I thought I’d post this under “travel” as it’s more about my recent trip to Hong Kong rather than camera issues, although buying my new camera was very important too
First the camera news! I am now the proud daddy of the Nikon D80 with the fantastic 18-200mm VR lens and I could not be more thrilled with it! As soon as we arrived in HK last Saturday 23rd, it was straight to the hotel to check-in and dump our stuff and then straight down to Mr Wong’s camera shop with my 15,000 HK dollars (about 1,000 pounds). After months of research and going backwards and forwards about what camera to buy, I knew exactly what I wanted and what accessories and I was just hoping that it was all going to be within my budget and in stock! Fortunately it was, although the guy who served me said they only had three 18-200mm VR lenses left in stock so I reckon I got there just in time. He told me that after I’d paid too so he wasn’t just spinning me a salesman line.
The deal worked out really well. For my 1,000 pounds I got the camera, the lens, an extra battery, 2 x 2gb Sandisk Extreme III cards along with a 2gb HK brand one that came with the camera, a Lowepro 200AW bag, a Pro Op/Tech camera strap, a B&W MRC UV filter and a rocket blower for cleaning the sensor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stretch to getting a tripod or a flash unit this time round, they’ll have to wait for another trip.
Now back to Hong Kong! It is such a great place to visit. I’ve been there a few times to get my visa renewed, but never stayed longer than 1 day. This time I had a week and it turns out there is so much to see that I’m already planning on the things I’m going to do for next year’s visa renewal trip! There are so many small islands scattered around the main islands and they have some great hiking trails so the next visit is going to be a pure hiking tour of the islands.
The timing for this visit was a bit unfortunate. I had to leave China no later than the 23rd and my Chinese friend can only stay get HK visas for 1 week at a time so we had to leave on the 30th, one day before the big celebrations for the 10 year anniversary of HK being handed back to China. Every evening at 8pm along the waterfronts of Kowloon and HK Island, which stand opposite each other, they have a laser show with music and for the 1st of July, a huge fireworks display was planned, which must have been amazing to see. However, judging by my feeble attempts of shooting the fireworks over the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland, I don’t think I would have done them justice at all!
After buying the camera during the early evening of Saturday, our trip planned for Sunday was to visit Lantau Island where I thought that if I made too many mistakes on the first day with the cam then it wouldn’t be so bad. That was a bit of a shame because I made plenty of mistakes and the weather was great that day. It’s also the site of the “world’s largest seated Buddha”, but I managed to get a few shots of it that weren’t too terrible.
We were really unlucky with the weather. The first 3 days were really good, but then rainy season kicked in big time and the last 4 days were pretty grim! Sod’s law that on the good days I was getting to grips with the D80 and then by them time I was starting to get a bit better with it, the weather turned sour. Still, with the excellent pull-out weather-proof cover that’s built in to the Lowepro bag; I still managed to conveniently whip the camera out for when the breaks in the rain came.
My shooting skills improved for the day trip to Disneyland and even though it’s obviously a lot smaller than the other DLs, it wasn’t as cheesy as some people say it is. There were a lot of people there but the queues moved quickly and the attractions and shows were all done really well. I had a few exposure problems, but I kept checking the preview pics and making little adjustments here and there and with a little bit of tweaking in Photoshop, the pics came out alright. I find using the grid to compose shots really helpful as I didn’t have it turned on the first couple of days and when I viewed the pics on my laptop in the evenings, it turned out that I’d taken all the pics slightly wonky so I had to do a fair bit of straightening and cropping in PS.
Ocean Park was excellent! I’d recommend everybody to go there. Just the whole layout of the park is really unusual and the setting and the views from the park itself are brilliant. That was a nice bright day with some good cloud formations in a blue sky so I was happy with the way most of the pics turned out.
The dolphin watching boat trip didn’t turn out exactly as I’d imagined. We had a few good sightings, but in the end it was either stand there with my camera wedged constantly against my eye or forget about taking pics and just enjoy it. A few times I just left the camera at chest level on a wider angle and then fired continuously at any breaks in the water, but it was a bit hit and miss.
Other highlights were Victoria Peak and the tram ride up there…wow that’s steep! The views from the peak were stunning, but the weather was lousy. I think next year I’ll go back in early June and hope the weather holds. Mosquitoes were a bit of a nightmare up there too! Not so much from the tower where you can look down over the harbour, but there’s a walk you can do that goes all the way around the peak and when it rains the mozzies come out in full force so it turned into more of a slow sprint around the peak! Apparently that section of the peak gets a blast spraying twice a week to kill the mosquitoes because they’re such a problem up there…it’s always the little details like that, that you find out afterwards!
I’ve updated my Flickr with some of the pics. There were too many pics to put in one set and then too many sets to put in one collection so they’re a bit all over the place. When I get more time I’ll sort out putting them into one collection.
Feedback and constructive criticism most appreciated as always.
P.S. I'm loving my new signature....bye bye Canon S3 IS