Although it is very much connected with Chinese culture, and always held in the beginning of Chinese New Year, performers and spectators of Chingay celebrate ‘One Singapore,’ where age, race, language and creed are no barrier. Performers come from countries from all over the world, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Spain and even Rwanda, to mingle with the rich mix of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western culture here.
Every year, I look forward to Chingay as there is always something new – the themes, costumes, performances, and all those happy faces. I’m very honoured to have been selected to shoot the event as the official media from the Indonesian Embassy.
One of my most anticipated highlights every year is the Indonesian participants. For several years, Indonesia has been represented by JFC (Jember Fashion Carnaval) and they never cease to amaze me. Each costume is like an art installation, be it a temple stupa, a tribe warrior or some kind of creative form. The costumes and make-up of the performers in this troupe are just fabulous and unbelievably beautiful! I can’t imagine how they carry around those 10kg suits with the heat inside the costume in the humid Singapore weather.
Based on my experience shooting this event, the most useful lenses to have on the track are an ultra-wide lens, a fish-eye lens, and a medium-range zoom lens. I use all of them with my two camera bodies. I also carry a portrait prime lens to help me capture the emotions and facial expressions of the performers and the spectators. Chingay is an event where the lighting and colours change quick, hard and fast. One moment you’re shooting with white light, the next it changes to very dramatic red, then green light. Based on this, Chingay can be a photographers’ nightmare or a playground. But the most challenging part of shooting Chingay for me is having to be aware of my surrounding while shooting so that I don’t end up getting in the way of the performers or their props. This is because I have to be constantly on the move while searching for the best spots to shoot the event.
Dancers perform the award-winning classical dance Qiao Hua Dan, which originates from Sichuan, China. The dance was presented by 700 female dancers from various dance groups in Singapore, including a number of secondary schools students.
After taking plenty of safe shots, I always try to attempt something different. This image is an experiment in using features like ‘rear curtain sync flash,’ pulling the zoom lens during exposure for some cool effects. Normally not all shots like this will work, but I’ll get enough to keep.
The performers from Indonesia are always my Chingay highlight. In this image I was blown away by Jember Fashion Carnaval’s costumes. Carrying such a heavy load in 30 degree humid heat for several hours must be exhausting!
The ‘Chronicle of Borobudur Temple’ by Jember Fashion Carnaval. This 20kg glimmering costume is inspired by the Borobudur Temple in Central Java. Borobudur Temple is an Indonesian landmark that has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
This image depicts the Hudoq dance, which features huge carved masks from the Dayak tribes in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. This dance is traditionally performed after rice planting. According to Dayak beliefs, this ritual dance ensures a bountiful crop and prevents malevolent spirits from taking over the ‘soul’ of the rice.
To see more of WisnuHaryoYudhanto’s work, visit w1snu.com
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