Fall in Beijing - locations !

The Fall is finally here so everywhere i looked i saw that beautiful yellow color of the Gingko  银杏  (yínxìng) trees. There are only a few weeks to capture it before the winter arrives and all the trees will remain bear (usually from mid October to the first week of November but this year- 2013- the temperature are higher so there is still time!) so I planed a Fall Photography day:

starting from Diaoyutai Ginkgo Avenue at the early morning, to the Sanlitun north street avenue , to Fragrant hills - Xianshang park. It was a very long day and quite heavy as i was carrying both my digital and 120mm film camera, i wouldn't recommend you do the same.


Diaoyutai Ginkgo Avenue     




Pinyin: Yínxìng dàdào Diàoyútái yínxìng dàdào

location in Google maps: 39.915209,116.334325

location for Taxi : 西城区三里河路钓鱼台国宾馆东墙外


Diaoyutai Ginkgo Avenue is a famous location for Beijingers at the fall. all the Ginkgo trees turn to beautiful yellow around the middle of October and then start to shed their leaves in the first or second week of November. The avenue has two parts to make sure to first go all the to it's end and then choose the right spot for you. when you think about big Yellow trees you probably think about the golden hour at sunrise or sunset, but beware - the Avenue is a Meca for all photographers and Photography groups so any time after 08:00 in the morning you can expect to find dozens if not hundreds of people taking pictures from one side of the avenue to the other - where you can find the other groups...






Sanlitun north street avenue 



Pinyin: Sānlǐtún běi lù

location in Google maps: 39.941536,116.455341

location for Taxi : 东直门 和 笋立屯 路口


located just on the north side of Sunlitun street (intersection of Dongzhimen and Sunlitun) this Avenue is on the side of a main road. the Ginkgo trees are on the bicycle lane so take care. and if you're wondering - the picture is strait off the camera, no tweaks.


Fragrant hills - Xianshang park  

Chinese: 香山公园

Pinyin: Xiāngshān gōngyuán

location in Google maps: 39.990914,116.19175

location for Taxi : 香山公园


Fragrant hills  is the most famous park in Beijing - in other words that means you can expect to see thousands of people from all across China. the best way to get their is by subway even if you own a car simply because of the traffic jam of 30-45 minutes in the entrance to the park. even after you crossed that the parking lot is small and in the beginning of the long street that leads to the park.

Subway - just get on the line 4 and get of at the north part of it - Beigongmen station. from there you can take a bus for 1 yuan or a taxi for 30 yuan. the distance is 10 minutes with no traffic - and 40 with traffic to the west gate. also if the taxi driver asks if he can put you "close" to the entrance - just say NO... it's not close at all. the street that leads to the park is a tourist trap with food/stores/presents shops for 1 Km.

The ticket is 15 yuan and from the west gate ( not the north one) I hiked through all the park from one side to the peak and down, on foot. so i can tell you this:

there is definitely no need to do that. the best place to see all of the view is from the peak but the view is not that interesting.  there are some wish trees and in any case you

can use the cable car to get there! i found that the most beautiful part was if you enter from the west gate and take the right turn towards the small coffee shop and up the mountain for 20 minutes or so.  in that area there's a small area with Ginkgo trees and after that (up the mountain) there's a nice view. more than that is more of the same and you are walking behind people all day on some very challenging stairs.

all and all I would think that this will be the last time i will visit - although the park is very nice and has some spots it also has too many people and is very commercial ( and i visited on a Monday morning that was considered to be mild)

Buying flags & reflectors in Taipei

I started using black flags more often a few photo-shoots ago, mainly to get that "out of black" look I like so much. So I was looking  for a place to buy both the small A2 size cardboards ( to use with my soft boxes, or just hang next to the model, and a place to buy big industrial ( billboards) foam boards to really make a negative space.

I found two good places that are always in stock and have options:

The first, for the small cardboards is an art store next to Shida night market – bada art supply, located here (Google maps: 25.021969, 121.529312). you can get  small ( A2 ) cardboards in any color, if you're looking to get a nice bounced off light  , where except the yellow background, blond hair and gold necklace  there was one light point at a yellow cardboard located just beneath the shot to get a totally yellow shot.

