Hongcun (宏村) in Seconds

in photofeed •  7 months ago

This was my third visit to Hongcun, so I started to get familiar with the place, and this is one of the triggers for creativity. I was back in Yixian county to attend their tenth photo festival

The Bridge at the enterance to Hongcun
Notice the blur of people on this long exposure photo on the bridge
Hongcun is one of the most well-known villages in the Yixian county in the Anhui province of China. Its fame comes mainly from the fact that certain scenes of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed here - including the opening scene where a lonely horsemen (Master Li) enter the village over the bridge.

This bridge is then also the most visited and photographed bridge of all the villages in China. I remember, on my first visit, I could not believe the number of people who pose on top of the bridge for a selfie or a photograph taken by a friend. That day, after several attempts, I realised that the only way to get a decent photo of this famous bridge will be to use a long exposure to blur the people enough to become a non-issue.

On my second visit, I concentrated on photographing the people. But to keep things interesting I used all sorts of techniques, such as following two monks for about 20 minutes until I could photograph them in a "clean scene".

I also used my fisheye lens to distort some scenes into something surreal.



The Butcher - A scene at the Hongcun market square next to the moon pond.
I used a fisheye lens and a low angle to emphasize this bizarre (for us westerners) scene

This time, I had a plan: I took my tripod with me and decided to photograph all the photos with a neutral density filter in order to get exposure times that will blur the movement. In my mind, I planned for really long exposures, such as 1 to 10-minute exposures, but I found that this actually looked very boring; At a 3-minute exposure, you will see no people or movement - only empty streets! I then changed to a 3 stop ND filter and this brought down the exposure times to between 2 and 12 seconds.

The results are photographs that show blurred movement without any visually recognisable people (except for the 27-second exposure at the Moon Pond where all the inanimate people really enjoyed the perfect sunset!!)

A 2-second exposure in one of the small alleyways in Hongcun

A 1.8-second exposure in one of the small alleyways in Hongcun

A 2-second exposure in one of the small alleyways in Hongcun

A 1.5-second exposure in one of the small alleyways in Hongcun

A 5-second exposure in one of the small alleyways in Hongcun

A 4-second exposure in one of the small alleyways in Hongcun

--------------ooooooooooo--------------
A 27-second exposure at the Moon Pond in Hongcun

I ended the session with a 6-minute exposure using two stacked ND filters (a 10 stop plus a 4 stop). The movement in the clouds was perfect (with regards their speed of movement and their direction), but unfortunately, the stacking of two filters created quite a prominent vignette. I think I prefer the 27-second exposure.

A 340-second exposure at the Moon Pond in Hongcun

In any case, the two "landscape" photos were just an afterthought, my goal was to photograph the movement of the people, and I think I succeeded in that goal.

For me this was one of my most creative and enjoyable photography afternoons of this visit to China.

This is my entry into the #longexposurephotography weekly challenge create by @juliank

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The famous spot in China is always crowded and you have a good way to get what you need from your camera. :-)

I actually like "A 27-second exposure at the Moon Pond in Hongcun" one the most ~
good photography !

Very nice to see your experiments. Learning a lot. For the rest, your impressions of China help to illustrate Edmund de Waal's White Road for me (about porcelain). I can smell that fish-eye poultry stall already and am not booking a trip soon! (WHAT are those crazy big birds for sale?!) Please keep travelling for me.

Love the ghosts in the alleyway effect. Walking in these villages is like travelling in a time capsule to me. It feels like very little has changed for decades.
Thank you for sharing your stories and the technical journey you undertake with each photo.

Beautiful place and amazing information about hongcun. You have the eyes which shows only beauty. Nice sharing.