Visiting JiuZhai Gou(Valley)+HuangLong around mid Oct 09


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NikVin08

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Jan 30, 2009
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#1
Hi,

I will visiting Jiu Zhai Gou and HuangLong around 19 or 20 Oct as part of a 8 day tour package with my family. Will like to seek your advices/tips on making the most of taking photos while being there and with existing equipments.

I plan to take the following items other than D700 camera :
a) 28-75mm f2.8 zoom len
b) Ultra wide angle 12-24mm len (cannot afford get 14-24mm Nikon len)
c) 50mm f.14d len
d) 70-200mm zoom len (to use when needed during entire tour)
e) Tripod
f) UV, CPL, ND8, GND4 filters
g) SB800 flash (to use when needed during entire tour)
h) Lowepro D100W bag, Safrotto Backpack (to use accordingly)

Understand time will be limited during the tour-1 day in Jiu Zhai Gou; half day in HuangLong.
1) Amongst the various lakes and sights, where should we start first and the recommended lakes/sights route for photo taking? Start early morning with Long Lake ? ==> 5 color pond ==> Nuorilang waterfalls ==> Panda Lake ==> Arrow bamboo lake ==> Rhinoceros Lake ==> Shuzheng waterfall ==> ???

I think during midday noon it may not be good for phototaking, any recommendation what and where can we station instead?

2) Recommendation(s) for any vantage point where we can position to take great landscape photos while being there.

Thank you in advance for whatever valuable references you may chip in. :)
 

tomcat

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#2
If you are going on a packaged tour, how can you plan the route for the tour inside Jiuzhaigou? Anyway, the best time of the year for autumn colours in Jiuzhaigou is the first 2 weeks of Nov.
 

brian

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#3
Last week of Oct is also fine. First 2 weeks of Nov also coincides with the lowest season, when entrance fares falls to half and the number of tourists magically reduces to a trickle. If your timing is right (second week Nov) you will catch the autumn red leaves with very little tourists.

You don't have too much of a choice at Jiuzhaigou. I've been there twice, and although it is possible to start from the front to the back, the official buses there makes sure you follow the official route, which is starting from the end and then making your way to the start. Jiuzhaigou is Y shaped. Entrance is at the bottom of the "Y". If you do all the sights, and don't rush, you will need 2 days at least. IF you only have a day, I suggest you follow the crowd and concentrate on the big ones, they are all on the right of the "Y". Nuorilang falls is in the middle.

No real tip on the best place to shoot. There's not too many place where you can follow the set path and shoot an aerial shot of a whole lake. Most shots will be tight. So your 28-70 (not 28-75 I assume) will probably be your mainstay lens. Get ready the CPOL, its the most important filter for you. I'm sure you know wide angles like the 12-24 don't play well with CPOL, especially if you're trying to get through the reflection on the surface and accentuate the colours in the lake. I find that Grad ND is not as useful as it seems. I think mid Oct is also a peak season, so you might want to think about skipping the tripod if you have to travel light, as the sidewalks are elevated plank walkways, and the tourists there will not stop walking when you shoot. During tourist season, I find I almost never use my tripod, while off season is the only time I Can set it up and not get more vibration than handheld.

Re: Huanglong, on the way to that place, there are some nice mountain vista if your time is right. You will see locals setting up camp on the mountains to pick cordyceps (sic). if you're in a tour bus then too bad. I didn't go into Huanglong although I was at the entrance, so can't pass on some tips for it.
 

NikVin08

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#4
If you are going on a packaged tour, how can you plan the route for the tour inside Jiuzhaigou? Anyway, the best time of the year for autumn colours in Jiuzhaigou is the first 2 weeks of Nov.
Was exploring which amongst the lakes, waterfalls we should give more focus given the case of being in package tour. Hopefully the tour guide can help.

Did not thought of November because someone told me that HuangLong may be closed by then. Anyway, noted the autumn colors best time. If dont mind, can PM possible agency that we can arrange free n easy.

Thanks
 

NikVin08

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Last week of Oct is also fine. First 2 weeks of Nov also coincides with the lowest season, when entrance fares falls to half and the number of tourists magically reduces to a trickle. If your timing is right (second week Nov) you will catch the autumn red leaves with very little tourists.

