HK Harbor From Fei Ngo Shan

I go up to Fei Ngo Shan to shoot when I can for several reasons.  It’s got a great view of HK Harbor and the HK island skyline.  Most tourists go up to Victoria Peak, Fei Ngo Shan is more of a locals’ scene.  Bonus #1 is that one can drive almost to the top.  Bonus #2 is that it’s less than 15 minutes from my home to get to Fei Ngo Shan Road, the road that leads up to the top.  Once one gets past the row of billionaires’ homes (I recall reading awhile back that actress Brigitte Lin had bought a massive home there for HK$300 million, roughly US$39 million) the road narrows into a twisty single lane.  Some cars seem to be in a rush to get up there and that might be because this is one of several famous spots in HK for parking and getting it on in your car.  The only downside is that we have fewer and fewer super clear nights every year.  So there aren’t as many opportunities to shoot up there as I would like.  It was almost 3 weeks from the time I got my D800 till the first decently clear night.

It was a week night and my eyes were weak, tired from work.  Even using magnified LiveView with a Hoodman Loupe, I was having trouble getting sharp focus.  I can’t really say if it was due to the fact that it was a bit windy at times and I was shooting pretty long exposures or if it was just that I wasn’t able to quite lock things in focus-wise.  This shot was the sharpest shot of the night.

Nikon D800, Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 lens at F8, ISO 100, 6 seconds.

Many of my shots look quite good when you view the photo on screen but if you zoom in to actual pixels, they’re not quite tack sharp.

This shot, for example, is pretty darned close, but the part that’s in really sharp focus is the lower left corner.

Or am I just being too critical?

This shot, a moment later, quite okay I think.

Bringing stuff down to black & white yields a pretty decent result, too.

And I like this one, as long as I don’t zoom in on it.

I’d missed the chance to shoot the “super moon” on May 5th because it was 100% cloud cover where I live.  So three days later, not so super, not so full, darting in and out of the clouds, but I managed a couple of nicely detailed moon shots.

Oddly enough, when I later switched to my 70-300mm lens, focus was consistently sharper.  I didn’t shoot as many pictures with this lens because it was getting late. (Lights on the major buildings start shutting off around 11 PM.)

A couple of observations:

Have you ever tried bracketing focus?  Cameras have settings for bracketing different settings – but not focus.  But I suppose I could do that manually.  Take three shots with the focus just slightly changed from shot to shot; rather than shooting just one and hoping that when I get back home it will look okay.  Another option might be tethering, though I think that sort of set-up might prove cumbersome on a dark mountain top at night, surrounded by people and cars coming and going.

I also think I would get some benefit from HDR here – the mega-huge signs tend to burn out and some HDR magic would tone those down and make them more legible.

And … I didn’t bring my 14-24mm lens with me and I should have.

One last photo for now, a close-up shot of the Mega-Box shopping mall in Kowloon Bay.

I suppose the main thing is that I have so much fun doing this and it’s just a short drive so I’ll presumably have lots of opportunities to go back and try different things and hopefully get better results with each successive visit.



  1. Buck May 12, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    They seem sharp enough to these old eyes. For the cost of the electrons, I’d definitely try rocking the focus a bit between shots. Although with landscapes I’m not sure it will make a lot of difference. Could there be fog/smog/mist fooling the sense of focus?

    • spike May 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

      It’s sharp enough unless you really zoom in on the photo, which is something I do when I’m processing my files. It’s not fog or clouds because I was using manual focus, not auto. It just seems that the 36 MP sensor is extremely unforgiving.

  2. davethevet May 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Thats a lot of atmosphere, heat haze, pollution to get through, I would be really impressed if it was tack sharp.
    I got the omd a few weeks ago, shot it for a week in Phnom Penh and was really impressed!

  3. davethevet May 13, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    I really dont think youre doing anything wrong or that its a sensor problem. I suspect that 36mpix is giving so much resolution that when you go 100%( I do too), you will see atmospheric distortion. Ive got a telescope and go up to 70x mag. for looking at the moon or planets and they wobble all over the place. I would qualify good viewing, as having a wobble free,still atmosphere, for 2 or 3 in every 5 seconds. I know youre lens isnt giving you 70x magnification but when you have 36 mpixels and look at 100% Im sure youre getting enough magnification to see the same atmospheric wobble.

    • spike May 13, 2012 at 12:15 am #

      Very charitable of you to say that and I’d love to believe you but I still believe I can do better. I’ve read a bit about that om-d, seems really sweet.

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