Seeing The Trees Despite The Forest

A lone tree stands, high above all others, on the steep slope of a mountainside on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in China.

An early morning start led me to this view on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China.

I'd spent the previous 3 days following the trail across the top of Huangshan. This was my final morning prior to taking the cable car back down the mountain. The main trail across the mountaintop is swept daily, keeping it safe to the relatively low number of tourists visiting during the winter months.

And that's the key to a successful photography adventure on Huangshan. During the winter months you have the privilege of experiencing this natural wonder in relative isolation. Given the millions of visitors that walk the same path during the rest of the year, I found the compromise of shorter, colder days associated with visiting the mountain in winter well worth it.

And of course being able to see and photograph Yellow Mountain, covered in snow, really is a treat. I'm sure visiting Huangshan any time of year offers wonderful opportunities for the enthusiastic photographer. But I'm glad my first trip was during the middle of winter. 

I photographed the above mountainside in early morning light. The blanket of snow covering the trees made for an attractive image. But I needed a focal point: a subject of primary interest to help draw the viewers attention. I identified a huge tree as an excellent candidate. Placing it in the centre of the frame further emphasized its importance within the image.

One of many amazing views on Huangshan (i.e., Yellow Mountain). This particular scene is so highly textured that I opted for a black and white rendering.

Here's a distant view of that stand of trees on the mountainside. It's amazing to see them within the larger landscape. The two images are very different and, due to the greater distance between camera and trees, the stand of trees on the mountainside lose much of their prominence within the more distant and yet more comprehensive view. Which do you prefer?

I think the important point here is that, where ever possible, it's good to explore subject matter in a variety of ways, both in camera and on the desktop. In some cases a completely different story can be told.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru