Red Beijing by JulienFolcher

This the last amazing sunset I got to see from my apartment window in Beijing before moving out… The light was incredible.

The afternoon was very polluted, but right before sunset it started to rain a little and the fresh wind from the mountain started to clear the pollution.

I really hated polluted days in Beijing, but under certain condition it could give the sky some crazy colors… I saw an article a while ago saying pollution was giving Beijing some Mars – like sunsets, this is one of them.

via 500px

午门 by JulienFolcher

Photo from my last visit at the forbidden city before i left Beijing. I was lucky enough to get a nice sunset over the meridian gate.

The emperor believed that the meridian line went right through their palace, making it the center of the universe.

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Endless city by JulienFolcher

Taken from the old CCTV tower in West Beijing. It is an amazing location and probably the only place where you can realize the gigantic scale of the city.

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国家大剧院 by JulienFolcher

After a visit to the forbidden city I decided to go to the national theater to take photos at the end of the blue hour. This has been pretty much a game of hide and seek with the security guards. There is a fence all around the reflection pool edge, making it impossible to get close to get the maximum reflection possible.

There was 2 security guards, one shouting 请出去! (= get out), the other one being more relaxed, even indicating the exact point of the central axis for perfectly symmetrical photos. I basically walked around quickly placing my tripod on the edge and triggering a long exposure while the guards was covering the other side, trying to always stay on his opposite side 😉

The architect is one of my countrymen, Paul Andreu.

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天坛 by JulienFolcher

Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Probably the most beautiful temple in Beijing, maybe China (in my opinion), it was used by the emperor to pray for good harvests during the spring festival.

I went there yesterday end of afternoon, the place was packed with tourists (it’s the national holiday now in China), I’ve never seen that many people here during my previous visits. I had to wait until they almost closed the park to get this shot without the stairs being submerged with people… And even then I stayed still for about 20 minutes just waiting for the moment. I still had to clone-stamp out a few tourists on the top platform…

It is a truly beautiful place, I hope my photograph gives it justice.

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Electric Beijing II by JulienFolcher

My first successful attempt at lightning photography. This a composition I’m very familiar with, it is shot from my apartment window, I shot it countless times, I often use it to try out new gear and techniques and it’s a nice view of Beijing CBD, that’s why I picked this apartment. This allowed me to concentrate only on the technical aspect.

There was several previous failed attempts for this photo. Missed the lightning, blew out the highlights, lightning happening outside of the frame, there is so many ways to fail this.

Last week a big thunderstorm hit the city so I gave another try, not hopping for much given my previous experiments. I guess the experience gathered from the previous attempts was enough to avoid the easy mistakes and get something usable in lightroom. Had my camera sticking out the window on a tripod taped to the balustrade (some home made engineering right here) for something like 20 minutes, taking consecutive 50 sec exposures before the rain got too intense and ruin my not weather sealed camera.

This image is a stack of 3 x 50sec exposures featuring a lightning bolt. I think the fact that I was at f22 protected the highlights while giving me long enough exposure to increase my chances of getting a lightning bolt in the frame. The 3 exposure were stacked in Photoshop using the “maximum” mode.

Hope like it.
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不到長城非好漢 by JulienFolcher

Sunset at the Badaling section of the great wall, near Beijing.

This is sort of an ethical challenge for me, I’ve been asking myself wether I should post this photo or not.
When going there yesterday I was hoping to get some nice autumn colors, even though it is still early in the season. Some tree already started to show some nice yellows and some trees around my apartment in the city already turned red.
So I went there, found my composition, took my photos, realized I didn’t bring enough clothes to stay after sunset and take some star trails, took the train back home and started editing my file. Turns out during the editing process I tried to shift the hue of the yellows in the trees toward the reds to enhance the autumn feel of the image.
The whole thing started to pop, all the colors came together in a much nicer way than the original one. All the warm tones in the foreground counter balance the cold dark greens in the mountains in the distance.
But I am not sure how I feel about that kind of radical change. Usually I try to only enhance existing elements in the scene. Please let me know your stance on this subject in the comments!

PS: The title is a quote from Mao meaning : who never climbed the great wall isn’t a hero

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An Emperor’s view by JulienFolcher

Went back to Jingshan park yesterday, it offers the best view you can get on the Forbidden City. The sky didn’t have any clouds so I waited after the sunset to be able to get a star trail shot above the palace. There’s not a lot of stars due to light pollution from the city, but it’s still enough to get an interesting sky.
This is a composite of one sunset image, one blue hour image and 130 night pictures for the stars, all blended in photoshop. Hope you like it!

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Electric Beijing by JulienFolcher

It’s raining today, so I decided to revisit some old raw files I haven’t developed… I took this as an editing exercise. On the last 3 images I uploaded here (this one included) I am trying to not use the clarity slider in Lightroom , I tend to dislike the “HDR” look it gives to the images more and more, especially the dark or light traces it leaves around the edges.
Here I tried to make up for the clarity with a contrast adjustment layer and very specific dodge and burn.
This is an experiment, so let me know what you think or how you deal with this issue on Lightroom and Photoshop.


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Beijing sunset by JulienFolcher

Probably the best looking sunset I have seen in Beijing so far. Skies are particularly clear these days…

This is a composite shot of 3 photos taken at different moments of this epic sunset to get the sunburst, city lights and the movement of the clouds all in one frame.

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via 500px