Portrait of a City // Hong Kong

We often travel for the sights & sounds, sweeping landscapes and panoramic vistas, but its really a collection of fleeting moments. Moments that leave an impression and last a lifetime. More than that, travel is an opportunity to escape reality and leave our troubles behind. You see, when you switch out the suit for floral shirts, nothing really matters; your work, headaches and deadlines. 

This time, travel brings us to Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis and cultural hub of Asia. Hong Kong has long been touted as a photographer's haven, due to its preservation of heritage and integration with the ultra modern; glass skyscrapers looming in the background of archaic shophouses. Like Hong Kong's iconic "Yuenyeung" drink (A wonderful blend of coffee and tea), the Hong Kong skyline encapsulates old and new, heritage and modernity.  

hong kong streets donald ong visuals

Diving into the gritty streets underneath the canopy of concrete, we were greeted by the throbbing heart of Hong Kong. A bustling community of hawkers and shop owners selling anything ranging from snacks to sex toys. Every direction you looked presented a unique moment to be captured, and preserved, in time.

hong kong streets

Moving past the urban sprawl of Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui took us to the picturesque villages of Stanley and Tai O. While most imagine Hong Kong as a sprawling metropolis and urban jungle, it does offer some incredible landscapes and panoramas, being flanked by mountains and the ocean. Just a short 15 minute ferry ride from Sai Kung Village took us to Sharp Island, a beautiful bay with lush greens and blue seas as far as the eye can see. 

Hong Kong Sai Kung

The ocean breeze, along with the scintillating visuals, provides a moment of  tranquility and self reflection. See, as Singaporeans we're often caught up with our hectic lives and the day-to-day grind that is Singapore lifestyle. Being afforded the luxury of a rare moment of zen frees the mind, allowing us to think of where we've been and how far we've come. 


Travel frees the mind and unlocks the soul. Travel transcend language and culture, and embraces the only thing that matters - Life. It is the delight in simplicity and the indulging in memories, a reminder that it is less about what you do, and instead, who you do it with. 

Travel isn't just about the sights and sounds, it is a culmination of memories, and a reminder that the only map you need is the people around you. 

First Flight | Phantom 4

"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return" 


Every once in a while, something happens which completely changes your perspective on something - A complete paradigm shift, even. For me, that was the DJI Phantom 4. Prior to this, I have never considered using drones for video work, especially not as a wedding shooter. It seemed far too impractical for a fast paced event like weddings. That, of course, changed when we got a wedding client who specifically requested the use of a drone. 

So we went out and rented a Phantom 4. Two weeks before the shoot. Why not.

Phantom 4 donald ong visuals


And that's when it happened. From the moment I got the drone in the air, I was hooked. Having flown an actual aircraft before (and thoroughly enjoying it), flying the drone gave a similar sense of freedom. It reminded me of what it was like to be in the air again. To have no boundaries, no limits. I was hooked. If there was a gateway drug for flying, this was it.

The first 5 minutes was trying to figure out the controls and setting up the DJI App. While setting up a drone may seem daunting at first, it really wasn't. Within 10 minutes, I was in the air, recording breathtaking visuals and making complex arching moves and flight patterns. It was amazing.

Aerial shot dji donald ong visuals

It's humbling to think that less than a decade ago, a shot like this would have required chartering a helicopter with incredibly expensive, cumbersome gimbal-based camera rigs. Now, this is possible with a drone that fits in a backpack and costs less than 1 hour of fuel for said helicopter. 

Operating the drone

Pointing the drone in literally any direction, we found interesting compositions and shots that we wouldn't otherwise have gotten from the ground. It really was a breath of fresh air. That fresh air didn't last long, though. After 3 batteries and around an hour, we were out of juice, and our bird had to come back down. It was an absolute thrill. As I had my Sony FS5 handy with me at the time, I decided to make a short film (Video above!) out of the experience, while my mate commandeered the drone.  

In a way, though, I regret flying the drone - Because now I want one.