Jezreel Tan is a photography enthusiast by heart and a corporate soldier on weekdays. In her mind, a journey is only complete if it is impassioned by the wonders of nature, treasured with hidden stories on a path less travelled that can only make an adventure a story worth sharing. In this article, Jezreel shares a review of her trip to Guilin and Kunming with captivating pictures shot on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 6D Mark II!

An idyllic dreamscape for me this winter has been sunrise on cascading rice terraces or a landscape reminiscent of a Chinese painting that is enriched with centuries of beautiful karsts formation, art and culture, all of which were beautifully evident in Guilin and Kunming. After hearing endless compliments of Yangshuo, Yuanyang and Dongchuan, I decided to strap on my hiking boots, load up my Canon camera backpack and venture eastwards to feast on nature’s beauty that is truly second to none.

Sunset at Cuiping Hill

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/20 | ISO 1250 | 1/100s | Canon EF16-35mm F/2.8L III USM

My first stop was Yangshuo, a scenic landscape that makes every picture a dream. Yangshuo is graced with the beauty of karsts formation. When set against the sun, the silhouette of these karsts overlaps each other similar to those seen in Chinese paintings, a sight that is so surreal even in person.

Yangshuo is certainly a location for hiking and my top favourites are Cuiping Wuzhi Hill and Laozhai Mountain. Both venues offer a superb vantage point for sunset and I highly recommend photographers to reach either of the peaks at least 2.5 hours before official sunset time to secure the best spot for your sunset dreamscape. Most people would leave the peak by sunset but I typically stay on a little longer for that softer pink hue into a blue hour, which will colour the scene a little differently and can be quite spectacular!

Laozhai Mountain

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/22 | ISO 3200 | 1/500s |Canon EF16-35mm F/2.8L III USM


Behind the scenes with cormorant fisherman, Mr. Huang Quan De

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/3.2 | ISO 3200 | 1/60s| Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

Yangshuo is also famous for its Cormorant Fishermen – a dying art that is rarely practised in modern times. I was also blessed with an opportunity to go behind the scenes with Mr Huang Quan De, one of the oldest Cormorant Fishermen. I was also invited to photograph him in his house smoking a pipe. Meeting these fishermen was an eye-opening experience. Their passion and rigour for the trade were highly respectable through the stories that they have shared. 

The dynamic duo, Mr Huang Gao Jun and his cormorant

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/4.5 | ISO 1250 | 1/4.5s | Canon EF50mm F/1.2L USM

Cormorant brothers for life at sunset

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/3.5 | ISO 3200 | 1/30s | Canon EF16-35mm F/2.8L III USM

Mr Huang Gao Jun and his cormorant at first light by the Li River


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV  | f/2.8 | ISO 2500 | 1/25s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

 

The delicate art of cormorant fishing

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/11 | ISO 1000 | 1/125s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

 

Lifelong trade together


Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/4.5 | ISO 3200 | 1/1600s | Canon EF50mm F/1.2L USM

Sunrise near Wuxianggong

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/22 | ISO 3200 | 1/4s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

With a full heart and inspired mind, I moved on to my next destination which was Kunming, a vibrant city filled with electric vehicles, warm hospitality and great food. A 6-hour drive from Kunming to Yuanyang was very well worth the journey when I set my eyes on a wondrous display of mother nature upon arrival! Situated more than 1500m above sea level, I was spellbound by the beauty of wide rice terraces cascading over countless hills and plains. Due to the expanse of the area, I’ve decided to crop in some pictures to highlight the beauty of these terraces versus portraying them in a wide-angle style.

View from Cloud Hotel in Yuanyang


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/16 | ISO 200 | 1/80s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

Bada Observatory Deck with a farmer’s house in the frame


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/20 | ISO 320 | 1/30s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

In my view, Yuanyang is a destination for sunrises. Sunsets are conditioned on far too many weather-factors which hindered the outcome of most shots. On the contrary, the sunrise photography opportunities were greater and the best ones are often 15-20 minutes before the actual sunrise time. If you are lucky, you should be able to capture the rosy pink hue slightly before sunrise which is the epitome of the landscape here.

Pre-sunrise at Duoyishu


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/7.1 | ISO 125 | 1/1.6s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

 

Sun-kissed terraces at Duoyishu


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/5 | ISO 125 | 1/80s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

View from Cloud Hotel in Yuanyang


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/20 | ISO 200 | 1/40s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

A heart-warming moment was a visit to Ai Cun where the local rice farmers reside, they are often busy manning their crops and getting on with their daily farming routine. Below is a picture of one of the local toddlers at the rice terraces, a complete sweetheart who is ever-ready to welcome foreign guests to his family’s farm.

Local toddler at Ai Cun


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/3.5 | ISO 3200 | 1/30s | Canon EF50mm F/1.2L USM

I’ve truly saved the best for the last which is Dongchuan Red Land, a dreamscape that is approximately 3-4 hours drive from Kunming. This location is also known as God’s magic palette on earth.

View from Jin Xiu Yuan


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/22 | ISO 100 | 1/20s | Canon EF16-35mm F/2.8L III USM

Pathway to the beauty above


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | f/22 | ISO 160 | 1/50s |Canon EF16-35mm F/2.8L III USM

Spotted beauty


Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/22 | ISO 100 | 1/20s | 
Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

View from Jin Xiu Yuan


Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/22 | ISO 100 | 1/20s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

View from Luo Xia Gou


Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/22 | ISO 100 | 1/20s | Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

Dongchuan is neither a sunrise nor a sunset destination.  All you need is the sunrays in its full glory to light up the beauty of the fields and for the colours to display themselves as it should be. Given the high altitude of the region, it may be tricky to photograph these plains due to the morning fog or cloudy conditions. Therefore, I would recommend a minimum of 2-days stay to set some buffer for your photography escapade!

A must-do is Jin Xiu Yuan


Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/22 | ISO 100 | 1/25s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

God’s palette

Canon EOS 6D Mark II | f/22 | ISO 125 | 1/25s |Canon EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS II USM

 

 We hope this article has inspired you to take stunning travel photos on your next vacation!