I’m closing in on finishing the series of posts on China, with Beijing being our final destination. I’ve already given a description and some thoughts on photography in the Forbidden City, and my closing post will be on the Great Wall of China. But there are some other sites to see in Beijing, so I wanted to have an interim post to discuss two of the other famous photo-worthy locations in China – Beihai Park and the Temple of Heaven.
Beihai Park is located north-west of the Forbidden City; it’s essentially a Chinese garden, famous for it’s white Dagoba sitting atop an island in the middle of a lake. We went to Beihai park in the late afternoon. Although the overall park is open till 8:00, the White Pagoda closes at 5:00 and as a result we were really rushed to get some good pictures from the top (in fact we got kicked out as I was frantically setting up my tripod!)
As you enter the Jade Flowery Islet (by crossing this bridge) you can see the White Dagoba in the distance. Upon entering through the gate we were confronted by an enormous collection of red ornaments, hanging in the trees. There was writing on these but I’m afraid to say my ability to read Chinese is not what it used to be, so I have no idea what they said. I took numerous pictures here as there were so many options. I wanted to give a sense of place but also create a repeating pattern to show the sheer number of ornaments.
As we came through the red ornaments you walk up another flight of stairs heading towards the famous White Dagoba. In the image below I framed the stairs with the gate and the overhanging tree canopy.
As I said, we unfortunately ran out of time when we got to the top as they were just closing the Dagoba. They do have some repeating patterns of these praying monks that I took below – this is a basic composition of repeating figures with a leading line fading into the distance. Finally you can see a snap that I took the of the White Dagoba itself. The sun was setting and the light was nice, but once you get up there you’re smack on top of the thing so it’s not easy to get a good picture.
As is usually the case when out traveling in a foreign city, you live and learn. Beihai Park is a nice little park; a great environment to walk around and enjoy the scenery. I do think that if we’d had more time you can get some good images from the top of the pagoda of the surrounding area. To the east is Jingshan Hill, another location where you can get some good pictures overlooking the Forbidden City. If you’re going solely to get a better view of the Forbidden City, I think Jingshan Hill is a better option than Beihai Park.
On another day in the evening we went to the Temple of Heaven. This place is just beautiful, and we had great, great light in the late afternoon. It was pretty busy while we were there, but we hung around long enough for the majority of people to leave and get some good pics.
While arriving at the site, they had these big, red hanging lanterns in preparation for the Chinese New Year celebration. They provided a great opportunity for different compositions, in many ways similar to the red ornaments hanging in the entry to Beihai Park.
As I said the light was really good; I’m particularly pleased with the picture at the top of the post but I took a few others that you can see below. The first was taken with the dragon engraving in the foreground; this is located on the middle of the stairway as you head up to the main landing. The second photo is taken on the platform so that I was level with the Temple.
While we were there we wanted to get the all important picture of us! So as we usually do we exchanged cameras, took a few shots and then eventually setup the tripod to get a picture of the two of us in front of the famous landmark. I know I don’t spend enough time discussing this but I think it’s absolutely critical to take pictures of you and your family while you’re there. I love taking pictures and capturing these incredible landmarks from all over the world, but at the end of the day it’s great to have pictures of you and your loved ones. As you grow older these are the pictures that will remind you not just what it was like to be there, but also what YOU were like when you were there.
As always, a few select images (non watermarked of course) from this trip are for sale. If you’d like to take a look and purchase you can click on the thumbnails below.