Hokkaido Winter Landscape Tour 2020 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 693)

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Tour 2020 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 693)


Visit Library for MBP Pro eBooks

Having just completed this year’s Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Tour, today I’m going to start a three or four-part travelogue series to walk you through our antics as we made our way around the beautiful northern-most island of Japan for twelve days.

I’m always a little nervous as we start this tour, because the success of at least the first location, Biei, depends on us getting some falling snow while we are there. I plan for three days in this area partly to give us a better chance of getting that, but also because there are lots of things to shoot. In the past, we’ve gotten to the last few hours of daylight on day three before it snowed, and that was nerve-racking.

Biei

On this visit, it started snowing as we arrived in the area on day one, which is a huge relief and takes the pressure off for these first few days, but of course, we had to get out and do our photography before that became a given. We started with the trees behind the Takushinkan gallery, as usual. You wouldn’t know it from this shot, but without the falling snow, there is a brow of the hill just above the top of the trees behind them, and I love it when that is erased by the snow.

Takushinkan Trees
Takushinkan Trees

Even as the snow stops and the sky lightens I get completely put-off by this scene, and others in this area. The snow minimalizes everything and helps to create the look that I think suits this area so well.

Here’s another example, where the falling snow renders the scene in a beautiful minimalist style. I love how you can barely see the top of the hill against the very slightly darker sky here. I also love to see the faint shadow below the tree, and then how the patches of grasses punctuate the hillside.

Tree and Grasses
Tree and Grasses

This is really what this area is all about to me, and I love sharing these scenes with the guests on this tour. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I now have a piece of software on the Website that includes the EXIF shooting data with the image in the lightbox that is displayed when you click on the images, so if you want to check my settings for any of the shots, just click or tap on them to view the lightbox.

In stark contrast, as we walked along the hills in Biei, the late afternoon sun broken through the clouds to the right of this next scene, illuminating the foreground snow, outlining it’s texture while leaving the sky dark, which I enhanced a little in Capture One Pro to exaggerate the difference between the sky and the snow.

Hut and Tree on Hill
Hut and Tree on Hill

I do like this as well and think that I’ve kept a relatively minimalist feel to the image by not zooming in on the hut and the tree as much as I could have. Leaving them small in the scene helps to keep it simple, and also feels more effective when viewed as a large print, kind of as a reward for walking up close to the print.

The following image is another that you’ve seen before from previous years, but I can’t resist doing this. Again, it kind of requires you to look at a higher resolution version, but when you look closely at the line of trees in this image you can see that the falling snow has made the trees look like a pencil sketch, which once again, I find really appealing. I like to aim for a shutter speed of between a 1/40 and a 1/20 of a second to create this look.

Line of Trees Sketch
Line of Trees Sketch

Something that often comes up as I work with the group here is how I decide where to place the line of trees in the frame. My usual way of thinking about this is, if the subject is physically higher than I am, as in, I’m looking up at it, I tend, more often than not, to place that subject near to the top of the frame. If I place it anywhere else, you lose the feeling of it being higher, and I think that is important. Also, I ask what the better of the possibilities, a white field of snow, or a blank white sky. I personally prefer the snow, but that’s mostly in a symbolic sense. As far as the photo is concerned there really isn’t much difference.

The next photo from day two was a bit of a bonus. There wasn’t as much snow in Hokkaido, as usual, this year, and that has probably left more food in the hills for the crows, so this was the first time I’d seen what I conceitedly call Martin’s Tree with a murder of crows perched in it.

Ravens in Martin's Tree
Ravens in Martin’s Tree

I left my shutter speed slow as some of the crows took flight, to add a little dynamism to the shot, and feel that the blurred crows add a slightly stronger Hitchcock feel to the scene. The texture in the sky for this shot also adds to that feeling, so I am pretty happy with this.

Another thing that I’ve not really seen at this spot in all of the years I’ve been traveling there, is the shadow of the tree on the snow, as we can see in this next image.

The Shadow of Martin's Tree
The Shadow of Martin’s Tree

This was somewhat difficult to process, as I exposed for the highlights in the sky in the top right corner, leaving the foreground snow very dark. I did most of the work in three layers, one to bring out the detail and texture in the sky, a second to lighten that central bank of snow, as that was almost black, and then a third over the foreground snow. That third layer, covering most of the bottom of the frame has a tone-curve on it that snakes back and forth across the center line to create almost white snow while enhancing the shadow.

On our third day in the Biei area, we drove around to Mount Asahi to photograph the scenes either side of the ski slope there. On the way, we stopped to photograph the pillows of snow forming on top of the rocks in the river, that you can see here.

