Top 10 Hong Kong photography spots

Hong Kong photography spots

Hong Kong photography spots

Hong Kong is truly a photographers playground, from soaring skyscrapers to wild country parks, the Far East city has it all. Over the course of two years, we explored the city inside out with our cameras in hand; and after these two years we’ve come up with our top 10 Hong Kong photography spots including how to get there and when you’d want to go…

1. Shing Mun Reservoir (城門水塘) –  Location

How to get there: Minibus 82 from Tsuen Wan, alight at Shing Mun Reservoir

Best time to visit: A few days after plenty of rainfall to allow the reservoir to fill up

It’s not often you find Shing Mun Reservoir on a Hong Kong visitor’s must-see list – but we think it should be. Located in the New Territories, Shing Mun Reservoir is a far cry from the bustling city typically associated with Hong Kong. Instead, Shing Mun Reservoir offers an oasis of greenery home to numerous wildlife including lush Fung Shui woods and wild monkeys. For the best photography spots head down to the banks of the reservoir, but please note it will be very muddy in certain areas.


2. Ma Tso Lung (馬草壟) –  Location

How to get there: Minibus 51K from Sheung Shui, alight at the Police Post. It’s a 10-minute walk from there

Best time to visit: Arrive before the sun sets to watch Shenzhen’s lights turn on

Up until 2013, Ma Tso Lung was part of a restricted area used as a buffer zone to help prevent illegal immigrants crossing into Hong Kong from mainland China. Now that the entry restrictions have been lifted, visitors can head to the border and find one Hong Kong’s most beautiful photography spots. What we love most about Ma Tso Lung is the contrast between the wetlands and fishponds to the towering skyscrapers of Shenzhen. As it is fairly remote, do check conditions before you go, in particular, visibility as the area commonly suffers from haze coming in from Shenzhen. Also, please note the last minibus times or have a taxi number saved as it’ll be very difficult to get back otherwise.


3. Temple Street Night Market (廟街) –  Location

How to get there: Alight at Jordan MTR station

Best time to visit: After 4 pm when most of the market stalls are open

Temple Street Night Market is one of our favourite night markets in Hong Kong. Here you’ll find stalls packed with trinkets, fortune tellers and street karaoke all in one place, and the best way to capture the vibrant energy of Temple Street Night Market is to get a birds-eye view. Head over to Kansu Street to find the multi-story car park. Any floor will work here, but we liked the lower ones for the better angle. Please keep in mind that tripods are not allowed here and this is a car park so be aware of moving vehicles. Also, we’ve caught wind that the car park may be torn down later so go soon!


4. Choi Hung Estate (彩虹邨) –  Location

How to get there: Alight at Chung Hung MTR station

Best time to visit: Early in the morning and on a weekday

If you’re looking for a splash of colours in your photos then you’ll want to visit Choi Hung (Rainbow) Estate. As its name suggests, this photo spot is an estate that has been painted in the colours of the rainbow. To get the best view of all the colours you will need to visit the playground above the car park located in the middle of the entire estate. This has become an immensely popular spot thanks to Instagram but if you get there early in the morning on a weekday you’ll be able to get a few photos in without anyone else in the frame.


5. Tung Ping Chau (東平洲) –  Location

How to get there: Board a ferry from Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier

Best time to visit: Anytime

Looking for something most visitors don’t see when they come to Hong Kong? Jump on a boat and visit the city’s most remote location, Tung Ping Chau. The crescent-shaped island is home to many unique sedimentary rock formations which also makes the island a great spot for photographers. Reaching the island is a little difficult, you’ll need to take a ferry from Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier which takes around an hour and a half. Please check ferry times (to and fro) before going – if you miss your ferry back you’re going to have to camp overnight.


