Editor's note: Welcome to Yahoo! Travel Photo of the Week, chosen from the Flickr group created by our readers - you! Each week a professional photographer will select a photo that stands out from the crowd, and explain why they chose it. To have your own photo considered, join our Flickr group and start submitting your own photos!
This week, photographer Brian Hammonds, with just a touch of his forefinger – and a lot of climbing – takes us to an aerie overlooking the bustling city of Hong Kong and he does it in a thunderstorm. What a remarkable view and what a seriously cool photo he made. Doesn’t Brian know that lightening will find a photographer just as tempting a target as anything else it strikes? We commend him for his bravery, but you will be wise not to try it yourself, without prayerful consideration.
What a remarkable city Hong Kong is. Water, mountains and so many skyscrapers, many of them fine condominiums with fantastic views of their own. The city looks very hansom from this high vantage point, with its view of the harbor and, with just a little imagination, we can see British sailing ships arriving, ready to carry tea back to 1830s England. The British took over the island in a few short years and named the principle city Victoria City (for their Queen), giving truth to their claim that the Sun never set on the British Empire. But things went bad between the British and the Qing Dynasty, if you would like to know more just search The Opium War in Wikipedia.
Not that it is ever easy to make photographs of cityscapes at night, especially during a thunderstorm, but digital capture has made it somewhat more so. You will need a tripod to mount your camera on, if you don’t have one just stay inside and enjoy the storm. You’ll need a safe place, like indoors, but if you’re brave and think you’re special…look for a great view like Mr. Hammonds did.
There are tutorials on the Internet that will show you the mechanics of how to capture images at night, but it’s really pretty simple: Mount a camera (that will allow you make time exposures) on a tripod (a bean bag will work, too, but isn’t nearly as versatile), set the ISO rating to it lowest number and make some long (30 to 60 seconds at F:8) test exposures until you get the scene right. Then wait for the storm to start …You didn’t check the weather forecast?
Theoretically, in a 30- or 60-second exposure there will be at least a couple of good lightening bolts, of the forked variety. (And there will be huge claps of thunder that will test your power to concentrate.) The bolts only last a second or so, but they will be plenty bright enough to get through your F:8 f-stop and expose correctly. Because you did your tests and got your city (or foreground) exposure correct, voilá! You can thank the stars that you are capturing your images digitally, rather than on film. In the old days it took a lot of testing – the night before – and exposure bracketing and luck to get the kind of exciting image that Mr. Hammonds captured. Just be careful – whether you’re shooting time exposures of automobile traffic, or awe-inspiring thunderstorms – it’s easy to get wrapped up in what you’re doing and put yourself in harms way. That may be exciting, but it’s also risky. Be careful.
Congratulations to Brian Hammonds for making this week’s Yahoo! Travel Photo of The Week!
Alabama-based Michael Clemmer has been a photojournalist/travel photographer, landscape and golf course photographer for over four decades. Once a Senior Travel Photographer for Southern Living Magazine, he has also worked as an assignment photographer for the National Geographic Society and his photographs have been used in fine publications around the world. He currently specializes in golf landscape photography — visit his web site at michaelclemmer.com