Hong Kong

5 Days in Hong Kong

I’ve always wanted to travel east, but as I don’t know anyone else who shares the same enthusiasm (and I’ve never been brave enough to go alone) I ended up going to the USA 12 times in the past decade or so! No complaints as we love the US and particularly New York, but an opportunity came up to go away for a few days alone, so rather than dwell on it I just booked flights and a hotel in Hong Kong with British Airways and decided to worry about actually doing it later.

Why Hong Kong? I’m anxious in new places at the best of times, so I figured somewhere with widespread English and that appeared to be easy to get around would be a good start. It was also, handily, pretty cheap compared to the other options I had looked at (Tokyo, Kyoto, Singapore), less than £700 for Saturday to Saturday with a pretty decent hotel (the City View). November/December is apparently a good time to go, with mild sunny conditions and no typhoons to worry about, so I booked for the end of November.

That good weather I mentioned? Nope! I arrived to some fairly biblical rain, oh and I forgot to bring a coat. After dropping my bags off at the hotel I headed out onto Nathan Road to find a coat (and tea bags!), probably the most surreal evening of my life as I wandered around trying to take everything in. After a few hours out, and soaked to the bone, I headed back to the hotel to reconsider my carefully planned week, the weather was not due to improve for several days and as it was to be cooler than expected I decided to research some walks…

Tung Chung to Tai O

I’d always planned to go to Tai O via the Ngong Ping 360 on my first day, but as the weather was kinda awful the cable car didn’t seem a wise idea. I happened to google ‘things to do on a rainy day in Hong Kong’ and a 15km trail walk to Tai O popped up. So, rather than take the easy option of the bus from Tung Chung to Tai O (around £1.80!) I thought I’d walk it instead. The walk took me 3 hours and was basically fool-proof once I’d followed the simple directions to the start of the trail from Tung Chung MTR station, as you could basically only go one way for 99% of it.

After walking through a lovely little village early on you head up into lush vegetation and it pretty much stays that way for the next 9 miles. The path vaguely hugs the coastline, with the Ngong Ping 360 high up to the left and Hong Kong International Airport just across the water to the right. The Ngong Ping 360 quickly heads off in another direction but you continue tracking the runway all the way to its end. The path is paved and in excellent condition for a good 7 miles or so, there is even the occasional well maintained public toilet seemingly in the middle of nowhere, quite the culture shock when even finding one in a major town is a challenge in the UK. I passed through a few small settlements, many which seem at least partially abandoned, but at least early on a Monday morning, few signs of life. The paved track eventually becomes an actual off-road trail and descends down to the coastline again as Tai O begins to appear in the distance.

So far, so good, but then the path abruptly ends with a large sign warning you to continue at your own risk due to the dangerous condition of the path (or something along those lines). The only alternative is a steep off-road trail heading inland. I tentatively continue pass the sign towards Tai O and discover a perfectly usable off-road trail all the way to the outskirts of Tai O, it’s a bit overgrown and narrow in places (so a fairly standard footpath in the UK) but never dangerous and still easy to follow, I guess they have much higher standards in Hong Kong!

Whilst it’s maybe not the most picturesque trail you’ll find in Hong Kong it was a fantastic introduction to getting out of the city for me and set the tone for the rest of my trip. After the first village (which is only a short walk from the extremely busy Tung Chung MTR station and bus terminal) all the way to arriving in Tai O I didn’t see a single person, which for my first morning in Hong Kong was a very strange experience.

As for Tai O itself, as I headed into the village I had an instant ‘should I really be here?’ feeling, not because I felt unwelcome but because it was so quiet and walking in from the trail you head down many narrow alleyways which are made up of the front and back of residential properties. It literally feels like you are walking through people’s homes. I reached the centre of the village itself which was just beginning to wake up and enjoyed many hours just taking it all in, it’s a fascinating place unlike anywhere I’ve ever visited. I did the standard tourist boat trip (which was fun, and cheap, it was so quiet there were only two of us on the boat) and then caught the bus back to Tung Chung in the early afternoon.

