Victoria Peak – How and Why I Re-Shot It
4yrs ago back in 2012, I went on holiday with my family to Hong Kong and Thailand. Whilst in Hong Kong, I visited Victoria Peak twice during my 4day visit, one night I didn’t bother visiting it at all due to torrential rain!
Each night that I visited the peak, the deck was heaving with people and both nights were relatively cloudy/foggy.
In an effort to ‘travel light’, I also brought a small tripod which ended up not being tall enough to reach over the railing, nor support my Nikon D800 and Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 well. Therefore my previous shot was handheld with a 1sec exposure time resting the camera on the railing.
At this point in my life also, I was only roughly 1yr into my photography life, still learning my craft and polishing off the rough edges in my technique.
I edited my shot and uploaded to social media and had positive feedback from friends, and even though I had a fair amount of ‘Likes’ and positive comments, I was never quite satisfied with my shot.
8 months after uploading my original shot, I had learned more post-processing techniques and then pushed my image further which then got shared by the facebook page “Amazing Things In The World”.
With close to 10k likes, 1500 shares, and 170 comments, at this point I was honoured to have this image reach so many people.
Fast forward to January 2014, 2yrs after my original post, I had at this point worked almost a full year as a full-time professional photographer and had learned many tips & tricks and I decided to revisit my archived RAW files to see if I can improve on any of my previous key shots.
I found a wider shot of this view, and I do remember at the time of my original selection, I did not choose this RAW file due to the dark areas on the bottom corners. However I decided to select this image instead and try to bring up the darker areas with the power of Lightroom with the RAW files.
From day one, I was never 100% satisfied with the shot due to how the original frame was shot. Details of the shooting conditions can be found in my original article on SLR Lounge, but in short it was mainly due to not having a tripod for long exposure as well as the foggy weather.
Fast forward once again to April 19th 2016, I managed to do a quick stop off to Hong Kong whilst on my way to Vietnam, and popped back up to Victoria Peak to re-do my shot which I am much happier with!
F/4, ISO 100, 3 Bracketed Exposures +/-2 EV (Base Exposure at 10sec) using a FotoPro Tripod.
From the start, I was in a better position to obtain a cleaner shot as this I had a tripod with me so I could keep the ISO down at 100. After my original visit to this location, I did state I would use a Gorilla Pod, however I did purchase a Gorilla Pod and tested around London and did not feel it was the greatest option for me as it’s still pretty unstable. For casual shots I’d be ok with, but this Victoria Peak shot was very important to me so I ensured I had a full sized Tripod with me for this trip.
The weather was much clearer this time also!
Again, I had to fight to the corner and this time it was worse trying to get this corner as “selfies” are much more in fashion and it seemed like EVERYONE wanted to sit on the corner of the railing (which by the way seemed pretty dangerous) and hold a selfie-stick high up and grab a selfie with them and their friends high up at Victoria Peak.
Once I won my spot, and from what I saw, if you queued like a normal person, you won’t get anywhere as these tourist push in front with no regard! I lost my position a few times with crowds throwing themselves into the corner and even once I was in the corner, I had people dropping their bags which nudged my tripod legs during a long-exposure or pushing into the back of me. It was crazy!
With this in mind, I did want to shoot at f/8-f/11 for sharpness, and then use my remote shutter to do the bracketed long exposures. However this would not have been possible as at f/4, +2EV would have been 40sec, which unfortunately it did not reach as it hit the 30sec maximum. So if I had stopped down to f/8, I would have potentially needed shutter times in the minutes! Given how crazy it was in that corner, I didn’t want to chance it as if I got nudged after 1min, I would have had to do the shot again, waiting those few minutes for the exposure and buffer to clear. So I kept it at f/4 for max light gathering and sacrificed a little sharpness.
Shutter Times were determined by the camera as I did shoot these in Aperture Priority. I knew I was bracketing the shots so I trusted the camera to meter close enough, but failing that, I had the +/- 2EV.
This time around I am MUCH happier with my shot. Previously I had shot it at ISO800 and pushed the exposure up, raised shadows etc. So the photo was in fact pretty noisy. No-one had really noticed or commented on that over the years, however it was one of those things that really bothered me. The scene at the time was also pretty foggy so I definitely wanted to re-shoot. So I am glad I have now accomplished this shot at a low ISO and on a clear night.
However, over the years I had learned that Landscape and Cityscape photography is not just capturing the scene as you see it, it’s also about capturing the time of day that you see it in. As lovely as any view is, you generally can view it for hours if it’s at night or day, however the pivotal moments I am aiming to capture now is during sunset/rise and blue hour as these periods of the day are not guaranteed to look good or last very long.
So although I am genuinely much happier with my latest Victoria Peak shot, I am intending on re-visiting again to capture this same scene during sunset/rise and blue hour for better colours.
In closing, looking back over the years with this photo, it is clear to me that I will never really be fully satisfied with what I capture as photography is very much a learning process and scenes change all the time with varying shooting conditions. So although I am happy with them for a period of time, there’s always room for improvement.