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Sight: a city of layers

South China Morning Post
  • Written by South China Morning Post

Viewing the natural greenery of Hong Kong can calm and de-stress you, while simultaneously taking your breath away. Hiking gives you the best vantage from which to appreciate this. Get the perspective of award-winning landscape photographer Kelvin Yuen Sze-lok in our interview below and scroll down for hiking routes that will have you shaded by subtropical forest, looking out across the famous skyline.

Award-winning landscape photographer Kelvin Yuen Sze-lok won his first photography prize at 19. The Hong Kong-born artist has travelled all over the world, but to him Hong Kong is a photographer’s paradise and a city unlike any other.

Kelvin Yuen never imagined winning the first photo competition he ever entered. With his eye on the prize of gear and an airline ticket, Yuen entered while in his first year at Hong Kong Baptist University and won first prize and an honourable mention in the youth division of the Taiwan section of National Geographic’s International Photo Contest 2015.

Five years down the line, the 23-year old photographer has been recognised in the International Landscape Photographer of the Year awards, and ranked second in 2019’s World’s Top 10 Landscape Photographers. He travels around the world for photo assignments and for leisure, but Hong Kong holds a special place in his heart.

What’s so great about Hong Kong is that in a matter of hours you can cover several locations.

“Its public transport means it’s easy to move around the city and you get a wide range of spectacles, from cityscapes to mountains, waterfalls and dramatic nature scenes,” he says. Though Sai Kung is his favourite place to photograph for its rugged wilderness and view of the Milky Way at night, Yuen also likes the view from the Tsing Yi and Eagle’s Nest Nature Trails, as well as from The Peak — a favourite with tourists.

As its name alludes, The Peak is the highest point on Hong Kong Island and offers some of the best views of Victoria Harbour via its Peak Circle Walk. Lugard Road is part of the circuit and the first place where most visitors arrive at a lookout to see Hong Kong in all its glory. Named after Hong Kong’s 14th governor, Sir Frederick Lugard, the road was built in 1913–1914 and remains a hotspot among seasoned hikers, runners and visitors.

I love the perspective it offers me as I photograph the city below. It is layer after layer of district, mountain, district, mountain.

Yuen says, “In the past few years I must have visited Lugard Road on The Peak over a hundred times. I love the perspective it offers me as I photograph the city below. It is layer after layer of district, mountain, district, mountain.” His preferred time to shoot is at dusk, when the lights of the city burst into life and the sky turns into a kaleidoscope of dark shades.

However, it is not easy to capture that perfect shot. “First, I visualise what I want to capture. Then, I will need to scout the location. Take a few draft photos, check the weather, understand the seasons and study the environment, then I go back and try to capture what I have in my mind’s eye. It is a lot of going back and forth before I get what I want.”

Lugard Road in springtime, when wind conditions permit, allows Yuen to capture the rising fog that blankets the city while skyscrapers and mountaintops pierce through. “You try to prepare for it but you don’t always get what you want because the weather can change very quickly.”

He proudly remembers a shot of the top of the ICC (International Commerce Centre), which came out as a gleaming island surrounded by a sea of clouds. “I was shooting on Lugard Road towards the end of day and the fog came up thick and then I saw a single building sticking out.”

Recommended explorations

Tsing Yi Nature Trails

These trails take you up many steps, but it’s worth the climb for the sweeping views of the waters, bridges and lands surrounding Tsing Yi Island. There are many sitting-out areas along the way. Be sure not to overlook the wild flowers, such as Bougainvillea in vibrant fuchsia shades, and Trailing Lantana with small purple flowers.

The Peak to Lung Fu Shan Country Park

The Peak to Lung Fu Shan Country Park: classic skyline views and unexpected ruins

A must-do hike with classic city and mountain views from The Peak, modern landmarks and World War II ruins — feel connected to the city yet so far removed.

Eagle's Nest Nature Trail

Eagle's Nest Nature Trail: take a walk on the wild side

A shaded trail packed with flora and fauna including birds, monkeys, wild boar and trees found nowhere else in the world.

Information in this article is subject to change without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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