China or bust...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by beemer boy, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    They consider it a form of stealing their spirit--it was the same in Africa except that for a dollar, they'd suspend that belief. Although it is generally best to obtain permission before taking someone's photo, sometimes the temptation to just do it anyway overwhelms us. For the respectful traveler, it's an uncomfortable decision to just grab those action shots that we'd kick ourselves later for missing.

    For those cases, use the best camera available that has a tilt viewfinder so you don't look so obvious. Afterwards, to clear your conscience, make a few donations to a few locals in obvious need.
  2. beemer boy

    beemer boy Oh no, he's gone Asian

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    [​IMG]
    I bought this Sony camera for that express purpose of having the ability to pictures on the sly. But felt like a bit of thief taking pictures like that so never did. Worked better with just a sort instantaneous snap so they did not have a chance to protest.....Did have one interesting instance up the mountains at high altitude. Stopped for a water break, and noticed there were some Tibetans washing clothes in the stream. When I tried to take a picture they all turned away. Then two little girls about 8 years old who were cute as bugs dressed out in local garb came down to where we were sitting. They then started singing and dancing in front of us. I am about dying with laughter and reach for my camera again. They then stop and hold out their hands. I have never paid for a picture before, just does not feel right. So I took a pass on paying them. The smiles sure faded when they realized we were leaving with no pictures or money for them......
  3. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    That's a common travelers experience, one that must be weighed at the time but almost always regretted later for not having the recorded memory to share with your nosy readers.
  4. franki

    franki NB Rider

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    I think the Chinese started to realise stealing other people's interlectual property is fun but vis versa is not? :evil
  5. franki

    franki NB Rider

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    Sadly, it is the side effects of pollution from the booming tourist trade. That is why I told you to go see Tibet earlier than later. I myself was very disappoint about Lhasa and the major tourist attractions along the way.:wink: However, if you venture off the beaten track, the vase Tibetian countryside and remote villages is still heaven on earth. People's mind have not been polluted by free candy handouts and cash offerrings in exchange for a snap shoot.:clap
  6. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do

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    I love the human candid's. That one of the Mongolian girl that you took, SV, is one of my favorite photos of all time. :thumb


    Akira did a pretty good job of getting shots like that on his trip, too.
  7. Robert_C

    Robert_C Long timer

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    While riding through a village in China I came across a very traditional funeral procession and several pyres that stil had the fans leaning on them. I did not take any pictures out of respect for local customs and I really wish that I had mounted a camera on the bicycle so that I would have been able to take them on the sly.

    the day will come that I will forget exactly what I did see and eventually that I saw them at all. Further, the memories I have are my own and can never be shared. Part of the fun is shareing the memories.

    I can not agree with your statement more; although, when people with guns put thier hand over your camera and others start taking their service rifles off thier shoulders it really is time to reconsider. I would have never taken the pictures you took in the DMZ as you walked into the Palestinan sector.
  8. psychsurf

    psychsurf Been here awhile

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    Amazing read! I just burned through all 31 pages in one sitting, and glad I did! I'm on the clock too, so that helps. :)

    On the subject of taking photos of locals, we encountered an interesting phenomenon in Ecuador when asking to photograph people. They didn't want money, they wanted a copy! So we took down addresses (mostly general delivery to the next biggest village), printed out the best quality 5x7's we could muster, and mailed out what were probably the only portraits they had ever had taken. I hope they all got them.

    Anyway, great thread, really stokes me out to get on the road!
  9. Ratman

    Ratman Lucky Rider

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    Beemer boy wrote:
    >Trouble in paradise. Think on one of my power bike washings that dirt was >driven into the output shaft seal. Now in Luang Prabang it started to leak. >The shop did not have the exact seal, but modified a spring from another >seal which seemed to help the leak.

    Beemer Boy, I've been repaining nicks in leaking fork seals for some time. If I have the seal in hand I will use a dremel tool and a 1/2" stone. Much easier than it sounds.

    If not, like on installed fork seals, I use the following method.
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/advrider-photobucket-images/images/S/SeiCoSabre_partsandstuff_SpringerForksSeals.jpg

    Double click on picture to enlarge.

    Really, it works, when You can't get a new part or like the seal problem you had.

    Might be helpful in the places that you ride.
  10. Stu

    Stu Buffo Maximus Supporter

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    Just returned from Henan. I used a 300mm and distance to get all the shots I wanted. No one noticed.

    Stu
  11. bigrichard

    bigrichard Long timer

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    Interesting that the Chinese people have been able to retain their belief in spirit despite 60 years of Communist government actively trying to suppress that belief
  12. Stu

    Stu Buffo Maximus Supporter

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    Bigrichard,

    They have all sorts of quaint and curious beliefs. For example, they believe that spitting everywhere and at any time does not spread disease. However, 550 million people in China either have had or currently have TB, spread, of course, by spitting, among other things. The government has tried to suppress this practice. It is illegal but that has not halted it.

