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Square-framed Hat Yaos

November 3

Set off after breakfast for 3-hour drive to Jingling and Baiwen villages, to see Bingban Yao, Yao who wear square-framed hats, as Nevada calls them. 58 households and 270 people in the Baiwen village. According to Lee, there are only three Yao villages like this one in China.

Nevada talks about technical issues in photography. For most of the group, this is familiar territory, but not so for me. Talk about white balance and bracketing, for example. As with much of what’s being talked about on the trip, some stuff seeps in and some doesn’t. I’m okay with that, though, as seeping is sorta my aim for this trip.

Hiked up to the village, where we spent the next 3 1/2 hours, primarily photographing young girls getting into and wearing their colorful and distinctive local costumes. This is not a festival, so they are doing it for us and, I’m sure, will be compensated in some way.

Though, in principle, this is not very different from what we did yesterday, which I did not care for, I have a much different reaction. Part of it is that it all unfolds more slowly, and does not involve them having to first get out of costume and then get dressed again, which felt very uncomfortable as an observer. Here there are others around, mothers who help their daughters get dressed and other villagers, who we can photograph.

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The other reason this feels different is that again we are broken into two groups, but this time I am in Nevada’s group. Watching her interact with the people and seeing how she approaches and photographs the happening is incredibly interesting and productive and leads me to get some images that I never would otherwise have. Many of these have to do with the positions she takes and the angles of the photographs, which turn routine photographs into much more interesting images. I’m including quite a few, both because they are quite colorful and to demonstrate what I mean by the angles.

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After they dress, we are able to take close ups of the girls, as well as photos of them walking down the road towards us. Again I try the type of panning shots I took a couple days ago, and again, they are not quite successful.

We stop at a favorite funky restaurant of Nevada’s, but, because of the lateness of the hour (4PM), we have only beer and snacks from the bus. We set out for the hour and a quarter drive for the hotel. On the bus, I show Nevada a half dozen or so images from yesterday that I think have some merit. As she agrees, I am feeling that I can at least recognize a good image when is see it.

We arrive at the hotel at 6:15 to find candles in the lobby. The electricity is out. I elect not to walk up to my room on the sixth floor, but instead download images taken today to my iPad. At seven, electricity still out, we bus to a restaurant for quite a good meal. As usual, the ten of us, plus Nevada, sit at a large round table. The extensive dinner that has been ordered for us is served and passed on the rotating circular platter on the table. A goodly amount of wine and beer s consumed.

We return to the hotel much earlier than usual, time to finish this blog and review the photos. The laundry has not come ack yet, but presumably it will before we leave tomorrow morning.

3 comments to Square-framed Hat Yaos

  • Wendy

    The angles are great, but it’s the white balance and bracketing that really impress me here.
    Great that you’re learning so much and able to practice it as you go!
    L,
    W.

  • Wendy

    P.S. I just noticed their tennis shoes! Love the full traditional costume and tennis shoes!

  • fred gordon

    Arnie,
    bring back a couple of those colorful costumes for you&Carol! they will liven up your dinner parties!

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