Day 4 began a bit later than the previous days. I slept in for a few extra hours to gain some energy / let my body rest after an intense few days. I managed to sneak into the hotel breakfast room just before closing.
This was the first day of shooting where I was going to use my camera in tandem with the ‘Movi M5’ hand-held motorized stabilizer. As with every new destination, I was curious to see how the locals would react to it. Even though the technology has been around for a few years, the Movi was still a ‘head turner’. It is impossible to ‘hide’ it once people notice.
The moment I stepped out of the hotel to the busy streets of Mong Kok, the crowd curiously looked at me and the Movi, wondering who on earth was this guy and, what on earth is he carrying / filming. It was apparent that being able to capture some candid footage, while using the stabilizer, was going to be very difficult.
While filming in motion with the stabilizer, I tend to focus on where I am going. I try to slowly glide between the human traffic, while keeping the footage smooth. I do not focus on the people’s faces who I pass by. Over the years, I have developed a general sense of who is looking straight at the camera. A person looking directly at the camera usually guarantees that I will NOT use that segment in the final video.
To overcome the useless footage, in which people stare directly at the lens, I shoot extended, continuous shots as much as possible. That should give me enough footage to use during the editing stage. A series of short segments, ‘glued’ together with a fade effect, can tackle this issue. The viewer watching the released video, is left with a smooth ‘gliding’ shot, maneuvering between people who seem unaware of the camera. In a very busy place like Hong Kong, such a filming technique is necessary.
Next to the Flower Market is the Yuen Po street Bird Garden. Birds of every size and color were chirping away while the bird vendors were haggling with potential customers. The parrots were seemed to be especially curious about the Movi stabilizer.
I negotiated the torrent of people back to Mong Kok and found myself at the Fa Yuen Street Market, famous for its sporting gear goods. Parallel to that street is the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi street, famous for the bargains that may be found on women’s clothing, accessories and many other goods. Candid filming in these markets as well as the others I have filmed in during the trip was especially tough.
The Goldfish Market is located on Tung Choi street as well. If you are shopping for pet fish, this is the place to come as numerous shops sell everything related, from aquariums, fish food and lots of…fish. The most eye-catching thing that I have noticed while strolling along the street were the countless clear plastic bags (the type you would use to store food in the fridge) hanging on hooks outside shops. Those bags are filled enough water to support a single goldfish.
In between filming specific landmarks in Mong Kok, I also tried to capture the hustle and bustle of the streets. I cannot recall the last time that I have seen so many people. It felt like controlled chaos. It was very apparent why Mong Kok is one of the most densely populated spots in the world.
Walking south while filming the street scene, I arrived at the Jade Market, a compound featuring hundreds of small stalls selling everything jade. From small and cheap jade rings to insanely expensive jade carvings, you shall find them all here.
Further south on Temple street in Yau Ma Tei, between the Tin Hau Temple and Jordan road, you will find THE night market, probably the most famous street market in Hong Kong. Every guide book mentions it and recommends a visit. The wares sold are inexpensive and plentiful. The numerous food stalls are cheap and tasty. I got there in the afternoon while the vendors were preparing their stalls and wares for the official 6 pm opening (I have returned to film the market in full swing a few hours later).
I kept pushing south, crossing Austin road and entering Tsim Sha Tsui by late afternoon.
Kowloon Park was busy but not overly crowded. This large park has beautiful gardens, wildlife habitats, playgrounds and a general relaxing atmosphere to it, providing a reprieve from the high octane fast pace outside of the park grounds. I filmed people going by their business, pretty fountains and pink flamingos. I also crashed a photo shoot for a wedding.
I reached the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade just before sunset. The area was packed and proved to be an excellent spot for some people watching. The views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island were unforgettable and NEVER get old. The outside steps of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre were a good spot to take a break and watch the world go by. I had some time to kill before ‘A Symphony of Lights’ show was to begin at 8 pm sharp.
The number of cameras, from mobile phones to a National Geographic photographer’s prized possession, rivaled the amount of people. I did my best to dynamically capture the scene by walking all around the promenade. Even within this sea of cameras, the Movi M5 caught more attention than I wished, making those candid shots ever more elusive to capture.
By the time the spectacle began, it was ‘standing room only’ at the promenade. The predominant language spoken by the crowd was Mandarin. Hong Kong is a very popular destination for mainland Chinese citizens on weekends.
One would think that they were attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics with all the camera flashes and mobile phone screen illumination. I enjoyed the light show although accompanying music could have been better. I also preferred the view of the light show from the ‘Sevva’ terrace several nights earlier. But, if it is your first time in Hong Kong, it is worth seeing the show from the TST promenade.
As the spectacle ended, the crowd began to disperse. It was Saturday night and capturing the night scene in Kowloon was on the agenda. Over the next several hours I filmed along Canton road, with its high-end shops and the high-end Harbour City mall. Hectic Nathan road with its masses of people as well as other adjoining streets were filmed as well.
As I have mentioned, I returned to the Temple Street Market for the second time of the day, capturing it in all its glory. The market was in full swing.
Leaving Temple Street, I made my way to the final filming location of the day, Knutsford Terrace. This popular street enclave is jam packed with bars, pubs, restaurants and people.
I decided to call it a night and give the red urban taxis one more shot at redemption. 4 taxi drivers refused to take me. I had had it with the local taxis and swore not use them again for the duration of my stay. I took the excellent MTR instead. Most of the streets of Mong Kok were surprisingly quiet as I made my way back to the hotel, a sharp contrast to the daytime hordes.
Another, mostly successful, day of filming came to an end, another busy day lay ahead.