Beijing at it’s best was, whenever the wind blew away the smog leaving crystal blue skies and wispy clouds! Digital travel photography whilst being in China was awesome. As with any major city, you’re never alone as a photographer. It’s even more so the case when you’re visiting the hot tourists spots where everyone goes to get those famous shots. We all hear about the huge population in China, but I suppose nothing really prepared me for the reality of it. But I guess that’s me as I generally seek out the quieter areas.
I have friends who live in London and express that even when they are surrounded with people it’s easy for them to feel alienated. In the UK do tend to have a polite agreement not to bother one another and give each other plenty of space. This was not the case in China. In contrast I found that everyone wanted to talk to me if there was the slightest opportunity for a conversation starter. Carrying a camera and tripod was a good way to make many friends, whether you wanted to or not.
Whilst taking this photo I ended up with a mini crowd of people stood around me chatting and wanting to see what I was doing! People often wanted to practice their english, even if it was just to say “hello”. When I replied “nĭ hăo” they would often looked shocked and then reply, “nǐde zhōngwén zhēnhǎo”, which I later found means, “Your chinese is really good!!” What is more, they genuinely mean it and want to show appreciation to those who at least try to speak their language.
Tech talk: This shot was taken as a single exposure from a tripod. To allow for maximum flexibility when processing, I did bracket this shot. I also took numerous shots exposed correctly for the people. This meant that when it came to processing I ‘could’ have chosen from a selection of images which ones to blend together. As it happened, I was happy with this exposure and had enough dynamic range from the D800 raw file to process an acceptable image.
However, the downside of choosing a single exposure to process was that I had to select a relatively underexposed image so that the highlights were not blown out. Most of us appreciate that if highlishs are blown out you can’t recover them, but if shadows are underexposed you are still able to recover a lot of detail – but with the sacrifice of digital noise. Thus, this resulted in having to significantly open up the shadows using lightroom which increased noise and lowered the sharpness around the darker foreground.
If I was going to produce this image as a high quality print with more detail, I’d definitely resort to digitally blending it.
I’m therefore glad to have a few more images to choose from and will undoubtedly return to this photo to process it again to achieve different results. This is one of the wonderful things about digital photography!!
Worth a visit? Oh yes!
Key features? Architecture
Photographer friendly? Yes
Tripod friendly? Yes
Cost? Nothing to walk around the exterior walls as pictured here.
Transport? In Beijing travelling on the tube is really easy.
Best day to visit? Everyday is really busy but during the winter it is noticeably quieter.
Interesting fact: Trey Ratcliff was arrested and detained when he flew his quad-copter to take an aerial shot of this Forbidden City Tower.
Camera Make: Nikon
Camera model: D800
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8
Software used: Lightroom, Photoshop