing and after testing one out for a couple of weeks, I am absolutely trading in some old gear and upgrading.  The other option is to start with the R6 which is around half the price of the R5, with the biggest differences being 8k video vs 4k and 45 megapixels vs 20 megapixels.

SET UP TIPS OUT OF THE BOX (DIFFERENT TO OTHER MODELS)

 

  1. Set the camera’s shooting mode to M, Av or Tv
  2. Shooting menu 1, Tab 1, Set the Image Quality to RAW or JPEG (I’m thinking if you have bought an R5, you only shoot in RAW)
  3. Autofocus menu, tab 1, subject to detect, pretty self explanatory with People, animals or no priority – you will use this menu a lot to set your focus depending on your shooting scenario
  4. Autofocus menu, Tab 1, Touch and Drag AF settings, which allow you to use the rear LCD to move the AF point when looking though the viewfinder
  5. Shoot Menu, Tab 2 When using the touch and drag feature for rear screen focus, you can customise the active touch area. If you are using your eye in the view finder to focus, I suggest you set the area to “right”.  This makes more sense when you use the feature, but basically avoids say your nose or face accidentally touching the screen and also as you use your thumb to focus, realistically you only move it across the right half of the screen
  6. You also have option of “absolute” or “relative” position method. If your subject is stationary, I would recommend “absolute” as it gives precise positioning whereas “relative” moves the focal point relative to the direction your drag on your screen so is more effective for moving objects

So to sum up, for me, this camera is such a massive step up from previous models, I feel like all the hype is totally justified.  The absolute clinchers for me are the Eye Detection Focus, the rear screen swivel plus touch and drag focus, the Q menu for quick changes as well as the control ring and finally the expansion of the focus point outside the centre of the image to the full range of the full frame sensor.

If you wonder about why you should step up to the mirrorless technology, there is a definitely size to weight advantage as well as a far greater focusing speed on the mirrorless, which makes taking pictures so much more accurate and easy.  Mirrorless is clearly the way technology is heading and Canon have certainly stepped up the bar with the R5.

Why A Travel Agent is A MUST

If ever you were wondering what the value of using a travel agent is versus booking your own travel – you MUST read this.

Many people, (in the past, myself included), think it unnecessary booking travel through an agent when there is “google”.  After all, all the information you need is available at your fingertips and there’s even sites where you can compare prices and get the best deal.

All true.

But, and this is the big BUT. I like many other used to always book my own travel.  To be honest, if I’m just after a quick domestic flight, I still go online and book it myself.  However, years ago, I was booking an overseas holiday for the family.  I needed international flights, domestic flights in the country we were visiting, car hire, travel insurance, hotels, tour bookings plus plus plus.  It was all a bit overwhelming, particularly as I had never been to that particular country before.

So, I picked up the phone and arranged the booking through Orbit World Travel.  From that first trip, I have never looked back and whenever I am booking travel that involves multiple bookings, like flights plus hotels etc, I ALWAYS use Orbit World.

Why?

Of course, I could still do all the bookings myself.  And as I said above, there is so much information online, but, these guys are travel professionals and have knowledge about many of the locations, and usually someone with first hand experience of a destination to give clients useful hints and tips.

Plus, it doesn’t cost any extra, but the “extras” are invaluable.  Pretty much every trip I have booked through Orbit, I have been upgraded in my room, or received a “special deal” through their relationships with hotels around the world.

More importantly,  when something goes wrong, you have a trusted company that you know and are familiar with that you can call on 24 hours a day, no matter where you are in the world to help you sort out whatever issue it is you may have.

The peace of mind that this gives when travelling is priceless.  Being in a strange country, sometimes not knowing how to speak the language and have any sort of problem can very quickly ruin a great adventure.

Whenever I have experienced any sort of issue, Orbit have sorted it out without me having to worry or get involved.  If you think travel is always smooth sailing, particularly overseas, you either don’t travel much or have been super duper lucky.

