I am not good at street photography and I am also not very talkative. But after listening to this man play the flute for 20 minutes in the park, I just had to ask him if I can take his photograph. Nervous enough I only pressed the shutter once but it turned out quite alright. With new confidence I asked another woman if I could take a picture of her cute child. She just said no and that’s the reason why I don’t have many portraits of strangers…
Sound of Spring
The characters for quanyun translate to the pleasing musical sound of spring. In front of the calligraphy blossoms a bonzai tree.
A handwritten poem with a too deep meaning for me to understand. Wu translates to realize, awaken.
According to specs, my camera only has 16 MP. There are some tricks to increase the pixel count and this panorama sums up to a very clear 125 MP. It is one of the pictures I am most proud of because technically I can’t find any fault or at least I wouldn’t know how I could do better trying to capture the same scape.
Tianjin in Winter
This shot of 天津 Tianjin shows the 海河 Haihe river frozen over in winter. My main camera’s lens was sent back to Japan for repair so I had to fall back on a Sony DSC-RX100 which felt a bit challenged at low light but still managed to capture this nice view on a low-angled Joby Gorillapod.
Tianjin is such a beautiful city! I rate it among the best modern cities in China. However, the city also cherishes its profound past and it was an important harbor for international trade early on. Right now it expands quickly from its 14mio citizens and it must feel like heaven for architects. The buildings look phenomenal. When I visited there, my camera was broken so I borrowed a Canon EOS 5D for this shot.
Smile for Tourists
I tried secretly taking a shot of this wise man, sitting on the street and enjoying his tobacco. Unfortunately he also spotted me. So I had no choice but to ask him if I could take his picture – in Chinese. He was so surprised and happy about the new acquaintance, that he wouldn’t stop smiling and laughing straight into the camera. It was not the setting I was going for, but ultimately it is still a good shot and it reminds me how welcoming local Chinese can be.
This very Western-styled Café can be found in Xi’an. Coffee is very popular in China. It represents the Western lifestyle, even though more and more popularity comes from South Korea. This particular café, that not many people visit until late in the evening when the live band plays, is very reminiscent of renaissance art.
This pagoda in Xi’an is very important to the history of Buddhism. Around 650 A.D. monks started translating and preserving original Buddhist scrolls that else would have been burnt and lost in the following wars.
This is another shot from Xi’an. I enhanced the colors of the sky. Actually Xi’an is a very desaturated city. Not only air pollution is a problem, but also dust that blows from the nearby plateau through the surrounding mountains. So when there is a nice autumn day with clear sky, the city feels like it blossoms. I wanted to capture this feeling.
This is my lucky shot. I am not sure why, but when I saw this moth fly above the flowers, I just had to capture it on camera. This is my biggest challenge to date as this creature is ridiculously fast. Manual focus, fastest shutter speed and 20 min of missing the focus. It’s unimaginable I captured this at f/2.8.
My scholarship colleague from Peru dressed up in traditional Shaanxi clothing. Applying the make-up was quite time-consuming but the result is amazing. She wore the dress not much differently than the actual opera star later that night.
Drum Towers became an important trademark of urban cities after the Mongol Empire in the late 13th century. They signaled the time and with it the opening and closing of market hours. Zhu Yuanzhang had the Drum Tower erected in the early Ming dynasty. I took the shot from a balcony of one of the nearby restaurants in a shopping mall.
A Proud Baker
This street baker from Ürümqi proudly shows off his bread, called 饼 bǐng.
For us that have subjected ourselves to capitalistic lifestyles, it is almost impossible to imagine the dedication needed to stay strong to nature-imposed moral values. However, buddhistic and taoistic values are still very apparent in the Chinese society.
Summer in the City
Welcome to China! This is one of the very first pictures I took in my temporary hometown Xi’an. It’s not as pretty as Shanghai, that’s for sure. But it was an even greater experience. A challenge that turned out to be a lot of fun. I took this picture from the top floor of a hotel in a residential area. I couldn’t afford the room so I just grabbed a photo and said that I got the address wrong.