Snow Pillows
Snow Pillows

I usually shoot this with a much longer focal length, but I stayed pretty wide at 120 mm for this shot, as the individual pillows didn’t do much for me this year. They were small and not really well-formed, so I decided to portray the larger scene instead.

I took my new Rolleiflex TLR camera on this trip and shot a total of six rolls of 120 format film, and here is the first one I want to share with you, of the trees at the side of the ski slope.

Mount Asahi Trees (Rollei)
Mount Asahi Trees (Rollei)

I’d prefer to work a little more on this, as I’m still trying to get better results from the scanner software that people recommended in the comments on my recent post about scanning medium format film. The software is called SilverFast SE and although I can see the benefits of using it, the image quality that I’m currently getting isn’t as good as what I get with the native scanner drivers, so I’m trying to get some advice from their support team, and if that doesn’t help, I will probably rescan my film with the original Canon software.

The blue Shirahige waterfall behind our hotel was pretty much unchanged, but I thought I’d share a shot, to complete the documentation of the trip.

Shirahige Falls
Shirahige Falls

This is from the start of day four, as we walked around from the hotel before starting our drive to the next location.

I couldn’t resist stopping our bus as we drove out of town though when we were presented with this morning mist against the pastel dawn sky.

Dawn Mist in Biei
Dawn Mist in Biei

I originally converted this to black and white, which I liked, but these colors kept calling back out to me from the Apple Photos app, as I’d loaded both versions so that I could live with them for a while to help me make up my mind. I found myself preferring this, so I’ve now deleted the black and white version.

We’ll wrap it up there for today, as that takes us to our ten photo limit that I try to stick to. If you would like to join this tour, I have switched to running this twice a season from 2021 so we do have a few places left on each tour. Check out the tour page here: https://mbp.ac/hlpa

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure 2021
Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure 2021

You can see details of future available tours on our Tours and Workshops page.


Show Notes

View all available Tours and Workshops here.

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes to get Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

Visit this page for help on how to view the images in MP3 files.


Hokkaido Landscape Tour 2019 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 647)

Hokkaido Landscape Tour 2019 Travelogue 1 (Podcast 647)

Just back from my 2019 Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure Tour & Workshop, today we start a three-part travelogue series with a total of 30 images over the next three weeks to illustrate our adventure.

[download id=”55600″]

As usual, we kicked off this year’s tour in the picturesque Biei area, with its beautifully situated trees that decorate the rolling snow-covered hills. It’s often hard to understand without seeing the difference, but the grey sky that you see in this first image from Biei is what really makes these images possible.

Lone Tree with Grasses
Lone Tree with Grasses

In the sun, the contrast is too great, and we get harsh shadows under the trees and from the grasses, and it is, in my opinion, much less pretty then. I love the almost complete lack of shadows from the grasses, and the very subtle, soft shadow that we get under the trees.

Most years, we actually have so much snow that the grasses don’t show through like this, but with relatively little snow this year, many were poking through, and they made for nice additional elements to punctuate the scenes that we shot.

I shot this image at f/14 for a 1/25 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 67mm with the new Canon RF 24-105mm f/4 lens.

Canon EOS R

Apart from a few test shots, I shot this entire trip with the new Canon EOS R mirrorless camera, and I have to tell you, that at this point, I’m very happy with it. I’m going to do a full review later after I’ve seen how well it handles fast-paced wildlife shooting, but for Landscape, it was an absolute pleasure to work with.

There were a few problems, like not being able to see the border around the histogram on the LCD in bright conditions, but nothing that I would consider really major, and the image quality is absolutely stunning.

Hut and Tree

We travel in a large bus so that everyone has a double seat to themselves, and at this location, shortly after photographing the tree in the previous image, I had our driver drop us off along a road in the hills, from where we just walked in short bursts while photographing the various things that we can see from the road, such as this hut with a small tree.

Hut and Tree
Hut and Tree

I love the mound of snow that the hut is perched on, and again the grasses that are poking through the snow. I also find the footprints that run diagonally through the snow from right to left appealing, and again, the subtle difference between the snow and the grey sky is something that I love to shoot.

I’m doing all of my processing in Capture One Pro, including flicking on the Black and White checkbox to completely remove the color, but there really isn’t a lot of difference. The original scene had hardly any color in it anyway. My settings for this were f/11 for a 1/30 of a second at ISO 100, at 255mm with my EF 100-400mm Mark II lens.

Copse and Hills

The minimalism of this next shot really appeals to me as well, with the copse of trees on the left, and the incredibly faint line between the hill that extends up from the copse, against the taller hill in the background. And again, that beautiful grey sky.

Copse with Rolling Hills
Copse with Rolling Hills

I actually adjusted the mid-tones with the Levels sliders in Capture One Pro to darken the sky down a shade or two to accentuate the curve of that middle distant hill, as it extends left behind the trees. My settings for this image were f/14 for a 1/50 of a second at ISO 100, at 74mm, again with the new RF 24-105mm lens.