Victoria Peak

The iconic image from Victoria Peak was pretty much the reason I chose Hong Kong, so I couldn’t not visit despite the inevitable crowds. On the Monday the tram was closed, so I figured this might mean the peak was a bit quieter than usual (I’d seen the tram queues on previous days, they were intimidating!) I hopped on a bus from central an hour or so before sunset and enjoyed an amazing (if rather packed) trip up to the peak. The immediate area around the observation tower was rammed, but a minute in either direction the crowds tailed off significantly. I walked around 15 minutes down Lugard Road as I’d read that’s where I’d find the best views, it didn’t disappoint in that regard and was lovely and quiet. After a stop off in the Galleria to enjoy a toasted cheese sandwich at KALA Toast (which I can’t recommend enough) I thought it would be fun to walk back to Central via Old Peak Road. As unforgettable experiences go, walking down Old Peak Road in the dark on my own was up there. It’s comically steep to the point where I couldn’t help but run at times, it was also oddly serene, clearly nobody else thought it was a good idea. It was just 15 minutes before I was back in the heart of Central, so I felt my decision was justified given the bus queues were apparently 30-40 minutes to get back down.

Trip 2 was planned for a clear morning, I headed to the tram station at 8am to find nobody else there. The tram arrived and I hopped on with just the driver and two Madame Tussauds employees for company, which meant I had a prime seat at the front on the right hand side. I found myself pretty much alone at the peak aside from a few runners and dog walkers, I again headed down Lugard Road and enjoyed the most beautiful morning light before heading back down to Central on yet another almost empty tram. 

Whilst the tram is clearly a ‘must do’, if you are planning to head up twice I’d highly recommend the bus. The views are better and it’s far more entertaining. Hop on at the Central Bus Terminal rather than an intermediate stop though if you want to make sure you reach the peak in good time.

Dragon’s Back

The Dragon’s Back trail was the only trail I’d really planned as a definite day outside of the city as it’s the main walk all the guide books suggest doing. I headed out early on the MTR to Shau Kei Wan Station and hopped on the number 9 bus which has a stop directly at the trail start. Apparently it’s a busy trail, but as I was to discover, not at 8am on a Tuesday! It’s an easy trail to follow, if you’re doing the short loop you can go either way when you reach the fork early on as it’s literally just one big circuit. As I had planned to do the long route I headed what would be anti-clockwise (a right turn at the fork which basically goes up and up!) along to Shek O peak. It’s quite an exposed route with lovely views but the trail itself isn’t too challenging, with lots of places to stop and take a breather along the way. As I descended back down there is a t-junction, left to head back to the start or right to continue on towards Big Wave Bay. I headed right and for a mile or so this was by far my favourite section of the whole trail, meandering through thick vegetation with frequent waterfalls and occasional views out over the water. Unfortunately that trail ends and turns in to what seems to be a service road before what feels like a never ending descent to Big Wave Bay.

I actually found both of the other trails I did on this trip far more interesting than this one and at least as accessible. Big Wave Bay itself was a major anti-climax (although to be fair I think the typhoon damage has knocked the life out of the place a bit), so after a brief break in a café I walked on to Shek O (not recommended, it’s just a long road with no pavement!) which had a much nicer beach and an interesting little village. After a brief look around the bus from Shek O took me straight back to MTR.

Lamma Island (Sok Kwu Wan Loop)

With the weather still damp and overcast I decided on a third day of walking, having already covered over 30 miles during the previous two days. A bit of research over breakfast dug up an interesting loop on the southern part of Lamma Island. A quick MTR trip down to Central and I was on the (infrequent) ferry to Sok Kwu Wan rather than the more popular starting point for Lamma Island walks of Yung Shue Wan. 40 minutes later the ferry dropped everyone, including what appeared to be a funeral procession, off at Sok Kwu Wan, an interesting little fishing village which as far as I can tell consisted of a row of seafood restaurants and nothing else. After walking through the village there is an obvious trail to the right that everyone who got off the ferry (including the funeral procession) headed for, but I was looking for a small, fairly well hidden set of steps to the left. The steps lead steeply up through what seemed to be an ad-hoc cemetery set amongst thick vegetation before opening out to a 3 way junction. Left and straight on were the beginning and end of the loop I was about to set off on, right led up to a nice viewpoint overlooking the ocean.