  • On a trip to the US when our girls were both quite young, despite have confirmed pre booked seats, about a week before I noticed that my husband and I and our two girls were all seated separately on a 14 hour flight. Our girls both next to random strangers!  I spent hours on the phone with the airline trying to sort with absolutely no luck at all.  I was in such a panic thinking about our little girls sitting far away from us, with strangers, particularly when it was an overnight flight and we would be sleeping.  Apparently, there was some computer issue with the seating, but the airline told us we would just have to try and sort at the airport and get people to move seats after check in, they couldn’t do anything other than that.  The flights had been booked through Orbit, and I have no idea why I didn’t just call them immediately when I discovered the problem, but when I did, they escalated the issue and had us all seated together and everything sorted well before our date of departure.

  • We booked a stay in Hawaii with our two girls and were upgraded to a better room as well as getting access to a “Club” within the hotel FOC that offered breakfast, evening cocktails, all day snack and exclusive access, all complementary thanks to Orbit with no charge to us.

  • Finally, and the reason that prompted me to write this, I take out an annual travel insurance policy every year to cover myself and my family for travel, both domestic and international. This year, due to Covid 19, obviously all our travel plans have been cancelled and as well as being unlikely to return to travel at least for the remainder of the year.  The policy is $1,500 a year, so very reasonable if you travel a lot, and particularly if you have any issues when traveling, but it’s a lot of money to pay out for nothing.  As in, I can’t travel so the policy is effectively a total waste this year.  I contacted Covermore who the policy is with and basically had no luck at all.  I was so frustrated.  However, once again, as the policy had been purchased via Orbit World, I contacted them to see if they would have any better luck.  Can you believe I received a full refund on the policy thanks to Orbit World Travel and their contacts within the industry.  This was a massive win for me and confirmed once and for all, I will NEVER travel without going via a reputable travel agent.

Finally, can I say that this is not a paid blog and Orbit World did not request or know about me writing it.  But credit where credit is due.  This is me passing on what I feel is valuable information to others who may travel and run into some of the issues I have in the past.

 

The service from a travel agent is why they are professionals and I could give another dozen examples of the value add I have received over the years.

 

Definitely check them out if you are after travel assistance, both business or leisure.  They have offices all around Australia so will certainly be able to give you the same sort of great service that I have always experience with them.

 

Now if they can just sort out opening up the borders and letting us actually being able to travel again, I will continue to support them in the future.  😜

What Inspires You?

There is usually something from way back to leads you to the career path you take. Someone or something that inspires you. For me, it was Formula 1 Driver Ayrton Senna.

1 May this year marked the 26th year anniversary of his death. I was lucky enough to meet him once in 1993 but I didn’t “know” him personally yet he was probably one of the biggest influences in my life. He was the most dedicated, focussed and passionate man and his will to succeed was inspiring.

As a child growing up, watching Formula 1 racing with my big brother, we would argue about who was the best. For me, it was a no brainer. Anyone willing to sacrifice everything to achieve his dream, thats the sort of person I wanted to be like. It was his passion that motivated my photography ambitions and I started my career as a motorsport photographer – way back in the day of pre-digital and slides.

I was living in the UK when he was tragically killed at the Imola F1 Grand Prix and I, like many people around the world, was devastated.

These are some of the images I was lucky enough to snap of him both at the Adelaide and Silverstone Grand Prix.

RIP to a great man.

Thinking Outside the Square

Isolating at home has been difficult for so many, including me. As a photographer, my passion is getting out and shooting models/fashion and content for brands and companies so being confined at home is like tying my hands behind my back.

But now is not the time to wallow in the struggle of it all. I have set up a studio at home, and shooting for local Australian Brands encouraging people to “BUY LOCAL” with creative images from innovative companies. At the same time, I’m perfecting my photography skills, I’m learning new skills about lighting, styling and being creative in a confined, limited space.

Times are tough, and for some, it’s just too much, but if you can, try and find a positive. Anything. Learn to cook something new, spend time with family or help others. It’s a great way of coping and keeping yourself happy in these difficult times.

Stay safe everyone and if you want any more information of shooting from your own home studio, or need images, contact me julesingall1@gmail.com

Below are samples of images created at home in my makeshift studio.

Making the Most of Isolation

Who would have ever believed that in 2020, the world would go into complete lock down and we would be isolated in our homes for an indefinite period whilst Health Organisations globally deal with a medical pandemic! It is the stuff of science fiction and in generations to come, people will be talking about and learning what is happening to us right now.

