Temple of Heaven
Built in Beijing in the 1420’s during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) for the emperors of both Ming and Qing (1644 – 1911) Dynasties to hold Heaven worship ceremonies.
Only recently in 1988 did the government authorities open it up to the public to revel the ancient philosophy, history and religion of this old civilisation.
The complex is 2.7 million square meters, bigger than the 740,000 square meter Forbidden City (where the Emperors resided) because the Emperors were seen as the “Sons of Heaven” therefore they were prevented from building any dwelling for themselves that was bigger than the Temple of Heaven Complex.
This main temple, is surrounded by other fantastic monuments such as the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.
The design is semi-circular in the north and square in the south, this symbolizes Heaven as a circle and Earth as a square, and the former is always elevated higher than the latter. Which reminds me of the Hermetic maxim of “As above, so below”.
Creating this Pano
This image is made up of 7 hand-held vertical images taken on my Canon 50D with a super-sharp Sigma 30mm F1.4 prime lens. Originally I had used ‘bracketing’ mode to shoot 3 exposures per shot but I just stitched together the normally exposed shots in Photoshop CS6 to create this image. After some fiddling, I did experiment with making the HDR version, but it didn’t look as good or realistic, with a lot of ‘ghosting’ where the people were moving in the shot. It would have taken too much time in post-processing so I abandoned it to work on this pano. It wasn’t a very contrasty day requiring high dynamic range so the normal exposures were fine, I did however have to brighten the shadows on the temple to bring out the details while sharpening and tone-mapping the overall image.
There was one major optical obstacle to overcome such as a guard rail in the foreground that I wanted to remove because it posed as a distraction, this tested my healing brush and clone-stamp technique in Photoshop.
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