CHINA – BACK FROM THE FUTURE

WHERE WE AT?

Well I was in Beijing, China. Now I'm back home in Florida. So I am literally back from the future! Ha.

No seriously it's kind of weird because when it is 8am on Sunday morning in China, it's 9pm on Saturday...the previous day...back in Florida (Florida is GMT - 5 hours and Beijing is GMT + 8 hours). So Beijing is 13 hours AHEAD of us. Weird, huh? Kind of makes you think about that Superman movie where Christopher Reeve flew really fast the wrong way around the Earth to go back in time to save Lois Lane. Better still, what were the winning lottery numbers again?

Anyhow, let me get back on the point of this post. We are in Beijing, China and I rushed to get to the Great Wall of China before the sun got too high. I wanted some of that warm sun to cast itself along the valley below and on the wall itself.

To get here I literally ran up that grade to capture this shot. Exhausting because the grade is very steep. Basically the wall is built along a mountain ridge...and it's 20°F. So to say that there were obstacles would be an understatement.

Partly because I was panting and sitting on a step to catch my breath, I happened to notice the incredible view in front of me. Or more accurately, behind me because I was heading to the top of the ridge with limited time that I had. Why? I'm goal oriented...what can I say.

On the hand rail people had placed beautiful locks shaped like hearts to profess their love to their husband or wife. Good foreground stuff. Mid scene is the fortress where the warriors would defend the wall with bows and arrows. My guide...who remained in her heated car in the parking lot...had explained how 20 soldiers would live in each of these fortresses. My thought was what a hard life they had. Cold too!

In the distance we have the mountains. The wall climbs and descends all over this mountain range. Thing how hard it was for the people that built this wall. There were no tractors machines to do the bulk of the labor and carrying of the bricks. That was done by the laborers back in the 1400's! And it's still standing. Impressive indeed.

By the way...a good tip for visiting China: go in the winter because there are no tourists. In the summer it's hot, humid, and crowded. Count me out (grin).

HOW DID I DO THAT?!

I wanted as much detail as I could gather with my camera so I shot this image as a 3-image bracketed HDR photo. High Dynamic Range. I didn't have a tripod and I wanted to pick up the sun and the shadows. I knew the slowest I could handhold this camera without blur was 1/30s...so I set 1/60s because I was cold and may be shaking for my three shots. Certainly I was breathing hard (grin).

I wanted a lot of depth of field so I set the camera's aperture to f/13 and left my ISO at t's lowest for the needed details.

Later, back at the hotel I loaded the 3 images and combined them with Photomatix (HDR software). Now I liked the composition and the details, but some of the details were a bit too much. For instance there were cell phone antennas everywhere...along with bright red garbage cans...and electrical conduit all along the base of the wall. Why not make it look nice China?! So I decided to do it for them. In Lightroom I was able to clean the image up a little bit. Take a look at the before and after photo below. Lightroom is a whole other discussion so we can talk about that another time. I just wanted you to see a little bit of the work that goes into a photo after it is clicked. It's not my best work, but I do like how the shot turned out. Look at those shadows.

LIGHTROOM - BEFORE AND AFTER

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 23.43.16I loved visiting China and especially enjoyed the people that I encountered there. Definitely...I would love to go again soon, but it's not always up to me.