ST photojournalists share tips on drone use, Singapore News & Top Stories


Lim Chu Kang cemetery, with tombstones laid out neatly in rows as far as the eye can see, was among the first few locations for The Straits Times photojournalist Benjamin Seetor to snap photos with a drone.

But his work, published in June 2014, turned out to be one of the last few shots of its kind. A few months later, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore introduced new rules governing drone usage.

The cemetery is strictly a “no-fly” zone, out of bounds to drone pilots as it is located near Tengah Air Base, said Mr Seetor, 40, yesterday.

He and his colleagues Ong Wee Jin and Lim Yaohui provided tips on drone photography during a talk at the National Museum of Singapore, as part of a photo exhibition organised by ST called Through The Lens.

Aside from ensuring one does not break the law, Mr Seetor said, users should take as many safety precautions as possible. “Safety is always our main priority, you have to know the characteristics of the drone and its safety features,” said Mr Seetor, adding that he has a “pre-flight checklist” before each flight.

While it may be troublesome at times, drone photography could yield fresh and new perspectives of Singapore, said Mr Ong, 36.

His series of aerial photographs of different basketball courts around the island would not have been possible six years ago without drone photography, he added. “Since the courts were often near HDB blocks, a personal worry was that a resident would see the drone outside their window, and think I’m a ‘cheeko peh’,” said Mr Ong, using a Singlish term for “dirty-minded, old man”.

Mr Lim, 37, shared his experiences photographing the Southern Islands with a drone. The photojournalist spent close to eight months getting clearance from agencies to capture footage of islands like Pulau Semakau, Sentosa and Kusu Island.

The result was sweeping views of the islands, with both video and still footage documenting their rich biodiversity and features.

Around 70 people attended the talk. Among them was Mr William Tan, 60, who said he was glad to have learnt more about the dos and don’ts of drone photography.

“It’s good that they can share a bit more on this topic especially since there are so many new rules; it’s a grey area for ordinary people like us,” said Mr Tan, a retired interior design consultant, who is also a drone hobbyist.

The exhibition showcases the work of Singapore and international photojournalists over the past two years and includes the World Press Photo exhibition.

It ends on Oct 27 and admission is free. Schools requesting guided tours for students can inquire at stprojects@sph.com.sg





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