|Secrets of Digital Photography
Travel Camera Shootout! 6 / 6 / 2004
|Fast Load Version||S P E C I A L T R A V E L R E P O R T|
All photos by the author.
Coal is mined right up to river's edge and low-tech loading chutes frequented steep hillsides where barges can load up.
Coal boats pass by every few minutes. --Canon 300D / Sigma zoom.
After witnessing the unusual cliff faces I now know where the unique textures found in many Chinese paintings come from. These are not fanciful stylizations based on mythical design principles, they're actually fairly realistic graphic interpretations based on artists' pilgrimages to the must-see Three Gorges area--a practice that has been going on for longer than a thousand years.
Three Gorge scenery is nothing short of spectacular. --Olympus E-1.
Once the Gorges were behind us, our boat entered the locks that lowered it down to the original river's height. Now looking at its face, the Three Gorges Dam is one of those man-made things that looks impossibly large.
It's a straight shot of monolithic cement over a mile and a quarter (2 km) long and construction is continuing around the clock for the next five years.
At 1.3 miles long and 500+ feet tall, this is the God of dams. Those orange cranes are over one hundred feet high.
--Olympus E-1. Considerable atmospheric haze reduction via the iNovaFX iAerial2TasteLow Photoshop Action.
High atop a nearby hill a surveyor operates a Leica laser range finder, double checking critical measurements over miles of construction.
Ping! Gotcha! --Olympus E-1.
Flying on to Shanghai, China showed us that we had only seen something, yet. You may remember Shanghai, the verb that describes knocking a drunk sailor over the head and pouring him into a freighter where he would be required to work off his passage. The short story is this: it's not like that any more.
It's the largest city in China and it has a reputation of being two parts port, three parts prosperous economy and five parts wild west. Not so. It's really five parts wild east.
Toy city, right? Not quite. A huge river is between foreground strollers and background buildings.
That Empire State Building look-alike is just as big as its inspiration, and the TV tower is one of the very tallest structures in the world. More on this, later. --Canon 300D.
Over the last decade Shanghai has gone from big to huge, replacing large tracts of land with high rise buildings, each capped off with an architectural top-knot -- a decorative hat of sorts that gives the building character and personality. The effect is so powerful and fun that I can no longer look at the Los Angeles skyline without thinking it is rather bland. New York isn't much better. The Empire State Building has a natural hat and so does the Chrysler Building, but the rest ---pfft.
Shanghai skylines. --Olympus E-1, top. Canon 300D, bottom two.
The people of Shanghai are having a pretty good time, too. Virtually all of them are fit and lean, often on bicycles (a clue?) and ready with a smile for us picture-taking westerners. I bought a green hat with a red star above its bill to become the equivalent of an oriental tourist to the US who buys a cowboy hat. People thought it was such a great joke they insisted on having their picture taken with me over and over. It was enough to get English-practicing locals to engage in conversations, too. Note to self: Always find something that gets conversations rolling when visiting foreign lands.
Shanghai crosswalk. Keep your feet up on the curb, lady! --Canon 300D.
Certainly China is undergoing change. More so and faster than any other place on Earth. If you are hanging on to an image of the China of the past, the best thing you could do for an attitude like that is go and take a look for yourself. Not five years ago--do it now.
Tien An Men Park. --Olympus E-1
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