Inside The Egg

Solo Traveler

Have you heard of the Solo Traveler website? They’re having a photo contest… I think there are some good prizes! I did not enter… not even sure if they are taking more entries this year. But keep it on your calendar for next year. One of my friends, Griffin Stewart, told me about it… showed me his Rice Farmer Photo on Solo Traveler. Go in there and give him a good vote!

Daily Photo – Inside The Egg

This is sort of the opposite of rice-farming in China.

This building, lovingly called “The Egg” by locals, is the National Centre for the Performing Arts. It’s a gigantic and wonderful opera house that you have to see to believe.

Thanks to my contacts there, I had full access to go anywhere and shoot everything. There was a big entourage with me this day. I had my assistant (The great Jacky Woo) and translator. Also following me was a reporter from Reuters, someone from the “People’s Daily”, which is their local paper. There was as a delightful gentleman from the Office of Official Communication or something like this. I forget all the names… but he was a really cool guy. I never know if I am supposed to say people’s names or not…

This place was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. It’s one of a variety of internationally-designed structures in Beijing. Being a lover of wild architecture, I’m glad China has brought in so many different creative forces to work on these things… It’s always a joy to capture them the in a way that would make the architect proud.

You can probably get a sense of the sheer size of this thing by looking off into the distance on the right. It’s big enough inside to have it’s own weather system! You can kind of see some clouds and water vapor forming there in the upper reaches…

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Chinese Technopolis

Five People List – Thanks Scott!

Scott Bourne made a post yesterday called “Five People Who Made Great Impact on the Photography Industry in 2010“. He must have made mistake there on #4! But thank you very much anyway… even if that was a draft list that you accidentally published!

How to Zoom in to Maximum Size and EXIF

Two regular questions I get revolve around how to see the maximum size, and how to get all the ISO/Aperture/Shutter speed info. I don’t mind repeating the answers from time to time.

To get the maximum (or any) size, simply click on the image below (for example), and then click on the tiny “O” (For Original) at the top.

To get the EXIF photo data, click on the lightbox version (then you see this) over the photo and look for the Blue “i” that appears on the right – click that little thing!

Daily Photo – The Chinese Technopolis

How boring does the “Beijing Planning Museum” sound? Very!

How surprisingly awesome is the “Beijing Planning Museum”? Very!

The museum features a few giant city-models. And I mean GIANT! You can get a sense of the size of this thing by looking at the waist-height red rope around the outside. Not only is this a fully detailed model, but each of the buildings light up individually in a cascade, corresponding to a dreamy Chinese voiceover. The voice describes each sector of the city and what makes it unique. There is music playing in the background that I could have sworn was the same music as “Jurassic Park”, so that was a very strange addition to the scene.

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Peking Opera

Updated HDR Tutorial

I’ve updated the HDR Tutorial here on the site with a few refinements. I’ll continue to fix up some stray bits here and there over the next few days. Have you never gone through it? It’s a foolproof 6-step guide… for beginners and beyond! Enjoy!

Daily Photo – The Peking Opera

This opera is like nothing else in the world. This was my second visit to an authentic performance, but the first one in this grand palace of opera. I understand that it had been closed for a long time. I felt honored to be invited to attend the opening night performance of the Peking Opera.

The opera is mesmerizing and confusing event. I had a wonderful assistant with me, and she was able to translate the essence of the story to me. The plot was a classical tragedy told in dance and other-worldly sounding voices. Also I was very fortunate to have carte-blanche and was allowed to take photos anywhere. I used this as much as possible, trying not to make myself an annoyance.

High Dynamic Range Photo

Capital Museum in Beijing

Win a Free HDR Video Tutorial!

John P from One Man’s Blog is giving away a free copy of the HDR Video Tutorial!  You’ll notice that he’s the guy that is interviewing people in those little testimonials.  He’s a heck of a nice guy and a good friend… I’m happy to share the love to his readers over there!   All you have to do is leave a comment on his blog to win!

