Travel Photo Tips: Yangshuo, China by Simon Bond

Yangshuo, China: "Next to you, all of life's obstacles are surmountable" by Simon Bond.

Korea How interviews England native Simon Bond, who is currently living in Suncheon, Korea. His work has been featured in galleries and publications around the world. Although he is most well-known for his perspective-bending glass ball photographs, the popularity of his collection on Getty Images is proof that he has an eye for great travel images as well.

Q: How long have you lived in Korea?
A: 4 years.

Q: What’s your job?
A: English teacher and a freelance photographer.

Q: Where did you take this photo?
A: Yangshuo, China.

Q: What’s the story behind the photo?
A: This photo was taken on a distinctly unpromising day for landscape photography. I remember the day was grey, and visibility was nothing special. We’d paid for a riverboat cruise from Guilin down to Yangshuo.

In the afternoon we got taken to another river, and it was there I took the shot. The photo was taken at full zoom on a 70-300mm lens with a Canon 40D, making the focal length effectively 500mm (this is to do with the conversion to focal length you need to make for cameras with crop sensors).

Q: Why did you include the people in the photo?
A: We were on a bamboo raft and had just got to a riverbank and I saw a scene within the scene in front of us. The two people in the bottom right of the photo added a lot to this image as the people give the mountains in the background a sense of scale.

The two people standing as they were also reminded me of a photo I’d taken in the UK two years previously. I think this helped me “see“ this photo faster and indeed I only really had time to take one or two shots before these people had gone. I feel for me the photo has a romantic side of two people standing together against the backdrop of the grandeur of these mountains.

Q: How did you get that layered look with the mountains in the background?
A: I think the layered look was helped by the fact I’ve used a telephoto lens here, with the mountains being some way in the background this allows them all to be framed in the one photograph as the angle for the point of view is quite narrow. I’ve taken photographs in S.Korea that have this layered mountain look, and that has also been with the aid of a telephoto lens. It also has to be said that the geography in this area of China helps a lot when creating this layered mountain look, as there are many karst mountains here.

Q: Do you have any tips for taking better travel photographs?
A: When it comes to travel photography it’s often a good idea to research the place you’re going to visit, and then plan the type of photographs you’d like to take.

If you can possibly plan your trip so you’ll be there when the weather is at it’s best. The weather is not all important though, as it should be possible to take good shots in the rain or the sunshine, just you’ll have to think of some different types of photos.

In an ideal world you’d also have several days in a place to consider the photos you’d want to get. Perhaps there is somewhere that works for a photo much better at sunrise, in which case coming back to that location at the optimum time is desirable.

As was said in a previous post, it’s also a good idea not to stay in any one location for too long. If you are on a time limit getting that good shot and then moving on is important because what you’re really looking to do with travel photography is to tell the story of a place and this is often achieved through a variety of shots.

One last thing I should mention is be quick on the draw like a cowboy in a good western movie, because once that “moment” is gone you’re not going to get it back.

Q: Wow, thanks for all that great advice. What’s your favorite travel quote?
A: “Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.” ~ Arnold Newman

You can see more of Simon Bond’s work here:

Simon Bond

Blog: 369 Photo
On Flickr: Mr. Bond
Website: 369photography.co.uk (under construction at time of writing)

In case you missed it: check out the previous Travel Photo of The Week of Seoul, Korea by Gregory Curley.

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  1. [...] to improve your photography skills? Check out Simon Bond’s photo tips from China or take a look at these 5 Korea-based photo [...]

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