A big decision we all need to make is how to deal with the crisis. Many, thank goodness are choosing to follow Government guidelines and stay indoors where possible. We do this not only for our own health and to try and stop the spread of this highly contagious virus, but also to try and minimise damage to our economy. Staying at home may be tough, but ultimately, it is the right thing to do for not only ourselves, but everyone, everywhere.

The next question is, we are isolated at home. How do we handle it? In a world of everyone being too busy, never having enough time, always stressed out and frazzled, this is the perfect opportunity to stop, focus and re-set.

Sure this is a bad situation. Many of us are going to suffer long term financial damage. I have not taken on any new photography work outside my home for 2 weeks now. Not only am I uncertain when I will be able to go back to photography, but I’m a little concerned about whether all the goodwill and relationships I had built up with clients will just pick up where it left off, or will I have to start again.

But I avoid looking too far into the future. And I avoid being dragged into a negative space. I always try and surround myself with positive, happy people and this usually self perpetuates.

So whilst I’m at home, I’m cleaning out, de-cluttering, sorting my computer files, my office, spending time my my girls, my husband, cooking and actually, so far, I’m enjoying it.

More importantly, as I have been self isolating for a while now, and the studio I usually use is off limits, I have set up a studio at home. I’ve been working with local small business who are using this crisis as a way to create innovative products – sanitiser, masks, foods and more. I am messing around with lighting and different techniques. And most importantly, my daughter is finally getting bored enough with isolation that she is letting me use her as a model to practice – I feel like I’ve won the happiness lotto.

So yes, this situation is horrible. People are suffering and dying all around the world. But make a choice about how you are going let this pandemic shape your time now and your future. When life gives you lemons …..

Stay safe! xox

Images from a recent shoot of a local Gold Coast business showing innovation by creating masks to help prevent people from touching their faces and contracting virus. Shot from my studio at home.

“Crazy Rich Asians” Guide to Singapore

Many times I have transited through Singapore on my way to Europe, but never actually stopped and spent any time here, so it’s been a real treat to have a couple of weeks to explore this beautiful city with my family.  It’s a really interesting contrast between ultra-modern, colossal sky scrapers, to really old districts full of colour, character and history.  

As with all my travels to new places, I research heavily prior to visiting to make sure that not only to I get the best out of my adventure, but also that I don’t miss any “must go” places. The following are the places that I had on my list to visit, as well as a few that I encountered along the way by accident.  Some I absolutely loved and could go back time and again, however there are others that I will save you the time now and say, probably only consider if you have plenty of time.

As far as food in Singapore – WOW. It is incredible.  From luxury 5-star restaurants at the top of sky scraper buildings where you pay as much for one plate as you would for a whole dinner for 4 in Australia, to the Hawker Street Markets and local eateries.  My suggestion would be to try a bit of both.  To be fair, we mostly ate in the markets and restaurants we stumbled upon by accident as we found these were the best meals we encountered. I always think that if the locals are eating somewhere, it’s a good advert for the food and the markets were certainly full of locals.

Transport – Taxi Vs MRT

First up though, getting around.  We stayed at the Shangri La Hotel on Orange Grove Road, and from there, pretty much travelled mostly in about a 10km radius from the hotel.  Researching prior, many suggested that taxis were really cheap and easy to get around so just use them.  We didn’t even consider car hire because not only do we not know our way around, but with traffic and trying to find car parks, it just isn’t worth the time and effort. We did start using the taxi system, however most of the time we were waiting 20 minutes or more.  People were ordering on their phones and effectively jumping the queues and as we didn’t want to waste precious and expensive phone data, we found this all a little frustrating.  

Out of desperation one night, we wandered down to the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit – underground train system).  My husband has never caught public transport in Australia so this was kind of entertaining for me, but to be honest, the MRT in Singapore is so quick and efficient, we ended up using it 90% of the time.  There are train stops at most major tourist attractions, it was only a couple of Aussie dollars per trip and we never waited longer than 5 minutes for a train, not matter what time of day or night. Even when you had to change trains, it was still far quicker and easier than any other system of transport we could find.  One suggestion though is straight up get a pre-paid train card that you can just keep using until you run out of funds and then top up as required.  We purchased individual tickets each trip and although it’s the same price, sometimes there were queues for the ticket machines.

