Fei Ngo Shan July 4th

No correlation between the 4th of July in the US and 4th of July here.  It’s just the day that I was able to be on top of Fei Ngo Shan (aka Kowloon Peak) to photograph Hong Kong’s nightly Festival of Lights.

The problem was that within minutes of hitting my usual spot, the clouds started rolling in and visibility dropped to the point where you couldn’t even see HK island.  I stood there hoping that the cloud cover might blow away while everyone around me was getting into their car and leaving.  Soon we were the only ones remaining there!  Then, just as I started packing up my gear to leave, I got a tweet from a couple of friends who’d been there earlier telling me that lower down, the view was much clearer.  I tweeted back that we were on our way and they waited for us, even holding a parking spot for us!

They were right – the view was much clearer.  Here’s a couple of shots taken just before 8 PM.

And then at 8 PM the show, such as it is, started.

I’ve never actually stood there to watch this.  It’s always been something I’ve noticed in the background if I’m in the area.  I didn’t know how many of the HK buildings were a part of this show. And honestly, I had no idea how to shoot an outdoor laser light show.

So first I framed the shot to include everything from Causeway Bay to Central.  And I went with a setting of low ISO/long exposures thinking to minimize noise.  ISO 200, 1 second exposures, mostly at F5.6.  Fail.  Most of the laser bursts were so brief that many of my photos didn’t contain any laser beams at all.  Also anything worthwhile that I could see seemed to be concentrated in Central.  So I zoomed in, bumped up the ISO to 6400, quicker exposures.

However, it became a case of Is That All There Is?  All I ever saw from up there were two buildings with green lasers and some white beacons on top of another building or two.  After I went through all of my shots, all of the good ones looked essentially the same.  So finally I just narrowed things down to a single picture.  I chose the shot below because it’s one of the few I got where the Bank of China building is fully illuminated.

And then it was over.  Oh well.

I wasn’t quite ready to go home yet so I thought I might play around a bit.  I went back to ISO 200 – which at this point required a 4 second exposure.  And then tried various methods of zooming while taking the photo.  I was using my 70-200mm lens and I think the results were somewhat better when I didn’t zoom through the entire range but limited myself to roughly 120-200mm.  I think for a first attempt it’s relatively okay.  I’ll have to play around with this technique a bit more.  Here are two example shots.

 

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