From leading lines to geometric shapes to shadow patterns and rhythms, to degrees of complexity and illumination, Hong Kong has an amazing range of profound influences of Eastern and Western characteristics. Peter Stewart shares the same appreciation of composing content that is as aesthetically pleasing as the architecture he is inspired by. He imitates the symmetry with his photos to those of the buildings he loves to shoot. Having no prior experience in photography, Peter picked up his first DSLR in his mid 20’s.
“I knew I wanted to see all the amazing places the world had to offer, yet experience and document them in a way that was unlike your typical tourist. Like most people, when I was first starting out photography was merely a hobby, yet my passion grew out of the desire for travel. There is something about the sense of scale that really interests me. I always tend to find myself in big cities and that is where I feel mostly in my element for producing my best work. I will generally location scout for not only tourist hotspots but also places that are off the guidebooks.”
With its gleaming lights and striking picturesque cityscapes, it is no wonder many photographers find themselves in the heart of Asia known to be Hong Kong. Peter Stewart is inspired by Asian architecture and heritage thus yielding jarring photos of artistic structures from all around the region.
“Initially, my reasons for exploring Asia were practical more than anything. The close proximity to Australia and availability of cheap flights make it very easy to travel around on a budget and maximize the amount of time spent exploring. Although I no longer experience culture shock, there is still a certain allure or mystery that I find most appealing about Asia. Ancient culture and history aside, I find the people you meet to be the most interesting aspect of travel. Japan in particular is one of my favorite countries to visit, as there is such a wonderful mix of sights to experience and photograph. You can go from the futuristic metropolis of Tokyo with all its skyscrapers and neon signs to the ancient streets of Kyoto, combing the alleyways hoping for a glimpse of a passing Geisha.”
The pictures he takes capture the essence of the city with towering buildings piercing through the sky and rustic appeal as a symphony of lights stretch forth across the skyline.
He provides a window to the fragments of old Hong Kong while remaining apparent to its modern urban projects as it transitions into a metropolitan city, adding to the allure of the area. These images help us understand why Hong Kong is filled with areas one only wishes to get lost in. Mesmerizing and fueled with diversity, Hong Kong is truly a one-of-a-kind city.
“Whether it is a simple composition with a single subject of interest or a busy scene with heavy visuals all across the frame, I tend to look for elements that will dominate and draw your eye into the frame. With cityscapes in particular, my objective is to overwhelm the viewer with visual information. With architecture, I like to draw attention to little details and make use of symmetry and patterns to further emphasize the image. I tend to shoot the majority of my architecture photographs at night, which provides a further sense of scale with hundreds of window lights prying for attention in the frame.”
For Peter, part of the difficulty in travel-themed photography is originality. However, his favorite image is that of one that has been taken countless times before, yet one that simply must be taken: the skyline of Hong Kong from the top of Lion Rock.
“I have ventured up here many times, in rain and fog, hoping for a clear glimpse of the city. To capture this, I had to follow a long hiking trail through the dense forest late at night to get to the top of the rock. Even though I have taken this image many times before, I was fortunate this particular time to get an especially clear view over the city. Using the Nikon D810 and stitching multiple exposures together to form a panorama, I was able to create an image that offered an extremely high level of detail. Zooming in, I can make out all the little details that make up the fabric of this wonderful city.”
As with any delicately-constructed piece, Peter adjusts his camera to achieve maximum usage with a more technical approach. By having his white balance on manual, he uses the built-in grid lines and accelerometer to ensure that his horizons are leveled properly. He then propositions the elements he wants in a grid and then takes a photo with a single snap.
“I try as best as I can to achieve the look I desire in-camera. I make use of ND filters and circular polarizers to further enhance certain effects. When shooting on a tripod, I will often bracket my exposures to capture as much dynamic range as possible, with the intention of later blending multiple exposures to create an HDR image. Luckily, the advancements in camera technology like with the Nikon D810 means I can pull much more information out of a single RAW file than ever before, so I am finding more now that I have all the information I require in a single exposure.”
For Peter, a journey that started out as a mere hobby has grown into an enduring passion. “Almost everything has been done before. Whenever I visit a location for the first time, the camera usually stays in my bag till I have explored around and given some thought to where I want to setup and what I want to capture. The best moments for me however, are when all the elements combine, perfect lighting, great subject and best position for framing. It is a great feeling when you know you have captured something special and cant wait to share it with the world.”
Peter is an Australian travel and fine art photographer, currently based out of Hong Kong. He enjoys capturing bustling cityscapes and dynamic landscapes wherever his passport takes him, but also has a growing passion for street portraiture and documentary photography of the sights that go otherwise unseen. After picking up his first ever camera in 2009, with no prior experience, he began to see the world differently through the viewfinder of an SLR. His passion has always stemmed from travel and the desire to visit and experience all the amazing places the world has to offer. His goal is simply to create images that make you go 'wow’.
He shoots primarily on digital, which makes up the bulk of his main portfolio. However, he is a highly vocal supporter of film photography and still regularly shoots on 35mm film for personal use and to mix things up a little.
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