Conservation, Huangshan, China
Given the fact that millions of local tourists visit Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) every year I was extremely impressed with the condition of the trails, the main ones having been constructed hundreds of years ago, and the conservation efforts I noticed being undertaken on the mountain.
Without fear of exaggeration I can say that the three days I spent atop Huangshan in Eastern China during the middle of winter are amongst the best of my life, thus far.
The Power of Metaphor In Photography
The above, made near the top of a particularly high pass, is interesting to me as it illustrates a degree of conservation on the mountain.
I think 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.
Winter Weather on Yellow Mountain
January is the coldest time of year on Huangshan with minimum temperatures dropping below -20 Celsius.
Thankfully maximum day time temperatures can reach 7 Celsius which, when climbing up and down the steep mountain trails, can seem quite warm.
However, 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 black and white photography.
Tips For Great Photos Of Snow And Ice
Photographing snow and ice covered landscapes under bright, sunlit conditions can be technically challenging.
A polarizing filter can deepen the color of an already blue sky and reduce the reflection of fine textures off surfaces such as ice and snow.
Under the right conditions a polarizing filter is, therefore, very useful for minimizing high levels of dynamic range.
Fortunately, the huge bank of cloud I found myself photographing under during my time on the mountain greatly softened the quality of light and reduced contrast (i.e., dynamic range) to an acceptable level.
This is the primary reason why the images I made on Huangshan are so highly detailed and information rich.
Photography: The Joy of Life
So there I was, up early and trudging off into the gloom of an alpine winter in China for a sunrise and 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 on the mountain, 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 I spent traversing and exploring the seven peaks referred to as Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) 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.