Hong Kong 2015
Hong Kong has always been a fantasy city for me, I’ve been there many times but each time was just for a couple of hours during a stop over. I’ve always marveled at how different Hong Kong was from mainland Chinese cities.
This trip to Hong Kong was a little different for me, as I was going to stay in Hong Kong for three weeks this time with the goal of getting out of China for Spring Festival and to test some new camera gear.
I planned to test my new Fuji XT1 with the 18mm f2 and 35mm f1.4 lens as well as my new ONA camera bag during my three weeks in Hong Kong. I had hoped to shoot a lot of street photography during the day and wanted to do some HDR architecture in the afternoon. I thought it was a good idea and I was sure I would come away with some great shots.
Not all plans go well though, and my plans fell apart during my first day in Hong Kong.
I am use to shooting street photography in China and most Chinese people just look at me and think, crazy foreigner and carry on with their usually daily lives, but in Hong Kong it was much different. It seemed like every time I raised my camera to my face, Hong Hongers sensed my intentions and managed to obstruct my shot. I got so many shots of peoples hands hiding their faces at the end of my first day that I started to wonder if the only way I could shoot anyone was shooting from the hip(which I hate doing).
The second big problem with shooting in Hong Kong is the sheer number of people. No matter were you are in Hong Kong, there are people everywhere, thousands of them, and to get a clean background in a shot is almost impossible, there is just so much clutter everywhere. So I basically gave up with the idea of shooting street this time and decided to just walk around and shoot interesting things that I would stumble upon in my daily walks.
I spent most of my days in Hong Kong walking around, walking everywhere. Hong Kong is actually really small, very small compared to cities in mainland China. It is really possible to walk everywhere in Hong Kong in just one day, but Hong Kong is very dense and has many hidden alleyways to explore and many adventures to be found. When I was in Hong Kong, I was walking an average of 30km per day, but that is mostly because I love to walk around and explore.
I spent a lot of time shooting street art in Hong Kong. You can see the pictures in this blog post
I think that one of the best places to shoot in Hong Kong are the overpasses across many of the busy streets. Shooting from above gives you a clear view of all the organized craziness that you awaits you below.
My first two days on Hong Kong was extremely lucky for me as I had great weather to shoot some HDRs, nice blue skies with clouds in them. I walked all over Hong Kong trying to find some clean angles of the many interesting buildings that you can see in the skyline, but sometimes getting a clean shot was not always possible. The Fuji XT1 is a great little camera to use when I am not using one of my larger Nikons for work, but this camera is not made for HDR. The camera bracketing mode is only set up for 1 stop difference in exposure and it will only shoot 3 exposures per bracket, so most HDR just don’t have the dynamic range that you need. When I normally shoot HDR on my Nikons, I usually shoot 9 frames at 1 stop apart, giving me a lot of dynamic range in the shots. After walking around all day, I would go home, dump the files onto my computer and be disappointed with the results form the HDRs that I could produce with the Fuji. The Fuji XT1 is a great camera and I am really starting to love it, but it is not the ideal camera if you like to shoot HDR.
The only way I found to get any usable shots in this weather was to use a polarizing filter and HDR the image. I found that stacking the images this way, reduced the haze a little.
The second option that I used was to turn the images to black and white. This was probably the best option and required the least amount of post processing.
Hong Kong is an interesting city, and now that I am back in Mainland China, I miss the city a lot. It has great food, extremely friendly local people and the best transportation system in all of China. I am slowly starting to edit all the photos that I took in Hong Kong and I don’t have as many keeper shots as I would like, but I have my memories of Hong Kong and I will go back to visit sometime again in the future.