Monday, December 12, 2011

A shot in the dark

Long lenses are cool
This evening I went back to Tung Chung, along with a tripod, a camera with a rather heavy lens, and a cheese sandwich for my wife.

We were planning on taking some photographs of planes flying out of Hong Kong International; hence the tripod and camera. Unfortunately I ate the cheese sandwich before I left the house, so although I did transport it all the way there, it wasn't in any fit state for my wife to have for dinner. Sorry, wife.

I'd been rather optimistic about the range of my lens; although this time I was packing a 300mm zoom, rather than the 24mm I took to Tung Chung a week ago, it still wasn't really enough to get in close to the planes taking off, and the red tinged haze of Hong Kong's less-than-perfectly clean air wasn't helping.
Nor were the aircraft particularly cooperative. I had assumed they would all follow the same trajectory out of the airport, but they seemed to each choose different paths into the sky.

Some stayed low until they'd hidden behind a hill between us and the airport, then stormed away. Others got airbourne really early, dodging out of the top of my frame. Some wandered through the middle of my carefully composed shot, at exactly the wrong time, because I was distracted by the pain of crouching on my haunches, straining to look through the viewfinder. And most of them just chose the wrong goddamn place to fly, as far as I was concerned.

It's not like I couldn't have planned this better. I know a couple of pilots, I could surely have persuaded them to do laps of the runway in 747s until I had exactly the right composition. But I didn't. Preparation is everything, as usual.

After half an hour or more of this senselessness, we packed up, and then I spied a different vantage point, at the other end of the Yat Tung estate, down a dimly lit path with a rabble of teenage boys trying out kung fu kicks on one another. In London, a recipe for a mugging; in Hong Kong, just some children, with nothing much to do, apart from wear tracksuits. I worry about going back to London: my instincts will have been so flattered by the safety and calm of Hong Kong that I'll probably get mugged by a policeman, or a vending machine, or something equally ridiculous.
Anyway, unmugged, we spent another half hour with me taking unfocussed shots in the darkness before I finally admitted defeat, and we walked back to the bus stop. I just have to wait for a clear night in Hong Kong.

I just have to go to an airport in another country.


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