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  1. #1

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    Xi'an: How dim are the terra cotta warriors?

    Hi everyone,

    I'll be in Xi'an this October, and I've booked an extra day, to be spent partly, of course, seeing the famous terra cotta warriors. I've verified that photography of the figures is allowed, but I don't clearly understand what the lighting situation will be.

    Has anyone been there and taken note of the light levels? Will I, for instance, be able to get away with ASA 400 handheld? (Depends on equipment and steadiness of hands, obviously, but let's say I can go to about 1/30 and f/2.)

    Thanks

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  2. #2
    ann
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    i will be watching this as i will be there in may
    http://www.aclancyphotography.com

  3. #3
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    I shot 400 speed there with my 50 and 85mm f1.8. There are railings all around it so you can steady yourself pretty well. I seem to remember that there are huge skylights so the light may depend on how sunny it is. A fast longer lens is definitely a good thing there.

  4. #4

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    You should be fine with 400 ASA although a monopod or a bean bag would not be a bad idea.
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

    Regards
    Bill

  5. #5

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    When I saw the warriors in a museum in London( The Victoria and Albert, I think) the light levels were very low. I didn't have a camera but I doubt if 400 would have been enough. It would seem that in China natural light gets in which makes me wonder if the very low level of light in London was required( there was no natural light but the artificial light level on that basis could have been higher.

    If taking the pics is a one-off, I'd be inclined to pack Fuji Neopan 1600 or Ilford D3200 just in case then load the appropriate film according to the readings you get.

    pentaxuser

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post

    How dim are the terra cotta warriors?

    Thanks

    -NT

    Hmm, I know they have been standing still for a few thousand years but not sure if I would call any warriors dim........



    Hope you have a good trip and get some shots.

    Sim2.

  7. #7
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    I've been to this place and photographed there.

    No problem with 400 handholding. Tripod or other support is never a bad idea, though, but making photographs there was pretty easy. As always, be respectful -- this is a place extremely important not just to the Chinese people but humanity as a whole, too.

    Lighting conditions do change, depending on time of day, cloud cover and weather, etc. But no problems, as I said. You may want to take either a spot meter or various readings, as highlights play among the vast crowds of figures...you could meter for shadows and end up blowing out the many highlights.

    When I went there, it was at the plans of my former (Chinese) professor. I wasn't keen on going as I wanted to try avoid overtly touristy places...I'm so glad he did plan for us to go there, as I was just blown away.
    I'm not one to be overly sentimental or prone to that sort of thing...but as I said, it was a very moving and powerful visit. A real wonder of the world. Enjoy!

  8. #8

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    Thanks, everyone, for all the information! I hadn't thought about the possible need for a longer lens---I'll need to do some thinking about what camera to use.

    I usually avoid the "obvious touristy" attractions, but I have to say, my experience so far has been that the ones in China are worth it. I'm quite looking forward to this trip.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  9. #9

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    I spent a whole day photographing there on an overcast day last October. I just checked through my settings. ISO 1600, f4-f9.5 with probably f8 being the commonest; 1/15 handheld with IS. Even at these settings I'm exposing dark rather than light. The issue isn't helped by the fact that to get other than bland wide-angle shots you need a longish lens and so depth of field isn't something that you can forget about. I was using pretty much the same settings in pit 1- where the volume is- and in the glass cases/other pits.

    Based on this I couldn't possibly suggest that you will be OK with ISO400 film. You either need something faster or hope for more ambient light getting into the pits. I did see a Chinese guy photographing with a tripod but it was quite a quiet day, and for all I know he got pounced upon by the guards right after I saw him. Probably wouldn't be physically tenable on a busy day anyway.

  10. #10

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    Meant to add; the vast majority of my photographs used focal lengths 140-200mm. Nothing was wider than 70mm.

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