After a quick trip up to the viewpoint I headed left on the trail, which is basically a relentless climb towards what appeared to be a broadcasting tower in the distance, as with the other trails I had completed it was mostly paved and in excellent condition. At this point I hadn’t seen anyone since Sok Kwu Wan and when I reached the peak it was clear that nobody else was on the trail, as I could see all the ground I had already covered and the next mile or so of what was to come. After passing through a narrow passageway between the broadcast tower buildings it was steps pretty much all the way down to sea level, descending into lots of lush vegetation.

At this point the T-Junction caused me some confusion, as I discovered later that was mainly because both directions will eventually lead back to Sok Kwu Wan, so the signposts pointing left were also showing me my final destination. My notes said right, so I went right away from Mo Tat Wan and happened across another well maintained public loo in the middle of nowhere. The path eventually leads into Yung Shue Ha , which as far as I could tell was a completely abandoned beach village and fascinating to explore. The typhoon damage then did its best to throw me off track (literally) as the path around the beach was all but destroyed, but it eventually became obvious where I could head back inland (and through yet more abandoned settlements) for the steep climb up back to the fork in the path to complete the loop. 

Fortunately my walk finished half an hour before the next ferry, so I had a wander around the village before jumping back on the ferry, 40 minutes later I was back in the thick of it in Central.

Fish, Bird and Flower Markets

This trio of famous markets were just a 10 minute walk from my hotel, all 3 were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The goldfish market is a cluster of small shops spread around a cross-road that are literally packed floor to ceiling with goldfish and various other creatures suitable for aquariums. The shops themselves are just full of large tanks, but the fish are all out on display in their thousands, tightly packed in clear bags. There are then shops just selling pumps, or aquarium ornaments, or fish food. Just beyond the goldfish shops were a cluster of general pet and pet supply stores, as somebody from the UK it was pretty uncomfortable seeing cats and dogs for sale in shop windows, although I appreciate that’s just a cultural difference.

Next up, and on the way to the Bird Market, was the Flower Market. Much like the Goldfish Market this was essentially shop after shop after shop selling flowers, however it expanded across several streets (and onto the pavements) and must have been 100s of stores in total. After the bustle of the Flower Market (which was so, so busy) it was nice to escape into the relative tranquillity of the Bird Market. Like the other two areas this was essentially a cluster of shops selling birds, cages, feed and so on, but it was in a garden setting and was far more relaxed, it seemed to be more of a community than a marketplace. 

Man Mo Temple, Shi Lin Monastery and Nan Lian Garden

Man Mo Temple was a ‘must see’ in most guide books, and as the journey involved the Mid-Levels Escalators it seemed like a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. It was a hot day so I assumed the escalator would be a bit of welcome relief rather than trekking up a hill. Something the books didn’t tell me: the escalator switches direction every twenty minutes (or at least it did whilst I was there). Typically as I heading up the escalator was coming down, and when I was heading down the escalator was going up. Man Mo Temple itself was interesting and a nice quiet relief from the city, but it may have had more of an impact had I not already spent days in lovely quiet areas. It’s also really small, so it was only a 10 minute visit.

Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden were everything I’d hoped Man Mo Temple would be. It’s directly outside of Diamond Hill MTR station in a really built up area, but the moment you step in to the garden it feels like a different world and was a real highlight of my trip. The garden itself is stunning and easily worth spending an hour or so wandering around. No photography is allowed in the nunnery itself but you’ll have to take my word that it’s absolutely stunning.

Ngong Ping 360 & Tian Tan Buddha

My first planned day became my last, as the weather had finally improved. I booked a crystal cabin (which is a glass bottom cable car, a first for me) return via Klook and headed out to Tung Chung, arriving just before 9.30. I headed straight over to the Ngong Ping 360 where a queue was already forming (thankfully the Klook line was much shorter than the general entry line). After heading through the ticket check everyone merges together, but thankfully again the Crystal Cabin queue was much shorter than the general queue. By 10am I was heading towards Ngong Ping, looking down through glass at the trail I had followed on day one and enjoying the ride. The Buddha comes into view later on in the journey and it’s a pretty spectacular moment seeing the vast structure appear in the distance. 

Ngong Ping itself was probably the most disappointing element of my entire trip. Imagine a fake town in a theme park with the buildings full of gift shops, Starbucks, Subway etc. The views from the top of the Buddha were pretty spectacular and Po Lin Monastery was worth a look around (although nowhere near as spectacular as Chi Lun Nunnery), but within an hour I was back at the cable car stop ready to head back.

