The Lights of Zhenyuan

This post is part of my Guizhou-China blog post series.

Finally the start of our photography tour led by William Yu was here. Below is a simple map that shows a few places where we stopped during the day and where we stayed at night. As you can imagine, we travelled quite a distance.

Route through Guizhou Province
Route through Guizhou Province

The first day was mostly spent in the bus driving from Guiyang to Zhenyuan where we stayed for the night. We arrived in the late afternoon and had some time left to explore the town. One place we visited was the Qinglong Dong Temple (aka Black Dragon Cave Temple). This is a big complex that rises up on the side of a mountain. From the top floor of the Yuhuang Ge (Jade Emperor) Pavilion, which itself is the highest up on the mountain side, we got a great view of old Zhenyuan with the meandering Wuyang river and the surrounding hills.

Panorama of Zhenyuan
Panorama of Zhenyuan with Wuyang river

Do you see the pavilion on the top of the highest mountain? This is where we’ll go the next morning before breakfast. On the right side of the panorama is the Zhusheng Qiao bridge with yet another pavilion. Here it is with more detail:

Zhusheng Qiao Pavilion
Zhusheng Qiao Pavilion

We arrived shortly before the closure of the temple which didn’t leave us a lot of time to explore the different buildings. Still I didn’t leave empty handed.

Incense Burner
Incense Burner
Statues lining the sides of one of the temple’s halls

Outside of the temple we got another nice view with a cool reflection of the old town Zhenyuan and the Zhusheng Qiao bridge. The tourist boats look very similar to the ones we saw on Qianling lake, the main difference being the missing life vests.

Old town Zhenyuan, Wuyang river and the Zhusheng Qiao bridge

After a short dinner break, we were treated to a great spectacle: the entire town was beautifully lit. They had lights all over the place and, like in Guiyang, they used LED lights with changing colors. The blue sky provided a great contrast to the illuminated bridge. This image was taken about 10 minutes after sunset during the blue hour.

Illuminated Xinda bridge with Tianhou temple
Illuminated Xinda bridge with Tianhou temple

Moving to the other side of the Xinda bridge, I was able to get this shot before the walkway on the right side was lit bright green!

Dusk in Zhenyuan with Tianhou temple and lantern lit buildings

I stayed at the same location but changed lenses. This shot demanded a lot of patience because I was standing on a wooden walkway and people constantly passed by causing a lot of vibrations. Eventually I was able to get this 4 second exposure of the Tianhou temple without anyone being close by.

Tianhou temple
Tianhou temple with reflection

Lights were everywhere, amplified by the great reflections in the Wuyang River. These are the green lights that I talked about previously. Sometimes it was almost too much.

Lanterns, lanterns, lanterns….

We had a really calm night and the river had small ripples. It looked great with the changing lights on the bridge. It was really very scenic, as you can see in this little animation.

Xinda bridge with Wuyang river animation
Xinda bridge with Wuyang river animation

On one side of the river was a nice promenade with several restaurants with outside tables. It kind of reminded me of some Mediterranean towns. It wasn’t crowded at all that night which might be because we were there during the week and off-season.

Outside tables along the Wuyang river in front of Xinda bridge
Outside tables along the Wuyang river in front of Xinda bridge
Wuyang river promenade

Zhenyuan is often referred to as “Eastern Venice”. There were plenty of small boats anchored along the shore. For the next image I used my trusty flashlight to light the boat.

Xinda bridge with fishing boat
Boats anchoring below Xinda bridge arch
Zhusheng Qiao bridge and pavilion with tourist boats

And then it started to rain. Not very heavy, but just enough to wet the ground and provide yet more reflections. A group of police officers sought shelter in the pavilion and I was a bit worried to take this shot. This is a composite of several images where I individually light-painted each sculpture and merged them together afterwards. This way I could eliminate some of the officers from the shot as well. In the end, they didn’t care what I was doing there with my flashlight.

Light painted elephants with Zhusheng Qiao pavilion
Light painted elephants with Zhusheng Qiao pavilion

The first day of this photography trip came to a great end. I really enjoyed taking pictures with all this illuminated buildings, bridges and other structures.

Prints and Licensing: All images are available as fine art prints and for licensing. Please contact me for more details.

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