Daily Photo – The Capital Museum in Beijing

And look – another amazing super-structure in Beijing!

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I’ve had a lot of family in town and been showing them all my unpublished stuff from Beijing, including this photo.  They all remark on how impeccably modern and impressive the city has become. From what I understand, they have started bringing in more and more western architects to design innovative structures. I’m not sure who the architect here is… but it’s very well done.

See that giant red velvet wall to the right? It’s hiding a new display that’s currently being built. I’ve never seen such an elaborate “under construction” wall!

High Dynamic Range Photo

A Beautiful Morning in Beijing

Happy Thanksgiving! (What kind of pie do you want?)

Happy Turkey Day to all my old and new friends that come here to visit. I really appreciate it! Today, I’m trying my first deep-fried-turkey. I’ll think of you all while eating and report back! Also, we have about four pies here… it should be enough. Let me know what kind of piece you want!

Daily Photo – A Beautiful Morning in Beijing

Another early morning outing found me at this place, just outside the Forbidden City. The morning was crisp and clear. It was one of those mornings where you feel like moving around to both stay awake and to stay warm.

I walked to the top of the temple with all my stuff. it was a lot of steps… too many steps for that early in the morning! But, I was surrounded by a lot of early-morning Chinese people working out. What was interesting is that most of them seemed to be over 50 years old. And there were A LOT of them! They were working it hard, and kind of making me look bad.

Also interesting — every few minutes, you could hear them yelling at the top of their lungs — various mantras and other words of power to that are part of their routine. It was unnerving to set up for a shot, enter my tiny moment of zen release, and then have some guy in all-white sweats yell something in Chinese a few feet from me!

High Dynamic Range Photo

The Amazing Airport

China Interview Part 2

Here is Part 1 of the video interview that is continued below!

Daily Photo – The Amazing Airport

I went in and out of this airport in Beijing a few times. Some might argue a few too many times. That some might be me.

It’s an absolutely beautiful airport. It was so amazing in size and scope that I could not figure out what part to present to you first! But we’ll start with this one, at the entrance to the international terminal. This is near the dropoff area for the international departures. It’s the bit where you roll in your bags and try to figure out where the heck to find the counter for Air Sheep.

By the way, I took a ton of photos all over the Beijing airport.  No one ever gave me any grief for using my tripod.  As you might expect, HDR in this place is an absolute blast — and not having to worry about getting in trouble for using a tripod is even better!

HDR Photo

New Video Interview

New Video Interview in China

Well, I won’t repeat what I say in the intro to this video interview, but maybe you like this new format…  

This is part 1, and you can see Part 2 of the Video Interview right there.  Btw, if you like this style of doing interviews rather than a text-version, let me know.

Daily Photo – “The Place”

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again — the Chinese are not always the best at naming things.  I just don’t get it.  All I can figure is that these names are ultimately decided upon by a committee.  And this is why you never see a statue of a committee.  (well, except for maybe in China)

Anyway, besides the horrible name of this place — “The Place” — it is an awesome place!  It’s a modern outdoor shopping center with all the sorts of shops that one might expect.  High end shoe stores, purse stores, clothes, espresso, and the like.  The centerpiece of the whole place is this enormous downward-facing diamond-vision screen.  I’ve heard it’s one of the biggest in the world, and I don’t doubt it.   While shopping, underlings are entertained by non-stop animations and cool artsy video montages set to music.  It’s quite the spectacle!

HDR Photo

Amazing Opera Discovery in Beijing

New 28-300 Lens

I could not stand it!  I’ve been on the road for closing on 80 days, going around the world in an easterly direction, and an awesome lens came out mid-trip!  The nerve of Nikon!  Shouldn’t they check with me first?

