Halong Bay


Q: Where did I take this photo?

This photo was taken during a trip to Halong Bay in Vietnam in march 2016. Small junkets sail you in-between the magnificent rock formations.

Q: What time of day?

This was a cold, foggy day with a light layer of drizzling rain, which made the journey quite moody and a great setting for mysterious and emotionally evocative photography. Initially I thought this weather would ruin my chances of photography, but it turned out to provide the perfect setting for a sensory photography journey. This photo was taken around 10:00 AM from the backside of an old wooden junket vessel.

Q: Anything worth sharing about lighting?

The foggy weather created the perfect setting for a mysterious and sensory photo, as the fog covered part of the horizon with layers of horizontal veils.  The contrast between the cold green hue of the bay was subtly off-set by the mist covered rocks reflecting into the water, creating crisscross subtle shadow patterns.

Q: What equipment did you use? (Camera, lens, tripod?, flash?, other?)

This photo was shot on my IPhone 6S without a tripod or flash.

Q: What inspired me to take this photo?

Halong Bay is a unique Unesco World Heritage site, known for its scenic beauty, mostly depicted in bright daylight with sparkling blue waters in tourist brochures.  It was honestly initially quite a disappointment that the weather was foggy and drizzling this day of junket boat trip. It turned out to become a much more mysterious and sensual journey as the horizon was shortened and the depth sensation was distorted and reduced. I was inspired and intrigued by the juxtapositions of the foggy weather conditions, the icy green clear waters of Halong Bay and the majestic rock outcroppings and wanted to instill a similar peaceful, moody, mysterious emotion in others when watching my photos. I wanted to create a sensation of tranquility, reflection and introspection, a deeply touching emotion.

Q: Did I do any post-processing? If yes, tell us about it!

For this photo I used the Camera+ App to adjust the sharpness, enhance the contrast, luminosity and grain.

Q: What equipment do I normally have in your bag?

I am a world traveler and choose to travel as light as possible. I truly appreciate the possibilities the IPhone 6+ camera provides when supplemented by editing Apps. It is always at hand, ready to capture instant opportunities, without carrying a large and heavy camera around. Editing is instantaneously available and offers so many different opportunities through a variety of editing Apps.  Camera+, Enlight and Snapseed are my favorite editing tools. I have been greatly inspired by Emil Pakarklis IPhone Photography School lessons in IPhone Photography.

Q: Any advice for others trying to capture something similar?

Halong Bay is known for seasonal changes and spectacular sunsets, but as this was a visit planned weeks ahead you have no control of the weather. The coastal weather changes almost daily depending on time of year and day and often multiple times a day. I advise to find the beauty and unique character of any place, at any time, and to keep exploring new vantage points, juxtapositions, layers and shadow patterns. As this trip is explored by a motor junket boat you have many different opportunities, as other junkets in motion constantly change the horizon, framed by the rock formations and the rippling patterns in the water. The view of the rock formations constantly change as the rocks are silhouetted and layered.  Clouds and a light drizzle can offer unique opportunities for great photography, thus venture out, feel the moisture and drizzle on your face and lens while capturing images that tell the story and gets ”under the skin”‘ of spectators. Get wet and cold, feel it and capture the unique sense of place and time. Translate the sense of mystery, choreography and sensuality. Each photo is an opportunity to create a new sense of choreography in time and space.

Written by Zia Hansen. Photo by Zia Hansen