Unexpected Sights Await You on Huangshan, Eastern China

deep snow blocking doorway on mountain top, Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Eastern ChinaCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens

It was my last morning exploring Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China. I was up well before dawn in search of a great place for a sunrise. I made it but heavy cloud cover only allowed a little of what, would otherwise have been, a magnificent sunrise to shine through onto the incredible landscape that surrounded me. Still, the amazing view made the early start worthwhile. The challenge now was to make the most of the location and the time left to me to produce some great photos. Here's how I went about that task.

Exploration is the Key

With the weather closing in, and the world around me surrounded by a heavy blanket of cloud, I began the search for subject matter. Without the benefit of great light it seemed the best option available to me was to look for interesting, as well as, outstanding subject matter. I climbed up and down, following the steep pathways that snaked their way across the mountain top, photographing grand and less obvious scenes alike.

The above photo was made at what looked like a rest stop or park office. The trouble was, as it was the middle of winter, it was locked up tight. I popped around the back looking for a different vantage point from where I might be able to photograph through a gap in the clouds onto the landscape far below. My exploration led me to this place which, I assume, is a back entrance into the building.

Subject Matter and Meaning

It was interesting to me that the building, from this perspective, appeared to be a bunker. It's actually built into the mountainside and this back entrance was, therefore, accessed via the roof. I love that, at the same time, all the elements that are leading the eye towards the door are negated by the reality of the deep snow covering the path and blocking the entrance. The promise of rest and comfort against the reality of denial. I love exploring such dualities in my photography.

One advantage of the heavy cloud cover was the lovely soft light that it provided. The predominantly low contrast scene is very easy on the eye. The drama comes more from the subject matter, and any associated metaphors, rather than the light.

Surely one of the most amazing places I've yet visited. It's hard to imagine not returning to China, on what would be my fifth visit, without coming back to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain).

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru