Cormorant Fisherman on the Li River, China.
When I first saw a photograph of the karst peaks of Guilin thirty years ago, I couldn't believe a landscape like this really existed. The area remained at the top of my 'life list' of places to see since then. When I finally found the opportunity to visit, I wandered alone on the riverbanks and met a cormorant fisherman who showed me his traditional methods. They fish at night and the lantern attracts fish toward the raft so the cormorant can dive in and catch them. The fishermen tie a loose string around the cormorant's neck so they can't swallow it completely, and the men pull out the fish and store them in a basket. This method of fishing has existed for over a thousand years here. I decided to call the image 'Timeless' in honor of the men and their tradition. It is still possible to find the 'old China' if you know where to look. I met the fisherman during the day when he was cleaning his raft on the banks of the river. Using a Mandarin phrasebook I carried in my pocket, I asked him if he would be out fishing that evening. He said yes, and I asked if I could watch him from the shore and photograph him. He agreed and seemed genuinely interested in my camera. He understood what I wanted to do and stayed fairly still on the raft as the best sunset of my trip unfolded around us. I used a fill flash to keep the wing detail in the black Cormorant. Suddenly it spread it's wing wide open. And then the most amazing part happened. It held it's wings open and still like that for about 2 seconds. It was getting pretty dark and my shutter speed was slow at 1/30 second. That single moment, with the cormorant holding it's wings out still like that was the key to the entire image. The cormorant was perfectly sharp in the dim twilight during the best sunset of my entire trip.