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Thread: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

  1. #1
    hal9000's Avatar
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    Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    Hi,
    I will be going to Beijing, China for a two-year stay with my job. I photograph mostly city landscapes and architecture, and I am wondering if I will be able to do so with my 4x5 camera and tripod without getting shooed away by persons in uniforms most of the time. Do any of you have experience photographing with LF-gear in Beijing?
    Thanks,
    Hal

  2. #2

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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    I've spent quite a bit of time in China, but not photographing with LF. I really don't think you'll have any problems. There are some nice parks in Beijing that are active in the early hours with people doing everything from ballroom dancing to Tai Chi. I'd start there, or the regular tourist places (Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Summer Palace etc) while I got the feel of the place, then move on from there. Having a guide along for the first while wouldn't hurt either, if you don't speak Mandarin. An english-speaking taxi driver would do fine.

  3. #3

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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    There are a lot of large format shooter in Beijing, and they go out to shoot often when weather gets warmer there. I don't think they have any problem with a big camera and tripod.

  4. #4

    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    I was in Beijing last March with my 5x7 and I felt like I had good access. People were fascinated with the camera, and I let several take a look under the dark cloth. Soldiers gladly moved themselves and others out of the way for me when I was photographing the "Birdsnest" as it was under construction. I don't think you'll have a problem. I had similar experiences everywhere I went in China. BTW, I spoke only a few words of Chinese and those I encountered spoke no English.

  5. #5

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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    The most important phrase you'll need to know in Chinese is: Tai gui le.

  6. #6
    よろしくお願いします! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    Tai gui le

    Which means?

  7. #7

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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    "that's too expensive"

  8. #8
    hal9000's Avatar
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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    Thanks everybody for your answers. It sounds like I shouldn't have too much trouble. I am doing my best to learn Mandarin, at least some before I leave this coming Fall.

  9. #9
    Do or do not. There is no try.
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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    Another useful phrase is "Bu yao" (pronounce boo yow), which means "I don't want/need it". If you are not asian you can count on getting accosted by an unending stream of people wanting to sell you something - the watch on their wrist, a pack of tourist postcards, a map, whatever. At least that was my experience. It wasn't too bad in Beijing, but in some other tourist areas it seemed non-stop.

  10. #10

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    Re: Requesting advice: travelling to Beijing

    I only had problems with people selling me crap in more rural areas or in crowded markets. Simply smile - NEVER lose your cool - and say "bu yao" (pronounced Boo Yow) and you'll be fine.

    I was amazed by how easy it was to photograph there. Never say never, but compare access there to, say...London or New York with the way things are going.

    As for learning Mandarin, I highly recommend a Lonely Planet pocket sized guidebook to the language. It helped me a lot -- even to learn a few key phrases, it's very useful. It helped me a lot over there, too.
    Making an effort there pays off a lot - it shows respect and helps you stand out from other western visitors.

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