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August 07, 2008

Clean Air Tomorrow?

At 8:08PM on 08/08/08, the Beijing Olympics will kick off with what’s been called the most spectacular Opening Ceremony to date. Over 10,000 athletes, dozens of world leaders, thousands of journalists, and tens of thousands of spectators will pack the National Stadium tomorrow night – over 90,000 people in total. But will they have a clear view of the extravagant fireworks display just overhead? If the weather is anything like it was today, spectators watching the show from a distance might find their fireworks pictures ruined by a hazy glow, and those inside won’t be able to see the show quite as clearly as they may have hoped.

With less than 24 hours to go, it’s unlikely that the conditions will improve significantly in time for the start of the Games. There have been several clear days since I arrived in early July -- two or three when you could even see the sun and hints of blue sky -- but today was certainly not one of them. The picture below was taken this afternoon from Tiananmen Square. The thick haze makes it difficult to capture details and colors, even from just across the street. If you’re in Beijing for the Olympics, take advantage of a clear day to photograph the city -- you’ll find plenty of photogenic buildings and people everywhere you turn. But if you have no choice but to shoot on a hazy day, try using manual focus, and use exposure compensation to underexpose by half a stop or so, as the haze will likely throw off your camera’s meter.



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