Shooting the HK100 Ultra-Mountain Marathon

It was 4.30am Saturday morning….time to get up and get to the mountains for the start of the HK100 Ultra-mountain marathon….I shouldn't complain about having to get up early, I haven't got to run 100kms over the mountains of Hong Kong, an event which covers more elevation than climbing Mount Everest!

So we arrived, split into two teams (2 x photographer and 2 x video crew) and set off around the various checkpoints to cover the race as best we could, focussing on the Team 'Vibram' participants from HK/China and the European Team that had flown in for the event.

The weather was cold in the morning, ranging too freezing by night time, so an administrative task for everyone concerned was making sure you had the right equipment and clothing to cover what would turn out to be almost 24 hours on the mountains and shooting thousands of images in the process, a selection which had to be edited on the laptop up the hills and sent to press the same day as the event.

These kind of jobs remind of my days in the army where we would work crazy long days in the cold, up hills… least this time i get to wear my F8 Photography hoodie instead of combat body armour and a helmet…although come to think of it that would have kept me warmer  i'm sure…lol.  There were a few outfits worn for the event, the ever present shark-fin soup protesters were out in force also which was good to see.

Here's a taster of the event photos that I took throughout the day, trying to capture the spirit and emotion of the race and its participants.

It was a very long day…..but worth every minute.  We very much look forward to working with Team Vibram again in 2013.

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F8 Photography provides commercial photography and photography and video training workshops, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.

Vibram HK100 Ultra-Marathon Event

It was 4am on Saturday morning....the alarm clock was ringing was time to get up, travel north to the mountain areas of Northern Hong Kong and get ready for a very very long day of shooting the HK100 ultra-marathon event.  27 hours later at 7am the Sunday morning, we finally stopped shooting and packed up our cameras, having shot over 2000 images, and headed home for what we thought was a well earned sleep!  Of course our task was nowhere near as difficult as the participants, who had to run, walk and crawl 100km across some of Hong Kong's infamous peaks and trails, with a total elevation change that equates to twice the height of Everest! (Ryan Sandes - Winner HK100 2012 in a new record time of 9hrs 55 mins!!)

Our job was to record the action, the drama, the emotion and the glory of the event, and we hope we have done so to the best of our ability.  We would like to share a few of our pictures here so you can see the diversity of the participants, their pain, their pleasure and really just an overall amazing experience for everyone who took part.  We started off as expected at the start line, capturing the pre-race nerves and party-like mood of most of the participants, which was great to see, given the fact the next 24 hours of their lives was going to be painful!

(this guy on the right about to run 100km across rocks with no shoes on?!? Must be crazy!)

We were astonished to find one runner who was doing the event with NO shoes....and even more amazing was the fact that he was among the front runners as we travelled around the course! Here's some images of him in action at the 36km you can see from his facial expressions, I'm sure he would rather have some nice running shoes on...haha....we have to applaud his courage...or is it insanity?!

(slow sync flash with the Canon 5DII and 24mm mark II prime lens)

We used a combination of Canon 5DII's with wide prime lenses and slow sync flash to capture close up action as well as a couple of 7D's and long lenses which were perfect for sports with their fast drive and autofocus.

(the two Nepalese runners who led the way for much of the race, eventually coming 2nd & 3rd)

The course was extremely well marked and manned by the hundreds of volunteers, with checkpoints being very welcome breaks for the athletes, and a good opportunity for refreshments, fixing feet and catching up with loved ones.

(smiles all the way to the finish line)

Every part of the course we covered, people were ecstatic, smiling, screaming and thoroughly enjoying the be fair, at the finish line most people were much quieter by that stage having spent a very long day and night on the hills.

(high ISO in the middle of the night - no problem for the 5D mark 2)

The Canon 5DII again came into its own during the night, with its great high ISO performance, allowing us to capture some nice moody black and white images lit usually only by headtorches and the occasional lamp.

(5D mark II with fisheye lens and slow sync)

After 25 hours of photography, I thought it was time to break out the fisheye lens and try to get some shots with that, so it was a case of lying down on the floor underneath the small flags at the finish line, trying some rear sync flash and getting extremely close to the runners as they came across the line, this gave a dramatic effect which I like...similar to a lot of my styles of photography, i really believe the old saying "if its not good enough, your not close enough....".

