Exploring the concrete jungle.
With roots in landscape and aerial photography, the challenge of shooting in a vast city of Hong Kong electrified me. The sky-slashing towers and buzzing streets pushed my creative abilities, but I had streetscape photographer and good friend Manny Teh (@manfredteh) at my side, and together we captured nothing less than magic.
Lighting is a whole different ball game in a city. Buildings cast oppressive shadows and the sun slides down their sides like hot butter. WIth wit and quick feet, we beat the shadows and got both the things you want during a shoot at the famous Choi Hung Estate basketball courts — perfect sunset lighting and almost no one around! Almost like a movie-prop face, a autumn-pastel apartment block loomed over the courts, and the other buildings enwreathing us blocked out the pandemonium of the streets below.
The next morning, we took like birds to the sky. Though we didn’t immediately find a safe branch from which to leap. My friend and talented Hong Kong native Hugo Cheng (@hugo.visuals) helped us with this, showing us the best places to fly in the city.
Sometimes you get good light at sunset, and sometimes you get GOOD LIGHT at sunset. Hiking Braemer Hill peak, we got the latter. Moving around the mountains and searching for different angles, clouds trimmed with empyrean-golds, lingering fogs, and an atom-bomb sun embellished the scene and made us feel like we were dipping in and out of heaven.
We were then swallowed by the "Monster Building." The densely packed apartments of Yick Cheong Building (the monsters real name) provided us with an authentic glimpse into the living conditions of some of Hong Kong, and how little space people actually need to live.
I don't usually shoot at night, especially streetscapes, but when you're in Hong Kong with a professional nighttime streetscape photographer at your side, you make damn sure you shoot at night. If I learnt one thing, it's that when faced with a wall of light and sound, and the hustle and bustle of a futuristic city, patience is key. Long exposures compliment busy cities, showing the streets for what they truly are -- a bloodstream moving traffic through an synthetic heart.
I couldn't have asked for a better entry into the streetscape photography. Hong Kong slapped me into a new and exciting creative space and taught me lessons invaluable to the rest of this trip and my career.
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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou