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Thread: Fobidden City

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Fobidden City

    My gosh, it was cold and I was certainly not dressed for it. It was our first day in Beijing and I was wearing only a light shirt and my photo vest. However, the winds whipping in from the North were not carrying loads of dust and sand as they were a week previous to my visit. In fact, the chill winds cleared the atmosphere and I was able to get some shots that I never anticipated despite shivering from the cold.

    Fobidden City

    I had planned for this shot long before my trip. I try to research an area before I visit it and plan for some strategic images. However, the tour did not give me enough time to get the selection of shots that I desired. I had to run (actually a full-out run) over to the sentry and shoot a few quick images with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens. I did not even have the time to attach my 1.4x TC and get a closer image of the young sentry’s face with the portrait of Chairman Mao in the background. Then I had to run to catch up with the tour group...

    Fobidden City

    All throughout Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, it was the same story. Running to get a shot and then running again to catch up with the group. The group visited the Square and then entered the Forbidden City by the front entrance and planned on leaving through the back entrance. I could not just let them go their merry way and catch up with them later...

    As I view these images, I can feel the frustration I felt on that first day. The mantra of the guide was “I will tell you about the area and then give you a minute to shoot your snapshots!” And… that is literally what we had., a minute or so to shoot. After this frustrating stop, I decided to concentrate on what I “could shoot” rather than what I was missing.

    The Forbidden City is guarded by lion statues. This was my first introduction to those great beasts who protect buildings in China from ghosts and spirits.

    Fobidden City

    Fobidden City

    What impresses every visitor to The Forbidden City is the massive size. This is an image looking back at the Meridian gate showing the five bridges…

    Fobidden City

    This is the courtyard of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. I decided that I needed to include the crowds as an integral portion of my images since there was no way to avoid them…

    Fobidden City

    Entrance to the Hall of Supreme harmony. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is one of the largest wooden structures within China. It was the location where Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty Emperors hosted their enthronement and wedding ceremonies.

    Fobidden City

    I used my 70-200mm lens to advantage in isolating portions of the intricate and beautiful architecture…

    Fobidden City

    Fobidden City

    However, I had not devised a way to get images of the people. This was to come on my second and subsequent days on the trip. At the Forbidden City, I tended to shoot mostly architecture and images such as this crane which is a Chinese symbol for longevity...

    Fobidden City

    The throne room image was difficult to obtain because of the dark atmosphere. However, I always carry a tiny 270EX flash. Usually, I have this on the camera with the 70-200mm lens and use it for fill flash when shooting people. However, when combined with a Joe Demb Mini FlipIt (now called a Photojournalist FlipIt www.dembflashproducts.com ) on the camera with my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens, it can provide some needed supplementary light for dark scenes...

    Fobidden City

    I had every intention of returning to Tiananmen Square at a later time but, the tour had us booked solidly, literally from dawn to dust... and beyond.

    Fobidden City

    These brass cauldrons are situated all over The Forbidden City and they are used for fire control. The City has been ravaged by fire on several occasions. One fire is said to have been set by the Eunuchs in charge of the Imperial art. They had been selling it off and when the Emperor demanded an inventory; the Eunuchs set the fire to disguise the thefts.. Did it work? Heck, I don’t know…

    Fobidden City

    Although the Forbidden City is a “Must See”, I found the streets of Beijing more interesting… Unfortunately, that day, I didn’t have a chance to wander the streets…

    Fobidden City

    Fobidden City

    Fobidden City
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 10th October 2010 at 10:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Thanks Richard,

    Another fascinating installment which tells us about the photo subjects and the perils of being on a tour.

    Are (were?) the cauldrons kept full of water? i.e. as tanks - just that you obviously couldn't pick it up and throw the contents over a fire, so I guess they used buckets.

    Cheers,

  3. #3
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Wow! Great series of photos and VERY well done.

    Chuck

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    Re: Fobidden City

    Thanks for sharing those, Richard. Beautiful photos. The colours are so vibrant. Love the second photo of the lion!

