FEATURE/Malaysian documents Taiwan through time-lapse photography

08/21/2022 10:09 PM
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Photo courtesy of Phong Yap Hui
Photo courtesy of Phong Yap Hui

Taipei, Aug. 21 (CNA) Malaysian time-lapse photographer Phong Yap Hui's (馮業輝) latest time-lapse video "Taiwan II" featuring beautiful scenery across Taiwan is his way of expressing appreciation for his Taiwanese fans and the country where he studied for several years.

Viewing all five of his time-lapse videos about Taiwan on Phong's Youtube channel, including Taiwan II, which was released on Aug. 12, the beauty of the island is palpable even through a monitor.

The high-resolution videos document the 25-year-old photographer's years-long journey around Taiwan since coming to the country to study in 2015.

Malaysian time-lapse photographer Phong Yap Hui. Photo courtesy of Phong Yap Hui
Malaysian time-lapse photographer Phong Yap Hui. Photo courtesy of Phong Yap Hui

Speaking with CNA, Phong revealed that he came to Taiwan to enroll at the National Chin-Yi University of Technology seven years ago to study electrical engineering.

While his major had nothing to do with photography, Phong shared that his first foray into the field came as a result of being put in charge of taking photographs at a social function organized by the school's department of electrical engineering.

He said since delving into photography, he found himself deeply pulled into it and began researching the art form while taking up odd jobs here and there just to save up enough to upgrade the tools of his new-found love.

The photographer said he was inspired after watching "Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above (看見台灣)" from renowned documentary-filmmaker Chi Po-lin (齊柏林) as well as the works of Taiwan's acclaimed time-lapse photography maestro Louis Chen (陳志通).

Both late masters inspired Phong to record his time in Taiwan through time-lapse photography, Phong said, enabling him to create memories and works which he could treasure.

"I didn't want to just come to Taiwan to study and end the experience mundanely," Phong said. "I wanted to leave behind something different."

During the four years of his college life in Taiwan, Phong visited various cities and counties carrying over 20 kilos of photography equipment to scale mountains and visit the coast.

The amount of material he accumulated enabled him to create time-lapse videos to put on his Youtube channel, beginning with three "Timelapse Taiwan" episodes that were uploaded in 4K UHD.

TIMELAPSE TAIWAN 4K UHD

The videos included famous Taiwan scenery such as the sea of clouds on the peak of Hehuanshan and sunrises at Longpan Park in Kenting and at Sun Moon Lake.

According to Phong, the creation of Timelapse Taiwan came about literally by accident.

Phong recounted that he was involved in a vehicle crash where he broke three teeth in the summer between his sophomore and junior years of college.

Phong said he had to undergo bed rest for three weeks while his family in Malaysia pressured him to sell his equipment and give up photography out of anger and concern.

Left upset and with nothing to do, Phong said he then felt the urge to compile the materials he had collected for over a year into video form and upload it over the internet.

To his surprise, Phong's videos soon went viral on Taiwan scooter travel Facebook pages, so much so that he garnered the attention of both Taiwan and Malaysian media outlets which finally put his family members at ease and convinced them to support him in pursuing his photography dream.

Following his success, he decided to reedit his previous materials and rerelease them in higher resolution, added Phong.

Soon, before leaving for New Zealand to further his studies, Phong released "Taiwan," which was uploaded in 8K at 60 frames per second and attracted 2.57 million views.

Phong said the praise from Taiwanese for documenting the beauty of their island made him promise to return to Taiwan from New Zealand in 2021.

After spending the last year and a half traveling around Taiwan and taking photos, Phong released "Taiwan II" in 8K 60 high dynamic range on Aug. 12.

Photo courtesy of Phong Yap Hui
Photo courtesy of Phong Yap Hui

While a few of the scenes were taken from older materials, the majority of Taiwan II offers viewers new images from across the island, which Phong spent his latest trip capturing, such as the luminesce of fireflies and fireworks around Taiwan.

Phong even said that in the years he had spent around the island shooting, he had practically circled the island a hundred times and put in over 100,000 kilometers of travel, including scaling Hehuanshan mountain no less than 200 times as it was his favorite location to shoot.

He added that as a result of city and county governments acknowledging his works, he was able to quickly gain access into areas which require special permission such as the Heping Island Park in Keelung to capture scenes quickly.

However, Phong added, while his Taiwan alma mater assisted him in acquiring a visa during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the short duration of that visa forced him to have to extend it seven times, which at one point left him on the brink of deportation.

Phong said that fortunately, he was able to secure a proper working visa in February to enable him to work without worry in Taiwan for an extended period of time, adding that he wishes to capture as much of the beauty of the island as he could.

"Loving Taiwan is not a catchphrase," the photographer said, "but an action to be taken."

(By Yeh Kuan-yin and James Lo)

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