Today has been an outstanding day in the weird and wonderful (?) land of Lewis photography. I spent the day on the Square with Michelle, an English teacher at a Beijing university. We met last night at the skating place I talked about earlier. For a change I really enjoyed spending my time with another person — unlike other people that approach me she understood that I was there to take photos, not to talk in English. This worked really well as we were able to talk about the photos, as well as converse with the other photographers. I met another guy today who is a press photographer — he was with his wife and daughter… and his EOS-1D with a super-telephoto lens. After playing around with that set up for just a couple of minutes it is easy to see why it costs so much more than the prosumer-level cameras and lenses. As for the “power” that a 200mm lens brings you… I wouldn’t need to try and sneak up on people (very hard in China when you’re a foreigner) to snap away at 80mm.
I’ve reviewed the low-quality JPEG files I’m now dual-shooting with and I’m impressed with what I’ve turned up. I think I’ve improved my technique quite a lot in just a few days on the square. That’s not to say that almost half of my photos aren’t suffering from camera-shake or have less-than perfect framing… but I think the “good photo” rate has gone up dramatically. I actually read that street photographers mostly run around with fixed lenses and don’t bother focusing (there just isn’t enough time)… maybe one photo in a hundred is worth looking at further, and then only one in ten of those is worth showing to anybody else.
Now I’m shooting dual file formats I might try and upload some uncropped, un-colour adjusted, un-anythinged images that I think are worth showing. I’m a little reluctant as I don’t particularly want people to say anything but “the very best” I can do right now, which is (I think) quite a bit better than the very original image. Anyway, we’ll see… and it all depends on the spare time I have, how fast the Internet is and how convenient it is to use it.
Tomorrow (today, actually) is my last day of teaching. It’s gone fairly quickly but I hope to take plenty of photos of the kids tomorrow… even some with me and the kids. I think I’ll stay at ShangLi tomorrow evening, before finding myself a cheap hotel near Tiananmen for the next couple of days. I need to arrange a visa for Laos and maybe Myanmar while in Beijing, as they are my next destinations (as well as Thailand). It really does look like I will be putting these malaria tablets to work!
Part of me doesn’t want to leave Beijing. I love the Square too much, the friends I’ve made and the people I get to see. I don’t think there is anywhere else I would rather spend a whole day. But I need some variety and however much the Square provides, I just don’t think it is up to three whole countries, their people and more importantly… their public transport!