Above Hong Kong Island

Ever wondered what it would be like to be one of Hong Kong’s black kites? Look no further.

Five years after publishing the sellout book of aerial photography Above Sai Kung & Clearwater Bay, award-winning photographer Graham Uden and the team at Fast Media have again joined forces to produce a second book, Above Hong Kong Island.

Shot on several helicopter flights over the course of 2015, the photos capture the wonders of Hong Kong Island, from Victoria Harbour up to The Peak and around the Southside: mountains, beaches, country parks, reservoirs, dams, fishing ports, theme parks, container ships, floating restaurants, skyscrapers, luxury condos and winding roads.

Copies are limited. Pre-order yours now at abovehongkong.com

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On a particularly chilly December morning – after weeks of waiting for the right conditions – members of the Above Hong Kong Island photography team received the call to wrap up warm and make our way to the The China Clipper, an exclusive lounge located on the 30th floor of The Peninsula Hotel, just below its famous rooftop helipad. The sky was clear and blue and the sun was shining – a better day for aerial photography might not come again for weeks.

“The doors of the helicopter were removed to provide unobstructed views”

In the lounge, Heliservices (provider of helicopter sightseeing tours and VIP charter services) briefed the team – Graham Uden, his assistant August Liu and Fast Media editors Callum Wiggins and Shreena Patel – on the planned flight route. Our eight cameras – over $500,000 worth of equipment – were prepped and readied, with Graham and August juggling at least three each. Meanwhile, the doors of the helicopter were removed to provide unobstructed views. Finally, with the team safely strapped in on either side of the helicopter (but with enough room to lean out should the photo opportunity require it), pilot Richard Boswell gently took off and the helicopter made its way over Victoria Harbour. Our mission was simple – take shots of all the best views and look out for any unexpected surprises.

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Swooping over the skyscrapers of the Central Business District and above the luxury homes etched into the hillside of The Peak, we saw clearly Hong Kong Island’s wealth of different landscapes. The route then took us around Mount Davis and towards the Southside, where high density living makes way for beautiful vistas of the South China Sea, bays, beaches and rocky peninsulas. From a boat drifting in Aberdeen Harbour to a bus winding along Tai Tam Road, capturing the minutiae of life on Hong Kong Island was just as important as the sweeping panoramas.

“Capturing the minutiae of life…was just as important as the sweeping panoramas”

Over the industrial areas of Chai Wan and the Eastern District, the flight route hugged the harbourfront as we approached Central for a last barrage of photos. Bodies shivering and eyes streaming with tears from the ice-cold winds blowing through the helicopter, our nearly numb fingers clicked the shutter on the last of the 5,000 images taken during the flight. Over the next few months, as we sifted through the thousands of images, we placed our favourites on the pages and the book began to take shape. Hong Kong is a place where looking up offers a surprise every now and again. But sometimes it’s better to look from above.