The second place is here – (Google maps:  25.048797,121.564803) phone: 02-27485397 called "open box" in English although you probably wouldn't find that name anywhere… they make signs, so they have very big foam boards , in different thickness. Don’t get there before 10:00 AM, they're still closed.

Why should you bother to get a huge foam board anyway? Because with a huge one you can make a "negative space" from two big foam boards sprayed in black paint, a black background and a black floor (cloth\another board) you can do these "out of black" shots.


Developing Printing framing Taipei

So I thought about how and what to tell you about the whole printing experience in Taipei and I figured that the best way was just go through the steps I made. If you want to short answer (where, how much, how good, speak English? Etc.' ) just jump to the end of the post. I'm not going to write the names of stores in Chinese, unless they have a website, sorry, the best thing I can do is pinpoint in Google maps the location. And by the way -

I first just tried printing in a photocopy place that has some really nice paper, just to check out the printed picture, look for problems, tones. It's a tiny place with two nice guys that work with Photoshop,  print very fast and good quality ( given that this is a photocopy place. Located here (goggle maps: 25.028195,121.546479)  , phone: 02-27075811. English- partial.

Then I looked for places that could print and develop Film (I sometimes shoot with my antique 500CM Hasselblad, 120 mm film) I found three places to develop film:

  1. The cheapest, fastest one – a small place next to the main entrance ( south west corner) of national Taiwan university. Never could remember the name of the shop but it's here (25.017857, 121.532693) the owner know English and the developing is fast and to most of the films. Quality –good, but not perfect.  Cost – 150 nt a 120mm film, with TIFF on CD in a 2000*2000 size. You can develop it to the maximum (apx. 40 MB) and pay 10NT for each MEGA.
  2. Jazz image (jazzimage.com.tw)  – no doubt that it's the most attractive place of the bunch, but their developing is quite expense- 200 NT a picture. Quality- high, I don’t think it's worth the cost though.  I'll talk about them later in the printing.  Some speak good English.
    Jazz Photo Image  爵士影像.門市部台北市八德路二段431號9:00~21:00

(一~ 五) 9:30~18:00 (六.日) (02)2721-9003


  1. 台北影像 – small place , second floor  near bade and changan east. Here (25.046379,121.543636). They only develop and only some types of films ( no fuji), and no English , at all. Quality – good.  Prices – 120 NT a 120mm film.

台北影像 - 台北市復興南路1段36-3號2樓.      02-8772-1008


Quite simply – there is only one place that incorporates good English, high quality and good choices of paper and that is jazz image.  I printed there more than 10 batched already, every batch of 5-7 images, I have to say that I was happy most of the time, if I wasn't it's because I choose a paper that didn’t suit the picture. On the matter- the fine art paper is has amazing texture, really cool for Black and White.  The process is that you come with the USB stick, move the pictures to their HD . Choose the papers and sized you want, get the quotation and come back a day after to get the results. Sometimes when you print a lot\first time you can sit down and get some color samples of the pictures (I printed a poster sized one so I needed to see that it's ok in a 6*9). The prices are not cheap, but if you are a photographer ask for the photographer discount (which is 20%...).


So right now you developed your film ( or digital) pictures, you got the prints, and now you're looking for that framing shop… and o boy , listen to this – most of the framing shop's here don’t use glass they use acrylic glass. Personally I hate it because it reflects like crazy so if you choose to print on a shiny paper (like a very vivid color landscape shot) you end up looking at yourself.

So you have two choices – find a place that uses glass (kind of rare) or print on matt paper.  There are interesting options like taking the print and using heat to "glue" it to glass, but it’s expensive ( 2000 NT for a middle size picture) and no grantee that the print would not get ruined in the process.

After looking though all of Shida (Heping east road, sec.1 ) and trying them out ( and getting disappointed every time)  I found a very good place in bade – here , green sign outside. (Google maps 25.047008,121.542006). They have a lot of choices of mounts and frames, work pretty fast (it takes a few days) and really good quality.  English – yes, some of the people.