Our second day in Hong Kong had us up pretty early and taking the underground to Tung Chung on the island of Lantau. We then took a ride on the Ngong Ping cable car to get to the “Big Buddha” which is formally known as the Tian Tan Buddha. The sun was harsh so pictures weren’t great but seeing the Big Buddha from a distance on the cable car did given an appreciation of the statue’s scale.
After several laps around the Big Buddha we took a bus to Mui Wo where we caught a ferry back to HK. From there we walked along some of the market streets, famous for their long escalators, and had an enjoyable afternoon strolling through the city taking pictures.
Eventually we found our way back home and had our Christmas dinner at Mortons, chosen for the great view of Victoria Harbor. Normally when in a place like that I’m pretty hesitant to use my DSLR. So instead I put my S100 through a workout and I’m always pleased with the results. I have a small Joby Gorillapd that I use when I need a bit of stability and it’s far less obvious or intrusive to the other diners. That being said, it definitely classifies both my wife and I as “strange” while we’re at a restaurant but hey, that I can handle…
For the grand finale of the day we went down to the waterfront to take pictures of the famous Hong Kong Victoria Harbor and skyline. A few things to think about.
- It’s crowded. So if you want to get a good spot make sure you’re their in good time. Check the sunset times and try to get there 20 minutes earlier. That being said the waterfront is massive; there’s no doubt you’ll get a spot, it just depends on how picky you are with respect to location.
- Stick to the right. When I first checked out the place I thought Avenue of the Stars would be the better place for pics, but actually if you’re closer to the Art Museum and cultural centre (even towards the ferry terminals) you’ll be in a better position to get the most from your pic.
- It’s windy. As I said in my earlier post if you’re taking night pics I’m hoping you have a tripod. If possible you may want to weigh it down a bit by hanging your camera bag on a hook to get that little bit of extra stability.
- There’s two levels; I chose the top viewing platform (probably 5 meters up some steps) and am pleased with the results but it may be that you could take more interesting pics from directly on the waters edge.
I posted this very brief (and pretty bad) video of what the area looks like so you know what to expect if you’re bringing your camera and tripod.
Now for the pic! I took a series of vertical shots with my 17-40. Why vertical? Because often times when I put together my panoramas they get skewed and begin to get a bit of a smiley face look; taking vertical photos and then stacking them together ensures that you’ll get the tops and bottoms correct, even if there is a bit of distortion along the way. The only major trick to taking the photos is to ensure you have a significant degree of overlap to give the software something to work with when you get home. I think 25% is enough, some books will say upwards of 33%. I took a total of 7 vertical shots on manual mode, each one set at 10 seconds, ISO 100 @ f7.1.
When I got home I put the photos into Lightroom and exported the RAW files as jpg. I then used a new program that I’ve found on the web for free called Hugin. It’s fantastic and it’s a free download! I know that some people swear by AutoPano Giga but I think the price is just too much for me. I don’t shoot that many panoramas and I thought the results from Hugin were just fine. In the past I used Photoshop to do my panoramas but lately I’ve not been pleased with the results. After using dedicated programs I find that Photoshop tends to distort the edges to a high degree.
You can see the end result below; if you click here you’ll get a larger version. This was certainly taken using a tripod but I currently don’t use any type of panorama head. Basically these heads serve to ensure the pupil of the camera is maintained while the shots are taken, thereby reducing parallax and creating a cleaner picture. I have never needed to use one and get a fair amount of success in just taking the pictures (handheld is fine in daylight).
You can check out the rest of my Hong Kong set here on Flickr. In my next post I’d like to write a bit about some of the street photography I took while in the city.