    Myra

  5. #5
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Hi Richard - I add my appreciation of these shots to that expressed by others. The consistently high standard of technical accomplishment as well as the content of the images should be an inspiration to the rest of us.

    I am particularly intrigued by the second to last image, the shop front with shop dummies and bicycle. No doubt others have spotted that the dummies are all of a "Western" nature - hair style, physiognomy and dress. There even appears to be a shooting vest hanging in the doorway - you weren't selling them were you? The shop to the RHS has some of its sign in English. I am quite surprised by this cultural aspect. I would have thought that there would have been no concession to Western style.

    Cheers

    David

  6. #6
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Although the Forbidden City is a “Must See”, I found the streets of Beijing more interesting…
    And that is what this series shows us.

    It is appropriate that if you're on a tour such as you did, you will point the lens at the 'must sees', but how many have your vision and insight to turn the lens the other way and point it out into the streets? And that's where the real stories are. These street shots are wonderful.

  7. #7
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    My gosh, it was cold and I was certainly not dressed for it. It was our first day in Beijing and I was wearing only a light shirt and my photo vest. However, the winds whipping in from the North were not carrying loads of dust and sand as they were a week previous to my visit. In fact, the chill winds cleared the atmosphere and I was able to get some shots that I never anticipated despite shivering from the cold.

    I had planned for this shot long before my trip. I try to research an area before I visit it and plan for some strategic images. However, the tour did not give me enough time to get the selection of shots that I desired. I had to run (actually a full-out run) over to the sentry and shoot a few quick images with my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens. I did not even have the time to attach my 1.4x TC and get a closer image of the young sentry’s face with the portrait of Chairman Mao in the background. Then I had to run to catch up with the tour group...

    Fobidden City

    All throughout Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, it was the same story. Running to get a shot and then running again to catch up with the group. The group visited the Square and then entered the Forbidden City by the front entrance and planned on leaving through the back entrance. I could not just let them go their merry way and catch up with them later...

    As I view these images, I can feel the frustration I felt on that first day. The mantra of the guide was “I will tell you about the area and then give you a minute to shoot your snapshots!” And… that is literally what we had., a minute or so to shoot. After this frustrating stop, I decided to concentrate on what I “could shoot” rather than what I was missing.
    Sometimes you have to break away from the group, meaning skip some of the pay for excursions, and go it on your own. Usually, guided tours are arranged around lunch time and this does not give you the best lighting. So your only choice is to work with what you have or arrange to come back later in the day.

    Great shots by the way, very colorful and the text very informative. For me, I think the architecture carries as much character as the people portraits.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 11th October 2010 at 01:06 PM. Reason: fix closing quote tag

  8. #8
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Fobidden City

    David...

    China, at least the cities that I visited were very much in tune with Western dress. I was extremely impressed with the stylish clothing worn by young Chinese... I also noticed the "shooting vest" at the tailor shop also but, we were just about to board our bus for another venue and I didn't even have an opportunity to cross the street.

    Shadowman...

    You mentioned...
    "Sometimes you have to break away from the group, meaning skip some of the pay for excursions, and go it on your own. Usually, guided tours are arranged around lunch time and this does not give you the best lighting. So your only choice is to work with what you have or arrange to come back later in the day."

    This is exactly what I expected to do and that is how I thought the tour would be organized. However, on most days we got up at 6:30 AM and placed our suitcases outside the doors or our hotel rooms. They came and got the suitcases and we did not see them again until they were delivered to our hotel rooms in another city. We would start touring around 7:30 or 8:00 AM and it was continuous sight seeing until late in the evening. Most often, we would fly or drive to another city late in the evening and arrive at our new hotel rooms at 8:30 or 9:00 PM. It was exhausting but, we got to cover more that I ever thought we could cover in that two week period.

