'A Rapid Boat', c 1871.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of a small boat working through rapids on the River Min below Nanping, China, taken by John Thomson, published in 1873 in the book 'Foochow and the River Min'. The Min provided an important trade route south from Nanping, or Yanping, to the port of Foochow (Fuzhou), despite the dangerous rapids along its length. Small boats like this carried goods through the rapids. Timber, agricultural produce and tea were shipped downriver for export. The water looks smooth and glassy because of the lengthy exposure time needed to take the photograph. Thomson travelled extensively in Fujian province, formerly Fukien, south east China, from late 1870 to early 1871. He was one of the most significant travel photographer-explorers of the 19th century.