Victoria Harbour view from the Peak, Hong Kong – Long Exposure tutorial

In Hong Kong, I am always drawn to the view from up here on Victoria peak. Getting this shot is not as easy as it looks as Hong Kong can be quite smoggy depending on what time of year you visit. I took a taxi ride up there at around 11.30 p.m. Even at this time, the place was still surprisingly busy. Thankfully, visibility was good so I set up and this was the result. The shot is around 6 seconds exposure time. If you look closely in the harbour you can see the trails of boats captured by the delay.

Hong Kong Peak

The technique for doing this is quite straigthforward but I thought people might be interested in how to get this type of shot.

1) Use a tripod (or sturdy place)

If you don’t have a tripod, then try and use something to balance your camera on. A wall is usually as good a place as any.

2) Turn off your flash.

It was funny but the majority of people I saw up at the peak that night were shooting with their flashes on as if you could illuminate the whole of Kowloon with flash. Flash is useless in this situation so it is better off turned off.

3) Watch for glare.

Sometimes a street light just out of the shot that you haven’t noticed might introduce unnecessary glare into your shot. A simple way to avoid this is to shoot well away from overhead light sources. A lens hood is a good idea but if you don’t have one, you could use your hand.

4) Use the timer

If you set the camera up and then press the shutter, you will introduce camera shake. This is not what we want. Use the cameras timer and then stand back to avoid nudging the camera.

5) Set your camera to aperture mode (if you can) – This is the tricky bit

Most modern digital cameras come now with a plethora of presets most of which you do not need. It’s a bit like most washing machines. You don’t really need to bother with most programmes on your washing machine, they are simply included as part of the marketing. Aperture mode is usually indicated on the dial with the letter A. This mode will allow you the user to control the amount of size of the hole allowing light into your camera. The smaller the hole, the less light into the camera so the longer the exposure. In aperture mode, the camera will adjust the shutter speed as you control the size of the hole.

Aperture (or the size of the hole) is indicated by an F Stop number. i.e. F2 , F 2.8, F 4 , F 8 and so on. If you set your aperture to 2.8 say. This means the hole is wider. A wider hole means a faster exposure but it also means less depth of field. Depth of field relates to how much of the photograph we want to have in focus. To ensure most of the photograph is in focus, set your aperture to somewhere between F8 and F11.

The camera will now calculate the shutter speed.

6) Watch for wind/ movement.

Any slight movement to the camera will blur detail. Try to make sure the camera is perfectly still throughout the exposure. The following are images shot with this technique

Wan Chai District of Hong Kong

Ebod Temple

Drinks At Boat Quay


3 thoughts on “Victoria Harbour view from the Peak, Hong Kong – Long Exposure tutorial

  1. I have started using a remote for shots like this – the tiniest bit of camera movement can wreck the shot. These are gorgeous though, love the angles and the cloud patterns. Makes me miss NYC…! O ❤ xx

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