Life in the fast lane
In this image I wanted to capture the rapid urban development, emerging middle-class (with more income and prosperity), and the Americanization of the Chinese culture (increased capitalism, retail and consumer lifestyle, fashion and individualistic trends). I could elaborate on these topics, but I don’t want to write an essay!
This particular street, named Wangfujing, meaning “Prince’s Mansion well” (after a sweet tasting water well was unearthed during the construction of ten aristocratic estates and a prince’s residence in the Qing Dynsasty- 1644 to 1912), is Beijing’s most famous shopping street that is located in a downtown district of Dongchen, dating back to the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) the markets, commerce and other consumer activities have been conducted in this area for centuries. It is only about one block long but consists of many large and small stores, consisting of Beijing’s most prominent brands (around 280) and many international brands.
There is also a section that is dedicated to food and snacks, with many street stalls and restaurants crammed together serving common and exotic street food such as fried scorpion, meat kebabs, desserts and candied fruits on a stick.
In the past this street was known to English-speaking foreigners as Morrison Street (named after the Australian journalist George Ernest Morrison – another interesting story).
It used to be a street for vehicles to travel through, but since 1999, much of it has been pedestrianized. The hustle and bustle never seems to stop here, open and busy during the day but much more alive during the night with the bright lights and more locals and tourists out to eat and shop.
Creating this Panoramic Photo
Captured using my ‘gripped’ Canon 50D with a Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens, mounted on a Benro carbon-fiber tripod and remotely triggered to capture four separate images to create one seamless photo using Photoshop. Not much post-editing was required, as I like the way my Canon camera renders colorful night scenes, so I just boosted the sharpness and contrast a little.
Would have been easier to do this with a landscape lens but my Tokina 11-16mm broke before my trip to Asia and was under repair. So for all the landscape shots requiring a wider perspective, I had to make-do with the 30mm (50mm perspective) during 90% of my Asia trip, shooting multiple images to stitch up later on the computer. A very time-consuming task!
I’m glad that my images turned out OK, considering the difficulties. I certainly learned a lot about my Sigma lens and working with the 50mm perspective and also improved my understanding of making panoramic images.