Taking Photos of the Great Wall of China…Away from the Tourist Hoards

Everybody has heard of the Great Wall of China. It was built some 2,000 years ago to protect China from Mongol raiders and at 3,700-miles in length, it’s the longest man-made structure on earth. But while this ancient wonder is familiar to many, most people know little about it.

I was lucky enough to see the Wall up close during a visit to China—and I got to take some pictures, too. There are several places where the Wall can be viewed but many are close to Beijing. As a result, they tend to be pretty busy with tourists. I was looking for something more remote…somewhere scenic away from the pollution and the crowds of Beijing.

After some research on the Internet, I came up with a place called Simatai, about 75 miles northeast of urban Beijing. It was a remarkable discovery because Simatai turned out to be home to one of the best preserved, un-restored portions of the Wall.

Not only that, but I had managed to completely avoid the tourist hoards. When we arrived, our small group found that we were the only ones on the Wall at that time.

It was a perfect day for capturing this amazing structure on a camera. The sky was cobalt blue with a few billowing clouds floating by on the light breeze. The bright sunny day provided perfect lighting for the ancient wall and empty hills and mountains that surrounded it. Few places in China afford this illusion of remoteness and lack of pollution.

History tells us that the Wall was occupied by the Chinese army. Soldiers lived in the numerous watchtowers dotted along its length and fought, when they could, to prevent raiders from the north from entering China. The last battle fought at the Great Wall was in 1938 during the Sino-Japanese War, when the Republic of China stood against the Empire of Japan. It was a humbling experience for me to stand alone on the top of this amazing piece of ancient—and not so ancient—history.

I looked out across the rugged terrain…the Wall rides the sharp peaks of the mountain range up and down for as far as you can see in either direction. I can’t even imagine how anyone could even be able to climb some of these peaks, let alone build a 25-foot-high and 15- to 30-foot-wide wall along the top.

I couldn’t help but think of the many thousands of people involved in the massive construction effort of such an amazing structure. For me, the men who built the Wall are as worthy of as much recognition as those who defended it.

I lost all sense of time as my camera busily captured this amazingly scenic place. But these photos, the ones here included, were more than just mementos of an incredible trip to a remarkable place. I post images like these to websites that help me sell them online. There’s a huge market out there for pictures of, well, pretty much anything. And every time they sell, I get a commission.

The best thing about selling photos this way is that I can sell the same image over and over—and the more photos you upload, the more money you make. The online route has taken all the hassle out of becoming a paid photographer…it’s an industry that’s no longer just for the experts.

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