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Thread: China/Korea

  1. #11
    jamesgignac's Avatar
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    Rachelle - I'll definitely be doing so - as for my gear right now I am going with nothing (film wise anyway) but will be visiting that camera market in Beijing I've heard so much about and settling on some sort of rangefinder - I'd love to continue with MF (in that case probably a folder) but may end up with a 35mm as I have a new d*g*tal cam which accepts m-mounts...so perhaps a leica will be on my horizon. Either way I'm bringing my always reliable Luna Pro - it's practically a lucky charm for me at this point

    Also I should mention that I'm going to try to make this trip last as long as I can and may apply for an extension to my visa if I decide to stick around China. If I happen to still be around when you head out we should definitely keep in touch!!

    p.s. - love the Diane Arbus quote...she's amazing!
    -dereck|james|gignac
    dereckjamesgignac.com

  2. #12
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    The Wukesong camera mall is amazing. Full stop...give yourself at least half a day there, not to mention a big bag of money.

    As to Xi'an -- I didn't know if you'd be open to going that far inland. I went there and I'll say this: incredible. My former professor planned the trip there and I have to admit at first I wasn't keen. I thought it would be too touristy, too cliché, whatever.

    But -- once I saw the place I was really blown away. Not at all what I thought I'd feel beforehand, that's for sure.

  3. #13
    mooseontheloose's Avatar
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    The Wukesong camera mall is amazing. Full stop...give yourself at least half a day there, not to mention a big bag of money.

    Colin, how good is it for film gear and consumables? Should I leave some extra space in my bag or just be prepared to ship stuff home?
    Rachelle

    My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus

  4. #14
    Andrew K's Avatar
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    Hi guys

    it's been 7 years since I was in Beijing, but hopefully I can contribute a little..

    Wukesong - definatly go there - great place, and when I was there lots of very cheap Chinese film (Great for shooting in my Great Wall camera I bought there when I was shooting on the Great Wall)..I bought several cameras for my collection. Usable gear was priced about the same as here for Japanese gear....

    YongHugong (sorry my spelling will be wrong) - it's the biggest monestary in Beijing - has the largest wooden Bhudda in the world - fascinating place..

    There is also a Mosque in Beijing - I can't recall it's name, but it was a place of quiet solitue in a hectic city..when we were there we were the first foregn visitors for quite a while - very friendly people..

    Panjaiyuan (the dirt market) - go on a Sunday - this place is amazing - lots of Chinese selling anything and everything - a locals market where some tourists go...saw some great photos there by a photographer called Jack When (bought one), plus lots of great candid photos....we were chased around by a photographer with a M6 who was trying to take candids of us, and we were trying to take candids of him :-)

    I'd also just go for a walk up some of the side roads - the sights you will see can make great photos....

    And if you are interested in planes the Beijing Aircraft Museum is amazing - its on a old airforce base (one of the hangars goes through a mountain!), and contains a mix of exhibits - restored planes (including some which are one of only 2 or 3 left in the world), and a "boneyeard" of stored plaen out the back you can wander through at your leisure...allow a day if you go, and my advice is to take a taxi or minivan - you can get there by public transport - but it's on the outskirts of town and the trip is not the easiest..

    We also took the train to Tianjin - I don't think anyone has yet suggested going there....There is a big antique market that is open most days (weekends are the busiest, and apparently the local dealers go on a Thursday morning) - it's held in a old part of town that makes for some great photography. Tianjin has been a international port for centuries, so there are Eastern and Western buildings mixed together - again lots of great sights...And look out for the clock in the middle of the round about in the centre of town near the train station - one of the biggest clocks in the world??

    My final suggestion - when visit the Great Wall go to one of the non-touristy (that is not restored) sections - Jinshanling and Gubekou for example - besides there being far less people, the scenery is stunning - you really do wonder how they built the wall up those steep mountaiins..and if you can explore the countryside - head up to Chengdu (I didn't get there, but it has the second largest Tibettan Bhuddist monastary in the worlds - a minature Potola Palace)..

    Have a great trip!
    A camera is only a black box with a hole in it....

    my blog...some film, some digital http://andrewk1965.wordpress.com/

  5. #15
    jamesgignac's Avatar
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    Andrew,
    Thanks for the suggestions - it sounds like you visited some very fascinating areas indeed! I am very looking forward to this trip and the more I read up the sooner I want to go! Anyhow I'll be sure to check out some of the places you have mentioned though I know I'll most likely just move around rather aimlessly most of the time. It sounds like you really enjoyed your trip and I'm only becoming more and more inspired with every post, blog, and conversation I have.

    Thanks once again to everyone who has shared their experiences!
    -dereck|james|gignac
    dereckjamesgignac.com

  6. #16

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    I spent three weeks in China and HK last autumn. Here's a few comments

    For me, the Terracotta Warriors are well worth a side trip to Xian, though you might be better to realise now that the site is way out of town and you'll need some form of transport to get there, as early as possible in the day. There are other things to see and photograph in Xian, though I wouldn't necessarily put these at the same level as the major sights of Beijing for example. These include the city walls and a rather chinese looking mosque, and the Big Wild Goose pagoda. It really does work out to how much you want to see the Terracotta army, which for me was on a par with the Great wall as the most interesting site we saw.

    We walked the hutongs in Beijing and found little of photographic interest.

    In the south we stayed at both Guilin and Yangshou. Its not difficult to find photographs of peaceful dawns with reflections of spectacular Karst scenery in still waters in the half light. Believe me its a lot harder to find them yourself and it takes a lot of research to find good locations. Guilin and Yangshou are both bigger and busier than you might think and it is not just a question of making your way down to the riverbank at dawn/sunset. IMO the river trip between the two cities is a waste of time photographically. That aside then touristically its an interesting if busy area. There are dawn balloon trips at Yangshou which is quite possibly the best way to see the layers of Karst hills.

