Lens-Artists Challenge #236 – East Meets West

doorway, China, Red
Double Double Doors

“Double, double, toil and trouble.”

William Shakespeare

This week Amy has challenged us to contrast East / West or North / South. I’ve decided to focus on architecture, comparing that of China in the East and the U.S. in the West. As architecture goes, in my humble opinion (😊), there couldn’t be two more different examples.

pagodas, china, orange

“Anything difficult to say must be shouted from the rooftops.”

Natalie Clifford Barney

While it’s true that the differences are many, it is also true that one thing is constant….no matter the location there is beauty to be found everywhere. In China one will find some amazing uses of color – exhibits A and B my two opening images. Is there anything more striking than the color red (which is found all over China) or the gracefulness of the colorful upturned roofs? Perhaps also the inclusion of dragons, something never found in the U.S.!

dragons, China, Rooftop
Devilish Dragons

“I’m not so much a dragon slayer, more a dragon annoyer.”

Craig Ferguson

One thing we share with China is a preponderance of parks. Although they may differ in size and scope, all illustrate the glories of nature. One of my favorites in China was the beautiful Summer Palace which takes full advantage of its nearby waterfront and is open to the public.

china, summer palace, walkway, water
China’s Imperial Summer Palace

“Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.”

John Donne

Although I’ve used the image below in previous posts (and on my desktop), no conversation about architecture in China would be complete without the incredible Great Wall. Our world is an amazing place, and I’ve been fortunate to see much of it, but I rank the Great Wall among my top five memories of all time.

China, great wall
Beyond Compare

“There were endless stories locked into the silent, cool mass of the Wall.”

Braam Malherbe

The thing about beauty is that it comes in many forms, some concrete, others abstract. Happily, it can be found everywhere if one is open to it. Beyond Chinese architecture and landscapes, there is beauty in the warmth of her people – especially those we met in the more remote areas of this vast, incredible country. The same, of course, is true of our own country. Beyond the natural beauty I often post about here on Kiawah, in nearby Charleston one can see architectural beauty that could not be more different from that found in China. We are famous, for example, for the amazing ironwork crafted by local artist Philip Simmons which is found throughout the city.

iron scroll, charleston
Iron Scrolls

“I come to a world of iron to make a world of gold.”


Similar to the many temples to be found across China, Charleston is known as “the holy city” because of its many churches, some 400+, many of them from before the 1800s. Often they feature beautiful steeples like the two examples below. They can be seen perfectly from any of the higher buildings or rooftops throughout the city. For me, they bring to mind the children’s rhyme and finger game “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the door and see all the people”. Do other countries also play that game?

church, steeples, charleston
Church Steeples

“I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

One thing we share with much of the world, but which I did not notice to be prevalent in China is the ubiquity of fountains. Throughout our travels in Europe we saw them everywhere. Charleston was originally settled by Europeans which may explain their presence here. One of my favorites is the fountain in our Riley Waterfront Park. It is built in the shape of a pineapple, a symbol of welcome and hospitality which is seen frequently throughout the city.

fountain, pineapple, charleston
Riley Waterfront Park Pineapple Statue

“True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.”

Kathleen Norris

I’ll close today with a favorite image from quite some time ago. I captured it while strolling, camera in hand, along one of Charleston’s main streets. It’s located at what we call the “Four Corners of Law” (God’s law (St. Michael’s Church), state law (Charleston County Courthouse), city law (Charleston City Hall), and federal law (Federal Courthouse). The image captures an area of Charleston’s City Hall and to me is a wonderful example of the charm and beauty of the city.

Charleston Charm

“All the diversity, all the charm, and all the beauty of life are made up of light and shade.”

Leo Tolstoy

Having spent nearly a month in China and nearly half of my life in the Charleston area, I could have gone on for days with examples of the beautiful architecture to be found in both places. Instead I’ll stop here with advice that should you ever have the opportunity to visit either or both, you should jump in as quickly as possible with both feet!

Sincere thanks to Amy for the opportunity to share two of my favorite places. Be sure to link your response to her wonderful challenge here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tab to help us find you. Thanks also to Patti for last week’s Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome challenge. Her post and your responses reminded us all to think creatively and to see and show our world in new ways. Finally, we’re excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be guest-hosted by Bren of Brashley Photography. Bren’s topic will be “Lowering Clarity to Bring Softness” so be sure to visit her site for a look next Saturday at noon EST. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe, be kind and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.


101 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #236 – East Meets West

  1. Tina, this is a great post! So many wonderful pictures from China, (especially The Wall of China!) compared to the very different styles and equally beautiful architecture in Charleston.

  2. A wonderful comparison! As always excellent photography and a wonderful choice of opposites. So different, but so beautiful both. I love the Great Wall image of course, but the Pineapple is a true beauty. I was thinking architecture as well, but could never have put it together like you do! Thank you for taking us!

