6 Useful Mobile Photography Tips To Capture The Best Photos Of Jewel Changi Airport


Faruq Senin •  Jul 11, 2019

It's no secret that Jewel Changi Airport is Singapore's newest and most happening attraction. Ever since it opened its doors in April, crowds have not stopped streaming into the mall.

Credit: Giphy

While Jewel is home to some megastores like the Pokemon Centre (the first permanent store outside Japan!), the largest Nike store in Southeast Asia and plenty of halal restaurants, its main highlight is none other than the HSBC Rain Vortex located right in the middle of the complex. At 40 metres, it's the tallest indoor waterfall in the world! Not to mention that the rain vortex and the surrounding Shiseido Forest Valley are highly Instagrammable spots ? We know many of you will probably be interested in capturing the breathtaking views, so we've prepared these 6 useful tips to help you get the best photos of Jewel Changi Airport ?

P.S. We got some of these tips from a Photo Walk organised by Apple's latest store at Jewel Changi Airport (opening on 13 July)! Sign up for Apple's Photo Walk: The Magic of Jewel Changi Airport here. The 60-minute walk will give you more tips on taking the most stunning photos at Jewel.

1. Find a good spot

The first thing you'd want to do is to find a good spot! While the rain vortex is beautiful from any angle, there are some spots that'll give you better photos than others.

Level 2 Photo Spots

There are 2 spots on Level 2 where you can capture an immersive photo of the rain vortex amidst all the lush greenery. They are both located on opposite ends of each other. The picture you see above is taken at the entrance of Jewel (from Terminal 1 between the Apple store and Shake Shack). While taking photos here, you might even be able to spot the Skytrain moving through Jewel! To capture an even more panoramic view of the rain vortex, head over to the Level 2 Viewing Deck instead.

P.S. Do note that there will be a lot of people trying to get that perfect shot at these 2 spots, so just brace yourself for it and wait patiently for your turn! Come earlier and avoid peak periods if possible.

HSBC Rain Vortex, L1

There's nothing better than going up-close to the rain vortex and snapping a photo from L1 where the water flows into the glass catchment area. Not only is this a majestic sight but you'd also be able to hear the sound of water rushing, making you feel as if you're in a nature retreat. Plus, did we mention that the waterfall emits fog at certain times? That makes it even dreamier ?

Cloud9 Piazza, L5

For a bird's eye view of the rain vortex and the forest valley, head up to the Cloud9 Piazza at the Canopy Park. Though there's an admission fee (from SGD5), the view here is unparalleled and you'd most likely won't have to battle the crowds to get the perfect shot! If you'd still like an elevated shot but you're not willing to pay, then head over to the upper floors of the Shiseido Forest Valley and explore different angles.

P.S. Feeling hungry at Jewel? Check out our guide on the halal eateries at Jewel!

2. Make use of the light

Now that you've sealed the good spots, it's time to start capturing! One of the tricks to taking awesome photos is to make use of the sunlight. Since the dome of Jewel is made from 9,000 glass pieces, the light that shines through it adds a different dimension to your photos ?

As you can see in these 2 pictures above, both are captured from the same spot but the light in the picture on the right makes it a more stunning photograph.

Having light also helps to highlight the subject in your photo. For example in this photo, the sun that shines through the rain vortex illuminates the face of the subject. The best time to take advantage of the light is in the mid-late morning and in the afternoon around 3-5pm. Just be sure to avoid noon to around 1-2pm when the light is at its harshest.

P.S. Check out these essential smartphone photography hacks to take the best travel photos!

3. Experiment with different shots

Play with angles

Another way to make your photos more interesting is to take them from different angles. There's no doubt that Jewel looks amazing from any angle and therefore, it's the perfect time for you to make your photos stand out from the rest!

Once you're done photographing the rain vortex, why not shift the focus to the equally stunning glass dome of Jewel instead? This brings a fresh new perspective to your photos that you might probably not have thought of if you didn't explore with different angles ?

Another advantage of playing with angles is that you'll get a wider photo especially if you're planning to show both a subject and the background. For example, when photographing a subject with the rain vortex on Level 1, it might be hard to capture both at the same time as the waterfall is very tall and you might have to go far if you're on the same level as the subject. But if you take your photo from a lower angle, you'll be able to capture the grandeur of the rain vortex and get the subject in too ☺️

Obstructing the lens

Ever seen that "Gateway to Heaven" shot in Bali where it looks as though there's a puddle of water reflecting the temple gates? Well, now you can recreate that shot at Jewel too!

