Driving Through Remote China

Tripod like a Marine

Have you seen those videos of Marines disassembling and reassembling their gun blindfolded? I can do this with my tripod and camera. It’s not nearly as cool or impressive, and I usually do it while I’m alone. It’s just really from habit, since I’m always opening and closing my system. It’s become more of a meditation than a hassle.

Daily Photo – Driving through Remote China

I took a six hour drive through part of the Hangzhou. At some point, it began to get very hilly and moody. The ride was a little rough, so I would pull over from time to time to take breaks.

One time when I popped out, I thought the road and the scene felt fairly cinematic. I went through the old routine of opening up the tripod for a shot…

china remote driving

Driving through Remote China

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length15mm (15mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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The Rest of the Chinese Snake Story

Have you ever had a close encounter with a snake?

Tell me your story! Mine is probably not so great… but, it is a “snake story”.

Daily Photo – The Rest of the Chinese Snake Story

I had climbed up and down the spires of Zhangjiajie twice, which is twice more than my legs wanted to go.

I foolishly went up one of the spires at sunset trying to get a photo. I got to the top, and there was no good sunset. It was still awesome and everything — just no sunset photo. And getting up is not easy. There are little stairs caved into the sides of the mountain that spiral up and through inlaid cave systems. There is occasional ducking and a lot of worry about slippery bits.

So the time had come to descend. It was dark. Bear-den dark. I had a little light on my camera strap (not really a full-on flashlight like I should have had). I kept it on as I walked back. It was about a four kilometer back through these spires alone. I never saw another human, and I didn’t expect to see anything — until I almost stepped on this snake.

There he was, thick and sinuous. He was right in front of my path, and there was no way around him. I tried my best to ascertain his attitude, and I was pretty sure he simply wanted to rock my face off.

So I kept the light on for a while and wondered what to do. It was super-jungly around me and there where no rocks or any decent projectiles. I could have thrown a granola bar, but maybe he would have thought it was just an appetizer before me.

I started getting my tripod ready and fully extended so that I could just flick him out of the way. No, this didn’t seem like a good idea at the time either.

I got it fully extended, but I was still a pretty long way away. I was trying to figure out how fast the snake could go, and I envisioned many possible routes that involved the tripod, my feet, jumping, and escape vectors. All of them had this questionable (but important) variable of SnakeSpeed.

While I was running through a scenario, the snakes head popped up and he flew across the path faster than a cheetah. I mean — this snake was so goddamn fast that I could not believe it. It was like a fully-loaded slingshot released black bolt of shadow across the path.

I waited another few seconds before continuing on, feeling very foolish for even considering any of my previous scenarios…

The Rest of the Chinese Snake StoryI had climbed up and down the spires of Zhangjiajie twice, which is twice more than my legs wanted to go.I foolishly went up one of the spires at sunset trying to get a photo.  I got to the top, and there was no good sunset.  It was still awesome and everything -- just no sunset photo.  And getting up is not easy.  There are little stairs caved into the sides of the mountain that spiral up and through inlaid cave systems.  There is occasional ducking and a lot of worry about slippery bits.So the time had come to descend.  It was dark. Bear-den dark.  I had a little light on my camera strap (not really a full-on flashlight like I should have had).  I kept it on as I walked back.  It was about a four kilometer back through these spires alone.  I never saw another human, and I didn't expect to see anything -- until I almost stepped on this snake ...- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of the snake story here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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The Towering Rice Field

More China Background Story

I made a post on Google+ that describes more about the behind-the-scenes of how I got into China… in case you are curious…

Daily Photo – The Towering Rice Field

Once again back in Zhangjiajie. These spires are murder to walk up and down. I thought I was in reasonably good shape, but these things will suck the life out of you!

At the top of one of them, there is this lonely rice field just on the edge of a 1000+ foot drop. The whole place is beautiful, old, and beyond belief.

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Fingers Above River

Student Interview Part 2

And here is part 2 for you…

Daily Photo – Fingers Above River

This was one of those Tour-de-France days when I burned about 10,000 calories. I carried my equipment all up and down this valley in Zhangjiajie… up and down each side, traversing the entire length several times, took very few breaks, and ended up sleeping like a baby. That wasn’t a complete sentence… I know this.