6. Lugard Road (盧吉道) –  Location

How to get there: Either take the tram or bus 15C to the Peak and it’s a 5-10 minute walk from there

Best time to visit: Before sunrise or after sunset

Hong Kong’s city skyline is arguably the most iconic photo you can take of the city but the standard view from the Avenue of Stars (Tsim Sha Tsui) or The Peak (Central) is getting old for many. Instead, take a walk down Lugard Road just 5-10 minutes away from the Peak to find an unobstructed close-up view of Victoria Harbour. This Hong Kong photography spot looks its best during sunrise but if you’re not an early morning person then come in the evening when the lights come on for an equally impressive scene.


7. Suicide Cliff (自殺崖) –  Location

How to get there: Minibus 1 and alight a Fei Ngo Shan

Best time to visit: Sunset

Suicide Cliff isn’t for the faint hearted so if you’re afraid of heights you might want to skip this one. This spot is located on Kowloon Peak just behind the weather station. Suicide Cliff got its nickname thanks to its extremely sharp and steep cliff edge. From the top, you will have an incredible view of Kowloon on one side and Sai Kung on the other. We recommend not taking the short route up as this is much steeper, instead walk 30 minutes along Fei Ngo Shan Road to get to the trailhead with stairs – it might take a little longer but it is so much easier and safer. Those going need to be aware of the potential danger and must understand the risks of walking near a cliff edge.


8. Ha Pak Nai (下白泥) –  Location

How to get there: Minibus 33 from Yuen Long

Best time to visit: Sunset

This is one of our favourite places to watch a Hong Kong sunset thanks to the unobstructed view from the beach. Although not widely known to tourists, Ha Pak Nai is popular among locals. On our visit, we also found plenty of fiddler crabs poking their heads out of the sand. The only public transport which serves this location is minibus 33 from Yuen Long. Foodie tip: check out Kei Kee Dessert’s famous “B Jai Leung Fun (B仔涼粉)” – you can thank us later.


9. Sai Wan Swimming Shed (西環泳棚) –  Location

How to get there: Alight at Kennedy Town MTR station and walk 20 minutes

Best time to visit: Evening

The Sai Wan Swimming Shed is the only one of its kind still open to the public in Hong Kong, but more recently it has become a popular spot for photos. Due to the location it faces, Sai Wan Swimming Shed is a great spot for sunset – the only problem is that everyone else in Hong Kong knows this too. On a weekend you can expect long queues lining up to walk out onto the wooden pier. We recommend skipping sunset altogether and instead wait until later in the evening when the crowds disperse. You can reach the spot by alighting at Kennedy Town MTR station and walking around 20 minutes down the road.


10. Sunset Peak (大東山) –  Location

How to get there: Bus 3M, 11 or 23 and alight at Pak Kung Au

Best time to visit: Sunset in autumn

Rounding off our list of top Hong Kong photography spots is the city’s third tallest peak – Sunset Peak. To reach this spot you will need to embark on a two-hour hike, but trust us the views are worth it. From the name alone you would have probably already guessed that the best time to visit is at sunset, we recommend bringing along some camping gear so you can watch the sun go down without having to worry about another 2 hours of hiking in the dark.  If you happen to go during autumn you will also be able to marvel at thousands and thousands of silver grass plants spread all along the hillsides. To start the hike take bus 3M, 11 or 23 from Tung Chung and alight at Pak Kung Au.


And there you go, these are our top 10 Hong Kong photography spots. Let us know if you guys head out to any of these places and we’d love to see what you create!

If you’re looking to up your travel photo game, read 9 tips to improve your travel photos.

9 tips to improve your travel photos

improve your travel photos

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or just picking up the camera for the first time, you might find some of these tips useful in helping you improve your travel photos.

improve your travel photos

We’ve been shooting travel photos for the past 3 years, originally starting off as a hobby before it transformed into a way for us to make a living. As we’re self-taught photographers we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, but it’s from these mistakes that we’ve been able to improve our craft. Here are the 9 most important points we’ve learnt which have helped us improve our travel photos and we hope they’ll help you too.

