This assignment was started without a camera in hand. Before I began shooting it was important for me to develop a list of attributes I wanted to embody in my collection of images. For days in October I thought hard about what Central, Hong Kong Island said to me. Diversity was definitely on the top of the list, then there was motion, and excess. Any additional characteristics were subtitles to these major concepts.
Once I came up with the list of essential concepts I needed to decide on my approach. I knew i wanted to get mainly outdoor shots of the crowds crossing at the intersection of Peddar street and Queen’s Road, day and night shots of the skyscrapers, shots at the markets and of the constant construction. During much of October, November and early December I carried my camera with me whenever I could. Sometimes I brought equipment with me, namely a bag of lenses (including 12-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200) and a portable tripod but quite often I brought just my camera loaded with either a 50mm 1.4 lens or a 12-24mm wide angle. The minimal equipment was primarily for ease of handling so that I would feel comfortable taking it with me to wherever I went . Sometimes I had specific images in mind, sometimes they just happened.
The shots of the crowd crossing the streets were very deliberate – I planned the time, the location, the equipment and the settings. I had an idea of the what I wanted and I think I achieved it to about 85-90%. The city scapes were done from our apartment rooftop. I couldn’t plan the blue sky – I just reacted to it. I used a heavy a tripod, wide angle lens and smallest aperture available.
Whenever I had my camera with me my sense of observation seemed much more acute. All of my photo shoots took place while I was walking and with the exception of the shot of the Harvey Nichol’s window, all were taken outdoors. Weather was a significant factor. More often than not Hong Kong is overcast and polluted. On the odd day that we are blessed with a clear beautiful blue sky one has to respond and take advantage of the opportunity.
All of my images were shot in raw, downloaded to Aperture and reviewed as soon as possible. Each image was initially analyzed with respect to composition, exposure, white balance, sharpness, and contrast and during this process a short list of favourites was developed. The culling process continued until I had just very few shots left. At this point I took the selected few and played a little with Photoshop and with Nik Efex4. I actually felt that I had a quite a large pool of images to choose from but i was very conscious of wanting the the group of images to flow, to say something, to describe Central so I needed to be very selective.
I chose to present my collection on a blog. I am quite new to this medium but I am enjoying developing my skills. I find it quite versatile and I think it allows for a somewhat creative flow of images in a structured format.
So was I successful in achieving my goals? Does this collection portray my neighbourhood, namely Central, Hong Kong Island, accurately or does it at least reflect my personal perception of it? I would say Yes to a certain extent but not completely. I don’t think it is a finished project. Just as Hong Kong is continually regenerating itself so my collection could continue to grow and evolve on a ongoing basis. I think one element of this neighbourhood that I missed out on was the multicultural aspect of the population. Asians, Westerners, white, black, brown, all live and work together in this neighbourhood and I don’t think any of my images really reflected that. I know that I am somewhat intimidated to take candid photos of strangers. This is definitely something I need to work on. Also I would like to repeat the shot of the crowd crossing the intersection at lunch. Even though I like many of the images I got, next time I would try using a taller tripod; I would stand on a ladder and go out on a more overcast day. I would also like to take more still life shots at the markets and in doing so be more creative with them.
I enjoyed doing this assignment especially because I love living in Hong Kong. I hope my collection of images reflects that.