The Dunes of Dunhuang

Photo © Bob Krist

Marco Polo and other Silk Road travelers may have used camels in the past, but this is the new China. Now, visitors to the Mingsha Dunes in Dunhuang can get around on camel, dune buggies, or even an ultra-light aircraft (seen in the above picture.  D90, 70-300mm VR, Vivid, Daylight WB).

Yes, this far west outpost in the Gobi Desert, home to the famous Mogao Caves of Buddhist art and carvings (no photos allowed inside, thank you very much!), is another place, like Lijiang, that is catering to the surging domestic tourist business.

It’s also the first place where we’ve seen sun and blue skies since….well, since I don’t know when. What is that yellow orb in the sky? It appears to emit heat and light….strange.

Our hotel is really nice and the staff is super attentive and well trained. This is not the China I knew. But there’s still some polishing to be done. When I checked into my room, there was a charming handwritten note in English from the maid, welcoming me and ending with this: “I look forward to severing you in the next few days.”


I’m sure she meant “serving you.” (But just in case she didn’t, remind me to use the deadbolt in my door while I’m here).

And hit the jump for some more pix…. (more…)

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Shooting ’em up in Xian

Photo © Bob Krist

We arrived in Xian in fog, haze, and rain….so what else is new?

Fortunately, the main site here, the famous Terra Cotta Warriors are all indoors, so we snapped away while it poured outside.

I’ve never been here, so it’s all new to me, but this is one place where things have actually gotten easier for photographers instead of harder. They never used to allow any photography of the Warriors, and now they do.

You just can’t use flash or a tripod. Not so bad. The light is terrible, mixed from about three sources—daylight, fluorescent, and an assortment of vapor lights.  I used a small table top tripod as a brace against my chest,  and kept my ISO at 1600 and played around with White Balances….nothing looked particularly good or bad…pick a hue and run with it!

A security guard kept eyeing my little stability rig, but decided in the end to let me shoot unmolested.

The warriors are a must see, but it’s kind of a tough shoot, and very difficult to get anything new. I had more fun later that day out on the street, where I encountered a giant butterfly, and then shot something and ate it.

For a look, hit the jump.


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