Xiapu, China - Day 3 Photography Tour with Andy and Mia Beales (Gatsby Travel)

'Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere' Chinese Proverb

As Day 3 of our workshop approached Typhoon Florence insisted on making things difficult for us. However, as long as the rain stayed away we were out the door early once more.

Sunrise at Huazhu

Armed with rainwear off we set at 4am in the morning. Mia Beales, thoughtful as she always is, loaded the vehicle with coffee, muffins and cookies, in addition to camera gear. Mia was going to make sure that no matter what we confronted we would be armed with caffeine and food. Huazhu is primarily a farming site surrounded by mountains and once again a location discovered by many so arriving early is imperative. The viewing area overlooks the bay and the Fuyao archipelago. Andy and Mia ensured each of us secured a suitable location from which we could shoot. We each marked our territory, so to speak, Andy on top of a rock and several of us on similar outcrops. We quickly secured our spots with tripods and camera bags, and it was none too soon as several other people climbed up on our rock looking for available space, of which there was none. Then coffee was served and we waited for the sunrise. The sunrise never really happened as expected, nevertheless the light from the impending rain made for some interesting light rays and so I focused on capturing a more moody image. Andy pointed out a lone boat in the distance and a few seconds later it was highlighted by the light rays trying to get through the dark clouds.

Fuji X-T2 100-400mm lens: Image processed in Photoshop using luminosity masks and LAB color.

As the morning progressed the combination of the rising sun and the storm clouds created quite a color spectrum of blues, golds and orange.

Fuji X-T2 100-400mm lens

Behind the Scenes at Hauhu: Left Image Andy Beales navigating his drone; Top Right Image: The crowd positioned below our rock outcrop. Bottom Right Image: Courtesy of John Knight -Several of us on our rock outcrop.

Huawei P9

Shajiang Village

Overall Scene of the Shanjiang Village Mudflats: Fuji X-T2 55-200mm lens

Come mid afternoon we headed out once again to photograph the 's-curves' of Shajiang. The town of Shajiang is well known for the s-curve channel in the mudflats created by the bamboo poles that are used for hanging and drying seaweed. We arrived at the village and proceeded to the building which housed a viewing platform at the very top. The owners of the building have wisely instituted a 'pay to view' strategy. Our local guide paid our entry fee and we began the ascent up a long series of concrete steps in this unfinished building. When we reached the top we experienced somewhat windy conditions. To secure my tripod from being blown over, and with it camera and lens, I anchored the camera bag to the base of the center column; mine wasn't going anywhere. The overcast weather and the subject matter made for black and white photography. As with most of the photography locations in the Xiapu district, the viewing areas are located on hilltops and thus a telephoto lens is imperative, and this location is was no different.

Fuji X-T2 55-200mm lens f/8 for 1/450secs ISO 200 processed in LR using Fujifilm ACROS color profile

The village activities could be witnessed from the roof top of the building. The living conditions in these rural communities lay in stark contrast to the more modern dwellings of the major cities. Here life is not easy. Conveniences which we take for granted are alien to the people living in these villages.

Fuji X-T2 55-200mm lens.

Behind the scenes at Shaijiang: Left Image: overall view from the viewing platform; Right image, our group on the platform getting organized.

Huawei P9

Oyster Fishing Village-Beidou

From the ‘s-curves of Shajiang harbour we made our way to the Xia Qing Mountain Bridge to photograph a fishing village that was literally floating on the sea, stopping at a small oyster farming village on the way. The locals appeared very friendly if not perplexed by our sudden arrival. The women and men in the village were busy working the oyster shells into groupings for re-entry into the water to facilitate new oysters; some were mending fishing lines, and the small children seemed particularly intrigued by our arrival. We left our camera bags and tripods in the car and armed with a camera and one lens we made our way through the small community.

Fuji X-T2 18-55mm lens- Converted to B&W using Fujifilm ACROS color profile
Fuji X-T2 18-55mm lens

The fishing boats were quite colourful within this tiny rudimentary village. As we wondered around we came upon this lone fisherman mending his fishing net. Not wanting to intrude upon his personal space I asked the local guide to ask him if he would mind if I photographed him, to which he politely agreed. After taking several shots I reached out to pay him a token amount to show my appreciation for his time. He refused, but I persisted and with the help of our guide won him over so he accepted. Hard working and extremely proud are how I assessed these local villagers. As we went to leave he turned and presented us with the warmest of grins. I processed these images in both colour and B&W. The bright colours presented such a juxtaposition with the somewhat primitive surroundings, that I settled on colour for a more telling environmental portrait.

Fuji X-T2 18-55mm lens

Fishing Village from Xia Qing Mountain Bridge

Unfortunately for us Typhoon Florence was making her presence felt albeit from a long way away so the sunset never occurred for us. Nevertheless the floating fishing village provided some interesting graphics and so we spent some time capturing the fishing village on the sea before we were forced by the weather to head to the car.

Fuji X-T2 18-55mm lens

As we travelled through these remote rural communities from one photographic location to another, I wondered how far the occupants of these remote communities had ventured beyond the confines of their village. What did they know of the broader world around them and was their frame of reference limited to the area they lived in.

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