The best bit about heading back so early? Nobody else doing so! I jumped on the first Crystal Cabin that appeared and journeyed back to Tung Chung in my own private cabin, something that would cost an eye watering if booked specifically. My decision to start the day early was further justified when I arrived back at Tung Chung to see massive queues waiting to board the cable cars. The round trip was less than 3 hours in total and although it felt like something I needed to tick off the list, I wouldn’t rush back to do it again.

Tsim Sha Tsui

For a city break I spent remarkably little time in the built up city areas, it was full-on even in ways extremely busy areas of Manhattan don’t come close to, so I found it was best in small doses. That said, I was based in Tsim Sha Tsui right off of Nathan Road, so it was hard to avoid at times! The waterfront is the obvious focal point and a really nice place to spend an evening. There are lots of big open pedestrian areas so it never felt too crowded, and it goes without saying that it’s great for photography.

So, a city break that turned into an amazing walking holiday. The weather forced my hand a bit but for the best I think, the city was incredibly overwhelming so I think 5 days of that would have been too much. As it happens Hong Kong is also one of the most accessible places in the world to hit a variety of trails via public transport.

In terms of practicalities, everything was so straightforward I didn’t really give it any thought after the first day. The MTR (subway) is insanely efficient and easy to follow, right down to lights on the maps showing where you are and where you can interchange to at each stop (simple yet so clever). It was also cheap enough that I never priced up each journey, I just put £60 or so on an Octopus card at the start of the trip and used that for all transport (including buses and ferries) and never gave it any thought. The people are also polite to a fault, and somehow despite the crowds and everyone being buried in their phone screens everything is just so efficient. Coming back into London after was a culture shock!

Would I go back and do more? Absolutely.

The full gallery of images can be found here: https://chrisharrisonphotography.pixieset.com/g/hongkong/

Festival of Speed 2018

I’ve been attending the Festival of Speed since 2007, all of them on the Friday since I was hooked in by free Friday tickets that used to be given away in the Sunday Times (a lot has changed since then!) It’s now most definitely not free, but still, in my view, worth every single penny.

The Friday used to be a relatively low key ‘enthusiasts day’, most of the headline cars still went up the hill but usually driven by test/reserve drivers. I distinctly remember a number of the road cars passing me on through Chichester early in the morning, and those that were already in position could be covered up until lunch time. It’s now a full-on Festival of Speed day with air displays, many of the headline drivers and everything in full swing. Interestingly the Thursday (which used to be the Moving Motorshow) is now experiencing the same ‘feature creep’ with more and more activity being added to the hill and elsewhere each year, I’m seriously considering the Thursday next year (or Thursday and Friday) to try and recapture that slightly more relaxed feel.

As always I followed my tried and tested plan of arriving in the car park just before it opens at 6:30am (which does mean a 4am start for me). The roads are quiet, the car parks are quiet and the entry queues are non-existent. It does mean waiting for 20 minutes or so until the gates open, but helpfully the security team pre-checked our bags whilst we waited, which meant we could walk straight through dead on 7:00am. The pay-off for arriving so early? The paddocks are empty, and I do mean empty…

With so few people around you can enjoy the vast paddock areas remarkably efficiently. I don’t bother with the manufacturer stands on the other side of the hill, so can usually see everything in the paddocks within 2 hours. That leaves me with the rest of the day to enjoy the action on the hill. The downside of being early? Many of the teams/crews are a bit more relaxed about taking the covers off cars, particularly in the supercar paddock now that they don’t run up the hill until later. Less than half were uncovered as I wandered through first thing.

I pick pretty much the same spot on the hill every year (at least since they closed off the area I used to watch from) for the first run through, which is basically the last section of hill climb before you head into the forest rally stage. It stays relatively quiet here all day, you can easily pop off to the loo or go and grab some food and still find a space at the front when you return. The one issue (well, apart from the lack of nearby facilities) is that you’ve got to be on the ball when spectating or photographing. There are no TV screens and very limited commentary coverage, and vehicles appear out of the wooded area at quite a pace.