Crazy Rich Asian Tour!

Funnily enough, after a few nights in Singapore, relaxing in the hotel one evening, “Crazy Rich Asians” came on the television.  Mostly filmed in Singapore, this movie is a great advert for the city, visiting many of the main attractions

Newton Food Centre

Early on in the movie, when Nick takes Rachel to a night food market with some friends, it is the Newton Food Centre in Newton, about 4 kilometres from Marina Bay.  There are so many food markets in Singapore, and it was honestly some of the tastiest (and cheapest) food we ate, but this I would rate high up as one of the best.  Even if not just to get some pics on your “Crazy Rich Asian” tour.

Chijmes

We actually stumbled on this church out walking one day before we watched the movie, then immediately recognised it.  This beautiful Gothic Style building was the setting of Nick’s best friend’s wedding in the movie. Originally a catholic convent, this architectural building is no longer a practicing church.  It is now a functions venue popular due to its archways, interesting plasterwork and stained-glass windows and is surrounded by open walkways with bars and restaurants.  Definitely a great spot to visit, grab a bite to eat and drink, as well as some pictures.

Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay

You don’t need to have watched Crazy Rich Asians to know this area of Singapore and to be fair, the location is so central to the city, bay and pretty much most things, who wouldn’t visit.  There is a great mall below the Marina Bay Sands Hotel where you can spend hours getting lost in the maze of passages and not to forget the beautiful Gardens by the Bay with its 250 acres of horticulture and sustainable architecture.

Raffles Hotel

This is where Rachel and Nick stayed in the movie and there is a scene in the beautiful foyer area.  The hotel is one of the most luxurious and iconic hotels in Singapore.  Even if you can’t afford the expensive price tag, it’s worth a visit to this historic building.

Merlion

The scene of the “break up” between Rachel and Nick towards the end of the movie.  Before I visited Singapore I had no idea what the Merlion even was.  But my daughter pointed it out and as always the case, as soon as she mentioned it, everywhere I went, there was some connection to the famous Lion.  Basically, it is a monument in Marina Bay of a mythical creature with a lion’s head and fish body that sprouts water out of its mouth into the Bay.  It is one of the busiest tourist attractions in Singapore and one of the most iconic, often referred to as Singapore’s mascot – something like the Sydney Opera House to Australia.  In Singapore, you can buy many Merlion souvenirs and as the location is so central, just opposite the Fullarton Bay Hotel and on Marina Bay, it’s definitely worth a visit and picture.

Changi Airport

You’ll recognise the arrivals hall where Nick and Rachel first arrive in Singapore after their flight from New York. There’s a reason that this airport keeps getting voted Best Airport in The World.  Believe it or not, after visiting nearly every shopping mall and district in Singapore city, I have to say that the Jewel Shopping centre at Changi airport was the best.  Located outside of the customs area, many locals and tourists visit the centre as an outing, or, like we did, on our way to the airport.  Other than a great shopping mall, the star feature is definitely the rain Vortex Waterfall in the centre.  It has to be seen to be believed.  In the centre of a huge indoor rainforest garden, there is a glass dome that water cascades through the centre 40 meters above the ground.  It can be experienced from decks on each level on the shopping centre and even the train between the international terminals passes through so transiting passengers don’t miss out.  

Sentosa Island – 

The location of Colin’s bachelor party after they left the boat.  I have to say, we did visit but probably would not recommend.  It’s sold as a tropical oasis, the best beaches in Singapore and theme park heaven.  As far as theme parks, for anyone who has travelled extensively and visited places like Disney and Universal in the America, this just doesn’t cut it.  And the beaches were cramped and actually not really that spectacular.  I guess you don’t really visit Singapore for its beaches, it has so many other incredible sites to see and things to do.   If you do go though, would recommend taking the cable car.  Amazing views back to the city.  It was around AUD$40 for a round trip per person and we really did enjoy it.  

EVERYTHING ELSE

Singapore Zoo

I’m not sure if I’m a fan of Zoos or not – animals in captivity and all, however we wanted to see the orangutans so decided to visit Singapore Zoo.  Again, my research told me not to bother with the “breakfast with the Orangutans” as its overcrowded and you are shuffled for a quick photo and that’s all.  I did contact the Zoo prior and they were extremely helpful with suggestions and information and I ended up booking a 2 hours private buggy tour.

