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Movie Tour: Shooting in Hong Kong

俞祎君Aggi Yu 2018-10-08 16:58

Photographer Chen Jintao began shooting in 2010. At first, he simply shot as a hobby, while in early 2016, he successfully became a Getty Images Contributor among the 300,000+ photographers. Hong Kong is the city he visits most often, among which many destinations are classic scenes often seen in movies.


Natural Sceneries


More than three quarters of Hong Kong belongs to nature. It’s not at all difficult to find beautiful local sceneries popping up on the screen. For Chen, natural scenes are his favourite subjects– and many items on his wish list are already done.


Lantau Island


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When asked which Hong Kong movie he watches time after time, Chen’s answer is definite – the Infernal Affairs series. The trilogy records the history of Hong Kong and also gives prospects of the city’s future. The triad boss Hon Sam leaves the audience with an impressive 268-step visit to the mountaintop Buddha statue. Visitors could take the aerial tramway to get to the Buddha and pay their respect.

The photographer told me that this picture of Lantau Island was shot on a cloudy day, when the mountain top was covered in the mist. He waited for several hours, but finally got the chance to capture its famous Buddha statue emerging from the fog.


Victoria Peak


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The recent blockbuster Cold War 2 is more like a “Hong Kong political thriller” than an ordinary crime film. In the intense narrative with a Greek tragedy ending, the attorney Oswald Kan resides in a mansion on Lugard Road at Victoria Peak. This is a historical relic with 170 years of history, and for the first time it was permitted to be filmed (in Cold War 2). It’s within sight when taking aerial tramway to the mountaintop.

Photographer Chen has been to Victoria Peak a dozen times. During his Spring Festival visit in 2017 he again encountered dense fogs. However, the return trip was a surprise: a mesmerizing Tyndall effect through the reflection of light created an amazing natural phenomenon.


Kowloon Peak


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The movie Election and an award-winning National Geographic picture ignited Chen’s passion once more, and prompted him to visit Hong Kong in June this year. His destination is the tourist attraction of Kowloon Peak – Suicide Cliff.

Along Pak Fa Lam Road (Entrance 328) and keep walking along the ridge after you reach the top for ten minutes, you will see the famous Suicide Cliff. The entire trip is quite a tough one, where the surface is a challenging steep slope. Visitors are recommended to travel in company for safety.


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Good pictures take patience. 

Chen’s favourite work is the firework show on the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return. 

After “standing-by” for 8 hours, the picture has a story to tell.


Urban Spirit


Mountain trips lead you back to the golden days of Hong Kong. And Chen Jintao concludes the spirit of the city with the word “struggle”. His ardent love of the city originates from his admiration of the striving and hardworking spirit inherited within Hong Kong. It sounds abstract, yet it’s featured through details all over the city.


Sha Tin Estates


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Chan Chi-fat’s Weeds on Fire was adapted from the legendary Shatin Martins baseball team. Wo Che Estate, which is facilitated with huge square courtyards, is the major scene in the film where Tse Chi-lung and Fan Chun-wai live and share their friendship. The film reminisces the memory of the past days and arouses the idea of “win together, or lose together.”

Photographer Chen also encountered some difficulties when shooting. When he went to shoot cylinder buildings in Lai Tak Estate, he was denied by estate administrators. He then adopted guerrilla strategy and successfully shot some pictures in the neighbouring building. The estate has already become a tourist attraction recently. If you plan to shoot some pictures there, getting permission from the administrators is recommended.


Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market


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Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market was established in 1913 and carries with itself a strong sense of root culture, making it a favourite location for movies and TV series. The new TVB production Apple-Colada narrates the versatile life the local citizens and also arouses Chen’s interest in discovering the area.

In the picture, we see the police officers passing by Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market in the afternoon. The market only began to be crowded from evening, so the scene in the photo indicates the “rest time”.



Wing Lee Street


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Echoes Of The Rainbow aroused the nostalgic feelings of the city. It was filmed on Wing Lee Street, where you could reach it after getting out of Sheung Wan Station and taking a short walk along Hillier Street. From No.1 to No. 12, the less than 100-metre-long street keeps 9 Tang buildings built in the 1950s. Wan Chai’s Stone Nullah Lane takes pride in the Edward II buildings “Blue Houses”, which are combined with Chinese and western architectural styles.

Streets and lanes in Hong Kong are narrow and curvy. For Chen, he got lost in the labyrinth several times and eventually found the street after asking pedestrians multiple times.

Besides the listed above, Hong Kong provides many other destinations for photo shooting. Every single piece of tile or lamp, could be the perfect object jumping into your frame.



How to Shoot Urban Night Scenes


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Busy traffic and starry lights casting from the buildings constitute a unique picture different from the daytime. Photographer Chen has some tips to share:


1. Check the sunset time in advance. The best shooting time is the “Bluehour” – 10 minutes after sunset.

2. According to different lighting conditions, the exposure time of a night scene photo ranges from a few seconds to a dozen seconds. So, a tripod is necessary.

3. Traditional postures hardly go wrong. However, a unique view angle would help you with a better understanding of city structure.



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