    Stu
  13. CrazyCarl

    CrazyCarl The Eternal NooB

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    Stu et al,

    Yeah that's a nice thing about a tele..you don't have to be right in their face to get details and you also get the extra bonus of narrow DOF which can make for some nice portraits. Any shots up on the web?

    In regards to camera shy people in China, I'm not sure about that whole "stealing your soul" thing but I think it depends on where you are. In Tibet, the elder generation will still have this belief but the younger kids are a little more hip to what's going on. Actually, if you really want to get good shots of an area you've got to chill there for at least a couple of days giving the people a chance to become familiar with you while you try to become familiar with everything.

    The Han Chinese culture (which is entirely different) may or may not attribute that same rational to their behavior. Lots of other things come into play there like political (don't want to be selected out) or socioeconomic (i.e. shame of being poor or what have you) reasons. In both of these cultures the sense or idea of "self" (for lack of a better word) is different and will tend to create different reactions in front of a camera. China is a massive country and contains many different individual cultures which date back thousands of years but still it's understandably easy to generalize.

    Franki, is on the money when he says it's better to see Tibet sooner rather than later. Even in the past couple years there have been tremendous changes but at least the landscape stays as fuggin' outrageous as ever. To visit "original" Tibetan culture is getting harder and harder as the days go by and now you really do need to get out into the hinterlands but that means you better be ready to go slow and eat bad roads and weather. The land on the plateau is just as deadly as any other deadly place you can imagine.

    "Sneaking" photos of people is always a funny situation. On one hand you need to get candid moments of your experience for many reasons but on the other hand you would like to repsect their sense of privacy so what you gonna do? It's a fine line to walk.

    I figgure stay respectful, don't jump right into a place/situation with shutters-a-blazin'. First feel it out, get something to drink, interact a little, walk around and take pictures of things (building, tractors, whatever). Then, after the people in your vicinity are aware of what you're doing and that you're shooting for general interest and not constantly aiming a 300mm lens down their throat, you'll usually get a sense if it's okay or not. Shoot away. If someone notions that it's not okay or they feel uncomfortable then you'll probably notice right away so appologize and move on to other subjects.

    Big-Richard,
    I'm having toruble understanding your post. When you say "spirit" and "belief" what exactly are you talking about?

    CC
  14. bigrichard

    bigrichard Long timer

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    If you don't believe in spirit you won't worry about a camera stealing it

    One approach I've tried is handing my camera to kids and have them take the pictures

    Definitely breaks the ice
  15. CrazyCarl

    CrazyCarl The Eternal NooB

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    I'm not sure why you'd think the government would try to "crush" or to be more fair supress belief in a spirit..esp one that could be captured on camera? There's all kinds of spirit and some my "encourage" one over the other but there's always spirit.
    Where you find life, you'll find spirit and I don't see any lack of life around here.

    Now if you're talking about a particular kind of spirit then that's one thing, but if you're saying that the government has tried to crush (which is the feeling I'm getting from the discussion) or suppress belief in "spirit" in general then I'd say that no government or movement in all of human history to date has EVER accomplished that short of complete genocide...but that's not what were' talking about here and certainly isn't the case with China.

    Kids can take some great pictures and are welcome hands esp. when traveling alone. Not sure if many people would be totally cool handing over 10lb camera/lens rig to kids that could hardly keep it from hitting the ground but that's a good thing about bringing a sturdy point n' shoot.

    CC
  16. franki

    franki NB Rider

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    I second CC's suggestion of interacting with the locals. They are usually friendly if you show that you respect them and is friendly too. Here is a pic I took last week when I pass through a Tibetian house in the middle of nowhere. I stopped to greet the family and asked about their life. They don't speak much Manderin but body langauge helped a lot. I did not hand them any money or candy to the kids as I believe in preserving their way of life. However, I did managed to get a good idea of where they are and will be sending this family pics I took for them via my Chinese biker network (personal courier service):ricky

    Attached Files:

  17. bigrichard

    bigrichard Long timer

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    Don't think I've owned 10lbs of camera equipment in my life - total :rofl

    Did it with an old 35mm SLR
  18. CrazyCarl

    CrazyCarl The Eternal NooB

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    No doubt that's alot of weight to carry but depending on whatyou want to capture, some shots you can't get with a PnS...

    Sigma 80-400. Large and in charge. I hear it even fits on old 35mm SLRS and would make a setup of about 10lbs. ;)

    Franki: Glad to hear you had a good time. You gonna post a short report? I'm sure we'd all love to see some more pics nd hear some thoughts about your new ride.

    CC

    Camels on the ege of the Taklamakan Desert
    [​IMG]

    Golden Eagle of Qinghai-Tibet, China
    [​IMG]

    North American Moose, Waterton Park, Alberta/US
    [​IMG]
  19. bigrichard

    bigrichard Long timer

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    Nice pics :thumb
  20. franki

    franki NB Rider

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    CC: Give me a few days to clear my desk. Then I will post a few photos about the trip through western Szechuan. :D