The story behind a book cover with a difference

Mar 14 2013

In the world of specialist technical publishing, more time is spent searching for the perfect image that conveys what the book is about than any other graphic imagery task. Occasionally you are able to create something completely unique for your publication, which leaves the world in no doubt as to what that book is about. One such instance happened last month, for the 2013 edition of the ‘Passage Planning Guide Malacca and Singapore Straits’.


The 2013 review was planned for February, to include a thorough discussion of each leg of the transit of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, and participate in a deep draught transit on a VLCC and sail around the various east and west anchorages and fairways from Pelepas to Johor using smaller craft.

Our requirement for the cover shot was an aerial view, for reasons that will become clear later in the year, and it obviously needed ships and a sense of  Singapore. We had an idea of what we were looking for but now had to think how to achieve it. Marina Bay Sands, while providing a great aerial view, is a tourists view. What we needed was a light aircraft, helicopter or a drone.

After checking with local providers we learned that there were a number of restricted areas around Singapore and, in other areas, you could only operate to a ceiling of 65 metres.
However, after a very positive response from a young company called AVETICS, who had experience of taking corporate shots from their remotely operated helicopter (though they had never operated from a launch boat before) our idea for the cover started to become a little more realistic.

The helicopter operations team joined us for a trip on a very grey and wet morning for 4 hours sailing around the western waters of Singapore to get a feel for the environment onboard, and an opportunity to discuss the types of images that we envisaged. This went reasonably well, although one or two of them were glad to get back on dry land after their reconnaissance trip and requests were made for a much larger workboat for the following day.
The conditions on the nominated day were close to perfect, all we now needed was an image that conveyed ship movements off Singapore.

After about two and a half hours and four failed attempts to create the ideal image, we identified an eastbound containership making to cross the traffic separation scheme and approach the pilot boarding station at ‘Eastern Boarding Ground A’. We just had to position ourselves safely, so that we would not interfere with the pilot boarding operation or the safe route of the container vessel in to Singapore harbour.

With all of this achieved we followed Hapag Lloyd’s ‘Los Angeles Express’ from a safe distance on her port quarter and, once we felt the scene couldn’t get much better, we sent the remotely operated helicopter up. Here is what we got - and it's a beauty!  Look out for it on front of the 2013 edition of ‘Passage Planning Guide Malacca and Singapore Straits’.