The Emperors ‘Forbidden City’ lies in the heart of the Beijing metropolis and on its south gate is fronted by Tiananmen Square. We made our visit on the anniversary of the protest made famous by the photograph of the lone chinaman standing in front of the military tank.
Access to the South gate is made by crossing the square and the number of police present made sure no one protested during the anniversary. Just to get to the Forbidden city entrance we had to join a long queue to pass through a search area with an x ray machine similar to those found at airports.
As we stood in a group by the bridge that allows access into the palace we posed for a photo and innocently got out our Beds Uni flag. Within seconds we were surrounded by police ordering us to put the flag away. Thankfully that was the only run in with the authorities we had on the trip.
Passing through yet another x ray bag search we finally entered the palace. The scale of the place is enormous. Worryingly for me I had less than 3 hours to photograph this icon of ancient China. One look at the map and I concluded I’d need 3 days here. The walk through to the north gate which I estimated would take an hour at least left me little time to explore.
The Forbidden City (a reference to the fact that no one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor’s permission) had been the palace of the Emperor for over 500 years and covers an area of approximately 180 acres. Its comprised of 980 buildings of all sizes and dimensions all intricately decorated inside and out.
Choosing what to photograph was a mini nightmare! Trying to find a view without hundreds of tourists in the frame was even harder.
I experimented with my recently mastered HDR technique with a view that the merging of multiple frames may remove some of the crowds. This would only work on those that were moving between frames, those that stood still would inevitably appear in the final image. Lugging a bag full of camera equipment, a tripod and bottles of water in searing heat and humidity with little shade against the clock, meant this was a challenge that was not for the feint hearted.
The results were reasonable and took a few hours of post processing to achieve the final intended result. Below is one finished HDR example.