Across China: Shutterbugs portray ancient Great Wall through camera lens-Xinhua

Across China: Shutterbugs portray ancient Great Wall through camera lens

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-12-13 16:36:46

This photo taken on Dec. 15, 2022 shows Lu Youtan taking pictures of a section of the Great Wall in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Xinhua)

YINCHUAN, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Travel enthusiast, photographer and owner of a network technology company -- Lu Youtan wears many hats, but his most famous role is being a documenter of the ancient Great Wall, a symbol of China.

Over the past decade, Lu has left footprints across the remains of the Great Wall in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

"In winter, I often leave before dawn to photograph the Great Wall and hike 5 or 6 km in the snow. Once I accidentally walked to the edge of a cliff in the darkness, which is still scary for me to reflect on," the 56-year-old said.

However, he refuses to let these challenges deter him, capturing the Great Wall's magnificence with nearly 100,000 pictures.

The Great Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of many interconnected walls. Regarded as the largest and greatest fortification system in China's history, the Great Wall was built across the country during different dynasties to protect its territory and resist invasion from various nomadic groups.

Few people realize that, in addition to the famous Great Wall in Beijing, Ningxia has 1,038 km of the Great Wall remaining and is known as the "museum of the Great Wall."

Lu is a native of Ningxia's Shizuishan City. As an avid photographer and travel enthusiast, he carries a camera with him everywhere to capture the beautiful views along the road.

It was not until 2013 that he turned his camera lens at the Great Wall.

Growing up beside the Great Wall, he has always had a deep connection with it. As a child, he would often overlook the entire neighborhood from the nearby beacon tower.

"At that time, I didn't even know that the mounds in our vicinity were ruins of the Great Wall," he said. After going through books and learning more about it, he came to realize that his hometown Ningxia is a treasure-house of ancient Great Wall remains.

For Lu, the Ningxia section of the Great Wall has its unique characteristics.

"As the brainchild of our ancestors, the loess-made walls, beacon towers, trenches and passes are practical in use and magnificent to observe," he said.

To capture it, he would often tramp over mountains and through ravines to find the best shooting spot for a perfect picture.

Lu is not alone. Over the past 10 years, more shutterbugs in Ningxia have joined his odyssey of photographing the Great Wall. Instead of photographing alone, he now moves in groups.

"Carrying heavy equipment and camping luggage, we often visit the same section of the Great Wall over and over again and just can't take enough pictures of it," Lu said.

Additionally, he joined the local volunteer team three years ago, informing tourists and villagers of the significance of protecting the Great Wall.

"The Great Wall is an important cultural heritage of the Chinese nation. Besides documenting it with the camera, it's also our responsibility to protect it," he said.

The Great Wall has been given a new lease of life as Ningxia ramped up efforts to protect its remains.

"The vegetation on both sides of the Great Wall has become lusher, with more wild animals such as hares and pheasants being spotted," said Qi Xuebin, another Ningxia photographer who has been photographing the Great Wall for 20 years.

"The beauty of the Great Wall changes with each passing moment, and its magnificence varies in different seasons and weather. Taking pictures of the Great Wall is a meaningful thing," Qi added.

On Dec. 8, China's National Cultural Heritage Administration issued a circular pledging to step up conservation of the Great Wall.

According to the circular, cultural heritage protection departments across the country have been advised to carry out proper surveys on the conditions of the existing sections of the Great Wall, while adopting effective measures to ensure their structural safety and protect their historical features.

When he started photographing, Lu, like most shutterbugs, was ambitious about traveling across the country and taking pictures of every section of the Great Wall.

However, the words of a master photographer inspired him -- "You can never take enough pictures of the Great Wall. If you are really into it, you need to focus on one section of it and make it stand out."

"Today I just want to focus on the ancient Great Wall in my hometown Ningxia and let its beauty be seen by more people," said Lu.

This photo taken by Lu Youtan on Sept. 23, 2020 shows a section of ancient Great Wall. (Xinhua)

This photo taken by Lu Youtan on Jan. 15, 2022 shows a section of ancient Great Wall covered with snow. (Xinhua)

This photo taken by Lu Youtan on March 25, 2023 shows a section of ancient Great Wall with the Milky Way in the background. (Xinhua)