After the first complete run through I headed slowly back down the hill to play around with different angles. I was surprised at how much room was available this year, pretty much all the way down to the start line there were spaces at the front, something I’ve not experienced at FoS.

Viewing locations on the house side of the hill are extremely limited, despite a walkway ascending well beyond the paddock there is nothing but a crossing point (with no viewing) at the end of it. Considering it can take well over an hour between crossing openings it’s fair to say there were more than a few hot, bothered and fed up people stood waiting to cross whilst not being able to see anything. I did manage to find one tiny bit of space where I could fire away some shots (on tip toes!) but other than that, it’s a fruitless exercise looking for locations on that side (cars passing right to left as they go up the hill).

Over 10 hours done, I headed out at around 5.30pm. Amazingly I drove straight out and somehow avoided any major congestion around Chichester, so all in all a very smooth day for such a large event

Kit List:

  • Sony a7RII
  • Sony a7
  • Sony  Zeiss FE 55mm 1.8
  • Sony FE 24-240mm f3.5-6.3 OSS
  • Sony FE 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 G

RIAT Guide

Before the Event

Programmes aren’t cheap (around £12), but they are the only official way to get a full flying schedule. The App and/or the mini-guide (handed out at the event) give you a few key timings and the commentary team will usually announce the next hour or so occasionally, but if you want a full listing for free it’s worth having a look around airshow forums on the Thursday or Friday, as kind souls usually post up the full schedule.

RIAT operates a set-price menu for common items available at the various food stands, but even so that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. You can take along your own food and drink (a cool bag is a wise investment), camping chairs and the usual British ‘summertime’ essentials such as rainproofs and sunscreen are of course recommended, and often end up being used during the same day.

Arriving

As per my Goodwood Festival of Speed guide, I’m going to be extolling the virtues of an early start here, in fact it’s even more crucial at RIAT if you want a relaxed day.

Point your Satnav at GL7 4EG and follow the appropriate coloured route in once you reach the yellow AA signs. The car parks open at 6am but the actual event gates do not open until 7:30. That said, it’s wise to arrive early if possible. Arrive at 6:30 and you’ll pretty much drive straight in, arrive at 8:30 and you can probably look forward to a 2 hour wait, particularly frustrating when the air display has started and you’re stuck in your car. The car parks are huge and featureless, so it’s crucial to note your zone via the flags dotted around the car park and any other landmarks that may help. Even then, expect to spend 5 minutes looking for your car.

Entry / Finding a Spot

If you want a spot at the front of the crowd line you realistically need to be in the entry queues ready for the 7:30 opening, and don’t plan on trying to venture too far from your entry zone (the runway is 2 miles long!) However it’s worth pointing out that 95% of the action takes place well above your head and is therefore visible to all regardless of how close or far you are from the front. Large sections of the crowd line are sectioned off for the various premium areas, particularly the nearer you get to the middle, but either end of the runway has vast open areas.

Static Display

As the air display doesn’t start until 10am we normally have at least two hours to kill once we’re settled in place. Thankfully there is plenty to see and do including over a mile of static aircraft to view. There are buses that take you to different zones, but we usually take it in turns to have a look around (one of us staying with our chairs and looking after our gear) and we easily walk the entire static display and back within an hour each.

Everything is coned/roped off and there are thousands of people looking around, so creative photography options can be quite limited. But as always if you think on your feet a bit you can capture something a little beyond the average record shot.

If you’re visiting on your own it’s fine to leave your spot ‘reserved’ with your chair whilst you have a look around the static display or pop to the loo, I’ve done this several times and many others do it. It goes without saying that leaving bags unattended is not the wisest of ideas.

Flying Display

The flying display starts at 10am and usually goes right through to at least 6pm without any real break. In terms of equipment, ideally you want at least 300mm on a crop body to get reasonably close, but 400mm or even 500mm is better.

I’m no expert with aviation photography so I keep things simple and basically just point and shoot, concentrating on composition and letting the camera sort out the technicalities. Continuous AF (Group AF on the D750 worked incredibly well), shutter priority, a fast shutter speed for jets (1/1000), and a significantly slower shutter speed (usually 1/160th ish)  for helicopters and props to ensure some prop blur worked for me.  