    I would suggest the Dragon's Backbone, near Longji, for the rice terraces and old villages that cling to the hillsides. We stayed at a hillside lodge( Li'an) on the edge of a village with stunning views but we had to climb almost 1000 steps to get there though there are porters for you bags.

    Shanghai is huge and not a lot of fun to get in and out of. Staying in Shanghai and visiting Suzhou and the water towns didn't work well for us; The river trip at Shanghai at sunset is a must do IMO , and was especially so for us since they had closed off much of the Bund riverbank to make some alterations in advance of this year's World Fair. You can get up some really tall buildings in Pudong, though whether its worthwhile or not is moot in the context of the murky atmospherics. The water towns were quite interesting though again busier than you might hope and you will not get the standards of accommodation and food that you get in the major cities. Nevertheless if you want to photograph them well, staying there is important IMO.

    In Beijing I got more , photographically out of second tier sites such as the Lama Temple and the Temple of Heaven than I got out of the Forbidden City . Its hard to get sufficient solitude to think "atmospheric" in these places. I second the suggestion of Mutianyu for the Great Wall. Its not a visitor -free experience though the crowds here are less than at the more accessible Badaling. What did make a difference for us was going in the afternoon (apparently most tours do mornings) and going on a day with some rain. Result was that when we got up there we had the place virtually to ourselves and I could make photographs with no visible people.

    I've been to Hong Kong several times and would always recommend it, for the sheer variety of things to do and photograph there.

    Finally we travelled enitirely by air and car. The internal flights were punctual and efficient and not too expensive, with no baggage issues. The flights always seemed shorter than we expected for such a huge country and travelling didn't sap our energy.

  7. #17

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    The Old Summer Palace is nice, basically a park with lakes and some ruins here and there. Had the place practically to myself in February, I don't think it makes it on to many itineraries. Peking and Tsinghua Universities are also pretty cool to walk around in and take photos, you can rent bicycles there (try finding a student who can help you translate).

    nthing Wukesong photo market, it's a really neat place to visit. I wish I'd picked up a Seagull 203 (6x6 folder w/ coupled rangefinder), as it is I got 3 Seagull TLR clones and some Lucky film to give as souvenirs for photog friends back home.

  8. #18
    mooseontheloose's Avatar
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    So much information...thanks guys!

    At the moment, it looks like my trip will be something like this:

    Cut Korea (mostly due to financial issues, although given the tax refund I just got, I may be able to put it back in the schedule)
    Arrive in Beijing near the end of August, spend one week in the city (with day trips out to the Great Wall, possibly other areas).
    Overnight sleeper to Xian. Three days in that area.
    Fly to Guillin/Yangshou, spend 5-6 days visiting the Li Rivier, Dragon's bone rice terraces, etc. (although I may reconsider this, given David's experience)
    Fly to Hong Kong, spend 3-5 days there, with possible day trip to Macau, before flying back to Japan.

    Within this time frame, I do have around 5 days to play around with -- I could extend time in the various places on the schedule, do a trip to Shanghai, or possibly go to Yunnan province after Xian but before Guillin, although 5 days does not seem to be enough for the latter, given transportation issues once there. It also seems overly touristed which is a concern for me as well (Lijian, Dali, etc).

    Anyway, another concern for me at the moment is camera gear. I'm planning on bringing my Bronica SQA kit - wlf, 50-80-150 lenses, plus two backs. My one concern is that the 150 would not be long enough for certain situations (Terracotta Army for one). I will also be bringing my Nikon FE with 28/50mm lenses, mostly for infrared and low-light/unobtrusive work. The longest lens I have with me here in Japan is the 105mm, which I won't be bringing, however, I am considering buying a tele-zoom lens for the 35mm kit, since a fixed focus lens for the Bronica seems too big and heavy (and probably still too short) for good telephoto work.

    (and yes, I will be bringing a tripod, although I think I will try to upgrade the one I have now, which I love, but is not quite robust enough for the MF kit).

    So...I'd appreciate any advice concerning the gear/itinerary if you see any glaring (or not so glaring) problems with it.

    Cheers.
    Rachelle

    My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus

  9. #19

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    At the Terracotta Warriors I was most operating at 1600 ISO and 1/15 second at f8 with IS lenses. I was using a FF slr at between 150mm and 200mm . The latter is close enough for a head to waist view of the nearest figures. I don't think my Bronica could have coped, and it certainly couldn't have coped without a tripod. I did see one guy with a tripod though it was a kind of quiet day and I don't know how you'd fare if it was busy.

    I took a light Manfrotto tripod to China but didn't use it much with significant exceptions such as photographing HK from the Peak at dusk. By default I left it in my hotel room or with my baggage. I could see that in some of the sights there may be too many people to use a tripod comfortably, independent of any prohibitions that may be in place.

    The tele-zoom seems like a good idea to me.

    For Guilin and surrounds, I'm sure the sort of photographs I wanted exist; its just that they're hard to find and probably in twilight and predawn light. I had a guide and still couldn't really get through what I wanted even though I was taken to the top of a hill in Guilin and the top of a nearby mountain pre-dawn with a little success . I think you'd need to find someone who'd done it well and make contact with them (Flickr?) or find some sort of local guide with a special skill in photography. I think much of the stuff with cormorant fishermen at night is a pre-arranged set-up. Once boats start moving about on the water you can forget reflections, and there are a huge number of them.

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