Orchard Central – The Art of Shopping

Just got hold of the new Casio Exilim ZR100 a couple of days ago because I was lucky enough to be 1 of 4 selected bloggers to take part in a contest about the compact camera. The blog challenge doesn’t start till next Friday but I was eager to take the camera out for a test drive.

A few locations to shoot came to mind but since I’m recovering from a seriously bad-ass flu, I didn’t want to venture too far. I needed some place that can offer lots of photographic opportunities as well as dustbins for me to throw my mucus-soaked tissues. I also wanted it near home because it’s icky to be carrying a wet, snorty handkerchief in the pocket for too long a time.

My nose was starting to turn red from all that sneezing and unstoppable nose slime. I was Rudolph for a day. This self-portrait was shot using Casio Exilim ZR100's one-touch HDR mode. The wide angle lens made it easy for cam whoring without needing ape limbs. The angle was so wide, I had to crop off about 40% from the original size.

So I settled on Orchard Central. I came here once last year to take some shots of the enchanting Sky Garden but I’ve not taken photos of the shopping centre’s interior. To me, the mall is perhaps the most esthetically captivating of all the malls in Singapore.

Taking panoramic shots for the first time. I've always been intrigued by pano photos but I don't own the equipment or software to do it. But now I can with ZR100. I can't believe how incredibly easy it was to take theese 2 photos!

The key highlight at Orchard Central is the Roof Garden (Level 11 and 12) which qualifies as a minor tourist attraction offering an aerial view of our famous downtown shopping district and high-rise skyline. According to the mall’s website, the garden is operational 24/7. I think that means it’s always open. And it’s FREE to visit!

Wonderfully well-maintained. When I was here in January 2010, the park was immaculate. Back after almost 2 years, the Roof Garden still looks pristine. Great job at maintenance!

For my test drive, I wanted to see the image results from the different modes that Casio Exilim ZR100 offers. Especially the one-touch HDR and HDR-Art mode. HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging is a photography technique that combines photos with different exposure levels into one picture. I’ll talk more about HDR in an upcoming post.

The photo above as well as the one below and the one after it were taken in the HDR-Art mode which yielded some pretty interesting colour results.

View converging on Mandarin Orchard Hotel with the iconic Chinese roof of Tangs visibile in the background.

Installations by Singaporean artist Victor Tan and Japanese visual artist Yayoi Kusama converts the space into a whimsical oasis amidst Orchord Road.

Really liked these wired human figures that seem to ask the question, "How are you wired?" The figurines turns when the wind blows, thereby generating multiple angles to admire the sculptures from. This photo is taken in the Best Shot (BS) Sunset mode. The Roof Garden is a great place to experience sunsets.

Testing out the camera's Super Macro mode. I think the result is pretty stunning!

Starburst spray from an aquatic plant. The Roof Garden is decorated with walls of vertical green, full-height trees and various water plants.

From the open air outdoor garden,  I next tested the camera inside Orhard Central. Indoor photography without flash is always a headache because the pictures have the propensity to turn out blurred and very pixellated from high ISO settings. The interior photos were shot with ISO settings ranging from 100 – 400 to keep the pictorial noise level down, yet achieving sharp snaps.

Inside the glass lift well while going down from the Roof Garden to Level 1. Shot in BS (Indoor Party) mode.

Lift lobby sporting an interesting cluster of cube lights. Shot using Normal mode.

Level 4 of the shopping complex features an indoor rock climbing wall. I took a shot with the Normal mode and tried another in the HDR-Art mode. This photo is from the latter mode. I find that HDR-Art is very useful in places with fancy lightings as the saturation of colours articulates the spectrum with dramatic outcomes.

Looks like an organic metallic spaceship taking off. HDR-Art mode.

Ingenious use of light and shadow to create a patterned wallpaper. While Orchard Central has lots of interesting lightplay within, it still can't quite alleviate itself from feeling rather claustrophobic. Shops are closely packed together, making the place a maze.

The ceiling reminds me of the Polish folkart of paper-cutting.

Closed for business. There was this eatery with a beautifully elaborate gate and cool interior design that I had wanted to try but is now gone. Such a pity. During my visit, quite a lot of the shop spaces were vacant. Photo of the locks shot with Flower Macro mode.

Love this octagonal lampshade adirming it's on beauty. Shot with Normal mode.

