We arrived in Beijing from Xian in the morning, and chose to spend our first day checking out the Summer Palace. We took the underground (which was it’s own adventure) and arrived at the Summer Palace on a brisk, winter morning.
Unlike Xian, we were fortunate with some blue skys (well, pretty blue) while we were in Beijing. But it was cold – and I mean freezing cold. We were bundled up and still freezing our butts off, with camera batteries going dead in no time flat. It didn’t stop us from enjoying the beautiful sites and gardens though of the Summer Palace.
There are several different sites to see while you’re in the Summer Palace. I was absolutely blown away by the Long Corridor which is … wait for it … a long corridor. It’s basically a covered walkway that extends for several hundred meters, and the photographic opportunities are significant. When I see something like this the first thing I think about is the compositional technique of receding parallel lines, and the simple leading line that the corridor presents. Below are a few pictures that I took of the long corridor where you can see what I mean.
I like all three of these pictures, but I really like the first and the third the best; the first gives a perfect example of a leading line and the eye is drawn into the frame, just making out the person at the end of the line. But the one above is slightly different, with the “line” slowly turning to the right, leading the eye around the picture. I also like the contrast between the vertical lines of the corridor with the horizontal cross beams above.
In addition to the Long Corridor, there are some other interesting sites at the Summer Palace. There’s Longevity Hill, which is arguably the most famous site. It’s where the Tower of Buddhist Incense sits, which is the largest building on the entire compound. In the picture below you can see it to the left.
The lake, known as Kunming Lake, was completely frozen over while we were there. It made for an interesting scene with many visitors either trying to ice skate or sitting chairs that were built to have ‘blades’ on them so they could effectively skate while sitting down.
Since it was winter the light was beautiful as the sun set and we were able to get some nice pictures with some good light on the Tower of Buddhist Incense.
While there I also wanted to get some shots that were a bit more abstract. I think it’s important to get some detail pictures while you’re there to mix up the portfolio a little bit. Below is a picture that’s trying to capture the lines that are common in Asian architecture; we saw these same lines time and again in the Forbidden Palace the next day as well; they’re very representative of Asian architecture.
One of the other highlights of the Summer Palace is the 17 arch bridge – this thing is pretty interesting but a little smaller than I thought. Later in the day as the sun went down it gave some opportunities to capture some nice silhouettes as well.
There’s also the famous (infamous?) marble boat. This was built in the 18th century and is not actually made out of marble, but rather wood painted to imitate marble. The boat just sits there and there’s a bit of a conspiracy about the money spent to build it in the first place.
Anyway, back to some of my favorite pictures taken on the day. I really liked the color associated with both the Long Corridor and the Tower of Buddhist Incense. I used HDR in some instances to bring out the color and really make the photo pop, as this is the way I remember seeing it when I was there.
I also really like this photo below with the 17 arch bridge in the distance, and the pavilion in the foreground. I was fortunate to capture this with the individual in silhouette inside the pavilion, looking up at the interior of the pavilion. It really creates a sense of scale and the light was pretty incredible at this time of day.
Finally I took this last photo on the way out, again the leading line of the bridge into the small pavilion creates a nice composition. The light from the sun hitting the bridge with the two individuals in silhouette walking adds to the atmosphere of the picture.
Below is a map so you know where to take pictures when you visit the Summer Palace. This will give you an idea of how the place is laid out, where everything is, etc. Remember the picture tags below show where the photos were taken from, not actually what is at that location. I’ve also included a “sun line” to give you an idea of where the sun was setting while we were there.
Next up will be another palace, this one a little more famous – the Forbidden Palace! At first glance I’m really happy with the photos that I captured so I can’t wait to get them processed and online! Until then, happy shooting!