A 2008 cruise along the Yangzi River in China opened my eyes to form of photography which I hadn’t really explored until that point. Sunrise photography is captivating for many reasons, even more so than sunset photography. There aren’t as many people about, and the wind can often be non-existent, which offers an opportunity to shoot photographs that lack the effect of transient environmental artefacts (such as ripples in the water). However, sunrise photography has even greater quality to it; it can be so much more fulfilling to get out and take in the sunrise before others have stirred. There’s a sense of satisfaction to be had when engaging in your normal routine with the knowledge that you’ve already got a great bunch of images on your memory card.

This was the feeling I had of the Yangzi River cruise along the Three Gorges in China. By the time we sat down for breakfast, I was already buzzing at the sight of the sun coming up over the Qutang Gorge. The Qutang and Wu Gorges were perfect for this type of photography. The layers of vertical cliff walls, diving deep beneath the surface, offered lots of opportunity for deep silhouettes. Post processing with a matte effect accentuated the deep shadows, and brought out brilliant colours that we were treated to that morning.

However, the Three Gorges trip was much more than sunset on the Qutang Gorge. We witnessed the simultaneous death and reincarnation of cities up and down the river; all moved uphill to accommodate upwards of 185 m of water in a reservoir which didn’t previously exist. The Three Gorges Dam resulted in the migration of four million people; and the evidence was ubiquitous. As much as we marveled at the scenery; the trip was somewhat melancholic at times; aware that we were tourists parading through the upheaval of so many millions.

Read more about our trip through the Three Gorges


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