I've never seen tribalness given such an elegant treatment. Nice! Shot using Premium Auto mode which intelligently balances out lighting conditions to achieve an evenly exposed photo.

Peek-a-boo. Super Macro close-up of Orchard Central's feathery Christmas decor. The mall's yuletide theme this year is 'Christmas with an OC Attitude'. I couldn't agree more. This place sure has sass.

Done shopping for shots inside Orchard Central, I wanted to head home when I realised I haven’t taken a photo of the mall’s visage. Out of tissues and my hanky protesting any more gooey deposits, I pressed on to finish some exterior shots…

Casio Exilim ZR100 is the star! Shot in Manual Mode (f/4.4, 1/8 sec, ISO 400). I wanted to test the image quality of using a slow shutter speed to capture motion blur of the traffic while keeping the star and background in focus to provide a contrast. I'm amazed I can achieve this effect at a high level of sharpness without using a DSLR or high ISO setting which will cause noise on the photo.

Later, I reflected on why I carried on shooting despite being relatively sick and realised that I’m developing an addiction to the camera. We all know how addiction works. It overpowers better judgement and even though we know we shouldn’t do something, we continue to do it anyway. Yikes! First time using it and I couldn’t put it down. Hope I don’t have to go into rehab later.

Entrance to Orchard Central all styled up by 2 flambouyant fuschia reindeers. Hot foreign visitor not included!

Why would I need to go into rehab? Photography is a healthy addiction compared to many other vices right? Well, you see, this camera is not mine. At least not yet. It is on loan from the good folks at Casio for the blog contest period and I have to return it at the end of December.

But you can help keep me out of rehab 🙂 There will be a voting segment in the contest which you can help vote for my photos to make the Casio Exilim ZR100 permanently mine. Will keep you informed when the time comes and hopefully, I’ll get your support.

Bold use of LED screens give Orchard Central an ever-changing skin and creates a striking architectural profile that resembles a giant block of quartz crystal. It looks like a towering amethyst with the violet hues here. Truly a gem of a shopping mall.

Meanwhile, I’ll be shooting more and sharing with you the strengths and weaknesses of this camera as well as user tips. The photos on this post have been shot entirely with the Casio Exilim ZR100 and minor Photoshop processing has been done to adjust brightness, contrast, and sharpness. I’m treating photos taken with the ZR100 like the way I treat other images before posting up.

But one thing’s for sure, I have no problems with a washed out sky now thanks to the camera’s in-built HDR function.

In upcoming posts, I’ll go deeper into the HDR, HDR-Art, High Speed shooting (the ZR100 is built for incredible speed) and the camera’s unique Zoom capability to bring far objects closer. The photos put up in these posts will have ZERO image editing done except resizing file sizes. That’s the requirement by Casio. All photos for the contest proper must not be manipulated in any way to show the true potential of the ZR100.

So stay tuned as I show you where my fingers have been with this nifty camera in the coming weeks!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Scot
    Nov 19, 2011 @ 03:04:06

    As usual, you capture beautiful shots even in a mall! Actually I was rather impressed with (the first) picture of you in the park — there is impressive sharpness of all subjects from you to the art to the buildings far behind you — which continues throughout, but is notable in this and the hallway picture.


    • Darren Ng
      Nov 19, 2011 @ 11:03:39

      hey scot… thanks for the compliment. yeah, i was pretty impressed with the camera’s image quality and sharpness range. will be testing the cam in more places and situations to see how it holds up.


  2. Ala
    Oct 26, 2012 @ 23:00:09

    Hi, I just got the newest ZR-300 in Japan and can’t seem to find any English or Chinese manual for the moment, so I’m referring to your website for some tips on the camera in general. ^_^ Just want to say thanks!

    I really enjoyed your photos – to have the clear sharp night shots like yours, do you always use a tripod?


    • Darren Ng
      Oct 27, 2012 @ 10:40:02

      thanks for dropping by my blog and am glad this blog post gave u some points of reference to use your camera. try approaching casio singapore for help with the manual. i hardly use a tripod for night shots. sometime i place the camera on a platform or ledge if i’m doing a long exposure. most times, i just set it to P-mode and shoot. the camera is great in that it’ll automatically pick out a mode suitable for the scene and snap a great photo. have fun with your ZR-300! 🙂


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