Flashbacks of Two Decades in Hong Kong
Time passes, things change … To mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the Survey and Mapping Office (SMO) of the Lands Department (LandsD) published a new aerial photo collection – Flashbacks of Two Decades in Hong Kong – to document major developments in the city and bring us back in time to see the changing face of Hong Kong through the featured historic and new images taken by the SMO throughout the years. Here I would like to introduce to you the production team behind the scenes – our colleagues of the SMO; to find out how much effort they have put in to compile this rich collection and more about their daily work.
Hong Kong's dazzling prosperity nowadays is the result of generations of hard work towards the betterment of the city. This photo collection carries five feature themes, namely planning and infrastructure, transport, public housing, leisure and culture and nature conservation to showcase major changes of Hong Kong over the past two decades with images capturing the past and present faces of buildings and land features, infrastructural developments, etc. The photo collection is a time-machine taking readers on a journey through the development of Hong Kong: leading them to feel our concrete jungle city life and then break out of the hustle and bustle to enjoy the relaxing oasis in the green of the countryside. It is an invaluable archive chronicling the growth of our city and indeed well worth collecting.
Priceless collective memories
Sharing her thoughts on publishing this photo collection, Ms Florence CHAN, Senior Cartographer of the SMO, said it has been an extremely challenging job all the way from information gathering, photo taking, design, compilation to proofreading. All the works were done with meticulous care and attention to details. Take the cover design of the photo collection as an example, the numbers “9” and “7” in Chinese characters, denoting the year in which China resumes the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, are hidden in the design of the two Chinese words “飛越” (Flashbacks). It serves to accentuate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland in a subtle way. Moreover, all the images inside the collection are corresponding to one another offering a stark juxtaposition of the past and present.
Looking at the photos taken at the same place but almost 20 years apart, readers may be amazed at the striking similarities in the locations, camera angles and colour used in the new and old images. As a matter of fact, the SMO has invested tremendous efforts in photo selection. Apart from picking the most suitable photos for comparison from tens of thousands of photos, the colour and tone of the images also need to be adjusted to ensure that the unique land features, changes and development of Hong Kong are shown clearly to the public.
The SMO of the LandsD is the central authority for land surveys and all types of mapping in Hong Kong. To tie in with the rapid development of town planning, housing construction, land development as well as cultural and entertainment facilities in Hong Kong, the SMO is committed to offering various mapping services and products, including a comprehensive set of map in different scales in hard copy and digital form for different trades and professions, and for general use by the community.
The SMO has been taking various types of aerial photos at different altitudes on a regular basis within the territory of Hong Kong. The Flashbacks of Two Decades in Hong Kong are the photo record documented by the SMO over the years. Mr CHAN Wan-leong, Chief Technical Officer (Reprographic) of the SMO, said that the history of aerial photography in the SMO dated back to 1967 when the first aerial camera was acquired. The past two decades has witnessed the development of aerial photography along with the advancement in technology, be it the migration from the use of film-based cameras to digital cameras or the extension of flight platform for fixed-wing aircrafts and helicopters to including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. At present, the SMO has more than 20 unmanned aerial vehicles of different types, which are manned by colleagues who have received professional training.
Upholding the spirit of continuous enhancement, colleagues of the SMO are committed to producing more and better products. For me, I hope that more Hong Kong people will be attracted by the maps and aerial photos of the SMO to appreciate the beauty of our city, particularly the countryside, and discover more of the unique land features of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong making great strides ahead
When I was looking through the photo collection, what interested me the most was the chapter on “nature conservation”. Often when we talk about development, people may think the Government is going to sacrifice nature conservation for land development. However, as we are all living in “Hong Kong”, the place that we call “home”, we never ever have the motives to come down in favour of development against nature conservation and our countryside.
As reflected in the photo collection, the various works projects, large or small, have contributed in no small measures to the rapid development of Hong Kong over the past decades. I salute all the unsung heroes for their work and sweat paid off in transforming Hong Kong into a city yet more suitable for living and work. We take pride in our well-connected transport network, meticulous town planning, the high-rise buildings housing all the Hong Kong families, as well as the sustainable and environmental-friendly facilities. Most important of all, when we talk about development, we will not forget about the need to revitalise our historic buildings or protect the beautiful nature of our rural countryside. Instead, we will strive to promote sustainable development in Hong Kong by balancing the needs of development and conservation.
3 September, 2017