    • LOL I’m sure you could do so as well or better Ann-Christine but I appreciate the compliment. The pineapple is a symbol of welcome in one of the major Charleston attractions. It’s always full of life and fronts a marvelous view of the waters beyond. A personal favorite.

      • Oh, I can see why the pineapple is a personal favourite, Tina! Thank you for believing in me…but we don’t have that marvelous architecture to choose from in Sweden. And – I don’t have many good photos of it either!

  3. What a wonderful post comparing East vs West architecture and design, Tina. So agree with you when you say that ‘no matter the location there is beauty to be found everywhere’ and comes in many forms. Beauty is found everywhere in things big and small and each and every one of us. Red and yellow are certainly standout colours in China, with the colours symbolising good luck. I really like that symbol of the pineapple fountain in Riley Waterfront Park. Very interesting design of a fountain. It certainly stands out. Beautiful shots all round, every one a winner. Hope you are doing well 🙂

  4. Wonderful post, Tina–in both words and images. Your love for both places shines through. It’s so true what you’ve written-“it is also true that one thing is constant….no matter the location there is beauty to be found everywhere.” I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing beauty with us!

    • Thanks Patti – Honestly I never expected to visit China but we were SO glad we did. It’s amazing and so eye-opening. I’ve often said I wish everyone would have the chance to travel as we have. Not only is the world a beautiful place, but people everywhere are for the most part kind, welcoming and interested in keeping peace. If only 😊

  5. Styles between the East and West differ, but they share a great elegance. Such a great take on the East meets West, with the contrast of architecture also mirroring the difference in culture ~ from the Double double doors (great, creative shot) and elegant, turned-up eaves of Chinese roofs match the beauty of the churches and Charleston Charm (love the play of shadow and light). My two favorite photos: are the Great Wall (like you, I went in with high expectations and still was blown away), and then you also capture the peace of China’s Imperial Summer Palace. Excellent post, Tina.

    • Many thanks Randall. I agree of course about the elegance of both and so many others. Unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky with crowding when we visited the Summer Palace so its serenity was somewhat lost on me 😊. But I did especially enjoy the short boat trip in the surrounding waters which was indeed quite peaceful.

  6. Truly a gorgeous POST Tina!! I am just so in love with your shots from China…always appreciate u sharing as that may be as close as I will get fearing that this body just could not endure that FAR travel!! We really do also live in a spectacular place with its own beauty…love the shots!! PS I have your book from China…love to flip thru its pages often!!

  7. Great examples, Tina. I‘ve never been to China, but I love your image of the Chinese Wall 👍 and the summer palace.
    Asian, and especially Chinese, architecture always looks so lightweight. They are able to hide the real weight of the material behind design 👍

  8. Hi Tina
    “beauty to be found everywhere” – so true
    -I do like those red buildings and curled roofs and did not realize China had so many parks
    That is very good to know

  9. Always love yours shares of China. It is indeed on our radar. The Wall photo offers such a yes…just go. And Charleston after all there years, continues to be such an intriguing place to go. Interesting about the number of churches, and the fountains. I guess when you live there you see them, appreciated them , and not realize how many. At least for me anyway. I love the Emerson quote…I concur. And I love the pineapple fountain. I, too, found this topic pretty challenging. I have moved so much in my life, I wanted to do an autobiography. lol. Have a good week.

  10. These two cities are the perfect examples of East meeting West, Tina. Charleston, an older, more traditional city in the US, boasts such classic architecture, especially in its churches, which you have captured beautifully. Of course, the Chinese love their lucky reds. Gorgeous shots! Since red is my theme this week, I went ahead and linked this post for Sunday Stills in my round-up! Have a great week!

  11. Pingback: Sunday Stills Monthly Color Challenge: Are You Ready for #RED? – Second Wind Leisure Perspectives

  12. I am jealous that I will never get to see the great wall or other sights of popular Chinese destinations, but then I’ve seen Dilworth, Minnesota. Not many (comparatively) people can say that. >grin<
    Of course, I kid, Tina. Beautiful work.

  13. “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the door and see all the people” is a game played by children in the UK. Or at least it was. I have often wondered whether all the old nursery rhymes and skipping songs have survived. The newest generation seem to spend most of their time watching screens. So many young parents pop open a video on their phones for their toddlers to watch when I would have been showing mine a book and talking to them. Anyway I digress, the Great Wall is my favourite shot here and as many have said probably one of the best views of it.

    • Thanks Jude – yes I’m sure you’re sadly so right about toddlers and screens. However here in the US there are so many warnings about how terrible that is for young brains I sometimes wonder how prevalent it is. The other complicator is that so many homes have 2 working parents that the young are spending much more time with babysitters or in pre-schools even as infants. All that said, I know the children of my 4 siblings are all playing it on their parents’ laps so maybe there’s hope still!

  14. Lovely contrasts here, Tina. Your image of The Great Wall is a stunner, the best I have ever seen of the Wall anywhere Do you have top ten of your all time best photos? I’m sure this one would get high ratings. Happy Sunday to you across the pond.

