Friday, May 25, 2012

The Bund at Night

Shanghai is split in to two halves by the Huangpu River, a fact reflected by the names for the two halves of Shanghai: Puxi and Pudong, which literally translate to East of the Huangpu and West of the Huangpu. One section of the east bank of the Huangpu is known as The Bund; about 150 years ago up until World War II, The Bund was the site of the Shanghai International Settlement, controlled by Britain, the United States, and France. As a result of the former colonial influence, the Bund waterfront today is made up entirely of European colonial style buildings. The Bund's architecture provides an interesting contrast to the ultramodern skyscrapers on the opposite western bank of the Huangpu, an area known as Lujiazui.

For this trip back to China, I'm not actually using my normal trusty Nikon D60. Instead, I'm using my brother's Nikon D5100. In a few months my brother will be heading to Shanghai as well, so he asked me to bring his D5100 for him ahead of time. Since the D60, Nikon has made a number of huge improvements in the low light performance of their sensors, seen most prominently in the D3's ability to take perfectly lit, noise-free images in the dark. Of course, the D5100 also has heavily upgraded low-light capabilities compared to the D60.

What better place to test out that low-light performance than the Bund at night?

Here are a pair of panoramas taken from the Bund. The first one is a full 360 degree panorama of the Bund and Lujiazui across the Huangpu River, while the second one is just of Lujiazui.

31°14'26" N 121°29'10" E. Click for huge version.
31°14'26" N 121°29'11" E. Click for huge version.

Some of the component images that went into the above panoramas:

31°14'26" N 121°29'10" E
31°14'26" N 121°29'11" E

At the northern end of the Bund proper is a giant concrete monument called the Monument of the People's Heroes (what a typical Communist Party style name!). It looks kind of like a Forerunner structure from Halo (yes, I realize that reference paints me as a quite a dork). The monument is a pretty good place from which to get pictures of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower across the river.

Left: 31°14'32" N 121°29'11" E. Right: 31°14'37" N 121°29'13" E
Left: 31°14'40" N 121°29'12" E. Right: 31°14'46" N 121°29'10" E
31°14'40" N 121°29'13" E

The Monument of the People's Heroes sits next to the point where the Suzhou Creek flows into the Huangpu. At night there's usually a small fleet of old dredging barges parked in the creek confluence; during the day, the barges are used to dredge deep shipping lanes in the middle of the Huangpu. The Waibaidu Bridge crosses the Suzhou Creek, and on the other side of the creek are more European style buildings, such as the modern day Russian Consulate.

31°14'41" N 121°29'10" E
31°14'40" N 121°29'12" E
Left: 31°14'41" N 121°29'10" E. Right: 31°14'41" N 121°29'9" E

The Waibaidu Bridge is wired up with LEDs that cycle through a number of colors over the course of a few minutes. I managed to catch the bridge in mid-change from red to blue:

Left: 31°14'46" N 121°29'10" E. Right: 31°14'46" N 121°29'10" E
31°14'46" N 121°29'9" E

When I visited China in grade school, very few families had cars. Today, however, China has the largest automobile industry in the world; even the Bund is packed with cars during the day. I especially like the following two shots, which I got by pivoting in place to track cars with my camera, hence the cool streaky background effect:

31°14'43" N 121°29'9" E
31°14'43" N 121°29'9" E

Next post: food in Shanghai!

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