While in Beijing, ‘pamhule‘ was kind enough to take a few hours out of his day to meet up with me for a photowalk. It was great to meet someone with local knowledge, and so we checked out some of the hutongs in the Dongcheng District. I had seen the entrance to a hutong near the Forbidden City a few days previous without realising that’s what it was, and though the scene was interesting and almost begging me to go into it, I opted not to due to a lack of knowledge on what it was and if it was private property. I’m all for stepping over a line in the UK, but not so in China (at this part of the trip anyway; I did check out an empty building later on in my trip).

Hutongs, as well as being a fun word to say, are little neighbourhoods that center round a courtyard and feature a few residencies and several twisting alleyways. Opening a door onto one of these and stepping inside provides you a fleeting glance into the lives of those who live there, and all seemed to offer something very photogenic. I think all hutongs must contain clothes hanging up randomly, some sort of vegetable either growing or simply sitting there, and of course a bicycle covered in dust.

It was while working our way from one hutong to another that I found this bike sitting in front of this simple wall. I processed it using B&W Effects 2 by Topaz Labs, and bushed in elements of the Low Key filter from Nik Software.

Thanks again to Jens for taking the time out to meet up and show me a few sights, be sure to check out his awesome work over at

  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Focal length: 14mm
  • ISO: 160
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

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