PHOTO TOUR to CHINA
Sept. 16 - 29, 2016
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China boasts some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth, and this photo tour is testament to that. We visit unbelievably beautiful and dramatic mountains, gorges, and seas of stone pinnacles often enshrouded in low clouds and mist, and you won't believe what you're seeing through your camera. From stunning vantage points you'll be able to practice composition, HDR, exposure, and lighting. In addition, we visit picturesque cultural villages, markets, and we have private sessions with fishermen using cormorants to fish in the Li River. In Guilin, the Karst formations are a dramatic backdrop to a culture thousands of years old. This is truly a special photography tour.
Physical requirements. Most of Jim's photo tours are easy with a minimum of physical exertion required. On this trip, though, some of the walks in the Huangshan Mountains are up and down many stone steps and the elevation gain can be 1000 feet in the course of a mile or so. In addition, some of the hikes are between 30 and 50 minutes. We will be stopping to shoot on the way, but there is still a lot of exertion required. Porters can be hired to carry your camera gear, but climbing up and down still takes energy. Therefore, if you have pain or known medical issues involving your legs, feet, hips, back, or joints, please contact Jim to discuss what you will be able to do during the tour.
Day 1, 2. Sept. 14, 15. Depart from North America and cross the International Dateline losing one day. If you depart from other parts of the world, you must arrive in Shanghai on or before Sept. 16.
Day 3, Sept. 16. You arrive in Shanghai and after immigration and baggage claim, look for your name on a placard for the pickup at the airport. You will then be transferred to our hotel. We meet at the hotel lobby around 4 pm for photography of the Bund and the spectacular Shanghai skyline. Shanghai has benefited the most from China’s economic reforms, rapidly rising as the shining “Pearl of the Orient.” Overnight Broadway Mansions Hotel**** (D)
Day 4, Sept. 17. This morning we fly to Huangshan by FM9265 (1410/1510). If time permits, we drive to visit the Tangyue Archway, a series of remarkable structures seemingly arranged for photographers. Huangshan, which means Yellow Mountain, has been a well-known destination for scholars, poets and the occasional recluse, all seeking personal inspiration and enlightenment. When you visit this stunning mountain range you will easily appreciate why. Situated in the southern portion of the agriculturally rich Anhui Province, the picturesque Huangshan has long been effusively described as “awesome,” “a wonderland” and “Heaven on Earth.” The formation of the remarkable peaks and breathtakingly sharp precipices has been attributed to the many thousands of years of geological activity on the imposing granite mountains, creating the astounding natural wonder visible today. Overnight Huangshan International Hotel **** (B, L, D)
Day 5, Sept. 18. This morning, we'll drive 1 hour to Hongcun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing typical South Anhui architecture (one of the most photogenic villages in China). The town is built along the banks of Nan Lake, and it is a unique and beautiful place for photographs. After lunch, we then drive to the foothills of Huangshan. We will ascend the eastern side of Huangshan by cable car, and then walk 25 minutes to our hotel and check in (porters will carry the luggage). After lunch, we walk 35 minutes to Beginning-to-Believe Peak for afternoon shooting. Before sunset, we walk around 50 minutes to Purple Cloud Peak for sunset shooting. All along the way on these various walks is dramatic and breathtaking scenery. Overnight Huangshan Beihai Hotel **** (B, L, D)
Day 6, 7, Sept. 19, 20. We spend these two days photographing the outstanding landscapes of the Huangshan Mountains in beautiful light as well as moody lighting conditions. Temperatures range from 62 degrees Fahrenheit in the day to 52 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Rainfall is possible but not likely, but low clouds and mist can add to the ethereal photos you take. During our stay in the mountains Jim will conduct a critique of your work thus far, and he will also share with you his ideas how Photoshop can be used to enhance the beautiful landscapes you've been shooting. Overnight Huangshan Beihai Hotel **** (B, L, D)
Day 8, Sept. 21. After morning photographing and breakfast, we descend the Huangshan and drive 4 hours to Hangzhou, then fly from Hangzhou to Xian by BK2968 (1805/2025). We take a short visit on West Lake if time permits. Xi’an has over 3,000 years of recorded history and was the capital of 12 dynasties, though it has been known as various names, most notably as Chang’an. It was also the starting point of the Silk Road, where camels were loaded for their long and perilous journey to Central Asia. Xi’an has recently become an important center for the central government’s drive to develop western china. Aviation is already an important industry for the city. Overnight Xian Tianyu Gloria Plaza Hotel **** (B, L, D)
Day 9, Sept. 22. In the morning, we visit the Great Mosque before the local Muslim praying time. We then walk around the Muslim quarter, where we find a way of life that derives as much from the ancient cultures of Central Asia as it does from China. For over 1,300 years, Muslims have been an integral part of the colorful daily life of Xi'an. Afterwards, we photograph the Terracotta Army, created to guard the tomb of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor to unite China. One of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of all times, the Terracotta Army is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We photograph this vast array of soldiers from different angles and with HDR in mind. We then fly to Zhangjiajie Airport by (2200/2300) and drive 50 minutes to check in our hotel. Overnight Pullman Zhangjiajie Hotel ***** (B, L, D)
Day 10, 11, Sept. 23, 24. Wulingyuan is located in the south of central China. This breathtaking quartz sandstone region was first explored by logging workers. In 1982, Zhangjiajie Forest Park was founded as the first National Forest Park in China. Now it is part of Wulingyuan Scenic Area, called Yellow Stone Village. In 1992, the whole area was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
There are more than 3,000 narrow quartzite sandstone pillars and peaks, and most of them are over 200 meters high. Between the peaks lie ravines and gorges with streams, pools and caves. The photography is amazing. This region is also the home to a number of endangered plant and animal species, the most important of which is the Chinese giant salamander.