Up to 7 people, $250 per hour plus Zoo entry for private customised tour with private driver and guide.  It may sound a little expensive but was soooooo worth it.  We advised prior to arriving what specific animals we wanted to see and the guide customised our tour to our wishes.  We were taken around this very large zoo by buggy, had fun, friendly and knowledgeable guides and one on one encounters inside the enclosures with the animals including hand feeding as well as getting our photos with the Orangutans. Highly recommend splashing out on this. Was one of the highlights of our visit to Singapore.  After the tour, you are then free to wander the rest of the zoo as your pleasure.

If not, the zoo is huge and still so much to see and do and as far as the Orangutans, there are times where they are brought out and you can line up and have our picture taken.

Arab Quarter and Sultan Mosque and Haji Lane

This was one of my favourite districts of Singapore.  Only a very small area, we travelled via MRT which again, was pretty easy.  The Mosque is in the centre of the district.  You can’t miss it and it’s absolutely beautiful. Definitely a popular tourist spot and plenty of people taking selfies with the mosque in the background.  There is also Bussorah Street just down from the Mosque known for its great restaurants lining a pedestrian only street.  It’s full of colour, great shops and of course, more great food.  

Another must in the Arab Quarter is Haji Lane.  This was one of the places on my to do list as I saw a cool picture on social media next to one of its graffitied walls.  A very narrow street with buildings either side filled with souvenir stores, fashions shops and lots of bars and eateries.  The lane is alos filled with interesting buildings and colourful walls to take pictures.  

China Town, Maxwell Street and The Hawker Hall 

I feel like in most cities you visit around the world, China Town is always a must on the visit list and Singapore is no exception.  I originally planned to eat at the famous Hawker Hall here on Maxwell Street, which is one of the most renowned markets in Singapore, but after wandering the streets following lunch, we found so many quirky lane ways and great shops.  We stopped and talked to many interesting stall holders and learned so much about local culture and history.  A definite for a day trip and loads of memorable pictures.

Clarke Quay and Jumbo Seafood 

When we decided to visit Singapore, top of my list was to find the best Chilli Crab in the city.  It’s my husband’s favourite food and Singapore is its home. After much research, I decided on Jumbo Seafood and Clarke Quay.  First let me say it was AMAZING.  Easily the best chilli crab we’ve ever eaten and a great lively restaurant with excellent service.  My daughter doesn’t eat seafood, but don’t worry, there were alternatives on the menu.  Jumbo Seafood has several restaurants around Singapore, but one thing I loved about Clarke Quay was the location.  Situated on the banks of the Singapore River, (make sure you ask for a table outside), after dinner we had a wander around the many shops and bars in the area which once again were energetic and great fun. From Clarke Quay it is less than a kilometre walk down the river side to Marina Bay which is well worth the wander.

Old Hill Police Station 

This historic building is as its name says, the old Singapore Police Station.  Just next to Clarke Quay its worth a stop by to see this interesting and colourful building.

Orchard Road

A must visit for shopping, even if just to window shop.  This long stretch of road holds many shopping centres and all of the high end stores such as Gucci, Lois Vitton, Chanel and more.  Some really great, cheap eateries in the shopping malls as well.  The best area to shop in downtown Singaopore

Little India

This was on my list as many blogs listed it as a must visit in Singapore – particularly for photographers.  As a Photographer, the streets were full of amazing buildings and creative architecture everywhere I looked, I loved it, but as a tourist,  we only ended up spending a short time in the area as we couldn’t really find too much to do other than take pictures. To be honest, I would put many of the places above much higher on my wish list than here unless you have plenty of time.

Peranakan Houses at Koon Seng Road

I only mention this Road as, again, much research said to visit, specifically for the one row of houses to get a photo.  In two weeks in the city, we never made it here so I can’t personally comment.  However,  I did speak to quite a few locals who suggested that there were many other places closer to the city and much easier to get to that would offer a similar experience.  It was a little tricky to get to from our hotel via MRT so we gave it a miss, but if you manage to visit (or have been), would love to know whether you thought it was worth it?