London

I’m not the biggest fan of London, but living in Wiltshire it can quite difficult to scratch the ‘big city photography’ itch I often get when I look back at my New York photos and so on. As it’s only a 90 minute train journey away I try and head over at least once per year to shoot for a few hours, usually in winter so I get more time shooting when the sun goes down.

I’ve rarely strayed from the obvious touristy stuff and even after just a few hours it’s nice to come home (I’m obviously a country bumpkin!), but I’ve always been pleased with the photos I’ve come back with…

Festival of Speed Guide

I like having big international events within a few hours’ drive to go and photograph, but I’m not a fan of sitting in traffic or wrestling through massive crowds. You might think one has to come with the other, but there are ways of minimising the stress (and costs) at most big events, and it’s no different with the FoS.

Choosing a day

Thursday

Now the first day proper of the Festival of Speed; the Thursday is evolving every year but currently sees most of the road and rally cars on the hill throughout the day. It's a reduced timetable with a focus on manufacturer cars rather than the race cars, but a fantastic day if you want to wander around with smaller crowds and take in the vast static elements of the Festival.

Friday – Sunday

The event used to be run with Friday as the ‘enthusiasts day’, which was all about the cars rather than the stars, with Saturday and Sunday being the main event days when the F1 drivers etc would show up. Friday has morphed into a full-on day now, but it’s still by far the best option if you want to experience everything FoS has to offer without it being quite so busy.

Technically the main hill climb event is a competition with a final shootout on the Sunday, but in reality (particularly if you’re not near a PA or screen) it’s a bunch of cars hooning up the hill all weekend, which is fine by me.

Before the Event

If you’re on a budget visit the Goodwood website and note down the schedule for the day or download the app. You’ve immediately saved yourself £10+ on a (bulky) programme. I personally also take my own lunch and water, which saves a small fortune on the day. There are no specific restrictions on taking food and drink into the event but bear in mind that with the enhanced security checks required these days you may need to empty your bags at the gate. Drinking water taps are located near the loos, so I'd recommend taking a bottle and topping up throughout the day.

Arriving

If you’re driving aim your satnav at PO18 0PX and follow the yellow AA signs once you get near. There are a number of car parks depending on which direction you arrive from, just be sure to remember the car park letter and location of your car (there are markers dotted around) before you head over to the event itself.

Car Parks open at 6:30 (in reality a bit earlier) with the actual event gates opening at 7am. I always aim to arrive in the car park for 6:30 and have always driven straight in, there is very rarely any traffic at all to worry about at this time. I then stroll over to the entrance gate ready for opening. Queues are usually very small at 6:30-6:45 but start to build a little towards 7am.

The Static Displays

7am in the paddock is a revelation if you’ve only ever experienced it in the day or have seen pictures of crowds as far as the eye can see. I gradually head through the Supercar and First Glance paddocks, then across to the Cartier Style Et Lux lawn, past the central feature and then up to the F1 and Motorcycle paddocks (which also contain all the other cars competing in the hill climb). As it’s fairly quiet you can work through all of that in a couple of hours quite comfortably. What you won’t get is the fun of large batches of those cars firing up and heading to the start line, but I tend to experience a bit of that on the way back down in the afternoon.

At this point the first batch of cars is usually hitting the hill, so I head for the top, but you can detour through the main manufacturer stands on your way up if you like.

The Hill Climb

The hill gets quieter the further you climb, with that in mind I go straight to the top! If you plan to do the same make sure you head up with the hillclimb on your left (i.e. the side with the manufacturer displays, not the paddocks), crossing via the bridge near the central feature. You can no longer get very far at all up the hill on the paddock side and the foot crossings are unreliable at best (hour long waits are not uncommon).

I always position myself in the very last open section. Much like the paddocks at 7am it’s amazing how relaxing and quiet it can be up there. The area is sparsely populated during much of the day and it’s never difficult to get a spot at the rope. The only peaks are when the F1 cars take to the hill and when the supercar batch is running.

Vehicles are separated into 5 or 6 batches (Americana, Pre War, Supercars etc) and these are repeated in the afternoon, so if you don’t want to see everything again you can make the short walk onto the Rally Stage or head back down into the madness.

Photography

You really don’t need a long lens to make the most of Goodwood, if anything you’ll want to make sure you can go wide enough for the hill. I took a 200-500mm in 2016 (on a full frame body), 200mm was way, way too long for standard panning shots on the hill so I reverted to my 85mm prime. A 70-200 or similar is perfect.