1. Wake up early…very early

Unless you’re looking to take photos of crowded streets and hoards of tourists, waking up early is the very best tip we could possibly give you. How early is early? Well, this depends on where you’re going, but generally the earlier the better. If you’re visiting the location for the first time, you can do a Google search of the place and along the right side it will usually show the popular times (based on the number of visitors) throughout the week – obviously, you are going to want to avoid periods of high traffic. We typically arrive on location at least an hour before sunrise as this gives us plenty of time to work out where we want to shoot, decide on a composition and set up before other people start to show up.

2. Light is everything

Did you know the word photography derives from the Greek words for “drawing with light”? This indicates just how important light is and why you need to understand light when creating a photo. When shooting do you consider whether you’re working with soft light or hard light? Backlit or frontlit? Mid-day or sunset? Golden hour or blue hour? These are all factors which can hugely affect the final outcome of your travel photos. Unlike photographers who shoot in studios, travel photographers often have to work with what they’re given and it’ll be your understanding of working with the given light which will help you make the most of any situation.

Here are two examples of how understanding light helped us create better photos:

We arrive on location early in the morning but unfortunately it’s cloudy. In light terms, what this means is that we have weak diffused light spread evenly across the scene – in more simpler terms it means flat, desaturated and very little contrast. Things sound bad but you could use this creatively. We look for bold colours which typically stand out more now that the scene has been desaturated, and if you can’t find colours just wear a bold coloured coat. Also, due to the low contrast, you’ll find small details will become much more apparent in your photo, use this wisely as it can create complex images with plenty of visual interests for people looking at your photo.

 

This time we’re faced with strong sunlight in the middle of the day. Strong light casting directly onto your scene will be very harsh with a lot of strong shadows and highlights – great right? Not always, shooting people in harsh midday light can be highly unflattering as it produces big dark circles around the eyes while emphasizing wrinkles. A quick solution is to just turn the person around and shoot them from behind, pretty much all your problems will be solved.

Itachi Seaside Park

3. Plan ahead

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to find a place to shoot while you’re experiencing the most incredible sunset or sunrise. This doesn’t mean you have to plan your day to the tee (although we often find ourselves doing just that) but have an idea of where you want to shoot and at what time of day. Once you’ve made this decision, other activities such as where to eat and what else to do usually fall nicely into place.

4. Patience is key

A wise uncle once told me that there is one trait inherent to all who choose to take up photography…patience. Often when looking at photos shot by others, we view it as if they just stumbled onto the scene, pressed the shutter before continuing on their way. This probably happens 0.000001% of the time. Travel photographers devoted to capturing the best or even just better photos will often wait minutes, hours, days, weeks and even sometimes years before they capture the one they’re happy with. A question we often get is how we are able to capture photos without anyone else in them, there are a number of techniques you can use to achieve this but the one we fall back on time and time again is to just be patient. Keep waiting until there is no one else in the frame. It might happen for just a split second and you just have to be ready for that moment.

5. Try another angle

Probably the quickest and easiest way to improve your travel photos is to try a different angle. Try getting low to the ground or raise your camera up above your head for different perspectives – you’ll be surprised how vastly different your images will turn out. If you’re not sure which angle is best, then try them all – you can always just pick one when you’re back at home.

Singapore

6. Learn the rules and then break them

If you’re just getting started with photography then you’ll want to familiarise yourself with photography compositional rules like the rule of thirds, leading lines, framing and fill the frame – these are all great techniques which will help you get started in understanding what is visually appealing.

Those that already understand the rules and already apply the techniques, we want you to break them but don’t forget them. Sounds counterproductive, but by intentionally breaking the rules you will create something different and unique to the majority of photographers. If you’re not enjoying the result of breaking the rules then go back to them but allow yourself creative freedom to produce the images you imagine even if it goes against the grain.

