Angel of Harbin

A wonderful sculpture of an angel and harp at the Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo in Harbin, China.

I photographed this heavenly delight at the Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo on the outskirts of the city of Harbin in far northeast China. I was there in January during the middle of the Chinese winter and, this close to Siberia, that means c-o-l-d. 

Night time temperatures were down to -20C when I found myself photographing the sister location of IceWorld. My camera operated fine, although I was constantly wiping ice off it.

Fortunately while the sun was up the temperatures were far more comfortable and, during my visit to the Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo I was able to range far and wide, often under a blue sky.

What to Expect

The site is a large outdoor complex filled with dozens of sculptures referencing buildings, historical figures and mythological characters. Once I paid my entrance fee I was pleased to be left alone to wander around, at my leisure. And, while there were plenty of attendants on site, I was left free to photograph completely unmolested. And for that I was very thankful.

At one stage I managed to drop my new fleece gloves. I retraced my steps, as best I could, but was unable to find them. I reported the loss and, several hours later, as I was leaving this major tourist attraction a young attendant ran up to me and asked if I was the man who had lost his gloves.

You Never Forget Kindness

They'd found my gloves and then went about finding me. What fantastic customer service and, more important, what a kind and generous act. You can't imagine how grateful I was. With my visit to Harbin Ice and Snow World that night and a three day trek across the top of spectacular Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) to follow I new they'd be needed.

A Candidate for Black and White

The dominance of shapes and textures within this particular structure made it an excellent candidate for rendering into black and white, particularly with the aid of side lighting.

Processing the File

When it comes to image processing there are a number of ways to go about processing the file. Whether you are working on a RAW or JPEG file you can produce excellent results in either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW. My preference is Adobe Lightroom. There are now other, excellent alternatives to Lightroom, which I report about soon.

My Workflow

My own current workflow sees me locate the file in Lightroom, where white balance, noise reduction and lens corrections are applied; prior to bringing it into Photoshop for adjustments to brightness, contrast and color. I often employ the Google (formerly Nik) Silver Effex Pro 2 plugin to convert the file to black and white while in Photoshop. Finally I sprinkle a bit of fairy dust to complete the process.
Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru