Shooting ’em up in Xian

Photo © Bob Krist

We arrived in Xian in fog, haze, and rain….so what else is new?

Fortunately, the main site here, the famous Terra Cotta Warriors are all indoors, so we snapped away while it poured outside.

I’ve never been here, so it’s all new to me, but this is one place where things have actually gotten easier for photographers instead of harder. They never used to allow any photography of the Warriors, and now they do.

You just can’t use flash or a tripod. Not so bad. The light is terrible, mixed from about three sources—daylight, fluorescent, and an assortment of vapor lights.  I used a small table top tripod as a brace against my chest,  and kept my ISO at 1600 and played around with White Balances….nothing looked particularly good or bad…pick a hue and run with it!

A security guard kept eyeing my little stability rig, but decided in the end to let me shoot unmolested.

The warriors are a must see, but it’s kind of a tough shoot, and very difficult to get anything new. I had more fun later that day out on the street, where I encountered a giant butterfly, and then shot something and ate it.

For a look, hit the jump.

Photo © Bob Krist

We were by the famous city wall when I caught this workman catching a butterfly….actually stringing up some decorations for some function to be held in the square.

Later, we hit the lively Muslim quarter, where there were lots of nice street situations around the open air food stalls and markets. Folks were cool about being photographed and it had a good vibe.

Photo © Bob Krist

The fry bread looked really good so I had to try some. Of course, I always practice good travel photography street workflow, which is not too different from the credo of a survival pot hunter: “first you shoot it, then you eat it.”

Pushing further west along the Silk Road. Next stop: Dunhuang and its spectacular caves and dunes.  I’ll keep you posted…

This entry was posted in Destinations, Photo Gear, Photo Techniques, Travel.


  1. Skunk April 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Chinese Islamic food is great. Did you have the green onion cake bread thing?

  2. Jim April 23, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    Always best to sample the models wares..ah ya know the stir fry and bread.

  3. Monte Stevens April 24, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    I read you blog because you can bring a smile to my face and because I learn a few things from you. So what did I learn from Fr, Bob today, “first you shoot it, then you eat it.” Do you shoot then bless the food or bless it all first?

    • Bob April 24, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

      Monte: I leave the blessing stuff to a higher authority! cheers, Bob

  4. Paul Papanek April 24, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    Bob –

    What’s your ‘stability rig?’

    • Bob April 24, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

      Paul, I’m going to ask you to read the post again, and you tell me. Because it’s described right there in the previous paragraph! cheers, Bob

  5. Mike Morse April 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    When I was in China a few years ago, the big food attraction for the locals was KFC.

  6. Ernesto Santos May 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm #


    I’m leaving at the end of the month for a four week trip to Southeast Asia. We plan to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors site. Can you tell me what lenses you used to shoot them? I’m planning on a 70-200 mm zoom with possibly a 1.7x teleconverter for detailed extractions. Thoughts?

    • Bob May 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

      Ernesto: “Detailed extractions”? My, we are technical. I’m assuming you’re not talking about dentistry, so I’d say if you want “closeups” of the warriors, you’ll need the longest lens you can get in there. There are some warriors in cases that are easy to shoot closeups, er, I mean, “detailed extractions” of, but the ones in the pits would require really long glass. Assuming you could get it in there and use it without any visible means of support.

      Don’t forget your wide glass, either. Have fun, Bob

      • Ernesto Santos May 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

        Hi Bob,

        Sorry, I’ll keep the technical jargon to a minimum in the future. 🙂

        Thanks for your response. I’m taking one of those flexible tripods named after those big apes with me. I hope the museum security guards don’t mind.

        • Bob May 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

          Hi Ernesto: No worries…I was just busting your chops a little! Bob

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