The weather here is humid and it is always cool in the evening on the top of mountain. On some days, the abundant rainfall brings mist that engulfs the huge pillars and peaks. Sunrise is the best time for us to catch the good sunlight on the pillars, but they are incredible in many types of light. Avatar Movie director James Cameron created the unique landscapes in the film inspired by the gorgeous Wulingyuan Pillars.
We drive 30 minutes from the hotel and take the earliest cable to photograph the Zhangjaijie Forest Park. After lunch, we take the 335-meter elevator up to Yuanjiajie to photograph the Avatar Rock and the two-kilometer gorge. Our local private vans (3 or 4 people per van) will meet us and drive 45 minutes to our guesthouse that is close by Tianzi Mountain, an area that is beyond stunning. We use our private vans to catch the best light in Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie. Overnight guesthouse on top of mountain (B, L, D)
Day 12, Sept 25. After taking more outstanding images on top of the mountain, we take the cable car from Tianzi Mountain down to the town of Wulingyuan and check in our hotel. Overnight Pullman Zhangjiajie Hotel ***** (B, L, D)
Day 13, Sept 26. This is a travel day. We fly to Guilin via Guangzhou by CZ3382 (0950/1125) and CZ3292 (1420/1530) and transfer to our hotel. Jim has planned a session in Photoshop tips and techniques for this early evening. Overnight Guilin Fubo Hotel **** or other same standard hotel (B, L, D)
Day 14, Sept. 27. This morning we will take a private boat down the Li River. This is one of the most beautiful rivers in China. Cruising along the river like you are gliding along a corridor of landscape paintings of limestone pinnacles set against terraced rice fields and picturesque villages.
We start today early, before dawn, and we arrive to Yangti Dock for one hour. Yangti is a little fishing town situated in the middle of the Li River. We take a private boat for a 40 minute cruise to a beautiful sunrise location. Models have been arranged for this private shooting – A fisherman with his cormorant, gas lamp and bamboo raft. This is a classic photo opportunity in Guilin.
After sunrise shooting, we take the boat to Xingping, an ancient town near Yangshuo. This is territory that has inspired Chinese artists of all sorts for thousands of years. We will have our prepared breakfast at a little restaurant and walk around Xingping Town. Over thousands of years, Xingping retains its Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) style old architecture and the original town layout.
We drive from Xingping to Yangshuo and stop at the Fuli Fishing Town for the photogenic local market. On this road, we can see all kinds of orchards and fields: sugarcane, rice, mandarin orange, grapefruit, orange, mango, etc. We'll stop when good picture opportunities present themselves. After lunch, we'll take a short rest.
In the afternoon around 3pm, we photograph the sunset at Aishan, one of the best spots for great lighting on the dramatic karst formations. Overnight Grand Room at New Century Hotel *** (B, L, D)
Day 15, Sept. 28. This morning we photograph another fisherman and cormorants at Huangpudaoying in the early morning. After lunch and a short rest, we photograph the afternoon light at the Putao area which offers more views of the beautiful Karst formations. Overnight Grand Room at New Century Hotel *** (B, L, D)
Day 16, Sept. 29. After morning photography and breakfast, we fly to Hong Kong or Shanghai to connect to our flight home, satisfied in knowing that we've taken unbelievable nature and cultural pictures on this China itinerary.
Land cost: $5850. Includes all accommodations on a twin-sharing basis, all meals as indicated in the itinerary, all ground transportation, services of a local English speaking guide, photo instruction, all entrance and activity fees, boat excursions, and airport transfers.
Domestic airfare: $780. This is in addition to the land cost and pays for the domestic flights that include Shanghai to Huangshan; Hangzhou to Xian; Xian to Zhangjiajie; Zhangjiajie to Guangzhou; and Guangzhou to Guilin.
Single supplement: $755.