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All about light meter

One of the most asked questions from students in both basic photography classes or intermediate classes is definitely, “What is light meter and how does it work?”. Well, regardless which digital cameras you have they all have a light meter built into them that reads the light level in a scene and it assesses the combination of ISO, shutter speed and aperture required to get the “right” result. Provided nothing in the scene is way too bright or dark, a camera’s internal meter works well, most of the time.

Problems may arise, however, when there are bright lights that create highlights or reflections, or the sun is in the scene. At the other end of the brightness scale dark shadows or low light may also pose a challenge. In situations such as these, the meter can be fooled. If you include too much bright snow in the scene, for example, the meter may determine that the whole scene is bright: consequently it tries to underexposure , and the result is too dark. Conversely, take a photograph in a shady place and the camera tries to overexposure because this time there is not enough light.

Camera designers have been ingenious in finding techniques to deal with these issues. that have provided metering modes, a solution where the camera doesn’t measure light equally from across the scene. The different modes are a big topic in our Basic Photography  Course (Essential Foundation) and are also describe below.

However, it is an advantage with a digital camera to record a photo to look at the LCD screen to see if the result is up to one’s liking. Take the picture again by altering the exposure: If it’s too dark on the screen, increase the exposure (move the indicator to the plus(+) side): if it’s too light, decrease the exposure (move the indicator to the minus(-) side).

Center-weighted mode– the meter sensor takes most of the reading from the center of the scene.

Spot metering mode– it takes a reading from a small area: You choose the part that is a midtone, take an exposure and apply this value for the whole scene.

Matrix metering– in some cameras it’s called Evaluative, Multi, Pattern, depending on the brand of the cameras. The viewfinder is divided into a number of different segments and the meter sensor reads light from each one (the more segments it has, the more advanced it performs). The readings are compared with combinations programmed into the camera’s memory. Most scenes can be accurately evaluated, apart from impossibly bright highlights or the proverbial black in a coal cellar.

What are file format?

Digital images are recorded and stored in different forms known as file formats that have evolved because the images can be used for different purposes. It takes a lot of memory to store data, so some formats compress the images in order to fit more pictures on a memory card or in your computer. Cameras can often record using more than one file format. Despite which formats your camera uses, you can usually convert to any of the others described here when working with an image-processing program in the computer.

If you are a new beginner in photography and just got yourself a new camera you will find yourself asking one of these questions, “What are JPEG, RAW, TIFF and DNG? Which file format should I use? How difference are they?”. Today your question will be answered.

RAW files are large, they include all the data from the sensor and consequently take up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive. In addition, these files are proprietary to camera manufacturers(and in fact, to each model they produce- except for a RAW format called DNG). That means the specifications for RAW files recorded using a Canon camera are different than those recorded by a Nikon, all of which are different than those recorded by a Sony, Fujifilm, or camera from other companies. You need a software program known as a RAW converter to read these files in your computer. However, once that is done you can convert them to TIFFs or JPEGs for display or to make prints.

JPEG is universally readable image-file format that can display up to 16.7 million colors, the number needed for photo-realistic pictures. You can usually set the camera to a number of different resolutions for JPEG. This format uses “lossy” compression, which means that data is discarded every time you open and re-save a file. To get around this, download JPEGs into your computer and open as a duplicate when using your image-processing program; that way you can go back to the original image if anything goes wrong.

TIFFs also handle 16.7 million colors and do so without the data loss found in JPEGs, but TIFFs consequently take up a lot more memory. Not all cameras use TIFF for recording, and in practice you see little, if any, different between large, low-compression(fine quality) JPEG files and TIFF files, but you can fit six or seven times more JPEGs on a memory card.

DNG is a universal RAW format, meaning non-proprietary, introduced by Adobe who supplies a free, regularly updated converter for all RAW formats as a download. Most major camera manufacturers still prefer their own versions of RAW, but DNG is an excellent option, especially if you use multiple cameras. Since it is a RAW format, no data is lost in conversation, and it functions seamlessly with Adobe imaging products while still allowing you to embed the original RAW file, so that is not lost to you either.

Here are what the abbreviation stand for.

JPEG- Joint Photographic Experts Group
TIFF- Tagged Image File
RAW- a pure data file
DNG- Digital Negative (a RAW format)


Corporate Photography Workshop

Most of the Corporate Photography Workshops and Team Building Courses we organized were asked to hold at various locations such as offices and hotels, but the best location is no doubt at SOP studio where everything is designed for a single purpose, to achieve the best comfort and learning experience.

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This week we had a rare occasion of holding a Corporate Workshop at SOP. We had our pleasure to host our client from Housing Board development(HDB) for a 1-Day Camera Craft and Composition Photography Workshop. In the eight hours workshop everyone had lots of fun learning and fulfilling their goal, but they also fully filled their stomach with delicious and healthy food during tea breaks, thanks to our official partner Singapore Finger Food.

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Our location is very centralized and minutes to MRT station which makes it very easy for anyone to come for the workshop, and it’s also surrounded with many restaurants which is extremely convenient for everyone at lunch break too.


