Conservation, Huangshan, China
Winter Weather on Yellow Mountain
The three days I spent atop Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China during late January 2011 are amongst the best of my life, thus far. January is the coldest time of year on Huangshan with minimum temperatures dropping below -20C. Thankfully maximum day time temperatures can reach 7C which, when climbing up and down the steep mountain trails, can seem quite warm. But, as I was out and about before sunrise and after sunset, I experienced my share of the cold.
You can imagine that the winds, often prevalent at high altitude, could make conditions difficult for the landscape photographer. And I refer here to difficulties in maintaing sharpness as much as personal comfort. Fortunately I experienced very still days which, together with the thick blanket of near white clouds that surrounded me, made for fantastic conditions for photography. The huge bank of cloud greatly softened the quality of the light and reduced contrast (i.e., dynamic range) to an acceptable level.
The Power of Metaphor
The above photo, made near the top of a particularly high pass, is interesting to me as it depicts a degree of conservation on the mountain. It's true to say that the natural environment has, all too often, suffered with the rapid advancement of the Chinese economy. I hope this image can act as a metaphor for a future China where economic prosperity and the natural world can co-exist more harmoniously than has been the case in the most recent past.
Photography: The Joy of Life
So there I was, up early for a sunrise followed by an early morning photography session. After breakfast and a shower I'd check out and happily hike the hour or two onwards to the next hotel, stopping to photograph along the way. After depositing my luggage I'd eat and rest, prior to heading out after lunch to explore and photograph before returning to my hotel in the early evening gloom. This pattern continued throughout the three days and included my birthday, spent largely alone, in a truly awe inspiring landscape. Without doubt that was one of the best days I've ever experienced.
Perhaps we'll travel and photograph there together one day.