Cars often appear out of the shadows and if they’re pressing on will be gone before you can even lift your camera up, so it pays to be prepared. Race cars are generally loud enough to hear coming, but with rally cars and off-roaders in the background it’s not always as obvious as it seems. It’s surprisingly easy to miss the supercars during their run, they follow each other fairly closely, don’t hang around and relatively speaking aren’t particularly loud.

A batch concludes with support vehicles and a safety car (usually the Mercedes F1 or DTM safety car), after a short break they will then come back down the hill (slowly, in theory) to return to the paddock, again concluding with the support vehicles and safety car. You therefore get two bites at the cherry, once when they’re attacking the hill proper, and once when they’re heading back down.

My favoured location at the top of the hill is so good because you get a nice clean background for panning on the way up, and a lovely angle of the cars coming back down the hill out of the trees. If you’re quick and have a zoom lens you can capture cars twice on the way up, the second time a rear view when they enter the final corner.

Leaving

As with any big event, leaving early or late is usually the best option. On Thursday and Friday event traffic isn't usually an issue, but the general commuter traffic is. Chichester and the many roundabouts on the bypass are a nightmare to navigate between 4pm and 6pm, so that's best avoided if it all possible. It's a little known tip that you can hang around pretty late should you still have the energy, the advertised closing time is usually around 7.30pm, but there are so many pit crew and staff wandering around that you're not going to be asked to leave until pretty late into the evening.

Accommodation

As soon as the dates are announced local accommodation fills up; as the event draws closer you will need to look further and further afield to find anywhere to stay. It’s worth bearing in mind that Goodwood usually announce the date provisionally at first and do not confirm until the Formula One calendar is set in stone. For the 2017 event, for example, the provisional date subsequently clashed with the revised F1 calendar, it was immediately clear which weekend FoS was likely to move to but a little while before they announced it; this opens up a small window of opportunity to speculatively book some (hopefully refundable) accommodation.

Other than that, hotels around Portsmouth tend to have availability right up to the event itself. It’s a bit of a drive (45 minutes or so) but if you’re travelling from the other end of the country or something it’s a pretty good option. I managed to book a nice little hotel with breakfast for £70 just two weeks before the event this year.

New York City

I think we may be on our 9th or 10th trip to New York City, so it’s fair to say we like it. The majority of our trips have been in February and we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy beautiful clear blue skies nearly every day we’ve spent there (probably around 40 days in total). To balance that out we did once get stuck (literally) on the runway in the snow at Heathrow for several hours before they eventually shut the airport, so that trip never happened.

My early trips were ‘pre-photography’ so I had a disposable or primitive digital camera at best, but from around 2008 onwards and the arrival of my first DSLR I’ve taken many of my favourite photographs ever taken in New York…

Ski Chalet Photography

An unexpected (but very welcome) last minute commission to photograph this stunning chalet high up in the French Alps. The chalet was still under construction and fully occupied by those working on the final details, so it was a challenging but hugely rewarding 48 hours...

Dismaland

I was one of the fortunate few to get a pre-booked ticket for Dismaland, and as luck would have it my allocated day coincided with a beautiful day in Weston-Super-Mare.

As with every popular event I attend it paid to arrive nice and early. I was close enough to the front of the queue to be within the first 100 or so people in, which meant I could explore the ‘installation’ whilst it was relatively quiet. The alternative was to arrive later, queue for twice as long in blazing sunshine, then battle the crowds inside…no thanks.

The ‘theme park’ itself was as bizarre, amusing and disturbing as you might expect and great fun to photograph. The attention to detail was pretty incredible...

Wildlife Heritage Foundation

The Wildlife Heritage Foundation (perhaps more commonly known as the Big Cat Sanctuary) is situated near Smarden in Kent. They are dedicated to the captive breeding of endangered big cats. You can find out more about the WHF and what they do on their website. The sanctuary is not open to the public, but during the year they offer a limited number of 10 person, 4 person and individual photographic workshops, I opted for the 4 person workshop as a nice balance between the cost of the individual workshop and the less personal nature of the 10 person workshop (where non photographing guests are also welcome).

As you can see from the photos, access is amazing...