Armored Kneeling Archer – China’s Terracotta Warriors

Armored Kneeling Archer - San Francisco - 2013

Here’s another image from the exhibition of China’s Terracotta Warriors now underway at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

This image required a bit more work. One of the challenges of shooting images of the warriors as they’re displayed is the combination of lighting and reflections – which bring extra “stuff” into the images.

Plus, when we were there, it was really crowded inside the darkened exhibition gallery. Lots of folks moving around – and bumping into each other – a challenging photographic venue for sure!

But the gallery that the Asian Art Museum created for the warriors is really is superb in terms of how the terracotta warriors are placed and, in particular, how they’re lit.

So, to deal with the issues in the image, I did a quick selection in Photoshop to isolate the warrior from extraneous background elements. I then faded those elements into the background while adding some contrast to the warrior.

Then we made a trip into Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 to do two steps: bring out more detail and add a subtle bit of glamour glow.

Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 was used for the conversion to monochrome – adding a bit of structure to the midtones and highlights while removing structure from the shadows. A bit of soft contrast adjustment helped with lighting.

A quick pass with Doug Kaye’s Warm Black action helped tone the image just ever so slightly.

For the final sharpening step, I used the Sharpen 2013 action included in the latest version of Dan Margulis’ Picture Postcard Workflow panel in Photoshop.

China’s Terracotta Warriors

Driver - San Francisco - 2013

San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum is currently featuring a beautiful exhibition of China’s Terracotta Warriors.

Here’s an image from a recent visit – of a horse carriage driver. He’s out in the lobby – before you get into one of the three galleries with the other warriors and related sculptures.

This image was shot handheld with my Nikon D600 and post-processed in Photoshop CS6 along with Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2.

To China

Tim Bajarin writes about his recent visit to China – after a nine year absence.

The pace of change in China is so stunning, that nothing would surprise me about China anymore.

Immelt on China

Business Week has a great story about the Immelt revolution underway inside GE. In a sidebar Q&A interview, CEO Jeff Immelt discusses China:

China is really about infrastructure. There will be tremendous investments made in infrastructure, health care, energy, water, water, security. GE can approach China as one company and form a company-to-country relationship that’s bigger than any of the pieces.

We’re getting more comfortable with the rule of law. We’ve been careful so far. Our investments only trail our ability to understand what the rules are going to be. When I go there today, there’s a tremendous focus on the financial system. They’ve got external consultants working on it. China is not a slam dunk. But it’s right in GE’s sweet spot, so we’ve got to play and play big.

The Dragon Awakes

Dean Calbreath writes in the San Diego Union-Tribune about China, the fastest growing economy in the world.

Some economists predict that by 2015, China will have enough spending power to become the world’s primary engine of economic growth, unseating the United States, which has held that role since the end of World War II. By 2040 – and perhaps much sooner – China may have a greater gross domestic product than the United States, giving it the world’s No. 1 economy. It now ranks at No. 3.

The newspaper will also be running articles on China tomorrow and Tuesday.

Shanghai Sky

Just came across an article in the Los Angeles Times from two weeks ago by Christopher Hawthorne about Shanghai.

There is no view in the world quite like it. The skylines of Hong Kong and Rio may be perched on the edge of more dramatic natural locations. European capitals may have deeper collections of architectural masterpieces. But only in Shanghai can you see unfettered 21st century ambition facing off as dramatically against the early 20th century version.

Hawthorne goes on to describe having dinner at a private club called the Yong Foo Elite — coincidentally, it’s where we had dinner in Shanghai on March 1st.

The club fills an entire compound, really, centered on a 1930s villa that once held the British Consulate. The interior has been impeccably restored, its cracked, dark-stained wood now gleaming and the central garden beautifully landscaped. But what makes it pitch perfect is the effortless way it mixes elements of Western and Eastern design: Chinese lanterns, for example, hanging from a magnolia tree and illuminating the neoclassical details of the villa’s facade.

The club is a wonderful setting for a traditional Shanghai dinner — but watch out for the maotai!

Boston Bound

I’m heading for Boston this morning (brrr!) for a couple of days.

Update: I finished reading Mr. China on the flight to Boston earlier today. Great book — see this review in’s online edition.


Howard French writes in this morning’s New York Times about respect for or lack thereof re: intellectual property rights in China using as his example GS Magic Stor’s 4 GB hard drive used in Apple’s iPod Mini.

In one sector after another, companies warn that China’s swift industrial rise is being greased by brazen and increasingly sophisticated theft of intellectual property.