Tibet Landscape Photography: A Beginner’s Guide to Tibet Landscape Photography
Speaking of Tibet, one will spontaneously think of its unique and unrivalled natural landscape, a striking aspect attracting numerous tourists every year. Sitting on the roof of the world, this vast wild land boasts dramatic snow-peaked mountains, glittering turquoise lakes, sheep-dotted grassland, primitive forest and many more. To a majority of tourists, Tibet is a dream land for landscape photography. Here in this passage, we will introduce a guidance for beginners on shooting the stunning natural scenery in Tibet.
Top Destinations for Landscape Photography in Tibet
Located at an average elevation of 4000 meters, Tibet is the home to several of the world’s highest peaks, and is regarded the Third Pole, next to the North and South Pole. Tourists can find diverse natural sceneries here, like soaring snow peaks, surging rivers, alpine lakes bluer than the sky, yaks herding on the massive grassland etc. For tourists who want to photograph the most gorgeous landscape of Tibet, there are several top destinations you should never miss during your Tibet tour.
Among all mountains in Tibet, the most obvious one could be Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Tourists often follow the overland trip from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp, to appreciate the spectacular peak view of Mount Everest. At the highest point of Mount Gawula, Gawula Pass, one can shoot four Himalayan peaks of 8000 meters above sea level. From left to right, there are Mount Makaku, Lhotse, Everest, Cho Oyu. It is suggested to take the photo at dusk, when the peak is exposed to the light, one can get a better image.
Rongbuk Monastery near the Everest Base Camp is also a good spot to photography Mount Everest. On the hillside to the north side of Rongbuk Monastery, one can capture the magnificent Everest Peak, with the giant stupa as the foreground.
At an altitude of 6656 meters, Mount Kailash has the reputations of the “the source of all rivers” and the “center of the world”. Natural scenery and religious humanities are integrated here. The pyramidal shape of its peak reveals an extraordinary scared personality. No matter which angel you choose to shoot, you can always recognize the unique shape of the mountain at a glance.
If you plan to take a Mount Kailash trekking from the small village of Darchen, you can find a good shooting spot nearby. Only the edge of the Kailash Peak can be seen while in the village of Darchen, so you must walk a distance to find suitable position. For example, the river valley about 8 kilometers away from the village will be perfect. In addition, you can capture beautiful mountain images while trekking along the pilgrimage route round Mount Kailash.
Yamdrok Lake is known as one of the three holiest lakes in Tibet. Located less than 100 kilometers from Lhasa, it is the largest inland lake in the northern foothills of the Himalayas. The water of Yamdrok Lake has been praised as the most beautiful water in the world. It is also the largest waterfowl habitat in southern Tibet. During the winter when the birds migrate to the south, there are many swans, water pigeons, yellow ducks, ospreys and bar-headed geese on the shores of the lake.
One of the standard photography points for Yamdrok Lake is the Gamba la Pass viewing platform, where you can not only capture the blue lake water with changing levels, but also shoot the glittering snowy mountains in the distance, as a vision to increase the depth of the field. Besides, one can compose different scenes to photograph Yamdrok Lake while descending to the lakeside along the road.
The best time to shoot Namtso Lake is early morning and nightfall. During these periods, from the snow-capped mountain covered by the golden sun to the pure pearl-like Namtso, the amazing view will be enough for you to keep pressing the shutter. One can trek to the hill near the Tashi Dor Island, about 200 to 300 meters above the lake, a perfect location for capturing the sunrise and sunset of Namtso Lake.
Although it is said that you will not be disappointed at any time in Namtso, but during cold winter season, there is no accommodation provided for the night stay there. And sometimes, the road will be blocked due to heavy snow.
Unlike other regions in Tibet, Nyingchi presents a totally different landscape due to its lower altitude. There are tranquil villages on both sides of the river, ancient giant cypresses, cascading waterfalls and steep cliffs, and more enchanting natural landscapes, making it gain the reputation of “Switzerland in Tibet” by some outsiders.
This land boasts many attractions sites to shoot impressive photos, like Yarlung Zangbu Grand Canyon, Mount Namjagbrawa, Lulang Forest, Basum Lake, Midui Glacier etc. Lulang is known as the place where the gods live, and its pastures and forests are the most favored to photographers. The grandeur and beauty of Mount Namjagbrawa can be captured at Shejila Mountain, and the best time is in the afternoon and at dusk.
Basic Preparation for Landscape Photography in Tibet
Travel Permits Required in Tibet
First of all, foreign tourists need to obtain the Tibet Travel Permit in order to enter Tibet and travel around this holy land. The Tibet Permit can only be applied through a local travel agency on behalf of the tourists. If you are going to visit Mount Everest, you will also need to obtain the Alien’s Travel Permit and Frontier Pass. If your tour in Tibet covers the Ngari region, like Mount Kailash, you will be required to apply for the Alien’s Travel Permit, Foreign affairs permit, and Military Permit as well.
Bearing a heavy burden while travelling on high plateau will be a headache, so the primary consideration is to simplify your photography equipment. If you are only ready for taking some travel commemorative photos, an automatic miniature camera is enough. If the request on photos is a little higher, one can prepare a 135 film camera with 70 to 200 of long focal length, plus a wide-angel lens. For enthusiasts, it is best to have a wide-angle lens as wide as possible on the plateau.
If it is not for high-standard creation purpose, as long as low illumination and temples and indoor scenes are not the shooting subjects, the tripod can be alternative depending on the physical condition and travel itinerary. Besides, the preparation of the camera bag depends on the weight of the equipment. If it is too heavy, it is best to prepare a backpack.
The Best Time to Take Landscape Pictures in Tibet
The best time for landscape photography in Tibet is from April to July and from September to November. During this time, the weather is stable, there is not so much rainfall. If you want to go to a remote area for photography, the road condition will be better. July and August are the rainy seasons of Tibet, and heavy rainfall will sometimes cause debris flow to block to the road.
At the end of September, the weather will get better again and the autumn view of Tibet will be gorgeous. Besides, it is a great time to take the clear peak view of Mount Everest. However, if you travel to Tibet in winter, you can shoot the holy Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, which will present another surprisingly breathtaking view.
More Tips on Landscape Photography in Tibet
1. Take good care of your camera and avoid it overexposure to the sun. Don’t use your camera in the unclean environment especially in the dusty and windy weather.
2. Bring more emergence battery to avoid the decrease of battery life due to the lower temperature in Tibet. Also bring as many films as possible and avoid buying films in local market.
3. It is suggested to bring the tripod and flashing light if you require high-quality photos, especially when you are taking pictures of the natural scene.
4. An ultraviolet filter should be installed before you camera lens, since it has strong ultraviolet rays in Tibet. The ultraviolet filter can also make the distance view much clearer.
5. Your photographic apparatus should be as light as possible, because travelling at high elevation is not an easy thing.
6. Remember to bring some warm clothes in case you will get a cold. The temperature in Tibet is relatively cold during most of the time, and there is huge temperature difference between the day and night.
7. Pay attention to avoid suffering from altitude sickness. It is suggested to stay at a lower elevation for one or two days before ascending to higher mountain areas. Also, you can prepare some medicine preventing high altitude sickness in your backpack, in case of need.
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