The Songzanlin Monastery and Photos of Shangri-la, China
China has a funny way of chasing our emotions around.
One minute we’re completely annoyed by crowds, spitting, tour guides using megaphones as they lead their clients around natural sight, and just noise in general.
The next, we’re blown away by the sites. I’d say, though, I’ve been more blown away than stressed. And when I’ve been blown away, I’ve done nothing but wonder why people spend so much time in dull Southeast Asia when they could be in China.
My visit to the Songzanlin Monastery just outside of the city of Shangri-la was one of those “why aren’t there more people here?!” moments. It was then followed by a “I’m glad there aren’t others here” evening of taking pictures of Shangri-la.
In the video below, you’ll see how I photographed the Songzanlin Monastery, which is about 5 kilometers outside of Shangri-la, China near the border of Tibet in Yunnan Province.
Photography at Shangri-la, China
As is obvious by the video, I was both blessed with amazing light, and punished by flat light while taking my photos of Songzanlin.
The sky was so amazing during the day. The clouds were perfect and the afternoon light was perfectly soft. It brought out the colours of everything so perfectly.
As amazing as it was to shoot, the monastery as equally challenging. The building is just so big, that it was tough to get it all into my frame. Then, as the evening light came, the clouds disappeared which made taking photos of the monastery really difficult.
In the end, I’m quite happy with the images I got from Songzanlin, and Shangri-la in general.
Last one of the day. In the video, I said I was going to show you how to edit this one, but it came out kind of bland. I hardly touched the image on the edit.
Photos of The Songzanlin Monastery
This older lady was nice enough to let me photograph her. How could I not with a scene around her like that? In general in China it has been fairly easy to photograph people. For the most part, they’re not bothered by the camera, and just seem to ignore it.
The alleyway leading up to the Songzanlin Temple in Shangri-la was a great spot for a photograph regardless. But, this girl who ran into my photograph just added another element and took the image to the next level.
Temple downtown Shangri-la. I took this one HDR to bring out the star in the sun and the colours.
I love seeing the prayer flags. The light just seems to bend through them in such a beautiful way.
I think this is my favourite photo from the Songzanlin Monastery.
A couple monks walked down the scene as I was photographing it. Made for a beautiful image. How about that sky too, right?! I used a polarizer to help bring out the cloud contrast and the blues in the sky.
A couple old men discussing what seemed to be fairly important details. Again, it’s so nice being somewhere that people seem to not mind being photographed.
In fact, most Chinese people are enamoured with the camera. When you’re not photographing them, they’re busy taking selfies or photos of themselves. Here, some Buddhist monks are out with their iPad getting some photos in front of the monastery.
Probably my favourite portrait from the city. The colours were just too perfect. And her face is just so perfect. She was incredibly photogenic – as were many of the people in Shangri-la.
I would have l like some clouds at sunset to take this image from Songzanlin Monastery to the next level. But still, I loved the reflection and the glow on the mountains behind the temple.
This is the side of old town that was restored after the January 2014 fire in Shangri-la. From the top of town, you can get a pretty decent photograph of the wooden roofs.
This is the photo I showed you how to develop in the video above. Again, I would have loved clouds. But, you definitely can’t complain about the glowing light or the still reflections in the water. The light was still beautiful.
As dusk set in, I headed back up to where there were some temples. This temple in particular was perfect to shoot with the prayer flags blowing in front of it.
Visiting Shangri-La, China
This was such a great photography destination in China. All the above images were captured in just one day. Had I known how epic it was going to be here, I would have likely planned an extra day or two. Personally, I think that if you’re going to spend time in Shangri-la, China you’ll want to leave yourself at least two full days to explore with your camera.