As a regular contributor to OtterWatch, Singapore’s leading project platform for consolidating otter images, full-time IT engineer Nick Soo has turned hobby into cause, with spirited and eye-catching documentations of the playful creatures.
How did your journey in photography begin and how did it lead you to OtterWatch?
I started my photography journey as a hobby in 2012 when I bought my first DSLR (5D Mark III) as a general-purpose camera. I started off with landscape, macro and subsequently moved on to wildlife in 2015 when the Bishan otters family were having their pups at a holt behind my HDB block.
How did you start contributing to OtterWatch?
“Otterwatch” is a page for people to report any otters sightings in Singapore. It is owned by Mr N. Sivasothi, a senior lecturer with the Department of Biological Sciences in NUS, also known as the Otterman.
In 2015, there were very few photos of Singapore Wild Otters on social media. My purpose is to share interesting observations with the public so that they get to learn more about this native species returning to Singapore and how they adapt to the urban wildlife.
At times, OtterWatch will share my postings with a wider audience.
What is the usual process for a shoot? Do you wait for reports from the public or do you prefer stakeouts?
It really depends on which family you want to shoot. For the easy ones like the Bishan or Marina otter families, I just need to cycle around the Kallang Basin, Marina Bay and the Singapore River to spot them.
As for the other families from Ulu Pandan and Pasir Ris, I will wait for sightings from the public before I decide to try.
During shoots, what sort of equipment do you bring along? And why?
I consider a bicycle a must-have to search for otters.
For my photography, I have a Canon 1D X Mark II with 100-400mm Mark II, and Canon 1.4X extender.
Can you explain your choice of a full-frame camera and how it has helped you with achieving your shots?
I prefer a full-frame camera because it allows me to achieve the best quality possible, and it performs better in low-light situations.
Especially for the Canon 1D X Mark II, it has a high burst rate which allows me to capture split-second action. It also offers greater autofocus accuracy compared to my older Canon 5D Mark III.
What is the thought process behind the picture selection and what are some things you wish to highlight?
Through my photos and videos, I hope to remind my audience that it is possible for humans to live in harmony with wildlife, if we learn to respect and give space to the animals.
Likewise, I want to share interesting clips which we cannot observe in the zoo, like their social behaviours; for example, how the mother otter feed the pups, how they moved as a family, how they groom each other.
What are some of the rewarding experiences during this project?
I was involved in two rescue missions. I was so happy to see the otter pup reunited with its family.
Any tips for budding photographers wishing to capture these creatures? And is there anything that they should absolutely avoid doing?
If possible, use a bicycle to search for the otters to increase the chances of sighting them. Do it during the hours from 7-9am or 4-7pm.
Respect the wildlife – give them ample space by using a long lens, and avoid using a flash.
Witness some of Nick’s fascinating shots of the otters here:
First published: Canon EOS World