So, while here on the shaky south island of New Zealand, I had to swing by a camera store in Christchurch to pick up the new 28-300 Nikon lens.  It’s expensive here… probably an extra $700 over the 28-300 cost in the US…  That kinda sucks eh?  Does anyone know why its so expensive?  Are there tariffs and taxes?  Why do governments do this?  (I come from the Milton Friedman schools, as some of you know…)

Daily Photo – The Peony Pavilion at The Imperial Granary

Look at this place! (and it’s worth a 100% zoom to original on SmugMug too)

I was invited to go see a very special event here in Beijing. There is an old area that has the ancient Imperial Granaries that date back hundreds and hundreds of years. One of these has been converted to an intimate opera house. They bring in some of the best opera actors from all over China to perform here.

If you haven’t seen a Chinese opera, you are in store for something totally original!

This particular performance was called The Peony Pavillion, which was written during the Ming dynasty and is a love story about all kinds of crazy mythical stuff that I don’t want to spoil for you. But it’s really a must-see if you are into unique forms of entertainment. And you do feel a bit like a time-traveller, watching a scene from hundreds of years ago.

Even more interesting, there is a trendy and delicious restaurant next door. Everyone eats together and has a wonderful leisurely meal before meandering over next door to enjoy the opera. It’s a great experience!

HDR Photo

Bustling Beijing

Thanks again Beijing!

When I called for some assistants here on the blog to help me out in China, I did not expect so many people to contact me! Thanks again for all the emails. I’m not sure I was able to contact everyone back, but I did my best. I ended up with a great gentlemen who was already at the airport with a driver holding my name card! His name is Woo and he’s studying international relations. His English accent is extremely-proper British, so it’s a bit like having a non-stop Jeremy Irons voiceover. He’s been great… even though I think I am wearing him out.

Daily Photo – Bustling Beijing

Getting this photo was not easy at all!

I knew of this area of Beijing called the CBD, or Central Business District. I notice that they have all these catchy names here, much like the building I took this photo from: “China Merchants Building.” At any rate, I had the driver circle the business district a few times so I could find a good angle. We found one in this building, but did not know if we could take a photo from the top floor. Woo went in first. This might have been a mistake because during the shoot he admitted he had a dreadful fear of heights. But he said it in such a charming British accent I thought it could have been my subconscious.

We went up to the 32nd floor. No windows no dice. We then went to the 31st floor, but the confused secretary would not let us through. Then we tried 30. The secretary said yes and let us into a boardroom, but the angle was not right and the other offices were busy. So we went to 29.

The secretary on 29 was confused so I instructed Woo to tell her, firmly, “We are with the Government.”

After that, we rushed in to set up, since the light was fading. People in the office were having some sort of light party at the end of the workday and were very confused by our presence. While I was setting up, Woo gave them the full story about how this was for an organization that had approval from the government and we were trying to get a fun shot of the city, etc etc. And then he pulled out my iPad to show the managers some of my work. Then they all got excited and came over to get their photos taken with me. All of that was fine and well, but I had to convince them to stop doing that and turn off all the lights because the reflections were killing me.

Bustling Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/4.8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length15mm (15mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Secret Treasures of Beijing

Daily Photo – Secret Treasures of Beijing

These little finds are everywhere! Sometimes, while stumbling around from alleyway to alleyway, I appear right in the middle of these perfect little scenes.

It was very close to the National Day, and crews were out freshening-up the city. There were about four Chinese painters that were busy putting a fresh red coat of paint on this perfect little bridge. By chance, they were just finishing up as I approached. This little boat from the painters was pulled up beside the bridge in a wonderful way, so I set up my tripod along the bank for a photo.

They all looked at me in a confused way. They had no idea why I would want to take a photo of their little boat and the bridge. I imagine they find this so commonplace as to be hardly worthy of a photo… and it makes me wonder about all the non-photographers (or fans of this site) out there. Perhaps they just go through life and don’t even notice anything interesting pretty and nicely composed. What an empty visual life this must be!

HDR Photo

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