7. Post-processing

This is such a touchy subject for many photographers but we honestly don’t understand why. Photography is a form of art and post-processing is just a way of expressing an image the way you want it to be. Those who oppose post processing often say that it skews reality. This is true if you push it too far but often post-processing is required to amend a photo back to how you really saw and experienced personally. Camera technology just isn’t there yet when it comes to replicating the dynamic range, sharpness and colours of our own eyes. Here’s something to ponder, if you’re taking photos in JPEG, you are essentially post-processing your images as your camera automatically applies sharpening, saturation and other fine adjustments before you view the image. So why not take control of the post-processing yourself and adjust it exactly to your own liking?

Sapporo

8. Shoot, learn, shoot, learn, shoot, learn, shoot, learn…

We were recently asked by a close friend what we would have done differently if we started our photography journey again. Our answer, nothing. This is not to say we did things perfectly, but each mistake and terrible photo was a learning experience which has crafted our photography skills and style.

If you’re finding your photos have made little improvement over time – don’t be disheartened. It takes a lot of time. We’ve only started being happy with our own work and that’s after three years of continuously shooting – and we still think we have a long way to go.

Also, it’s common for people to compare the thousands of photos they’ve taken (good and bad, but typically the bad) to someone else’s Instagram feed – please don’t. What you need to understand is that most people only post their very best work, you don’t see the thousands of photos they’ve taken to achieve that one shot.

9. Enjoy it!

We left this last because it was the most important step for us in becoming better travel photographers. Despite how much we sucked at the start (scroll to the bottom of our Instagram feed and you’ll see), we still loved the process of going out, exploring and taking photos. It didn’t matter how many likes we got on Instagram, nor did it matter whether it was just our mums following our journey – it was so much fun just doing it. This was the fuel to our progress.

We hope these 9 tips will be useful for your next trip. Make sure to follow us on Instagram as we continue to provide more tips on there!

Living abroad: the good and the bad

couple walking in a forest with a lake

Not sure whether you’re ready to live abroad? This post may help you come to a decision. After nearly three years living abroad, we explain the good and the bad about life overseas.

Before we jump into this post I want to give you guys a little back story to provide some context on why our thoughts on living abroad might matter to you. If you know our story already you can skip ahead a couple of paragraphs.

The backstory

Back in 2015, both Sarah and I had been living in London for around 3 years. At the time we worked full-time jobs which, frankly, neither of us particularly enjoyed (that is putting it lightly). We eventually decided we were letting our dreams slip away and so refocused our attention on the thing we loved the most, travel.

But having not saved up money prior, we were stumped as to how we were going to make it happen. Then came our idea of simply relocating abroad as this meant we could still find a job if we needed the income but at the same time could still enjoy exploring a different place. We eventually decided on living in Hong Kong where we stayed from late 2015 to 2018 and are now currently based in Japan. You can find a more thorough background story over on our about us page.

With that out of the way, let’s get started on the good and the bad about living abroad. Note that these points are based on our own personal experiences and thoughts and your experience and someone else’s may differ.

Living abroad: the good

The ability to travel deeper

When I say travel deeper, I’m referring to exploring and experiencing a destination more than just ticking off the tourist and Instagram spots. It’s about understanding what the local culture is, finding the off-beaten-path and creating impactful memories you can treasure.

Living abroad gives you the opportunity to travel deeper because you are typically spending an extended amount of time in the location. Everyone tends to start with the most touristy activities e.g. visiting the landmarks, going to the museum, eating the famous food etc., but as time goes on, you’ll start to scratch deeper and deeper, and begin to find more meaningful experiences. This is not to say taking that selfie at an iconic landmark won’t give you a similar satisfaction, but it likely won’t be the thing you remember when it comes to telling stories of your travels many years later down the line.

man hiking in huangshan with the sunrising behind
Challenge yourself

I know, it’s so cliche. But there’s a reason why everyone that lives abroad or goes travelling says challenging yourself is one of the biggest reasons to do it; because it’s absolutely true. Throwing yourself into any new environment forces you to embrace uncertainty – why the hell would you want that? Well, it’s because you can grow as a person. A challenge is what facilitates growth as it allows someone to test where they’re currently at and if they’re not good enough, well that’s a clear indication to be better.

