Photographer's lightning image taken in Sembawang electrifies social media and earns praise from PM Lee

Lee Min Kok
26 May 2016

Admirers -- and there are tens of thousands of them - are already hailing it as Singapore's 2016 Picture of the Year.

But Singapore architecture and landscape photographer Darren Soh, 40, whose stunning composite image of lightning activity in Sembawang earned him an interview with the BBC, is still in shock over its impact on social media.

"Yes, I felt the photo was a bit better than my usual ones. But did I expect this level of response? Definitely not," he said yesterday.

Since uploading it on Facebook on Sunday night, Mr Soh's photo has racked up nearly 45,000 likes and over 14,000 shares. It was also featured on international news websites such as The Telegraph.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong even shared the photo on his Facebook page, praising Mr Soh for having "a knack for making the everyday extraordinary".

Mr Lee wrote: "Singapore is a lightning capital of the world, but few photos have captured it as strikingly as this composite by Darren Soh."

On Sunday night, from the 16th-floor stairwell of an HDB block at Sembawang's Montreal Link - and facing the Johor Strait - Mr Soh took about 100 images of lightning flashing across the night sky.

He selected 12 images and used Photoshop to layer them into a single composite image.

This is his first time producing a composite image of a lightning storm, having previously applied the technique in his construction photography projects. It involves photographs that are taken over a period of time which are then combined.

Mr Soh, who has been running his own photography company for 15 years and specialises in shots of HDB flats, said he had been chasing lightning storms for the past three to four years, and suffered six failed attempts before finally nailing it.

He deliberately captured the cluster of HDB flats at the bottom right of the photo as he wanted to give it a uniquely Singaporean feel.

"Without a local context, it would just be another nice lightning photo that could have been taken anywhere."