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

Inside the Chinese Megapolis Waterslide Utopia

Interview with Ignite Channel

Here it is, in its entirety. I pasted the questions that Pamela Stewart asked me below the video.

1. You were one of the first photographers I saw working in HDR. I had no idea what it was, I just knew that your photographs felt real and surreal. They reminded me of the best dreams I have ever had. The Gentle Path to the Beyond is probably my favorite photograph. I don’t even know if I can explain how that image has settled in my soul, but it has. There seems to be a split between those who think the kind of photographs you take are more “real” and those who don’t see that. For example, The Edges of the Flatiron just feels more like a real experience to me. The first historical photographs weren’t in color, so technically they weren’t real either. There is nothing that can duplicate exactly what each person’s eyes see. What do you wish to convey with your work?

2. Your photographs of Burning Man are some of the most luscious and warm I have seen. I especially like the one from this year of Embrace with the couple dwarfed by the giant sculpture, and yet the feeling we get of the couple is larger than any representation made in wood. Burning Man is a photographer’s dream, but it is so much more. How has the experience changed you?

3. You’ve become a teacher and a mentor to thousands online. I like that you add the technical information to your photos, which is great for photographers who aspire to learn your techniques. You must get a ton of questions. What do you wish people would ask you and what is the question that you really can’t answer anymore?

4. People want to know the secret to your photography, but isn’t the secret something inside you? Isn’t it something that all artists have that can never be duplicated by another? What is you secret, or is it something so nebulous that even you don’t know?

5. Given all the places you have traveled to and shared with us, while you focus on the beautiful, you must witness the dark side of humanity in poverty and the destruction of nature. Do you ever have the urge to turn you camera in that direction, or would you rather share positive light?

6. I love your drawings (there is one titled Scarlett, which captured me). What art or music inspires you? How does working in other media influence your photographic work?

7. A lot of people may be fans of your work, but have not read your bio and the fact that you are blind in one eye. Since you were born that way, it’s all you know. When we look through a viewfinder, we only use one eye, so maybe you were given this gift as a kind of second eye, although I kind of see it as a third eye because your art seems to be imbued with a spiritual and intuitive quality. I know you didn’t take up photography until later in life, and I get that because I didn’t start writing until I was in my late 30s. I don’t know if you believe in a higher power, but if you do, what do you think? How do you think this gift came to you?

8. You create some incredible videos of your work with a soundtrack. Do you have any desire to do something outside of still photography like a documentary film?

9. Do you have any upcoming plans or events you would like to share?

Daily Photo – Inside the Chinese Megapolis Waterslide Utopia

I was having a bad day in China, so I decided to go here and see what it was like.

I was there, invited by an arm of the government. I had this massive fight with them that morning. They do help set things up for me from time to time, but they told me I could only go to a “certain” location on the Great Wall at a certain time. I told them they were being ridiculous and the light would be horrible in the middle of the day. The idea that I would not follow their plan, which was completely arbitrary to begin with, was so foreign to them that they had no idea how to handle me. These people still have no idea what the hell to do with me… so aggravating. Anyway, I'm not gonna work with those people again; way too frustrating.

ANYWAY, after I had the fight, I told the driver to take me here, because I always wanted to go and see what it was like… it was super-awesome inside!

Inside the Chinese Megapolis Waterslide Utopia

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture4
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Walking through the Forbidden City

From the Museum

See Edy in this video? She was my assistant in China. I didn’t choose her; she was automatically given to me by the government. I was there taking photos on behalf of some government arm… they kind of gave me free reign, an assistant and driver, etc. But, in all honesty, I would have been much better off without her. She was a very goofy and silly girl. You can kind of get a sense of it in this video below… Halfway through, I complained so much that I finally got a new dude named James. HE WAS SO AWESOME… probably the best assistant/guide I’ve ever had… I loved that dude!

Daily Photo – Walking through the Forbidden City

And here's the same gal from above, walking through the Forbidden City one afternoon. I liked her dress and thought she looked pretty awesome walking into around the inner courtyards of such an amazing place.

Walking through the Forbidden City

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/2500
  • Aperture9
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-2.7

Sunset in Southern China

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Daily Photo – Sunset in Southern China

This was one of my favorite areas to visit in China a few months ago. And, even better, we were treated with a truly remarkable sunset. Sunsets like this don't happen there much, so I felt very lucky to be in the right spot at the right time. It was certainly hard to get up to this position… many cuts, bruises, and lots of blood was spilled to get here. But I forgot about all that quickly enough.

Sunset in Southern China

Sunset in Southern China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture9
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length15.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Looking Down From the Bell Tower in Beijing

New Perspectives with Drones

I really like this top-down view that you get from drones. It’s so interesting to me… I follow a few other quadcopter photographers that do this also, and I’ve seen a few comment that it’s now “passé” — which I find to be ridiculous! I love looking at them and I think it will be a long time before I tire of it.

Daily Photo – Looking Down From the Bell Tower in Beijing

This is on the edge of one of the most famous buildings in Beijing. The building itself is great, naturally, but one of the best views is right here along this road. It’s where all the little covered bike-things line up to ferry people to and fro. I like how they are all a deep red and stand out against the greenness of the Beijing concrete.

Looking Down From the Bell Tower in Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraHero3-Black Edition
  • Camera MakeGoPro
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length2.8 mm
  • FlashNo flash function
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias

A view from the Pagoda in Yangshuo

Crazy Lightning Photos

I think most awesome lightning photos are fake or very lucky. I guess I don’t know what I mean by fake. I guess if you combine a bunch of lightning over a 30 minute storm into one photo, then that crosses the line a little for me. Trying to get it all at once is a bit more sporting, but, honestly, that’s a bit more lucky too! The best system I have found (and I am not an expert) is to go into manual mode and get your shutter to about 5 seconds. Get all your other settings so the photo looks good! Then just keep taking photos and keep your fingers crossed!

The 5 second span is good because you probably have a half-second gap between photos… it means that if there is lightning, you have about a 94% chance of catching it!

Daily Photo – A view from the Pagoda in Yangshuo

That's Yangshuo splayed out down below under the evening sky. Tom and I went up here to shoot and then a very nice lightning storm rolled in! That was pretty awesome, but a little bit wet and scary. So we got under the pagoda for a while to stay out of the elements… but we kept doing our best to get lightning shots. Taking photos of lightning is always challenging, but I think we got a few!

A view from the Pagoda in Yangshuo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length31.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

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