Honorable Mention

Alan Lim, photographer mentor of School of Photography Singapore received the Honorable Mention from Monochrome Photography Awards 2015 for his work on Tell-tale Lines.

“The pioneers of Singapore whose perseverance and resilient have inspired me to become who I’m today.”

A personal project created in late 2015, Tell-tale Lines is a tribute to the untold hard work, from stay-home mothers to nurses, from cleaners  to clerks, and especially the pioneers of Singapore whose perseverance and resilient have inspired Alan to become who he is today.

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Since the exhibition was first launched at The Substation on 16th March and ended on 28th March 2016, it has since caught the attention of German Centre and the 2nd run of the exhibition will be putting up again this month.

Date: 26th May till late July 2016
Venue: German Centre, 25 International Business Park, 3rd Floor, Singapore 60991


The Roving Exhibition of Design District Singapore

The street photography exhibition of Design District Singapore by photographer mentor Alan Lim has been roving since November 2015. Started at the Red Dot Traffic Building when it first launched, then showcased at Singaplural 2016, then hosted by Chinatown to showcased at Pagoda Street, now it hosted by URA at Singapore City Gallery(next to Maxwell Food Center), 45 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069118.

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The exhibition will be on from now till 29th May 2016. For enquiries regarding the exhibition, please contact



Singapore Street Photography Exhibition in Chinatown

After it’s first launch in Red Dot Design Museum in September 2015, the exhibition Design District Singapore- Street Photography by Alan Lim has since showcased in Singaplura 2016 in March, and now it has toured to Chinatown in Pagoda Street(near South Bridge Road). The 30 photos which are mounted on free standing light-boxes are best view in the evening when they light up the street.

The exhibition is currently on till 29th April. It opens daily and closes at 9pm.



Photo Exhibition by Alan Lim 2016

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When photographer Alan Lim was growing up in the 1970s and 80s, one scene entrenched itself firmly in his mind – that of people working hard. Whether it was workers laboriously grinding out tofu with a traditional stone wheel at his grandparent’s shophouse in Waterloo Street, or his father starting his day at 1am lifting and butchering meat in a Toa Payoh wet market, the ordinary person in post-independence Singapore was always hard at work.

This tireless ethic formed the backbone of Singapore’s miraculous ascent to affluence today. While the contributions of politicians and business leaders are well-documented and celebrated, success would not have been possible if not for the legions of everyman workers who toiled behind the scenes. Their stories were never recorded on paper. The only tell-tale signs now are etched on their weathered faces and hands.

“Tell-tale Lines” is a series of black-and-white photos that shines light on the wrinkled faces and hands of Singapore’s pioneers. The style is stark, personal, honest – allowing the subjects to tell their stories in the simplest of ways.

“Tell-tale Lines” is organized by School of Photography Singapore and Eleven Photography.

Showcase at Visual Asia Expo 2015

Visual Asia Expo 2015 was a very exciting event in Singapore, lots of interesting exhibitors showcasing their products and services, such as the latest 3D printers, photographic lightings, boring printings and so on. Beside those, School of Photography Singapore was honored to be invited to showcase the quality of both our instructor and students’ work. The work was carefully chosen and we decided to pick photography which were shot on location, in both control(conceptual portrait) and non-control(street photography) genres. 15 images from photographer mentor, Alan Lim and SOP alumni, Agnieszka Ragazzini were chosen to represent SOP so that the visitors could associate best.

On the first day of the opening, Alan also gave a talk on the topic of Effective Composition With Any Camera. This topic was chosen by him because he felt a lot of us fell in the trap that an expensive high megapixle and state-of-the-art digital camera loaded with all sort of features will make us take better picture, but of cause, it does not. So in his talk he addressed the some of the problems and gave invaluable tips on what professional photographers do before they press the shutter button. The talk was well received and it helped those who were wanted to learn to take better pictures, and those who had never attended any photography courses before but yet wish to improve in their photography skills.

Exhibition – Singapore Street Photography

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A new Design District Mobile App was recently created by the Red Dot Design Museum Singapore. This self-guided walking trail features design hotels, independent shops, neighbourhood cafes and galleries that are within 3km of the museum in Maxwell Road. For instance, you can sip a cuppa at My Awesome Cafe in Telok Ayer Street – its facade is covered in Chinese characters – or browse vinyls at Curated Records in Tiong Bahru Road.

The museum also worked with Singapore award-winning photographer Alan Lim to publish a Design District Photo Book. The street photography book has 70 pictures shot around the Design District. A selection of pictures from the book will be exhibited on lightboxes along the facade of the Red Dot Traffic Building, where the museum is housed, from 7th to 20th Nov.

The Design District App is free for download on the App Store and Google Play. Go to for details

Co-op Hotshots 2015 Photography Competition

As the Official Partner of Co-op Hotshots Photography Competition organised by Singapore National Co-operative Federation, School of Photography Singapore wants you to let your talents shine and showcase your photography skill, because you might be the one to  walk away with over $5,000 with of prizes!

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