China has the second largest land mass of all the countries in the world and has the largest population with approximately 1 billion more people than the U.S. There is an amazing amount of area to discover within this beautiful land and this photo tour will seek out both city, villages and wilderness ranging from the gorgeous skyline of Shanghai to the karst mountainscape of Guilin. We will explore the ethnic minorities regions and the rice terraces that date back over 600 years. On this tour, we will be shooting sunrises and sunsets, golden hour and blue hour to be able to capture the most extraordinary scenery and the people at the best moments. We will be photographing cormorant fishermen on the Li river and farmers with their water buffalo. Each leg of this adventure has been designed to maximize your chances of getting amazing, award winning photos.
Itinerary: arrive in Shanghai, China
Day 1 – We meet in our hotel lobby at 3:30pm where we will get to know each other and discuss what our particular styles are and what we hope to achieve on this photo adventure.
We then head out to the world famous Bund. This location is within walking distance of the hotel and affords grand views of the Shanghai skyline that we will photograph as the sun sets and the city lights come on. We will then head back for a welcome dinner. (D)
Day 2 – After getting a bit of sleep and recovering some from the jet lag, we begin our day in the late morning with a short walk to the classical Yu Garden. Dating back to the Ming Dynasty the gardens contain all the elements of classical gardens including ponds, rockeries, cloisters, pavilions and halls. It is a quiet and elegant place that abounds with photographic opportunities.
From here we will walk taking photos of the street scenes around Yuyuan Old Street, Jiuqu bridge, as well as the Temple of the Town God. We will be able to taste the wonderful street food that Shanghai has to offer here in this area. We then head for Nanjing Pedestrian road with over 600 business along its stretch including over 100 traditional and specialty shops.We will be there as the sun sets and the glow from the myriad of neon signs light the street and the throngs of people. (B)
Day 3 – Today we take a high speed train to the Tongli Water town. With a history of over 1000 years, Tongli is a small, picturesque town of seven islands criss crossed with more than 40 historic bridges that extend over 15 canals. Ancient streets and garden style architecture abound as do the photographic possibilities. We will take a gondola ride through the canals and after dinner will explore night time shooting. (B) (L) (D)
Day 4 – After breakfast, we spend the morning exploring the ancient town before heading back to Shanghai where we will fly south to ZhangJiaJie. There we will overnight in a in Wulingyuan. (B) (D)
Day 5 – Nothing says China more than the pillar rock formations found within the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. The stone pillars protruding through a sea of clouds were the inspiration for the movie Avatar as well as countless classical Chinese paintings. This is a large park with many different areas to photography so we will be here for three days. We start today as soon as the park opens taking a cable car up to Huangshi Village. Hopefully we will have some “weather”, since it is the clouds and fog that will push your imagery beyond the expected. We will do a lot of walking and hiking for the next few days so be prepared with well fitting, comfortable shoes. We will also explore the Golden Whip brook, which covers a distance of about 4 1/2 miles and is home to the largest amphibian in the world, the Giant Chinese Salamander, which can reach lengths of over 5 1/2 feet. From the vantage point of the stream, you will be able to look up at the stone pillars that we were on just hours before. (B) (D)
Day 6 – This morning we take the Bailong glass elevator to begin exploration of Yuanjiajie. Here we will find the Hallelujah Mountain as well as the First Bridge under Heaven. We continue the adventure by taking a cable car up even higher to Yangjiajie. Here we will have the opportunity to shoot Tianbo Mansion, Oolong Village, Natural Great Wall, Corridor of the Cliffs and end the day with a sunset shot at One Step to Heaven.(B) (D)
Day 7 – Today we head to Laowuchang where you will be able to photograph Field in the Sky, rice paddies on the top of the peaks that cover 3 hectares of land as well as Heavenly Warrior’s Gathering, hundreds of stone peaks densely packed in a canyon. We will also be able to photograph Tianzi Mountain with its stunning views. This is the highest point in the park which allows us to take great vista shots. In this area we will find Sea of Clouds, Imperial Writing Brush Peak, Radiance of the Moonlight, Rays of Sunshine and Snow in Winter.(B) (D)
Day 8 – This morning we drive to FengHuang, also known as the Phoenix Town. It has been called “the most beautiful town in China.” Situated on either side of the Tuojiang river, the buildings at the river’s edge hang over the water, supported by stilts. At night, the lights from the buildings glow across the river. We will photograph that glow as well as explore the smaller streets of the ancient village. (B) (L) (D)
Day 9 – We get up early to photograph the sunrise in FengHuang. After breakfast, we’ll travel to the LongSheng rice terraces. It is a very scenic drive passing many beautiful farms and villages along the way. The rice fields were started about 600 years ago and are home to several ethnic minorities including the long hair Yao, whose hair, cut only once in their life, can reach over 5 1/2 feet long. Our lodge is situated high in the rice terraces and requires a 45 minute hike to get to but the view is worth it. After settling in at our lodge we will trek out through the fields photographing as we reach panoramic vistas where we will shoot the gleaning light as it sets across the terraces. Overnight in a lodge in Tiantou. (B) (L) (D)
Day 10 – The whole day will be spent hiking through the rice terraces, shooting the fields, the small villages and the local villagers as they labor in the fields. We will head to Large Scale Thousand Layers Terrace and its spectacular vista for our sunset photos.(B) (L) (D)
Day 11 – We get up early for a hike to the location we have scouted yesterday for our sunrise shot. After breakfast we will then head south to Yangshuo and the Li River. After we check into our resort and have lunch we head out for the small village of Xingping where we will take a short hike along the riverside where some of the most iconic scenery can be found for us to take photos of. (B) (L) (D)
Day 12 – Today will be a long day but it will give you the chance to capture iconic photos from your adventure. We head out before dawn to climb one of the surrounding hills for a sunrise panoramic shot of the Li river and the karst mountains rising up around it. From there we will travel into the countryside to photograph a farmer as he takes his buffalo out to the fields. Later we will meet with a fisherman in his home giving us the opportunity to shoot intimate portraits. Later, outside on the Li River, as the sun begins to set, we will take photos of traditional cormorant fishermen, with their lanterns proving a glow to their faces and birds. We should be back to the hotel around 9pm for dinner. (B) (L) (D)
Day 13 – After yesterday, we get to sleep in a little before venturing to a small village where we get to explore the streets and the locals market that sells everything from vegetables to fresh fish to slaughtered meats. We will then be taken to the Yulong bridge which crosses the Yulong River where we will hike through Idyllic farming scenery where we will be able to photography country life far from the tourist areas. We then head up to the top of Wuzhi Hill for one final sunset shot of the karst landscape. Afterwards we settle in for our wrap dinner at a restaurant in Yangshuo.
Day 14 – This morning is left up to you depending on what time your flight leaves for home. You can get international connecting flights out of Guilin. There are highspeed trains from both Guilin and Yangshuo (really the station is closer to Xingping) to Guangzhou, Shenzhen and even Hong Kong (from Guilin) where you can get also get connecting international flights.