Photo Friendsies at the Song Museum

What’s a Friendsie?

A Friendsie is when you would gladly take a selfie, but you have your friend do it because they can get better angles. I noticed this in spades all over China. While I did see a lot of selfies, I saw an equal number, or greater, of Friendsies. They would go out in groups of two or three and just take photos of one another all day long. Note that the word Friendsie doesn’t exactly exist yet, but I’m kinda inventing a new “name” for it. Elodin would be proud.

Daily Photo – Photo Friendsies at the Song Museum

We visited the Song Museum north of Beijing one day. It's a very contemporary and modern museum with clean white lines and elegant shapes. Inside the museum was the usual fair, but the outside of the museum was teeming with a hoard of girls taking photos of one another. Groups of two or three would all spend hours just taking photos outside the museum of one another in different poses. They were all stylishly dressed and quite avant-garde. Of course, I got into the fun and started taking photos of the whole scene as well, then sharing the photos back with them on WeChat (the most popular social network there).

Photo Friendsies at the Song Museum

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-10 20:11:50
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length70.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Fantastic Way to Illegally Camp Out on the Great Wall

Camping Out

Just north of Beijing is the Great Wall, and if you want to camp out, I kinda recommend this sketchy outfit. My friend Cliff from Google is about to head over there. So, if I recommended it to a friend, I recommend it to you too.

I found this place on my own and then took my friends Curtis and Tane on this very strange adventure. Here’s the short version.

But it’s all super-sketch. I should have gotten a clue from that terrible website. They offer like 30 different options, all heavily worded and confusing. Basically, I think it’s this one guy that does everything. He’s nice enough, but he’s kinda goofy and you have trouble understanding anything he says. He’s actually really really goofy and his way of speaking English was quite hilarious and kept us laughing. I’m not being mean… he just had a crazy way of speaking. It’s hard to explain but God we thought it was funny.

Even more sketchy is when we were about to go up on the Great Wall to prepare for a camp out. We were down at his “farm” that he kept talking about all day. He was like, “My farm this” and “My farm that”… The farm was basically about the size of a picnic blanket and was growing nuts or something. He kept trying to give us nuts but we didn’t want any.

All around this mini-farm were piles of bricks, rubble, and dirt, but this is very common all over China. There’s an amazing number of rubble-piles everywhere. Now I wish I had taken a photo or two, but it wasn’t very photogenic so it didn’t cross my mind.

It was getting close to sunset and we wanted to go up on the wall to take photos. Our guide really wanted us to come into his place to take a shower. We told him that we didn’t want to take a shower. But he was begging us to take a shower, which we thought was very strange.

We finally insisted that we need to get up there stat because the sun was about to set. He finally admitted he was trying to delay until the ticket office was closed because what we were doing was illegal. And this was after spending the whole day with them. He finally said, “If the military or police come by, just ignore them because they won’t speak English anyway.” I can’t say this was very good advice, but we went for it anyway. It was still worth it in the end, although it did cause a mild amount of anxiety that I didn’t need.

Daily Photo – Abstract or Quad Shot?

It's kinda hard to guess, except for the fact that you'll notice a lot of blue around the outside. This is the famous “Bird's Nest” in Beijing. I was really impressed when I got close to it. I remember when it was originally built, a lot of people thought it was ugly, but I've seen this reaction to a lot of innovative architecture. It's a matter of taste, of course… but I personally love the building. It's even better at night! If you go to Beijing, I recommend visiting this whole area of Olympic Park around sunset… there's lot of activity. Over my three hours there, I never even saw another white (or Western) person at all. I guess Beijing is not anywhere near the top of people's must-visit locations… which is too bad because there's some cool stuff there.

Abstract or Quad Shot?

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-11 00:12:06
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time0.4
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Friends in Beijing

Follow me on WeChat

My friend Ken Hong is gonna get my WeChat up to the next level! You can follow me there at “TreyRatcliffChina” if you wish! 🙂

Daily Photo – Friends in Beijing

We went out to visit the Song Museum in Beijing, but some of the best things to shoot were on the outside. There were a few dozen ladies outside wearing all kinds of outfits, all taking photos of one another. I've never seen anything quite like it. I get the feeling this happens most every day there. Most of the ladies didn't even seem interesting into actually entering the museum… instead spending hours outside posing this way and that. I saw these two taking photos of one another and asked if I could jump in the fun. After I took photos with their mobile phone, I took a few of my own and sent them along via WeChat (that's the most popular sharing app in China). As you can see, they were very friendly.

Friends in Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-10 20:37:33
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/3200
  • Aperture4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length43.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Camping out on the Great Wall

Camp out overnight with a shady company!

Hey, everything did end up working out in the end… but if you also want to try to sleep overnight on the Great Wall, I recommend this website! We did end up making a few videos of the entire adventure… wait till you see! Remember, apparently it is illegal to camp out on the Great Wall, but I guess you can do it anyway. He gave us some great advice in case the military arrived. He said it’s best just to ignore them.