    • Greetings Hanne! Funny you should ask about that. Our photography club here is working on a project where each member gets to submit only 3 favorite images, and all must have been made here on Kiawah. I cannot tell you how difficult that exercise was for me. I cannot begin to imagine trying to do it for ALL of my images!!! They’re like our children, don’t you think? That said, whether this photo would make the top 10 or not, the Great Wall would DEFINITELY make my top 10 of the sights I’ve ever seen/places I’ve ever been.

      • I thought about you the other day when I arranged a meet & shoot for my local camera club. The artist had a precious bottle of red wine named the Great Wall with a stunning label on her worktop, obviously not opened.
        Until a couple of years ago, we used to have open competitions without a theme. We changed it to 50-50, and now have a pdi and a print competition with a theme, hoping to inspire the members to think outside the box and try something different (and maybe give the non-wildlife photographers a chance to showcase their work.) We might have to change it again as many members don’t like to be forced to do exercises outside their favoured genre. However, I love the idea of a competition “taken in North Norfolk” and will propose this for the next season. Many thanks, Tina!

    • Thanks Sofia, truly beauty everywhere. Some of the images I’ve seen of places I’ve never been are so amazing – one can only get to so much of our beautiful world. We’ve been fortunate to have seen so much and yet it’s so little of what’s out there!

  15. Beautiful images of China Tina! It brought back memories of when we were there on business. It’s too bad I wasn’t into photography then. Charleston is new to me and it was nice to see those great images too. Take care!

    • Thanks Anne – I have a good friend who was in China for business many years ago. he said at the time most everyone got around on bicycles and all of the people dressed in brown. Quite a difference today. Shanghai was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen – almost like Disney World it was so modern! The wall is beyond imagination!

      • We went in the mid ’90s and it was the same as your friend experienced. Within China we traveled from province to province.
        Each had their own language with Mandarin as the common communicator. Our customer was taking us to his customers who had problems with our drilling equipment. Most of the difficulties were their misusing the equipment. We saw the countryside where farmers still plowed with oxen. It was an amazing trip. We also saw Hong Kong which was a totally different story. We didn’t get to Shanghai unfortunately.

      • I think that would have been even more fascinating Anne. We also saw a few examples out in the countryside where the oxen were used to plow the fields. It’s a fascinating place but is modernizing now so quickly I fear the experience will soon be much less so.

  16. “Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the door and see all the people” is a game played by children in Australia too. I wonder which country it originated in – probably the U.K. – perhaps hundreds of years ago before modern technology.

    Lovely series of images and I think we can all appreciate architectural details in any city or country town. It only asks us to take the time to pause and appreciate the details around us.

    I think Japanese and Chinese architecture have to be my favourites.

    • Thanks Vicki – somehow I think that little game is everywhere. I also think I read somewhere that it did originate in the U.K. And I agree about Japanese and Chinese architecture – especially the more ancient buildings and their beautiful centuries-old parks.

    • Thanks Janet – the Great Wall was a long-held dream come true. One of those things you think you’ll never get to see and then it surpasses even your wildest dreams. Funny when you think of how new Charleston is compared to the Great Wall, but it’s one of the U.S.’s oldest cities!

  17. Hi Tina, I love the contrasts and beauty of the architecture of China and Charleston through your fabulous images. The Great wall photo, beyond Compare, indeed!! Is this the oldest part of the GW? I remember the beautiful Summer Palace garden, but my photos were not nearly as yours. I didn’t know charleston is known as “the holy city”. Such a beautiful historical city. Thanks for the tour!

    • Thanks Amy – especially for the opportunity to highlight both places. We visited the wall at Jinshanling which is about 2 hours outside of Beijing. I have no idea how old this section is versus the rest of the wall but it was an amazing day for us. We had beautiful weather so we could see for miles and miles, and there were virtually no other tourists except for 1 or 2 others. A long -held dream realized.

  18. I’m still waiting for someone to whisk me away to the Great Wall of China but some people are very slow on the uptake, Tina. I have to say that your oriental images have far more appeal for me, but I’ve always hankered after the exotic. Not that I’d turn my nose up at Charleston or Savannah, but he’s not listening! Have a wonderful week, hon.

    • LOL I hear you Jo! I love all kinds of travel but I think the more different our destinations are, the more interesting our experiences become. Not that I haven’t loved the more familiar places , but the TRULY foreign countries have been a whole different ball game (U.S. football Super Bowl is tomorrow so using a game analogy is a must this weekend 😊). A wonderful week to you too my friend.

    • Thanks very much Kellye – we were very fortunate on two fronts. The first was our travel agent, who is HQ’d in Hong Kong. He was great and absolutely insisted we go to a spot much further from civilization so that the wall was not crowded with tourists. (we only saw 2 other people the entire day) Second, both here and in Shanghai we were fortunate to have some of the clearest weather they’d had in a long time. We could literally see for miles!

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