Wednesday, July 1, 2009

May 26 Ascent to our destination today - Kalajun Grassland 喀拉俊空中大草原

Travel in Xinjiang involves much of driving, in particular the way we plan our trip which centered around photographic spots. Tiresom at times, but you got rewarded with non-stop beautiful landscape. After leaving Zhaosu, we started a long and slow ascent to Kalajun Grassland 喀拉俊空中大草原. known as the grassland in the air. Kalajun, in Kazakh, means "a dark widerness". So we continue to climb.
Along the road, we saw the river became narrower and water more angrier; and we saw the change of lifestyle, local people riding their horses, tending their sheep.
I made some snap shots to record the landcape along the road, pictures here taken with Sigma DP-1 - a compact and great camera, more on this later. My wife, Pook, also snap a picture on me while I am taking pictures.And these two by myself, using Sigma DP-1.Higher up, few more images taken with Nikon D3X and the powerful AF-S VR 70-200/2.8G IF-ED.One more shot for the look of the grassland before we reach its top.Conversation in the car centered around a possible change of plan due to the news we heard yesterday on our way to Xiata, the road maintanance may block our way to Bayanbulak, and very much jeopardize our following trip plan. Very much so because Wanbing 萬兵 has the high hope to produce his master piece in Bayanbulak and lobby us to the scenario to add one extra day in case whether becomes a porblem, now it seemed we have to turn back to Urumqi, which means total change of 2nd 1/2 of trip and lost of time.
And now we have reched the altitude of snow line, and our climb depend on Neo and his Land Cruiser, we all cross our fingers.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

May 26 Zhaosu 昭蘇

Pushing our time, we drove along a line of beautiful landscape, moving to our lunch break - Zhaosu 昭蘇, famous for its sea of rapeseed flowers but due to colder spring this year, we are a few weeks too early to watch the full blossom. We stopped at the same restaurant as we did yesterday, only today we order a better Xinjiang noodle 新疆拌面.
Something to talk about is the Chinese toilet - watch the video clip, especially for ladies. For the level of modern China presented today, the restroom is the least developed area, it is not just primitive, in some area it is simply unbearable, even for me. Not just how dirty it looks, but also how awful it smells. This is definitely one of the area traveler has to pay attention to. Try to control your digest, and try to control your routine, take the advantage of usually better restrooms at the restaurant, although not always the case. Lucky to be a man in this environment.
Some images took along the way using Nikon D3X.And some Canon G10 shots made around the restaurant.After lunch, about to move on driving to our destination today, Kalajun Grassland 喀拉俊空中大草原, while Neo has to stop by a car repair to fix his antenna, I pointed a hair saloon to my wife, and such a great idea, she went on taking a quick shampoo, me too, and also Wanbing. A primitive hair saloon run by Kazakhs, but it is clean, and not to mention, quite inexpensive, 5 RMB for woman, 3 RMB for man. For traveling on car in Xinjiang, this is highly recommended. Quick snap shot using Canon G10, as well as the video clip.

Monday, June 29, 2009

May 26 Xiata 夏塔古道 to Zhaosu 昭蘇

Again we are on the road, moving toward Zhaosu. Our destination today is Kajajun Grand Grassland 喀拉俊空中大草原, trying to save time, we have skipped the breakfast and head to Zhaosu for lunch break. As we descent, the cover of snow thinning, weather warming up. But we did not skip the photography, still took some shots on our way to Zhaosu. My wife, Pook, standing by our Land Cruiser.More shots took along the way, all with Nikon D3X and AF-S 24-70/2.8G ED.

May 26 morning, again at Xiata overlooking Kan Tengri

After a freezing night, I woke up by some noise outside the yurt, some early birds already chatting what a beautiful morning it is. Quickly put on dress, prepare my gears, time to go back to the spot we shot yesterday. However, I quickly managed a snap shot using the D3X and now-my-favorite VR 70-200/2.8 for this image at right, hand held.
It is indeed a clear morning, although freezing cold, at around -5 C, I didn't bring my glove this trip, my special edition aluminum Gitzo tripod I took for this trip was intended for desert and wetland use, here it feels like rock of ice in my bare hand.
We drove again on Xiata old track, Khan Tengri proudly standing in front of us, and what a majestic scenery it presented, I took pictures using primary the Nikon D3X, some with Phase One P45+/Contax 645. This morning turned out to be the most beautiful and picture perfect morning in this trip.A 4-shot stitched panoramic picture from the D3X + AF-S VR 70-200/2.8G IF-ED The majestic Mt. Khan Tengri 汗騰格裡峰, with its ice capped peak, it rises to 7,010m, together with Jengish Chokusu 托木尔峰 at 7,349m only situated 16km away, the northernmost 7,000-meter summit. The following 2 shots, both taken with Phase One P45+ on Contax 645, with Carl Zeiss Super-APO TPP 300/2.8, setting at f/8. ISO 50. Of course, the clarity and sharpness in combination with such lens and such digital back is unsurpassed.A shot made in my studio for this set up, in case it interests one.And one more shot also using Phase One P45+ on Contax 645, this time with Carl Zeiss Sonnar 210/4, stitched of 3 captures.