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To precisely predict his vantage points, photo direction compass bearings, and the related sun angles for different months, Ed reconnoitred this “shooting map”. It was bedrock for later photographing Across Hong Kong Island. The map section shown here is one-sixth of the Hong Kong Island Countryside Series map.


On the map, each black dot is a photo vantage point – for “long view” photos taken from high peaks or ridges. The arrows indicate the photo view direction. The bottom “sunrise and sunset” angles are the key indicator (weather and air pollution allowing) for the timing to take optimum photos.


Close up “short view” (mostly valley) photos had places noted, but not mapped. For them, sun angles are less important. Most stream or vegetation photos are best taken on overcast days with soft, diffuse light – or on drizzling, wet days. Their sun angles, while relevant, are far less important.


Virtually all Ed Stokes’ book images are scouted out, and visualized, before their final taking. Repeated shooting trips are needed, to achieve the optimum light, weather, and other conditions.  


Experience in predicting light, the seasons, weather, time of day, and specific local conditions is critical – together with reconnaissance photos. The decisions behind taking any photograph fall broadly into four stages: seeing, thinking, deciding, and then shooting. When photographing, the steps blur together – and over time they become integrated, virtually intuitive. The more field reconnaissance one has done beforehand – usually the better the resulting photos.  


For further information see the book Hong Kong Nature Landscapes. It has two pages of photo method notes. Each of the book’s photos, besides descriptive captions, also has “technical photo taking” notes.


For example, for the first of this Photo Gallery’s Hong Kong images:


Cape D’Aguilar 

Middle intensity early morning light, 24mm lens, polarizer, 81B warming filter

This photo’s key elements were all given: the honey-coloured rock; the framing of the foreground; and islets mirroring the foreground. But it needed repeated visits before the weather delivered the optimum light that this view needed – clear sky, early morning cross-light to vividly etch every detail. Shot on a tripod, at f/16 for complete depth-of-field.  

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