Shooting in Hong Kong!!!

April 16, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

Okay, you got me. I am talking about shooting pictures.

One thing about the teamhKUDOS here is that we LOVE taking pictures! We have been on photo trips together, and the passion we share is one of the things that drives us as a team. But all our journeys to photography have been different and let me tell you this, life experiences shape how you approach the art.

‘Art?,’ some of you might say. To me, photography is a true form of art, just like writing and literature. Photography involves all elements of fine art; creativity, imagination, vision and form. Try imagining it like this; the moment you come across a scene and imagine it captured in time, that moment, that very moment, you become an artist. You have seen the image before you captured it, picturing it in the most beautiful form; light coming at exactly the right angle, dust giving off tiny sparks in the air, and form, ah the form of perfectness. Don’t say I am getting carried away here, you would know this feeling if you have truly enjoyed holding a camera in your hand!

My journey to this art has been unique, to say the least. It had its ups and downs (at one point I completely gave up photography!), and involved a lot of hard work. I remember clicking my family camera since I was around five. All that changed when we did not have a camera for almost 10 years after our old one broke. Then around six years ago, we bought our first digital camera, a Sony Cybershot. At that time, my life started to revolve around that camera. I started borrowing loads of books on photography, learning and absorbing as much as I could. I am an avid reader, and used to love the pictures in NatGeo Magazine. Amazed by their craftiness and simplicity, I tried very hard to reproduce those kinds of images. Not so very deep into my newly developed interest, I tried a million times but failed. This was a very bad time for me, since my failure left me no choice but to abandon my interest.

Two years later, I came across one picture on the internet. I still remember it, the sheer beauty. This is how I described the picture in one of my essays I wrote later:

‘I take a deep breath. ‘My God, just look at this!’ I say to myself. My heart literally starts to beat faster as I see the picture; analyze it bit by bit, trying to swallow, but peristalsis fails me. I am amazed. I move closer to the monitor, and zoom in on the top corner. I can feel the glare of the CRT, but decide to ignore. I am doing something much more important here to be aware of the radiation from the monitor. The bulb on the mast of the sail lights bright against the dark sky. And not one, but an entire row of sail ships stand. Beautiful serenity. A wave of euphoria passes as I scroll towards the base of the picture. Those rocks stand there as if they have not moved in years, and care not about the weather that has weathered them. Then I zoom out for a better perspective. ‘My God,’ I utter again. The faintly blurred background and the slight movement of the clouds bring the photo to life. I am standing right there, am I not? No? I have been transformed, transmuted and metamorphosed. I am no longer outside the photo, but deep inside it; probably deeper than the photographer would have been at the scene. I am still holding my breath. Ah the peace! I should visit this place, I tell myself, as I
bring myself back to reality. I quickly go to the EXIF data of the picture. A 30 second exposure? No wonder the starred shape of the lights. An 11mm focal length? Of course, for the enormous depth of field.’

This picture was to change how I saw photography. I opened up my closet, took the camera out and started shooting again. I was pretty miserable, but now I knew how to improve. I started spending hours on flickr, simply staring at pictures, trying to digest what makes a picture click (ah the irony!). From that point on, I knew what to do.

I had to think out of the box.

Here are a few from my initial days with my Cybershot after I was ‘transformed’.

Al Jamea Tus Saifiyah, Karachi.

A roundabout near my home, Karachi.

Experimenting with monochrome.


I also experimented a lot with exposure stops (the only way to change shutter speed and aperture in my camera).


My trip to Dubai was one of the turning points. I decided to try to buy a DSLR.

You might wonder, why the ‘try’? Well, DSLRs are very expensive, and I am not exactly rich. My family later promised me a DSLR when I went to college. My skills were improving, and I was getting commended by friends. But I still felt limited by my camera. I was applying to colleges all over the globe, and decided to cool down a bit until my future was ‘secure’ as my teachers put it.

Then I came to Hong Kong. I had to leave my Cybershot behind, and my only optical tool was my phone camera. Having to roam around an entirely new city with my Nokia 5800XpressMusic (with a 3.2 megapixel sensor), I was a bit distraught. But by that time I had learnt that the camera does not matter, as long as you know how to think creatively. Some of the pictures I took here are below.

Somewhere on the Bonham Road

From the top of Lee Shau Kee Hall

Deep water bay. I named this picture 'Joy'.

Sunset from Lee Hysan

Another regular day at Lee Hysan

The main library 2nd floor Green Roof

Two months into my HKU days, I finally made up my mind to buy a DSLR. I bought a Nikon pro-entry level D5100. I had been researching almost a month on this baby, and I finally got my hands onto it. This beast, I must say, still surprises me. The capabilities and picture quality are amazing, as you will see. I won’t go into technical details, but this camera takes amazing low-noise pictures, night and day.

I had finally got the tool I was looking for, and I felt my life was complete :) .

My very first HDRs 1

My very first HDRs 2

Hong Kong Skyline during Earth Hour 2012

The Cenotaph, Central. This picture is taken at around 10pm.

A random picture in Admiralty. Cyanotype colors give pictures a very real feel.

So this is how I came to be as a photographer. My journey still goes on, as I step onto undiscovered lands. Wish me luck!


Until next time!