Ong Kiem Sian is a birder-photographer extraordinary (above). For the past 17 or so years, while most birders were only interested in seeing and listing birds, she was seriously studying them. And while most bird photographers (and there were not many then) were taking portrait shots of birds, she was documenting their nesting habits.
Her infinite patience in the forest is legend to those who know her. She can sit quietly for hours, waiting for the birds to return to the nest, to get her perfect shot. And this was at a time well before the advent of digital phpotography, when she could not afford the luxury of taking hundreds of shots at one sitting. Nor could she manage ten or more shots per second at the press of the shutter button.
Through the years she has accumulated a substantial collection of photographs and video clips of numerous species of nesting birds. I suppose, being an excellent photographer, she had the ability to permanently document the drama that unfolded before her eyes. This is an advantage that photographers and videographers have over the typical birders who look at birds through a pair of binoculars.
Sian has been photographing birds more than a decade before the current craze of bird photography, made popular by the availability of digital cameras. Unlike most photographers who either bury their images in hard disks to sometimes share with a few close friends, or post in web-based forums, Sian has been publishing her observations in Nature Watch, magazine of the Nature Society (Singapore). By doing so, she did make an effort to share her observations with other birders and nature lovers.
With editorial assistance from Morten Strange, a well-known bird photographer and author, Sian has now compiled her years of meticulous documentation into a book, A Passion for Birds (left). For a price of S$48.15 including GST, anyone can have a glimpse of Sian’s passion for birds – and at the same time benefit from the information she accumulated.
This book, published by Draco Publishing & Distribution Pte. Ltd., showcases 262 species of birds from 50 families, and comes with a bonus 36 minutes DVD. It is available at the Botanic Gardens Shop from 15th Dec.
(Top image courtesy of Ong Kiem Sian, bottom image by Morten Strange)
WELL DONE SIAN
I have been expecting this from a passionate birder like SIAN. Her observations are one of the best among birders-photographers.i am still keeping one of her earlier works which was shown during the Singapore Bird Race closing ceremony years ago. Great videos! And I expect to get my hands on her new book.
Looking forward to enjoying her passion (bk) with a cup of Sumatra brew come Saturday by the BG. Great news indeed and an exciting one. Probably a tough benchmark for myself but nevertheless it adds to the blank answer sheet of my life.
Susan Wong Chor Mun
Well done Aunty Sian
John Ho (SDACC)
You are an encouragement
Hi Mrs Goh and Mr Goh,
I’d like to thank you and Mr Goh for autographing the book when my wife, grandson and I visited your home this morning (15.01.08).
I have just gone through the pages and find it most fascinating and absorbing as the photographs and literature are brilliantly composed. It is an awesome book for both bird lovers and would be enthusiasts like me.
Our best to the two of you.
Andrew & Regina Lim
Good post. You make some great points that most people do not fully understand.
“Ong Kiem Sian is a birder-photographer extraordinary (above). For the past 17 or so years, while most birders were only interested in seeing and listing birds, she was seriously studying them. And while most bird photographers (and there were not many then) were taking portrait shots of birds, she was documenting their nesting habits.”
I like how you explained that. Very helpful. Thanks.
It with deep sorrow that we record the passing away of Sian last night. We thank Sandra Wong for conveying the sad news.