    We did stay several 3-nights in Beijing but, the first night was when we arrived at our hotal about 10:00 PM after a 20-hour flight. Our internal clocks were totally screwed up. There was always something we wanted to see on the tour schedule, so I didn't really want to break free. An example was a Hutong Tour but, instead of just riding through the Hutong in a Pedicab, we visited a home in the Hutong. The homeowner was an archaelogist and he told us, through an interpreter, about his tribulations in a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution. This stop was not very photogenic but it was tremendously interesting and educational. After the Hutong Tour, we ate in a Buddist vegetarian restaurant which was also eye opening. The next morning, we visited the Temple of Heavenly Peace and ate in of all places; McDonald's. That was a fun lunch because we had been seeing McDonald's restaurants all over Beijing.

    After McDonald's we traveled to the airport and flew to Xi'an. We arrived in Xi'an fairly late at night but, as soon as we were in the hotel room, I heard music from the street. I looked out and rand down to shoot the celebration which will be a subject for another post.

    The first morning, we toured the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum which is one of the wonders of the world. We then visited a laquer factory and then went to see a wonderful Tang Dynasty dance show where photography was allowed...

    Fobidden City

    To make a long story short, the only place I really had the opportunity to slip away from the tour was in Shanghai and I spent the day alone with my camera deleriously happy.

    In actuality, the tour was really great. I tallied up the expenses and there is no way that I could heve done the things that I did for the price I paid. The tab for the entire 13 day tour, including airfare, meals, 6-local flights, very nice hotel accomodations and entrance into all venues was about $1,500 (USD) each. We had our national guide who was a very interesting retired People's Army soldier plus individual guides for each city.

  9. #9
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    David...


    Shadowman...

    You mentioned...
    "Sometimes you have to break away from the group, meaning skip some of the pay for excursions, and go it on your own. Usually, guided tours are arranged around lunch time and this does not give you the best lighting. So your only choice is to work with what you have or arrange to come back later in the day."

    This is exactly what I expected to do and that is how I thought the tour would be organized. However, on most days we got up at 6:30 AM and placed our suitcases outside the doors or our hotel rooms. They came and got the suitcases and we did not see them again until they were delivered to our hotel rooms in another city. We would start touring around 7:30 or 8:00 AM and it was continuous sight seeing until late in the evening. Most often, we would fly or drive to another city late in the evening and arrive at our new hotel rooms at 8:30 or 9:00 PM. It was exhausting but, we got to cover more that I ever thought we could cover in that two week period.
    The first morning, we toured the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum which is one of the wonders of the world. We then visited a laquer factory and then went to see a wonderful Tang Dynasty dance show where photography was allowed...

    Fobidden City

    To make a long story short, the only place I really had the opportunity to slip away from the tour was in Shanghai and I spent the day alone with my camera deleriously happy.

    In actuality, the tour was really great. I tallied up the expenses and there is no way that I could heve done the things that I did for the price I paid. The tab for the entire 13 day tour, including airfare, meals, 6-local flights, very nice hotel accomodations and entrance into all venues was about $1,500 (USD) each. We had our national guide who was a very interesting retired People's Army soldier plus individual guides for each city.
    Richard,

    Those were very good prices and it looks like the tour itinerary allowed you to get out at key photographing hours, so breaking away probably wasn't necessary. The one thing that always irked me with guided tours and one of the reasons why we got used to breaking away from the group, besides needing a little alone time, was the guides were always directing you towards some shop were the vendor's expected you to buy something. All the time i thought I was learning a little history of the region or a particular textile industy and they (sometimes the guides are in on it) were setting us up for a fleecing. But I guess it's a small price to pay to see something unique such as silk spinning or glass blowing, so you go along with the program.

  10. #10
    David's Avatar
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Richard - The Tang Dynasty dance image is like something Carrevaggio could have painted with the dark shadows, highlighted figures and "knowing" looks. I've looked at it for about 10 minutes because, again, the composition is just "dead brill" as we are wont to say in the UK. Curiously, although the Chinese will have ensured a perfection of costume, setting, and performance, the director has allowed the lady on the RHS to wear a neck mike that's visible with its trailing lead.

    Cheers

    David

  11. #11
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Fobidden City

    Here are a few more of the Tang Show...


    Fobidden City


    Fobidden City

    Fobidden City

    Fobidden City

    Fobidden City

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