Elaine Li (@lielaine) continues to share her unique perspective on her home city in her personal Hong Kong city guide, this time from the soaring heights of rooftops where she often captures photos for the #fromwhereIdanglemyfeet hashtag.
If you missed Part I of this series, check it out here.
Many of your pictures are from soaring heights. What appeals to you about this “bird’s eye view”?
The first time I went ‘rooftopping’, I was amazed at the view – I had never seen the city from that perspective. Everything below was so tiny and I got a real sense of how many people and cars and buildings the city is home to. Marveling at it all from those heights made me feel like I was the queen of the world; like I had the ultimate view of the most incredible city. It’s not unlike the feeling you get when you reach the peak of a mountain and see the entire valley down below; in Hong Kong, though, the “valley” is the amazingly dense and bustling city.
What’s one thing that the heights have taught you about the city that you wouldn’t be able to notice on the ground?
We all know how dense Hong Kong is but it’s only from up top that you can truly experience it. You get to see how narrow the streets are between the tall buildings; how many little moving pieces there are below. Every time I go up to a roof to take photos, I am always amazed at the amount of skyscrapers that stand on the tiny island. It’s almost like looking at a wonder of the world – at something that shouldn’t really exist, but does.
What’s one thing you always take with you when adventuring to rooftops?
My olloclip, mostly for my #fromwhereIdanglemyfeet shot. With the olloclip wide angle lens, everything looks more ‘epic’ – and more “dangerous” I suppose. I also bring my selfie stick and goPro so that I can get more of the surroundings in my shots. Oh, and water! You never know how many stairs you’ll have to climb to get to the top.
Given your photography, is it safe to assume that you don’t have a fear of heights?
At first, heights made me nervous but the more I visited rooftops, the more I got used to them. I suppose I was distracted by the incredible views – they made the heights seem worthwhile, not scary. The trick is to have confidence in yourself: trust your instincts and your movements. The one thing I am afraid of is the dark – everyone is scared of something!
Do you try to find great heights for photography in other cities you visit as well?
Absolutely. I recently visited Seoul, South Korea and met up with a local urban explorer there. He brought me to a few rooftops in the Dongdaemun area, where I was able to see the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, from up above. It’s a view that, from what I understand, is rare even to locals. I also went to a few rooftops in Shanghai, again with the guidance of a local Instagrammer. In addition to roofs, I also like to venture to abandoned places, tunnels and subways.