My own example was challenging myself to grow my confidence. I’m very much an introvert and grew up most of my life with a shy personality afraid of what others thought of me. Anyone who has experienced Hong Kong would know that being shy and quiet are two personality traits which don’t get you very far. The new environment challenged me to be confident in my choices and not to be afraid to take action because if I don’t do it, someone else will.

You don’t have to be rich

The two points above aren’t strictly related to living abroad. In fact, long-term travelling will also give you the same opportunities. But with long-term travelling you tend to need a substantial amount of money to do it. Now, we know not all travel has to be expensive (we’re advocates of budget travelling ourselves), but you still need money saved up if you’re going to live with no income and are going to spend on things such as accommodation, transport and food. By living abroad, meaning based in a new place, it gives you an option to go out and look for a job if you need it. This practically means you don’t need any money saved up to make the leap, you just need to find a job before you set off.

We personally brought £1,000 each when we moved to Hong Kong as we thought it would be easier to find a job once we arrived (which was true), the money served as a safety net in case it took longer for us to find a job. How much you need depends on a number of factors such as what country you’re going to, what your living circumstances will be, how employable you are and your personal spending habits.

It goes without saying that we’re excluding those whose work is location independent and can work anywhere as long as they have an internet connection.

Become part of the community

This has been hands down the greatest part about living abroad. We may be a little biased as one of the reasons we chose to live in Hong Kong was because we wanted to discover our family roots and experience the community they grew up in. Having said this, we firmly believe being part of a local community with a completely different culture to your own can bring so much value and joy. Living abroad has given us the opportunity to make many new friends from different walks of life – more so than we would have done staying in the UK. As a result, we have become more empathetic and understanding of differences between cultures – something we believe will help tackle prejudice and racism across the world.

Living abroad: the bad

red sail junk boat in Hong Kong
Saying goodbye

Living abroad has meant we have had to leave behind many of our loved ones and miss many important events back in the UK – weddings and births of new family members are the first which come to mind. Obviously, you can fly back for these special occasions but how many can you go to, do you go to one and not the other? And does your budget even permit you flying back and forth so much? These are questions you will need to answer yourself.

What has made things easier for us is that we now live in an era where it’s possible to connect to the internet and see your loved ones through the phone. Here’s a fun fact, the last two weddings I attended were both over a video Skype call. Yes, it’s not quite the same as being in the same room but it’s much better than no connection.

Also, having walked a similar path when he immigrated to the UK, I looked towards my dad for guidance and learnt a very valuable lesson. What I saw was that although he hardly had any face to face time with his own parents (two weeks altogether in three years), he made each minute of those two weeks count. He was present and connected. His two weeks were more valuable than some people’s relationship with their parents even though they live together. It’s not about the quantity, it’s the quality of time you spend together.

Language barrier

If you’ve travelled to a country which doesn’t speak your native language, it’s likely you’ve experienced difficulties communicating due to a language barrier, well think about what that would be like if you had to go through it every day of your life.

There’s no denying that native English speakers (like me) tend to take the skill of language for granted. Many countries which don’t have English as an official language still have residents who can speak English fluently but if you venture out of the capital or tourist destinations then you’re going to be in for a shock.

There’s really no two ways about it, you’re going to have to learn the language. Sure, you can choose a country where English is widely spoken such as Hong Kong or Singapore, but you’re never really going to be able to become part of the community – this can feel alienating at times.

Life will be harder

A very general statement but for most this will be true, why? Because you’re going to be in a new environment with new challenges and unlikely to have any friends or family to rely on. This doesn’t mean your life won’t get easier, but you have to be willing to tough it out for a while before you can reap the benefits, this is true with anything in life.

As I said earlier, new challenges can be great, the problem only arises when we don’t rise up to the challenge. Anyone looking for a safe and easy path is looking in the wrong place.

 

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and if you want to see more of our photography work go check out our Instagram