The DBS Marina Regatta is Singapore's largest Dragon Boat competition. It's held in May every year and attracts hundreds of teams - both local and international. It's got quite the global reputation with teams flocking to Singapore from nearby places such as Indonesia and Malaysia to far-flung locations like Dubai, Australia and the United States
Although the format has varied over the past years, it generally encompasses 4 days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) with the bulk of the races on Saturday and Sunday; with 200 metre races on one day and 500m on the other. For the non-racing side of things, it also has a plethora of attractions such as a pop-up Urban Beach, Water Slides and Party Domes. It's quite the spectacle; for both race participants and observers alike and if you're in Singapore when it's on, definitely check it out
It's personally the biggest race I've ever participated in and I've even won Gold and $20,000! (Obligatory brag shot below).
The purpose of this post will be to not only share some of my photos from this year's event but to also showcase the type of photos you can take at a Dragon Boat event as well as some useful tips!
Hope you enjoy!
Any SLR will do but you'll need a telephoto lens that's at least 300mm. 200mm doesn't cut it in this sport as races are usually quite a way out from any observation point.
ND Filter (or at least, a good Polarising filter) - this will be necessary for the type of shots I'll explain below.
Not that necessary, but a mono/tri-pod will help.
The Long Exposure Shot
The above shot is one that I particularly like - there's a sense of motion and energy you get from it that you won't get if you stick your camera to full auto. To get this kind of picture, you'll need to delve into that scary realm of full manual....
Ok, it's not a long exposure shot in the traditional sense - but if you compare the shutter speed that your camera will shoot at during midday vs. what you need to get this shot, its about 99.25% slower!
So how to get this kind of shot. Grab an ND filter, set your aperture f/22 (or the lowest you can get too), shutter speed to 1/30th of second or slower and start tracking your subject on one axis (this is where the tripod will come in handy). Once you get it, you should have a shot like the above.
However, if the subject (the boat) is moving in two axis' from your observation point, it'll be less successful as the entire subject will be blurred (as seen by the below pictures).
Although I'm still pretty happy with the below picture.
The Close Up
I like the above shot as it shows the intensity of this team sport. The Cox (the steersman or steers-woman) not only helps direct the boat but is in charge of controlling the boat i.e. when to charge, and offer 'encouragement' (aka swear a lot!) to push them to win the race.
To get these kind of shots is pretty easy - use the telephoto and fill the frame with the subject and shoot away. Oh, and just set the shutter speed to as fast as you can.
The Crowded Shot
Look at that bow wave! Dragon Boating is one of the most intense sports you'll ever experience and fighting through the waves in a race is one of the most unsettling and toughest situations you can have in this sport
Almost the same principle as the close up shot but this time, be aware of the race and shoot when it's close. However, zoom out a little and fill the frome with a few boats instead.
My Team - The British Dragons.
Check them out if you're in Singapore, here