You don't have too much of a choice at Jiuzhaigou. I've been there twice, and although it is possible to start from the front to the back, the official buses there makes sure you follow the official route, which is starting from the end and then making your way to the start. Jiuzhaigou is Y shaped. Entrance is at the bottom of the "Y". If you do all the sights, and don't rush, you will need 2 days at least. IF you only have a day, I suggest you follow the crowd and concentrate on the big ones, they are all on the right of the "Y". Nuorilang falls is in the middle.

No real tip on the best place to shoot. There's not too many place where you can follow the set path and shoot an aerial shot of a whole lake. Most shots will be tight. So your 28-70 (not 28-75 I assume) will probably be your mainstay lens. Get ready the CPOL, its the most important filter for you. I'm sure you know wide angles like the 12-24 don't play well with CPOL, especially if you're trying to get through the reflection on the surface and accentuate the colours in the lake. I find that Grad ND is not as useful as it seems. I think mid Oct is also a peak season, so you might want to think about skipping the tripod if you have to travel light, as the sidewalks are elevated plank walkways, and the tourists there will not stop walking when you shoot. During tourist season, I find I almost never use my tripod, while off season is the only time I Can set it up and not get more vibration than handheld.

Re: Huanglong, on the way to that place, there are some nice mountain vista if your time is right. You will see locals setting up camp on the mountains to pick cordyceps (sic). if you're in a tour bus then too bad. I didn't go into Huanglong although I was at the entrance, so can't pass on some tips for it.
Thanks for the reference information.
I have earlier gotten the Y shape JiuZhai gou map from the internet. Starting from the end, does it mean a choice of either right side (Swan Lake, Panda Lake etc) or left side (Long lake, 5 color pond)? Thought the left side is more beautiful.

I am using Tamron 28-75mm (non motor) len. Yes, I have heard article on CPOL with wide angle len beforehand. 12-24mm was bought before I moved to D700 camera. I guess I would use 28-75mm len more often.

For Tripod, had originally intended to use it to take waterfall for soft effect with ND8. Thought I had skipped the peak season by not going during 1st 2 weeks of October. 1st week is China national holiday week. Had skipped end Sept because colors are very much green although should be mid autumn already.

Cheers
 

tomcat

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Nov 7, 2003
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#6
Was exploring which amongst the lakes, waterfalls we should give more focus given the case of being in package tour. Hopefully the tour guide can help.

Did not thought of November because someone told me that HuangLong may be closed by then. Anyway, noted the autumn colors best time. If dont mind, can PM possible agency that we can arrange free n easy.

Thanks
I don't really know of any tour agency that have free and easy tours to Jiuzhaigou. Both times that I have gone there were by packaged tours. You could probably go to any tour agencies and ask them to book air tickets to Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou as well as hotel accomodations at Jiuzhaigou for you but I don't think it would be cheaper than the packaged tours which include more on the intinerary and meals.

There are many hotels near the entrance to the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area which you could stay in. You would probably need at least 3 days to see all the lakes and waterfalls at Jiuzhaigou.

You can then arrange for tours to Huanglong separately at the hotel that you are staying in. Huanglong however could be challenge due to the higher altitudes. Many visitors suffer from altitude sickness and shortness of breath while hiking to the summit of Huanglong. If you or members of your party are susceptible to altitude sickness, it is best to start taking supplements of rhodiola (红景天) herbal extract at least 2 weeks before going to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong.
 

brian

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#7
I really don't think you can plan the route inside the park too much. When you're inside, you are forced to take the park buses, and they tell you where to go and that means to the end and then you take buses at predetermined stop on the way out. The only thing you can plan is to spend more time on a particular lake, and this you can plan when you're there and you see a lake that you want to shoot more.

Normally, the high traffic route is to the right of the 'Y'. If you want to go the the left, you have to take the shuttle bus to Nuorilang terminal (at center of the Y) and then switch to another bus that may or may not run regularly. If you have a day, and can't do both sides of the Y, I personally think that the right side is better as you get to see the Pearl waterfall.

