Hong Kong, as a financial hub of Southeast Asia, was not on my priority list of travel/photography locations initially. I tend to think it more of a shopping center for tourists who are after luxury brands. However after spending five days here with Tammy and my mother wandering around the city and even venturing to some more secluded places, I would say Hong Kong is more than a concrete maze, but an excellent place for street portrait, cityscape or even landscape in general. I will share the locations and experience of our Hong Kong street portrait in this post and write another about the cool locations we visited for landscape and cityscapes.
We started our day exploring the city from the Central Market. At first glance, this is just a modern city with skyscrapers packed to the highest density people could bear with. As we turned into the back street or the side alleys, the old, vintage scenes in those 80s, 90s Hong Kong movies revealed. My mother, though in her mid-50s, was keen on being a fashion model for me. So I tried to take as many photos as I could. As you might have guessed, I didn’t have too much experience in portrait photography. Therefore I decided to start with simple compositions. When I took these travel portraits, I always reminded myself to show some environment so the viewers get more than one layer of information.
The Taxi, a signature of Hong Kong, was one of my favorite compositional tools. Whenever you see a part of the red Toyota Royal Crown taxi in the frame, you know it is in Hong Kong. And the taxis are all over the street, thus with a bit patience, you will have no problem incorporating one in your photos.
A famous graffiti is located at the crossing of Hollywood Rd and Graham street. Just stay cool in front of it and picture would look interesting.
Since I stood across the street of my subjects, passing-by taxis made my life more difficult as I tried to avoid these cars blocking my view. Suddenly an idea came across my mind- why not shoot through the taxi window. Of course, this idea made my life even more difficult when trying to frame and time the milliseconds of taxis passing by. Finally, I got a shot that expressed my idea.
When I say Hong Kong is an overpacked city, that also means you don’t need to walk far to get to another photography location. The Man Mo Temple was definitely a highlight of our Hong Kong street portrait day. The temple from outside didn’t look fancy, but as I walked inside, I was immediately attracted by its delicacy. When shooting in such environment, people often face some challenges. The basic challenges were low light and tight space. The inside of the temple was not well lit, so in order to get clean images, a full frame camera with a large aperture lens would be ideal. The tight space in the temple means you need to either use an ultra-wide angle lens to capture the whole environment or use a mid focal range lens and work with some elements of the temple interior. I did have both ranges of lenses and I found myself using my 50mm F1.4 more often than the ultra-wide one. The large aperture of the 50mm lens gave flattering shallow depth of field, which worked really well in isolating my subjects. Using the ultra-wide angle lens, however, gave me another perspective showing more of the interior arrangement of the temple.
Afterall, I am an outdoor person and would not be satisfied if we only stay within the city. On the other day, we found our way to one of the best locations/vantage points of Hong Kong cityscapes and had a great time making portraits, landscape photos as well as time lapses. That would be my next post, but here is a teaser.
Viewing the Hong Kong city from the Lion Rock Mountain Peak