While you're at the L2 entrance of Jewel (in between Shake Shack and the Apple Store), here's a tip: make use of the glass railing. To create a mirror effect, rest your mobile phone against the glass railing and place your phone's camera lens such that the view will be split into two -  one without the glass and the other with the glass. By "obstructing" the lens and splitting it, you'd be able to create this mirror effect ? Trust us, it's a very simple hack that you can do to create something different. Your friends might even be fooled into thinking there's a pond in Jewel!

#HHWT Tip: Even if you're not at the glass railing, you can always create this image by using a reflective screen.

4. Take your photos in vertical panorama mode

Besides playing with angles, another way to get a wide shot of the rain vortex is to use the Panorama mode in your mobile phone. The good news is that all iPhones and many of the latest Android mobile phones have this function! We know, most of you would prefer taking photos in portrait or square rather than landscape for that Instagram aesthetic.

Well, here's a hack - turn your phone 90 degrees anti-clockwise and this way, you can use the panorama mode vertically. This way, you'll be able to capture a wider shot without compromising on the mode of the picture. Amazing right?

Of course, as with horizontal panorama, you'd also be able to again experiment with all different shots. Take the shot above, for example, the reflection of the rain vortex on the water is captured together with the vortex and it looks as if the waterfall is elongated ?

5. Don't forget to capture the dramatic effect of Jewel

One thing to note while snapping photos of the rain vortex is not to miss out on capturing its dramatic essence. There's so much going on while you're there - the waterfall gushing down, the powerful sound of water and the occasional fog amidst the serenity of the forest valley. And you'd want to capture that essence in your photos as well.

Take parts of the rain vortex 

One trick to express the dramatic effect is to focus on different parts of the rain vortex.

For example, in this picture, we managed to focus on the details of the waterfall with the help of the iPhone XS' portrait mode. Plus, having a bit of the forest in the foreground actually helped to create a contrast in the picture. What's even better was that we could shift the iPhone's focus to the waterfall to bring the movement of the water to life.

Use filters 

Another way of showing movement or atmosphere is to use different filters. Most mobile phones already have inbuilt filters and even yours don't, you can always download various photo editing apps to get those filters.

Using filters help to create a different mood and emotion in your photos and also changes the focus of the photo sometimes, which makes it very interesting. For example, in the photo on the right, you'd be instantly drawn to the sunlight shining through the waterfall as it stands out from the rest of the picture. But in the photo on the left, we added iPhone's mono filter and the focus shifts to the lines on Jewels' glass dome. It's interesting to see what each filter brings and by experimenting with different filters, you'd get to explore the different moods that you want to portray in your image too ?

6. Capture moving images

Who says you only have to take static images to capture the beauty of Jewel? For those of you using iPhone, you can use the Live function to capture the motion of the rain vortex. The best part is, you don't even have to take a video for this! All you have to do is tap the Live button when you're taking the photo.

See how it makes a difference to this photo? In a typical photo, you wouldn't be able to see the mist created by the waterfall but with a live photo, the rain vortex becomes even more powerful. What the Live photo does is to capture the movement in a timeframe of 1.5s before and after the photo is taken. To "replay" the photo, all you have to do is to tap it and it'll move.

What's also great is that you can swipe up and choose different effects for your photo as well. Being able to "replay" the moment brings a whole new experience as compared to just taking photos.

Besides playing with the Live photo functions, why not experiment with slowing down the speed of the rain vortex? We used the iPhone's slo-mo function to create a dramatic effect on the waterfall. But if you're not using an iPhone, no worries! There are apps for Android phones which let you slow down the speed of your videos as well.

We hope these 6 useful tips will help you capture gorgeous photos of the HSBC Rain Vortex at Jewel Changi Airport! As you can see, most of these hacks are really simple and you can use the existing functions on your mobile phone. So, the next time you visit Jewel Changi Airport, don't forget to refer to this guide and SHARE it with your friends too ?

P.S. We got some of these tips from a Photo Walk organised by Apple's latest store at Jewel Changi Airport (opening on 13 July)! Sign up for Apple's Photo Walk: The Magic of Jewel Changi Airport here. The 60-minute walk will give you more tips on taking the most stunning photos at Jewel.

Note: All photos were taken on the iPhone XS.