The Summer Palace, late in the day

Drought in California

I keep hearing about how bad the drought in California — is it as bad as people say? I saw these amazing pictures, taken three years apart.

Daily Photo – The Summer Palace, late in the day

Even though I've been to Beijing many times now, I'm often confused as the relative distance of one thing to the next. Here, at the Summer Palace, it turns out is very close to almost all the key stuff along the Central Axis (which is kind of a spiritual line that goes north-south through Beijing. But the first time I came here, it took over a 2 hours, and not just because of lousy Beijing traffic! So, I had this thing in my mind that this place was really super far. I was low on time but decided to try risking coming back again. This time it literally took 5 minutes. I'm still confused by the whole experience!

The Summer Palace, late in the day

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Strange Bushes in China

4K Video on the Inspire

I’ve been shooting more and more video with my DJI Inspire at 4K. It’s really cool and amazing to watch on the big screen… so smooth and amazing, really! At first I thought 4K video was a bit overkill, but I gotta admit, I’m getting kind of used to it!

I can’t believe the NSF would not let me bring my quadcopters down to Antarctica… it has made me a bit bummed out… I was really looking forward to getting some unique angles. Oh well…

Daily Photo – Strange Bushes in China

Here's a few Minions from Despicable Me that were on the side of the road in China. So strange, I think! Somehow I doubt they paid royalty rights for these…

Strange Bushes in China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3000
  • Aperture
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramShutter speed priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring a new area of the Great Wall of China along the Mutianyu

Strange Hotel

I often have very strange Chinese hotel experiences. This one was no different. I walked into pretty much the only hotel in the small village of Mutianyu. First, it didn’t really look like a hotel from the outside. But from the inside, I can report, it also did not look like a hotel. It had a bunch of trees and bushes and little pathways here and there. Some seemed to go into closed restaurants where others just went to areas of general detritus. I eventually found the front desk after busting through some palm fronds. When I got there, they indicated that this was indeed the hotel, but there were no rooms. Not that there were no rooms available — just that there were no rooms. I thought this strange and asked if I could still somehow find a way to stay at this supposed hotel. They said, oh yes of course, but you have to go get in the car and go across the street to the hotel.

Daily Photo – Exploring a new area of the Great Wall of China along the Mutianyu

The Great Wall has many different sections, being great and everything. I've visited many of them, but this one is by far my favorite. It's called the Mutianyu. Other sections are Badaling, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai. But this one is my favorite so far because it's well maintained, beautiful to photograph, and, best of all, not that many tourists! I ended up staying here way too late and was barely able to find my way back down into the village.

Mutianyu

Exploring a new area of the Great Wall of China along the Mutianyu

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/200
  • Aperture5
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length33.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Relaxing in Houhai, Xicheng

New Android Phone?

I’ve been trying to get my hands on one of the new Nexus 6 phones… they seem to be constantly sold out! I’m a hardcore Android fan, I must say… even though I do use Macs and iPads, for my phone, I’ve always gone Android!

Best Neighborhoods in your city?

People tend to talk about cities generically, as if the whole thing has a certain “thing” to it, but I think neighborhoods are the most important part. Where is your favorite neighborhood to hang out in your city?

Daily Photo – Relaxing in Houhai, Xicheng

This is one of my favorite areas of Beijing. There is a beautiful lake that is surrounded by all sorts of little shops, restaurants, quaint bridges, and tons of interesting people. One of my favorite things to do is go here in the middle of the day, take a ton of photos, then relax in a cafe with my camera with a glass of wine (or two!) and watch everyone go by… still snapping photos. That is a good day!

Relaxing in Houhai, Xicheng

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/750
  • Aperture
  • ISO1600
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramShutter speed priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Further Along the Central Axis at the Ming Tombs

Going Back to China?

I’m honestly a little worried that I might not be allowed back into China. I don’t think they like me much there after my quadcopter incident. I have not been formally kicked out of the country, but I don’t know if there is a formal process for that anyway! I guess I would find out if I apply for a visa and it is denied. Well, we’ll see what happens… I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

Daily Photo – Further Along the Central Axis at the Ming Tombs

Yesterday I mentioned the central axis in Beijing, the spiritual line that goes straight through the ancient city. There are all kinds of interesting monuments and things to visit along this axis, but very very far north are the Ming Tombs. These things are spread out and require a lot of walking, but the walks are quite beautiful. It's strange to be in such a tight congested city but then have these massive swaths of open areas. Hardly anyone ever comes to these places, so there is plenty of solitude, which is a welcome respite from the chaos of the rest of Beijing!