Daily Photo – Camping out on the Great Wall

I'll save the overnight story for another blog post, but first I can tell you about the mini-struggle to get this photo! So, we found this place online that looked fairly legit. This “company” can get you up on top of the wall for a hike and an overnight camping trip. This guy and his driver picked us up at the hotel and we spent most of the day together. He seemed pretty legit, but less so as the day got closer to night. It was close to sunset, and he really wanted us to come into his farmhouse to take a shower. We said we don't really want to shower, but we want to get a sunset photo from the wall. He was really angling for this shower business, which we thought was strange. Finally, he admitted that we can't go up onto the wall until the guards go home from duty. This was the first indication that we were involved with a shady operation. More on the story in a future post!

Camping out on the Great Wall

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-06-06 23:09:57
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/160
  • Aperture9
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length29.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Returning to China!

Best of Beijing

I thought I would share some of my favorite photos from Beijing here. I went there several years in a row as part of a program. I ended up getting arrested, so I haven’t been invited back. These things happen. Oh, well. At least I got some good photos!

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."- Trey RatcliffFind out what happened here at stuckincustoms.com.

The Chinese Mothership Look at this magical place in Beijing... it's on the edge of belief.I could hardly fathom the nature of this place.  I expected the lights to appear on the grid with melodic tones a mystical, alien language, like in Close Encounters.  But none of that happened...  So I just stood there for a long time, thinking about how incredible this place was... and took my time, setting up my system for a fitting photograph.Remember when we were kids, and we never finished our food, even under the threat of starving children in China?  Now, I say to my kids, you better eat your food, or else Chinese children will grow up and create an economic powerhouse.  Well too late for that!This is the amazing National Centre for the Performing Arts, or as I like to say, the 国家大剧院 -- I find that rolls of the tongue a bit easier.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Downtown Beijing After Rain

Daily Photo – Returning to China!

I'm excited to come back to China in June. I'll be in some of the major cities, but I'm also quite excited to visit a few new spots. I'm not sure where I'll go yet. I reached out to my friend Kevin Kelly, who is quite the demigod in China, to see if he has any suggestions. I'm looking forward to trying out the new bullet train system to go far afield. Whatever happens, I'll take plenty of photos and share back here on the blog with you.

Returning to China!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2010-10-10 03:27:22
  • CameraNIKON D3S
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/100
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO2500
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-1

Returning to China!

In a Taxi in Beijing

This is kind of a funny video from a LONG time ago. It’s actually one of the first videos I ever released. I’m sorry to say that I have not improved much with my communication skills in the interim.

Daily Photo – Returning to China!

I'll be back in China for several months in June! I'll be going lots of places, but I'll start here in Beijing. Besides here, I'll be visiting the Great Wall, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Tianjin. I might also stay a few extra days and go far afield to see what I can find. I do like the big cities, but I also enjoy going way out into the hinterlands to see what I can find.

Returning to China!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2010-10-11 22:11:49
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time0.7
  • Aperture6.7
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length48.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Scarlett in China on the Great Wall

Floating Over China

By the way, this thing now has over 1.6 million views – thanks everyone! 🙂

Daily Photo – Scarlett in China on the Great Wall

“Why were the Mongols always trying to get into China?” Scarlett asked our guide. It was so cool to walk along here with my kids and have them ask all these questions. This was a very cold morning, and we were the very first people on this part of the Great Wall for the day. This is one of my favorite areas called “Mutinyu.”

Scarlett in China on the Great Wall

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2016-12-08 08:30:12
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias-0.7

Looking Down On Beijing

In Beijing whilst the Chinese police observe… I love this photo of my two little girls at the Summer Palace after we spent the early morning hiking the Great Wall at the beginning of our 6-week trip around the world 🙂

Daily Photo – Looking Down On Beijing

Here is a view of the master-planned roadway system from the top of one of Beijing’s tallest buildings in the CBD (Central Business District). I notice something funny about the way Chinese governments name areas. They are always so literal and formally translated that there is no magic in the names. One building might be called “Tower of Office” and another would have the name “Newspaper Building”.

Looking Down On Beijing

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2013-05-25 09:36:33
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time5
  • Aperture16
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length84.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Trey’s Crazy Trip Around The World – Part 1

Special new Video for you!

In the middle of the 60-day around the world trip with my family! Here’s highlights from the first 30 days – enjoy!

Ming’s Tomb

Thanks for the 1.5 million views!

This video from Beijing ended up being one of my most viewed videos!

Daily Photo – Ming's Tomb

I spent a day here several hours north of the city at Ming's Tomb. Everything lies along the “Central Axis” in Beijing. That is, if you walk in a straight line out of Ming's Tomb, you'll end up going through the entrance to the Forbidden City. Actually, these tombs are a series of tombs, all oriented along the same axis — you can get a sense of this in the video above.

Ming's Tomb

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2014-05-29 15:20:19
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/640
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length18.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Newsletter Sign Up

The most beautiful newsletter ever!