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WORLD TOUR #2 : HONG KONG

Writing this at 30000ft on our Air Asia flight towards Bangkok, I’ll attempt to summarise an incredible last few days in Hong Kong. After a very interesting week in China previously, we were all intrigued as to how much/if Hong Kong would feel more Westernised, and how the landscape would differ. As we drove into the city we marvelled at 40 or 50 story tower blocks packed tight together, in every direction we could see – backed by forest-covered mountains. Despite the insane population density, it felt strangely calm – and instantly impressive.

The last few nights were spent in smoke-tinged super budget hotels in China. As we pulled up to our hotel we knew we were in for a change, and as the doors opened to the reception on the 35th floor, we strides out onto the rooftop sun terrace with pool, backed by the almost computer-generated looking Hong Kong skyscraper background. As the camera rolled, I really had to try to had to not exclaim in amazement. What an amazing introduction to a place we’d all leave with very fond feelings for.

7D w/ 11-16mm f2.8 + intervalometer

I rolled the camera almost non-stop switching between the 7mm & 11-16mm, attempting to try and even do justice to our surroundings. To top it all off (quite literally) we headed to the highest bar in the world, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel – 118 stories up, to celebrate Sam’s birthday that evening.

Shooting for this kind of event I’ll usually minimise accessories on the FS700, and carry only 2 or 3 lenses. I actually found it very difficult to capture the true scale of our height and the detail below. Shooting at higher ISOs with the intricate detail so far below, it felt like even my eyes couldn’t appreciate the true magnitude of it all.

The following morning to the day off before the show, the promoters took us to a beach – after instructing them we’d rather a quieter, more secluded location the day before, none of us knew really what to expect, as Hong Kong so far had focused so much on it’s concrete metropolis.

We caught a small ramshackle water taxi to what revealed to be an amazing hidden beach, a world away from the skyscrapers surrounding us less than an hour before.

For the day I was shooting on the FS700 + glide cam. With all my lenses and GoPro in my rucksack. It’s about as much gear as I can carry comfortably, as per the Great Wall.


FS700 w/ 11-16mm f2.8 + Glidecam XR-4000

Beaches are quite possibly the worst environments for cameras and lenses, and sand is absolutely my worst enemy. I had to be very very careful to keep all gear away from it. The solar shield on the rucksack came in very handy to shield the FS700 body when it was not in use. I used the GoPro and also my iPhone 4S w/ lifeproof case to capture in & underwater shots. I’m well aware these will not cut easily with the FS700 footage, but there is a point to meet where cinematic qualities will be sacrificed to properly document events.


FS700 w/ 135mm f2.8


FS700 w/ 7mm fisheye

As if that wasn’t enough, the following evening we headed up to the Peak, on top of the tallest mountain surrounding Hong Kong, to capture the sunset. It was great to see it from a similar perspective the bar the night before, albeit in the daylight. What an amazing city.

As you’ll spot in the previous photos, the FS700 has been without it’s hand grip much of the time. When we arrived in Hong Kong 2 days earlier, during the hectic departing of the train (travelling by rail is not easy when we have more cases than we can carry collectively) the input jack which communicates the grip controls (record, expand focus, zoom rocker etc.) to the camera body took a knock and bent the mini jack. It’s precariously placed, and the break is very annoying. With the days being so packed with filming activities, it was proving difficult to find time to enquire for a repair/replacement.

After Sony estimated a 6 week lead time for the cable from Japan, and no replacement parts in HK, I received a very helpful tweet which directed me to a local repair centre. Despite being in the most unlikely of ‘commercial centre’ blocks (think the XXXXXXX scene in the Matrix) a very helpful guy named Raymond, surrounded by spare parts and soldering irons – replaced the bent jack, within a couple of hours for a very reasonable 150 HKD (around £12!). He also supplied an extra Sony battery and charger I was after, from his treasure-trove of old & new camera parts. Lifesaver.

The shows the week previous in China had been very different to what we were used to in the UK and Europe. Hong Kong felt like a much more familiar affair though, with a European-feeling venue, despite it’s 2nd floor location in a (non-signposted) industrial buildings. The crowd was absolutely wild, and I got some really killer footage.

HK really delivered all round. Despite mine and the rest of the crews affection for the city, I’m very excited to be landing in Thailand, to begin 5 back-to-back flight & show days across South East Asia, before 3 days off in Bali.

I couldn’t be happier with my footage, the performance of my gear and our experiences so far – and even though only getting 2hrs sleeps last night due to minding time-lapse cameras, and being very sunburnt, the last 10 days have been incredibly fulfilling.

BTS photos: Ali Dean – check out his updates on architectsofficial.tumblr.com

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