Further Along the Central Axis at the Ming Tombs

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture8
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length68.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Little Streets in by the Li River in China

Street Shooting Tip

It’s very hard to shoot on the street when things are moving at f/1.4 if you are doing manual focus. So, one thing I try to do is stay up at f/2 or f/2.8 because you have a bit more margin for error on the focus. But, if you are a fixed distance away from your subject (like when I was following the gentleman below), you can go ahead and open it up as high as it wide as it will go and take your time. Not all street photography has to be rushed.

Daily Photo – Little Streets in by the Li River in China

I was mostly down in this area to try to find good vantage points on the river. But when you go along the river, you pass through tiny town after tiny town. I was on foot most of the time, so I would just try to feel my way from one side of the town over to the other side. I felt like a rat going through a maze trying to find some cheese! Anyway, while getting all turned around and going through the tiny streets, I got behind this old-timer here… I set my focus manually and just walked behind him at f/1.4.

Little Streets in by the Li River in China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO500
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramShutter speed priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Sun Sets on the Great Wall

Great Wall BTS Video

Here’s a video from one of the first times I visited the Great Wall… an oldie but a goodie! :)

Daily Photo – The Sun Sets on the Great Wall

It was an amazing day on this part of the Great Wall. It's my fourth trip to the Wall, and each time I go to a different section. This, by far, was my favorite! It was not too crowded and it was beautifully maintained. I stayed here way too long and into the night. I did not have my proper headlamp to get back down to the little village after I was done, so I almost killed myself many times! Plus, there was rain… I seriously considered sleeping up in one of the defensive towers for the whole night, but it was already cold and only about to get colder. Anyway, I finally made it down thanks to the 5% battery life (and draining fast) on my Android screen!

The Sun Sets on the Great Wall

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture4
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

The Sunset I almost missed in Beihei

A light moment in China…

As opposed to the incident below, here’s a bunch of hairdressers getting ready for work!

Daily Photo – The Sunset I almost missed in Beihei

Remember that little story about me being detained by the Chinese police? It was right here that it happened! This is the exact spot where I was descended upon. I was released into the wild back in this same location, right at sunset. Quite convenient, I must say!

The Sunset I almost missed in Beihei

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1600
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length17.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Soft Clouds over The Forbidden City

Sony A7s Review

Check out the new Sony A7s Review I just recently finished!

Instagram Fun

I’ve been doing a fun series over on Instagram with combining some of my photos with a few of my favorite passages from the Patrick Rothfuss books.

Daily Photo – Soft Clouds over The Forbidden City

Blue skies are a rare thing in Beijing, so it was a super-surprise to see these kinds of delicate clouds over the corner tower here. I do love the way these clouds turned out… they look like the kinds of clouds that Bob Ross would paint! The clouds did not last long, and it takes forever to get anywhere else in Beijing. I wanted to get photos of the whole city before this perfect situation went away, but I knew that would be pretty much impossible… I just stayed here and chilled out… watching the clouds slowly fade across the sky.

Soft Clouds over The Forbidden City

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length33.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Breakfast on a Beautiful River

Most unique breakfast

Where’s the place you’ve had the most unique breakfast? I think this little place before must be in my top 3!

Daily Photo – Breakfast on a Beautiful River

See these amazing boats down there? Tom and I came across this place totally by accident. We were quite confused.

It was a cool morning and not too humid for this part of Guilin, China, which is normally quite miserable. Tom and I walked down here and it was totally empty except for a few wild dogs. After a few moments, a nice Chinese lady came out (her nationality should go without saying) and asked us if we wanted something to eat. That's when it dawned on us these were eatin' boats! So she went in and made us a MASSIVE omelet and then set it up in the middle of the table. We were with our guides Mia and Andy, and the four of us sat around the table to eat while we were calmly poled down the river. Awesome! What a find!

Breakfast on a Beautiful River

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture
  • ISO500
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramShutter speed priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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