Landscape photographer Kelvin Yuen, whose work has begun to get noticed in international circles, re-visited his favorite shooting spot in HK recently. China Daily photographer Roy Liu and reporter Chitralekha Basu went with him.
at the High Island East Dam Reservoir, one of the locations on the list of Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Great Outdoors campaign.
When Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) decided to launch the Great Outdoors Hong Kong campaign in November, they picked Kelvin Yuen Sze-lok as their photo consultant. It was a somewhat odd choice, for Yuen was yet to turn 20 when he landed the job. An undergrad student of biology at Baptist University of Hong Kong, Yuen had not lived long enough to build a portfolio to rival that of the veterans of landscape photography in this city. However, there were at least two things to recommend him by — several thousand dedicated followers on social media and a top award won at the National Geographic International Photo Contest 2015, in the youth category.
HKTB authorities, one imagines, were taken by the shine of youth that sparkles through Yuen’s snapshots. The Great Outdoors drive is, essentially, about “showcasing the nine award-winning or internationally recognized hiking trails and cycling routes, including the MacLehose Trail, Wilson Trail and Dragon’s Back”, says an HKTB spokesperson. The campaign is about drawing attention to Hong Kong’s vast swathes of forested parklands and breath-taking vista of volcanic rock formations which tend to get overlooked in favor of the more tour- isty attractions downtown. Yuen seemed an ideal ambassador of the campaign. He had always loved getting away from home, exploring the brilliant natural terrains of Hong Kong that not many people know of and even fewer venture into — all on his own, camera in hand, since he was about 17.
“Yuen shared his tips on capturing Hong Kong’s natural beauty in the brand-new Great Outdoors Hong Kong guidebook, from which readers can learn useful skills for taking great pictures while they are enjoying the stunning scenery in the city’s great outdoors,” the HKTB spokesperson adds.
We followed Yuen to one of his favorite hiking/shooting spots — High Island Reservoir East Dam, surrounded on three sides by an intense beehive of hexagonal volcanic rocks that rose from the sea hundreds of millions years ago. On a clear day it’s possible to get a perfect mirror image of the rugged land and the clouds above reflected on the waters. Unfortunately, it was too windy on the day we visited, when it would be difficult to pull off a mirror image on the restless waters. “On such a day as this, I would focus more on the composition,” said Yuen. “I would put an object or human being in the picture and use the stunning scenery as the background.”
He dug out his phone and took a few quick snaps. Yuen, who picked up his technique primarily from the internet, says good landscape photography is not necessarily about using sophisticated, professional equipment. “It’s primarily about how you compose the picture. A nice composition and good weather can do the trick.”
Soon Yuen will be traveling to Germany to photograph a snow-capped Zugspitze, on a commission from the German Tourism Board. The city boy who loves traveling solo will probably camp at the base of Germany’s tallest peak and gaze at the stars, all by himself, as he waits for the perfect click.