This is just about the same area where I encountered a snake later that night. It was black and gnarly and did nothing to lift my spirits. I’ll finish that snake story next time I post a photo from this region… I don’t really want to think about it until then!

HDR Photo

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New Interview and the Silent Temple of Zhangjiajie

New Video Interview

I think you’ll enjoy this one… I did this with Dane Sanders who has interviewed all kinds of people. You can pop over to his website to see even more. I like Dane a lot, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of him in the video too. We talked about all sorts of stuff, and I put a little guide just below the video in case you want to jump around.

Beginning – About the NASA trip

8:15 mark - HDR and some introductory stuff

12:30 mark - Talk about balance of photography, life, and business

28:00 mark - The internet is about to boom.. digital art as a cultural influence… room for us all to grow together.

31:20 mark - Competition and how everyone can win (and, so, it’s not really competition)

39:00 mark – Creating photos to be accepted by other photographers and how to use your own unique life experience to create.

48:00 mark - Burning Man and my artistic approach

53:30 mark - Someone in chat asks to see my t-shrt, and then we talk about my future of content creation

Daily Photo – the Silent Temple of Zhangjiajie

Here’s another photo that I worked on during last night’s webinar class. It was a tough one! I was going through many different examples, and this was a good example of one of those mixed-light situations. It’s so easy and wonderful to experience in person, but so difficult to capture otherwise.

I took this in the middle of a serious trek in Zhangjiajie, deep in the southern part of China. It was one of the hardest single-day treks of my life. This part in the lowland forest was not too tough because it was relatively flat. There were little path problems here and there, but nothing too major. Most of the problems involved walking up and down these bitches. I probably should not call them that, but, honestly, when you are walking up on down them, it’s one of the words that keeps popping into your mind.

In a single day, I walked up and down those things twice, each time passing through these lowland forests… this was the calm before the storm of the ascent, and this little temple brought me some temporary peace.

The Silent Temple of ZhangjiajieHere's another photo that I worked on during last night's webinar class.  It was a tough one!  I was going through many different examples, and this was a good example of one of those mixed-light situations.  It's so easy and wonderful to experience in person, but so difficult to capture otherwise.I took this in the middle of a serious trek in Zhangjiajie, deep in the southern part of China.  It was one of the hardest single-day treks of my life.  This part in the lowland forest was not too tough because it was relatively flat.  There were little path problems here and there, but nothing too major.  Most of the problems involved walking up and down these bitches.  I probably should not call them that, but, honestly, when you are walking up on down them, it's one of the words that keeps popping into your mind.In a single day, I walked up and down those things twice, each time passing through these lowland forests... this was the calm before the storm of the ascent, and this little temple brought me some temporary peace.Read more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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Pandora from Avatar – Zhangjiajie

A Bunch More Photos from China…

Besides the new eBook info in the upcoming Newsletter, I will include about a dozen new photos from China for you as well! Newsletter subscribers often get to see things first, so I it is actually a great outlet for me to post a ton of fresh stuff right away. And, if you like the newsletter (it’s free), I hope you forward along to your family and friends!

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Getting Around China

So, I don’t speak much Chinese. Actually, I speak so little that it is embarrassing. And, very few people here speak English. It’s less than 1%. So, most of the time it can be tough to get around… but I always end up getting where I want. It’s more a matter of will, charades, and international gestures that get me where I want to go. Anyway, this is often a question I get, “How do you get around without knowing the language?” It’s really not a worry… Have you read “The Alchemist”?

Daily Photo – Pandora from Avatar

Getting to this place isn’t easy, either. I wish I could tell you how tired my legs were and still are. I added about another 1/4 inch of calf muscle in the last week. Climbing these spires with all my equipment is not cake walk. I climbed to the top three times in my hikes, and my first day had about 10km of unforgettable pain. 10km is one thing. 10km that involves these kinds of verticals is another thing.

I also climbed one of these at night. Alone. That was exciting. I don’t know if exciting is quite the right word for it, but it certainly was an experience (that word said with French accent). On the way down, I ran into a big snake that would have liked nothing more than to rock my face off. I’ll have a full story on that in a later post from this area.

HDR Photo

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