(James the videographer from Mededs with Gary, RJ taking a break and in action during the night)

In the end, we packed up our kit at first light on Sunday, and headed home, a great experience for us, made me reminisce of my army days being stuck out on a mountain all night, but its all part of the fun, great event, great people, and we hope we have done it justice with our images.  We look forward to next year, where we will ensure Starbucks has a takeaway truck parked up the top of Tai Mo Shan for us :-)

Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog, if you like our blog and website, please ‘like’ us on our public Facebook page and share this story with your friends with the Facebook and twitter links below.  You can also subscribe to our blog via the RSS link below.

F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.

Matt & Katie - Down under at Shek O

Friday the 23rd of September, a nice sunny Friday afternoon in Hong Kong...but for Matt & Katie it was perhaps the most important day of their lives so far.   A big wedding was the order of the day, with friends and family coming from Australia and the rest of the world to celebrate this amazing occasion. And amazing it certainly was, a really great, beautiful bunch of people who helped us get some really nice images throughout the day and very late into the night!

The wedding planner Sonya and her team from Bliss Creations did an outstanding job setting up and organising the various venues, and the setup at Shek O Golf Club was easily one of the best wedding setups I have ever seen anywhere.

It all started at the Four Seasons Hotel in Central to capture some images of Katie's preparations in her suite.  We were graced with good weather most of the day, so that gave us the opportunity to shoot natural light and the family were so relaxed it made it easy to shoot our reportage style of wedding photography.

After spending a few minutes with the bridal party it was time to dash across town to the oldest church in Hong Kong - St John's Cathedral in time to introduce ourselves to the reverend as a matter of courtesy as we would photographing inside the church and then to get some images of the bride arriving and get into position for the ceremony.  Trying to get across town on a Friday afternoon at short notice can be quite stressful in itself....but luck was on our side and we made it in good time well ahead of the bride.

This church is a great venue in Hong Kong, we've photographed several weddings here and has to be the best church from a photography perspective with lots of natural light flowing in through the large windows and open doors, all helping us to get natural looking images with great light....and of course flash photography is not allowed inside the church anyway, nor would we ever choose to use flash for daytime photography for weddings, we prefer to use natural light and fast prime lenses (we also use these fast lenses for most of the evening photography also, using natural light wherever possible).

After the ceremony it was time for another move, this time to Shek O Golf Club right round the other side of the island....again, we had luck on our side and managed to find a taxi quickly so we could arrive ahead of the rest of the party to prepare everything in advance.  We had to setup a wireless transmission rig with projectors, laptops and a network so that we could transmit our images from earlier in the day direct to the walls in the venue and then spend the rest of the day and evening shooting 'live' direct to the wireless slide show which appeared full wall size within the venue.  We do this at most of our events now and it always has a lot of positive impact and is a great way for us to showcase our work at an event (Of course it puts more pressure on us to get strong images also to show live, but that's the way we like to work).

Then it was time to grab a few group shots and images of the bride and groom outside on the lawn of the golf club, with magnificent views behind of mountains, the South China Sea and waves crashing against cliffs, really a great setting and we couldn't have asked for better weather, it was now slightly overcast, with great soft natural light through the clouds.

Thereafter it was time for the dinner, the speeches and then the party started to get crazy (the groom had warned me earlier that these people like to party hard...)  I was looking forward to the evenings photography as I knew this was going to give us a different and dynamic contrast of images to the earlier part of the day, when people party hard and let their hair down, it always works well for the photographer (as long as no alcohol lands on the laptop or camera gear :-), which thankfully somehow it didn'  We had already captured some nice traditional reportage style images, a lot of black and white work, and now we were going to be able to use some off camera flash and slow shutter speeds to get some dynamic colourful dancing shots.....

The party went on late, with lots of dancing (there was even a break-dancing act going on with back flips and head spins at one point!) and a great night was had by all.  At midnight buses arrived and took everybody off to Central for the after-party...I'm sure there were some sore heads the next day....For us it was time to leave, and spend the next few days buried in Lightroom 3 with masses of images to sort out, select and develop.

All that remains to be said from us is Thanks to Sonya the wedding planner and congratulations to Matt & Katie on their special day, it was a pleasure to be your photographer and we hope the images can help memorise this amazing occasion for you, your family and friends.