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

Pandora from Avatar – Zhangjiajie

A Bunch More Photos from China…

Besides the new eBook info in the upcoming Newsletter, I will include about a dozen new photos from China for you as well! Newsletter subscribers often get to see things first, so I it is actually a great outlet for me to post a ton of fresh stuff right away. And, if you like the newsletter (it’s free), I hope you forward along to your family and friends!

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Getting Around China

So, I don’t speak much Chinese. Actually, I speak so little that it is embarrassing. And, very few people here speak English. It’s less than 1%. So, most of the time it can be tough to get around… but I always end up getting where I want. It’s more a matter of will, charades, and international gestures that get me where I want to go. Anyway, this is often a question I get, “How do you get around without knowing the language?” It’s really not a worry… Have you read “The Alchemist”?

Daily Photo – Pandora from Avatar

Getting to this place isn’t easy, either. I wish I could tell you how tired my legs were and still are. I added about another 1/4 inch of calf muscle in the last week. Climbing these spires with all my equipment is not cake walk. I climbed to the top three times in my hikes, and my first day had about 10km of unforgettable pain. 10km is one thing. 10km that involves these kinds of verticals is another thing.

I also climbed one of these at night. Alone. That was exciting. I don’t know if exciting is quite the right word for it, but it certainly was an experience (that word said with French accent). On the way down, I ran into a big snake that would have liked nothing more than to rock my face off. I’ll have a full story on that in a later post from this area.

HDR Photo

The Li River

New eBook Very Soon!

We have a surprise eBook coming up for you very soon! If you are signed up for the Free Newsletter, you’ll be the first to know. Sign up here below… and enjoy!


Daily Photo – The Morning Fisherman

Now, getting to this place was not easy!

I arrived about 1 AM at a tiny family-run inn by the river. I was meeting a local guide (see Jack’s website) at 5 AM, so I didn’t get a lot of what I would call “quality sleep”. Anyway, I got up very early and went downstairs in pitch black. There seemed to be a big white cloth box I had to go around to find the front door. My guide was outside. The door was locked and we could not figure out how to get it open. Everyone at the little inn was sound asleep and I was totally confused. Then, from inside the big white box, a body flew out of it! There was a 60-year-old Chinese guy inside that was sleeping until I woke him up with all my lock-manipulations. His naked limbs in the white sheets scared the bejeezus out of me and woke me right up!

And then we were on the river about 5:15. It was still completely dark outside. And I mean COMPLETELY DARK. It was a thin bamboo raft with an outboard motor.

I turned around to ask my guide, “How the heck does the boat driver know where he is going?!?”

He calmly said, “Oh, no worry. The river is very wide.”

I not-calmly said, “Well, that’s great and everything, but I can’t even see the edge to the river!”

He calmly said, “But it is so wide.”

This line of questioning was not getting me anywhere, so I just decided to sit back and enjoy my possible last moments on Earth. Then the sun started to rise, and we moved the boat over to the best bank for the angle.

Want to hear something amazing about these fishermen? You won’t believe it… but maybe others can confirm this! The fishermen use these two trained cormorant birds that have their throats tied. The birds dive into the water, eat a fish, but then can’t swallow it because of the rope. The fisherman rudely pulls the fish from the bird’s throat and drops it into that basket behind him. The bird then goes over to a tiny keyboard and sends out the tweet, “WTF”.

The Morning Fisherman

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/2.8
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length20mm (20mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Feng Huang Cheng

Stuck In China Update

From my post yesterday, I’ve gotten all kinds of interesting response – thanks!  It looks like there are a few uber-powerful political types that stop by the blog from time to time and some strings are being pulled.  We’ll see if I can get out of the country in a timely manner!

(NOTE:  Do not ever run at full speed through an embassy.)

Three Days of China

I’ve been in China now for what is approaching a month. It has been a wild and adventurous time! I’ve been so busy shooting, and internet has been so hard to get in places — it has been hard to do regular, timely updates. So, obviously, I’ve been posting some new pieces from other photo adventures, but this is how things generally work around here.

But, for the next three days (including today), I’ll show you some brand new stuff from apart of my trip here!

Daily Photo – Ancient Feng Huang Cheng

As many cities in China quickly leapfrog American cities into one technopolis after another, there are still many old, ancient places across the countryside. So, in an effort to find some of the more unique and classical Chinese places, I had to go pretty deep beyond the major cities.

This is an old place that maintains its classic charm. It’s called Feng Huang, and the old buildings along the river are still up on stilts. They don’t build right along the river, since they know every 50 years or so, a major flood clears everything away. In the meantime, locals go on about their business, going down to the river to wash clothes, prepare food, and the like.

The entire time I was here, I never saw another white person and did not meet anyone that spoke English. I also suffered a fairly significant injury one morning… will talk about that another time. I’m going to hit a hospital here in Beijing to see what exactly happened! But, most importantly, even though my cameras hit the ground pretty hard, they are all in perfect working condition. Sweet Nikon.

HDR Photo

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