Parasols such as this one were quite popular among Chinese ladies wanting to protect themselves from the sun beating down on their heads. This was shot just outside the entrance to the Forbidden City.
In case anyone has been wondering why I haven't posted anything in over a week it's because I was in Beijing and Xi'an, China from May 23 - June 1. Because of the Communist Party of China's Internet firewall policies I wasn't able to blog from within their marvellous country. In many cases I wasn't even able to access even the most innocuous photo blogs. As hardships go, this one was far from insufferable, and in any event it explains why Shutterfinger was temporarily dormant.
I wasn't in China alone. I travelled with my wife and three kids, ages 12, 10, and 8, which was an adventure in and of itself. Westerners are not rare in Beijing, which has a population of approximately 19.6 million people; however, families of five African-Americans, one of whom has shoulder-length dreadlocks (my youngest son), are apparently so uncommon that Chinese and Westerners alike would stop dead in their tracks to stare, dumbfounded. Some, thankfully a minority, would rush over to touch his hair, often without asking.
There's a lot more I could tell you about our adventures and discoveries than can possibly be covered in a post or two. My plan is therefore to post every few days or so in serial fashion, until either you or I lose interest.
For now, I invite you to relish the irony that I, who offered advice on "Travelling Light," took my own advice a little too far. In my care to make sure my kids didn't leave anything essential at home, I forgot to pack the battery charger for the Nikon V1 I took along for the trip--a fact I discovered on the first day, when a few hours of photographing Tienamen Square and the Forbidden City drained 86% of my battery power. A similar day of shooting with my Nikon D7000 would have drained no more than 25%, but because mirrorless cameras rely so much on live view displays they are a lot more power-hungry than standard DSLRs.
This kid was too big for a stroller and apparently unwilling to walk, so his parents indulged him by plopping him into a luggage carrier. He didn't seem to mind seeing only where they had been rather than where they were going.
Fortunately, I'd had the foresight to bring an extra, fully charged battery. I was also lucky to be in Beijing, where after a few days of searching through the countless digital camera shops in the city, I found one that sold me a counterfeit yet functional MH-25 charger for less than $15.00. In the meantime, although the constant need to turn the V1 on and off to conserve battery power put a crimp in my street shooting, it allowed me to get all the shots I really wanted to get.
Despite the Nikon V1 being more power-hungry than I expected, I would still recommend it as a travel camera. I barely noticed having it in my small shoulder bag during a mid-day trip to the Great Wall of China in 90-degree heat (Fahrenheit, not Centigrade) while other photographers who were lugging full-sized DSLRs and one or two fast zooms were definitely feeling the pain. Focusing was lightening fast and accurate too, as was exposure and white balance. The only thing I wished for was one or two small, fast primes. Even though the V1's 28-70mm equivalent kit lens is tiny for its type, it's still 2.75" long (70mm) when full extended, which is at both extremes of its range. No matter. I was pleased with the results and hope you will be too.