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25 Oct 2013

Today, I visited the River Safari with the key intent to see the 2 pandas - Kai Kai & Jia Jia, China's gift to Singapore. (Updated on 26-Oct-2013: The pandas are actually on a 10 years loan from China.)
The pandas are located in the Giant Panda Forest right in the middle of the River Safari. It was past 11am by the time I reach the Giant Panda Forest which is located right in the middle of the River Safari. The Giant Panda Forest is a huge enclosure special air-conditioned climate specially designed for the pandas. The place is also quite bright which makes photographing the pandas easy (but remember no flash allowed). 

At the entrance of the Giant Panda Forest, there were the Red Panda - which look more like a cross-breed between fox and raccoon to me. They are very lively which keep walking around in the tree, and most importantly they can get very close to you (about 2-3m) which makes it great for close-up shot.

Kai Kai & Jia Jia is located after the Red Panda section. I was a little disappointed to see only the male panda (Kai Kai) which was sleeping away, and the female one has gone into hiding. So I ended up taking a few picture of the sleeping model after waiting for 20mins just hoping to see them in action.

With a disappointed heart, I break for lunch at the Mama Panda Kitchen and ordered a set meal with an additional "Panda bun" - since I can't see them in action, I will eat them :)

It was 1.15pm after lunch and I decided to go back and take one last look at the panda. To my surprise, the working staffs are laying out the bamboos and preparing the pandas' lunch! Finally, both pandas came out for their lunch and I can finally photograph them in action. They are cute and I took a bunch of 50 odds photographs of them.

So for anyone going to River Safari to photograph pandas (Jia Jia & Kia Kia), you may want to note the following:
  • The pandas are kept is separate enclosure. If you want to photograph both of them, then you have to run between the enclosures.
  • The feeding time appears to be around 1.30pm. You don't have to rush to take photographs, as they will be there for at least an hour to finish their "bamboo lunch".
  • The pandas will probably be within 5-10m distance away from you (depending on where you stand), which means that a standard telephoto lens of 100mm-200mm can get you a good close-up of the pandas.
  • You will be taking photographs of them from a slightly higher ground on the bridge, which will be crowded with people as time past. The view of pandas are blocked at some parts of the bridge which means that you have to "fight" for a good position before the crowd comes.
  • Although no flash is allowed, lighting condition within the enclosure is quite alright with the natural light coming in from the glass roof-top. So going with ISO-400 and aperture of f/4 or f/5.6 should give sufficient shutter speed for a sharp image and depth of field (DOF).
  • Last but not least, I noticed that fog condenses on the glass surface of my lenses when I stepped out of the Giant Panda Forest into the open-air. This is normal due to the differences in the temperature, so don't jump when that happens. Just give it a little bit of time for the fog to vaporize. If you have lens hood on the lenses, removing it will help.

The pandas are so cute - go take a look :)

Please visit for more photos of the pandas that I took …