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Lydia Goetze Describes The Photographic Opportunities On Huang Shan

We have been intrigued by and have studied Chinese landscape painting for many years, and Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) is the perfect place to combine that interest with our professional experience as landscape photographers.


Lydia Goetze Describes The Photographic Opportunities On Huang Shan
This ’Yellow Mountain’ lies in Anhui Province, China and is one of the most popular destinations for both domestic and visiting artists.  Its beauty and significance in the history of traditional Chinese landscape painting are why Lydia Goetze and George DeWolfe, noted photographers and master teachers, have chosen Huang Shan as the site for their Chinese Contemplative Landscape Photography workshops.  We have been intrigued by and have studied Chinese landscape painting for many years, and this is the perfect place to combine that interest with our professional experience as landscape photographers.
How many times have you been to China now, and how long have you spent in the Huang Shan area?
Lydia:  I‘ve been to China three times.  My first trip was a month-long cultural exchange over 20 years ago, and included many urban sites in different parts of the country, as well as visits to former students and their families.  Since 2006, I have made two trips to Huang Shan, once in winter and once in spring, specifically to experience and photograph this inspiring mountain landscape.  I look forward to going back again this coming spring.
What do think makes Huang Shan such an attractive proposition for photographers?
... and why is Huang Shan so much better for this than other mountains? There are plenty of others in China.
Lydia: The granite spires of Huang Shan, traversed by stone-stepped trails and graced by the uniquely shaped Huang Shan pines, are a visual delight in any weather.  Fog that makes islands of dozens of peaks, spring blossoms on precipitous slopes, and autumn color only add to their glory.  Huang Shan is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a national park, and a sister park to Yosemite in the U.S.   Like Yosemite, it plays an important role in the history of painting and photography in its own country – it has been a source of inspiration to painters for over 1000 years! 
Like many other mountain parks in China, this area is very popular with Chinese tourists.  We appreciate the fact that here accommodations are up on the mountain, so that photographers can go out at any time to catch the best light.  In many mountain parks, one must take crowded public transport, enter later in the morning, and leave earlier at the end of the day, just to take any photographs at all.  After getting up the mountain at Huang Shan, we are free to walk on any open paths at any time.
When is your next visit to Huangshan?
Lydia: George and I will be leading a photographic workshop arranged by Tours Abroad in the middle of April ( There are still a few places if anyone wants to join us. Our emphasis in the mountains at Huang Shan is to introduce photographers to the way the classical Chinese landscape painters saw in their native landscape and to help photographers translate some of these ideas into their own digital landscape photographs.  The group is small and there is plenty of time for individual mentoring.
 Could you explain why this workshop is titled “Contemplative Landscapes”?
Lydia:  Our contemplative approach includes teaching the skill of mindfulness, which makes one more aware, able to see more deeply and make images that reveal more of the mystery of a place.  Like the ancient Taoist and Buddhist landscape painters here, starting with a (secular) meditative approach allows one to be aware of and portray the spirit (Tao) and the energy (Chi) of a place.  During the workshop we teach skills of visual perception and mindfulness which, when mastered, lead to a deeper way of seeing.  A useful side effect of the skill of mindfulness is to ability not to be distracted by other visitors when photographing in a crowded place!
So will you be doing anything new during this visit?
Lydia:  We will see some original landscape paintings at the Shanghai museum and visit some  classical Chinese gardens in Suzhou so that participants have a broader understanding of the traditional Chinese approach to landscape.  After the workshop we will also do a bit of private scouting in the villages near Huang Shan for future workshops.
What kind of images do you hope to capture around Suzhou and are these consistent with the mainly landscape ones up on the mountain?
Lydia: The formerly private scholar gardens of Suzhou have an ancient tradition integrated with that of painting.  Seeing and photographing their rocks, ponds, zigzag walkways, and carefully designed vistas (and some bonsai areas) should acquaint us with traditional landscapes in miniature and visibly demonstrate the Taoist and Buddhist influences on the classical landscape painters. These gardens, constructed landscapes in a smaller, urban scale, serve as a bridge between the landscape paintings we will see in Shanghai and the mountain landscapes we will walk and photograph in Huang Shan.


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