On the left side, the 5 colour pond is nice. Long lake is just that, a lake, nothing much. But in winter it looks nice if you take the first bus there. The other lakes on the left are normally low in water level in winter, so the number of attractions is less than the right and you spend more time transitting. Don't forget to allow some time to visit the lakes on the bottom of the Y as well. The Rhino lake, Tiger lake and the ones after it closer to the entrance. Skip the villages, they're all remodelled and sell just souvenirs.
 

kilkenny

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May 8, 2003
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#8
Hey,

I am goin too! :) tom.... but seems tt u are goin @ a better time. My period still be packed i think...hmm :think:

hahaha but lookin forward to my trip =)

good trip to you!

cheers,
kilkenny
 

NikVin08

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Jan 30, 2009
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#9
Hey,

I am goin too! :) tom.... but seems tt u are goin @ a better time. My period still be packed i think...hmm :think:

hahaha but lookin forward to my trip =)

good trip to you!

cheers,
kilkenny
Hi,

Good trip to you too! Let us make the most of what we can enjoy while being there. :)

Cheers
 

#10
:think: is the kit u bringing slightly too much for a tour with family??? jus feel its abit heavy, and since u will most prob carry ur bag with u all e times even during meals. do think of the weight. :)

aniway enjoy ur trip. look forward for ur photos when u are back.
 

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NikVin08

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Jan 30, 2009
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#11
:think: is the kit u bringing slightly too much for a tour with family??? jus feel its abit heavy, and since u will most prob carry ur bag with u all e times even during meals. do think of the weight. :)

aniway enjoy ur trip. look forward for ur photos when u are back.
Hi,

Thanks for the note. I had brought almost similar during last family trip to Beijing+JiangNan/Shanghai travel back in Oct 2006. At times, did feel the weight :sweat: but I toggle between using the small bag and backpack depending on the lens I need to use for specific location.

Will make the call accordingly so as not to be bogged down by weight and not enjoy travel phototaking.

Cheers
 

kilkenny

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May 8, 2003
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#12
Hi TS,

I am just back, not fullblown autumm colours while i was there yet so you should be getting a better view. If you have not yet gone, please do rem to bring a polarizer, i did not bring one and terribly regretted...sigh...

Let me share some pics i took , hope you dun mind.

#1 Just a tree at the park entrance


#2 Shuzheng Waterfall


#3 Tiger Lake


#4 Rhinoceros Lake (i think haha)


Hope to see your nice pics when you are back! But squeezing into the best spot to take pics is a bitch hahaha

cheers,
kilkenny
 

May 5, 2005
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#13
Nice Pix! :) Just wondering does anyone knows if breakfast is easily available near to Sheraton entrance? We will be staying there as we r too weak to brave the cold in other hotels. However, we dun wish to eat the hotel breakfast and thinking of trying the normal local eateries instead. Are there any near to Sheraton in the early morning before we go to JZG at 7am?
 

kilkenny

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May 8, 2003
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#14
Hi vee5,

Thanks.

When are u goin?

i stayed at sheraton too, think doin breakfast there is good. There are eateries behind sheraton in the opp direction of jzg but i think would still do breakfast @ sheraton, its not too shabby. Startin jzg @ 7 is correct, our tour guide did not give us good advise and we only reached at 830 (met 820 @ lobby). Not enough time and we had to skip lunch as we realised the park close @ 5 o'clock.

But then i recommend skippin lunch anyway, the lunch place in there is a massive battlefield and would not do much to endear you to the place. If you can pack food to eat, its much more enjoyable and i am sure u can cover more places at a more leisure pace.

Rem to bring a few things.

1) Wide Angle Lens (if u can, u wun regret it)
2) Polarizer and ND filter(to achieve the creamy effect of waterfall)
3) Tripod

Hope u enjoy your trip. I certainly enjoyed mine! :D

cheers,
kilkenny
 

May 5, 2005
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16
#15
Tks for the great advice! I hear that the boardwalks will be crowded with people and vibrations from people walking by will make long exposures blurry.

Anyway I'll still give it a shot :) Planning to get a tripod from Chengdu hopefully before heading to JZG. Any idea where's a good place to get photographic equipments in Chengdu? :)

Can't wait to get some cool pix back!
 

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