Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights

June 18 and I found myself in Kowloon once more. I missed my family and wanted to go home straight from Indonesia but I could not get a same-day connection from Surabaya to Cebu. I had to stay overnight in Hong Kong.

Arriving at the hotel close to 4PM, I could have gone outside and shoot some street markets. However, the spirit was willing but the body was not. It was not until it was 5:30 PM that I decided to venture outside.

The lighting condition was not only dark but the weather was damp. Rain was beginning to fetter. I decided that my best opportunity left for any photoshoot would be the famous Symphony of Lights of Victoria Harbour. I have read in the highly informative website that Kowloon’s best vantage point would be the viewing deck at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. I have never been there so I ventured southward, following Nathan Road. Just like a dress rehearsal, I timed the distance that I need to walk (I am so OC, I know). From the hotel, I found out that the waterfront is about 30 minutes by brisk walking, passing by 2 MRT (subway) stations of Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui. Although I can competitively sprint-walk as fast as the next Hong Kong guy, I figured that later– the show would start only at 8PM – I could always save time by using the train.

There are other photographic features at Nathan Road and in the Waterfront but overcast light made the landscape and scenery dull and colorless. I walked back to the hotel with only a few photos and prayed that the light rain would ease down for the laser spectacle.

Unfortunately, a little after 7PM, the heavens opened up. Rain poured down heavily. I tried a couple of blocks and gave up. Frustrated, I backtracked. Across the hotel was a small hole-in-the-wall Chinese eatery and if I were to miss the light show, then I might as well eat local Cantonese food. Dinner was divine.

dinner at Mau Lam St
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/80s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 1600, +1/3EV

When I got out at 7:40, rain was intermittent between light and heavy so I risked it. I raced to the waterfront. I took the Jordan to Tsim Sha Tsui line and used the underground walkways to keep myself dry. I was praying that I would not get lost and luckily, I found myself in the promenade in front of the Hong Kong Theatre. Racing to the covered viewing deck, I found myself panting but exactly just in time for the 8PM show. Thevoice-over already started when I searched for a space I can squeeze in my tripod. I later found out that I got fine timing as I visited on a Wednesday when English would be used, just as in every Mon and Fri, but not on Tue-Thur-Sat (Mandarin) or Sun (Cantonese).

As explained by the taped narration boomed over the waterfront, the Symphony of Lights is a synchronised laser display by at least 44 buildings, both at the Hong Kong and Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour. Accompanied by symphonic music, the 14-minute show is listed by the Guinness World Records as the world's largest permanent light and sound show. Obviously, that night was still considered as “good weather” for the show was not canceled. Again, fortune was on my side as the disastrous Fengshen storm would only strike Southeast Asia several days later.

When the show began, rain already was light but the dark clouds were too thick to allow us the full spectacle of multi-colored laser and searchlights. Not much laser beams, yes, but the hovering cloud of wet haze and foreboding darkness provided the drama and difference that meant a lot photographically.

rained on
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 6.0s, f/5.6, 18mm, ISO 100
phototip: Use fill-in flash to get a more detailed exposure.

stormy symphony
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 5.0s, f/5.6, 18mm, ISO 100, +2/3EV

IFC2- Symphony of Lights
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 2.5s, f/5.6, 55mm, ISO 100

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