Tommy Ku Photography

Photowalk to 2024

Looking towards Tsing Yi South, and further at Kowloon and Hong Kong Island
Overall view from top of Chun Fa Lok

One thing I look forward to every year is the 1/1 first sunrise photoshoot. Sunrise happens every day and it's great to look at, yet perhaps not something I'd want to shoot every day. Yearly sunrise shoot is the sweet spot for me.

Two suspicious persons
Added the sun in post-processing for 2023

This year, I went to 三支香 in Tsing Yi island which has a wide eastward view. My friend who went to 石龍拱 last year came with me again this time.

Both of us brought along our tripod, and packed even more ingredients for the new year noodle and coffee. I even brought along a pot.

At 4:30am of the new year day, some people are already going to work or exercising. We made our way up the initial long stairs climb to the graveyard near the first peak. The view is open there, but was in the middle of a graveyard, or obstructed by overgrown trees. We made our way down and up to the second peak, featuring a small plot of open ground. We took a short break.

A sporty looking person with strong torchlight walked past. That triggered us to move forward and again climb down and up the stairs, feeling rather hot and sweating despite the chilly morning wind.

By the time we reached the third peak, we saw someone lying on the ground in a sleeping bag, probably having slept there for the whole night. The cliff facing eastward has already been occupied by several photographers. There's a cliffy platform nearby, unobstructed by vegetation. We decided to plant our tripods at a relatively safe position, despite the slightly inferior view.

Tripod and XT-20
XT-20 on tripod this time for 2024

The ground was uneven. Good spots were all picked clean so I had to adjust the tripod leg lengths to adapt. My friend planted his tripod next to me.

For an hour we adjusted our camera settings and waited standing atop the windy hill, for the first light of 2024. I tried shooting long exposure and panorama of the Stonecutters Bridge just to kill time.

Stonecutters Bridge
Going typical orange and teal for this night shot, not enough traffic on the bridge though

More people showed up, exchanging new year greetings, and someone was handing out chocolates, a nice gesture which brought warmth to our wind-chilled bodies.

After waiting for an hour and half, the sky was already bright like the day, the band of orange glowed as if the horizon was burning, no sign of the sun yet.

Looking towards south east there were layers of thick cloud. Like the year before I was hoping for the sun to break through the clouds before it's rose too high for a clean, orangish "egg yolk".

Blue hour
Blue hour with my favorite purple

07:02 AM passed by, no sign of the sun. My friend and I were patiently waiting, and I told my friend "I plan to leave after everyone else have left", to which my friend agreed.

Blur hour
The sky was getting bright

By 07:21 AM the other photographers began to pack up their gear, and right then, a bright spot appeared above the horizon, between the layers of cloud.

Unlike 2023, the 2024 first sunrise managed to break through the cloud.

Everyone was applausing, and fired their shutters continuously, in fear of missing the spectacular shots of sunrise.

Bracketed shot combined to create an HDR image
Happy new year!

Using exposure bracketing, I captured 3 images in quick succession, with -2, 0 and +2 EV, such that later I can merge them into an HDR photo in post-processing.

We were glad and felt lucky to have waited. The 1.5 hour of wait was totally worth it.

By 07:36 AM the orangish sky had turned yellow, and the sun became too bright for any nice shot, so we packed up, and walked back.

Yellow sun after the great sunrise
Getting yellow, time to go

We walked back the same way we came, and stopped at the top of second hill, where there's enough room for us to make breakfast—noodle and coffee.

People standing near the cliff
People at the cliff place got better views

This year, I brought a pan so we can make proper noodle, and not just cup noodle with boiling water that we did last year. Coffee was still instant coffee.

Last year eating instant noodle
Last year eating instant noodle
Canned white sauce chicken with Nishin noodle

I thought this could go on forever, our youth, the sensation of seeing something different, something new with every passing year, and that things are going to get better…

I am turning 30 this year, it didn't feel like a closing chapter of my 20s as I felt I have lost 3 years to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everything is just starting.