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Dunhuang Yardang


I first saw this amazing landscape in the movie Hero.” If you haven’t seen it, it has some of the most beautiful cinematography of any movie ever made, and landscapes and nature are a big part of it. For another scene, rumors are they waited a month for a lake to be still enough to do wire sword fights over it while it perfectly reflects the surrounding mountains. It took me about 15 years of research to finally find Dunhuang Yardang and go there. These amazing eroded features are unique in the world. You will first have to fly to the city of Dunhuang, near the Chinese portion of the Gobi Desert and then take a pretty bad road about 100 miles out to the site. At the pace China is improving its infrastructure, that road is probably now a faster, better road and there may be overnight accommodation at the park—which you definitely want to avail yourself of.  Though unique and stunningly beautiful, the park is a difficult place to shoot. Very few roads get you anywhere near the formations and you are not allowed to wander freely in the park. You can only travel by expensive taxi or a bus. Make sure you get the bus that is staying out in the park until sunset. This only makes sense, as hordes of visitors (not yet) would quickly ruin the place. Using a long lens is the best way to shoot the place, and make sure you go in fall for good temperatures and minimal wind. Probably the very best way to shoot this park is with a drone, and the Chinese seem to have no rules regarding their use (at least when I was there).


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