Xiapu, China - Day 2 Photography Tour with Andy and Mia Beales (Gatsby Travel)

'True knowledge is when one knows the limitations of ones's knowledge' Chinese Proverb

Swirling Fishing Nets of Waijao Village

Day 2 also began with another early morning start to the tiny village of Waijao. This small village of perhaps a dozen homes is located along a river bank and is so small it does not appear by name in any maps, however, being somewhat resourceful, and using the GPS coordinates captured on my smartphone together with the MAP panel in Lightroom, the village is identified as being in the district of Jianyang in the northern part of the Fujian province. The feature of this tiny hamlet are the fishing nets hanging from poles used by the local fishermen to catch very small plankton like fish that are used as feed in the fish farms. This relatively unknown village has now become a destination of choice for all manner of photographers. It seems that in China once a remote area is discovered it then is inundated with photographers from all parts of the country and the world. So you best get to the location early and secure your spot.....which we did.

Overall Perspective: Fuji X-T2 55-200mm lens f/9 for 1/240secs ISO 400

When the wind blows the fishing nets, which look like giant bedsheets, they swirl in the wind. The day we visited it was rather windless and placid. There were principally two vantage points from which to view the fisherman during his morning activities; one at the river bank and the other from the road above. Viewed from the river bank the nets cast a reflection in the river. At one point the fisherman looked up and smiled.....I would have loved to know what he was thinking looking up at all of us with our cameras glued to our eyes...I would have laughed as well.

As viewed from the riverbank: Fuji X-T2 55-200mm f/8 for 1/220 sec ISO 800

The light on the nets from the roadway provided a different perspective and for me, a more interesting one. From this vantage point the light reflected off the nets, and the fisherman can be seen casting the net, and cleaning out his bucket. A tighter zoom created a more intimate composition.

Fuji X-T2 55-200mm lens artistically processed in Topaz Studio

Below: Behind the scenes at Waijao: The images below are courtesy of John Knight and I thank him for capturing these images of the local townspeople, who I am sure could not wait for us to leave so that they could continue going about their daily life without the intrusion of strangers and foreigners.

© John Knight (Sony a6300)

Banyan Trees at Yang Jia Xi Village-Xiapu

Our next stop was to photograph the giant banyan trees of Yang Jia Xi village hoping the light would co-operate. For a very short period of time during the early morning the sun shines through the giant banyan trees creating a mystical mood in a natural environment. This mystical mood is enhanced by an elderly woman burning leaves and fanning the smoke under the banyan trees. The light rays in these images are created by the sun as it is transmitted through the leaves and branches of the banyan trees. The farmer and his bull are of course local and the farmer happily obliges and provides an interesting local element in the images, and this also supplements his income. The Beales ensured we arrived in good time to position ourselves and we waited with many others for the light to shine through. After some period of time, which seemed forever, but time always does pass slowly when you are waiting for something to happen, I left my comfortable seated position thinking that today the light was not going to co-operate.......but then Andy Beale called to us as the light began coming through the trees. The only option I had was to raise my camera above my head, increase the ISO to provide for a shutter speed that would freeze the subjects in the frame, angle the screen and compose accordingly. Having to react quickly with a higher perspective the sun's rays highlighted the farmer's hat in the left image below and shone on the cow's back on the right. Had I remained in my initial position, the perspective would have been different. Sometimes serendipity works. The light rays are quite white and cold and by changing the white balance in post processing to 'cloudy' the scene was transformed into a warmer moodier tone.

Fuji X-T2 18-55mm lens F/8 1/750secs ISO 6400

The natural white and cool light is reflected in the image below.

Fuji X-T2 18-55mm lens

There were of course some amusing moments with an non-cooperative bull and the farmer. The image below is the scene before the light spread its rays and you can see the smoke billowing from the left side of the trees.

Fuji X-T2 18-55mm lens

Below: Behind the scene at the Banyan Trees. Photos courtesy of John Knight. The villager, waving his stick was obviously none too impressed by the inundation of photographers. The top image on the left is a member of the farmer's family burning leaves and fanning thus creating the smoky atmosphere and the bottom left is the many photographers waiting for that magical moment. Several of us are there in the front row.

© John Knight (Sony a6300)

Mangrove Forest Nature Reserve -Hong Shu Lin

The nature reserve is also referred to as Red Leaf Forest even though the trees do not have red leaves. It is a tidal coastal forest and when the tide is in the roots of the trees are covered by water giving the appearance of growing under the sea. It was a hazy humid day when we arrived in the afternoon. A cover had been constructed in the viewing area so we set up our tripods and photographed the fishermen and the fishing boat. Once again the local guide whom The Beales had hired did an excellent job of communicating with the fishermen and manoeuvring them into our desired positions. As I did throughout the trip, I captured the larger scale image first and then the micro elements in the scene. The area is an aquatic environment conducive for breeding fish.

Fuji X-T2 100-400mm lens f/8 for 1/20secs ISO 800

Given the hazy conditions with little contrast, I changed my camera settings such that the jpg files rendered on the screen were black and white to ensure I had captured the entire spectrum of tonality. In processing the files I was torn between the B&W versions versus the raw colour files. In the end I processed some in colour and some in B&W.

Fuji X-T2 100-400mm lens
Fuji X-T2 100-400mm lens: Artistically rendered in Topaz Studio
Fuji X-T2 100-400mm converted to B&W using FujiFilm Acros Colour Profile

Sunset at Xiaohao

As the sun sets on Xiaohao Beach the light paints the mudflats changing their shapes as the waves roll in. The evening light was hazy and overcast as can be seen from the image below so the much hoped for sunset was somewhat elusive, all thanks to typhoon Florence, which although was a long way from our location managed to influence our local weather. Nevertheless not to be deterred we set up our tripods and focused on the patterns in the mudflats .

Fuji X-T2 100-400mm lens stitched panorama

As time wore on a slither of light painted the mudflat and we all captured a few frames.

Fuji X-T2 100-400mm lens: Artistically processed in Topaz Studio

Below-Behind the Scenes: Viewing platform overlooking Xiaohao mudflats

With that we called it a day and prepared ourselves for Day 3. Thank you Andy and Mia Beales of Gatsby Travel for another adventurous day.

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