How an amateur Hong Kong photographer wowed editors at National Geographic

Graphic designer Edward Tin, 56, says having mountains close to urban areas is a boon for taking pictures of the city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 10:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 9:21pm

On a chilly Valentine's Day morning last year, graphic designer Edward Tin Chun-fook studied the weather forecast in great detail before lugging his camera up the 335m Tsing Yi Peak in pursuit of sea fog.

The 56-year-old part-time photographer was not disappointed. The Stonecutters Bridge stretched out before his eyes, hugged by a string of barges anchored in the early spring mist.

Tin swiftly captured the moment in a picture he named The Fog and Mist in Hong Kong, which was later picked as one of the editors’ favourite submissions in National Geographic’s Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017. The contest is open until June 30.

“Hong Kong has a lot of mountains that are close to urban landscapes, and this makes it possible to create a strong contrast,” Tin said. “In other countries, mountains are far from urban areas, but in Hong Kong, even country parks are quite near tall buildings.”

This familiarity with high places extends to one of Tin’s favourite subjects: the lighted windows of busy buildings at the “magic hour” between day and night.

“I used to shoot sunrises near my home in Tuen Mun. When I showed them to my neighbours, they were surprised by how beautiful our neighbourhood is,” he said.

In addition to location, weather also plays a big role in getting a good picture.

“You need to follow weather information from the Hong Kong Observatory, such as humidity. If the humidity is 100 per cent, then you know there could be fog. But if the humidity is low or there is strong wind, there won’t be fog,” he said.

At least 14 of Tin’s photos have won favour from National Geographic website editors. Most of the images feature the urban landscape or countryside of Hong Kong.

“Using your phone or automatic camera is fine, but I prefer manual settings when I take photos, especially when you want to take photos of high contrast, with dark and bright [areas] appearing in the same picture,” he said.

Tin began taking photos in earnest when he went to Taiwan in 2012, and a friend lent him a professional camera. He has since fallen in love with the hobby, and has a pair of Nikon cameras, a D800E and a D810.

A lover of landscape photography, Tin stressed that safety was paramount whenever and wherever people go out shooting.

“It is important to wear the right gear, such as proper mountain shoes. Going up the hills wearing ordinary sneakers just won’t do, it is dangerous,” he said.