Patchwork Snow

Having less snow than usual presented us with an unexpected gift as the snow started to fall and we headed behind the Takushinkan Gallery to photograph the line of trees there. Apparently they grow lavender there in the summer, and run a mechanical cultivator between the lavender forming these squares, then the snow fell, and created a beautiful patchwork of snow.

Trees and Patchwork Snow
Trees and Patchwork Snow

You might also be able to make out the flakes of snow more visible in the sky than the foreground, but it was falling quite heavily when I shot this, so I was doing my trick of blowing the snow from the front of the lens in the cover of a cloth, then holding the cloth over the lens while starting my two second timer, then whipping it away at the last moment to make my exposure. Without doing this the snow driving straight at us just sticks straight onto the lens and ruins the shot.

My settings here were f/11 for a 1/20 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 22mm with my 11-24mm f/4 lens. I like to use a long shutter speed for this kind of shot to cause the snow to streak a little bit as it crosses the front of the trees.

Snow Pillows

On our third day in Biei, we drive around to the ski slopes at Mount Asahi, where I used to enjoy photographing the pillows of snow that form on the rocks in the river before we start to drive up the mountain. For the last few years, they’ve been building a new bridge and the conditions haven’t been great, but this year, the bridge is finished, and we had some lovely snow pillows again, as you can see in this next image.

Snow Pillows
Snow Pillows
Snow Pillows Luma Tone Curve
Snow Pillows Luma Tone Curve

I’ve chosen a landscape oriented image as it works better for the blog, and I like how we can see the pillows of snow extended up the banks where the snow has completely covered the river.

Because I always expose to the right, which is especially important when photographing snow scenes, the snow requires a Luma tone curve with a small dip in the slightly darker snow to bring out the very subtle tonal differences. The selected node in this tone curve screen capture is the one responsible for this adjustment.

My settings for this image were f/14 for a 1/4 of a second at ISO 125, at 105mm. The ISO of 125 was accidental. The new RF lenses from Canon have a control ring on them that I have programmed so that I can turn it to change my ISO, but I must have caught it as I adjusted the lens, and didn’t notice until after I’d shot these images.

Mount Asahi Big and Small Trees

After photographing the Snow Pillows, we headed up the mountain and parked in the cable car station car park, then walked a little way up the ski slope to photograph the trees in the snow there. This is another one of my favorite spots from this trip, although it can be tricky to compose as it’s difficult to decide where to start and where to end your frame.

Mount Asahi Big and Small Trees
Mount Asahi Big and Small Trees

One of my favorite trees is this one with the dark bark, which provides a beautiful contrast against the snow piled up on its branches, and there is a smaller tree now growing next to it. I positioned myself so as to get the Christmas trees in the background nicely framing the foreground dark tree, and left just a little more space either side of these. I shot this at f/14 for a 1/30 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 47mm.

I have another composition that I like to shoot here, but I’ve shared that many times, and on this trip, I actually shot that composition with both the EOS R and my 5Ds R so that I could do a print comparison later.

Sneak Preview

In fact, as a bit of a sneak preview, here is a screenshot of both the 5Ds R and the EOS R versions of the same photograph, both zoomed in to 100% so that you can see the difference between the two camera’s image quality. The 5Ds R shot is on the top and the EOS R shot is on the bottom.

Canon EOS 5Ds R (Top) Compared with EOS R (Bottom)
Canon EOS 5Ds R (Top) Compared with EOS R (Bottom)

The 5Ds R is obviously zoomed in more because it’s a 50-megapixel file compared to the 30 megapixels of the EOS R, but I think you’ll still agree that the EOS R with the new RF 24-105mm lens has the edge. It’s slightly sharper with more defined edges. You might need to click on the image and open it up in the lightbox to view the details.

Enchanted Forest

This next photograph seems like a scene from Narnia to me, almost like an Enchanted Forest. There is a stream that runs through the trees here, but it’s almost completely covered in snow, forming this zigzag of huge snow pillows.

Mount Asahi Enchanted Forest
Mount Asahi Enchanted Forest

Again, I’m attracted to the darker trees and how they contrast with the snow, but also here the lighter birch trees add a subtle extra element of contrast. My settings for this were f/14 for a 1/30 of a second with ISO 100 and a focal length of 70mm.

New Opportunities

As I mentioned, there was less snow in the lower hills around the Biei area, and although this can be trickier to work with, as usual, it presented us with some new opportunities, as in this photograph, where the lines of grasses and smaller trees that are usually buried, are forming lines, working their way through the snow.

Gunpowder Trail
Gunpowder Trail

For some reason, in this shot, they remind me of a trail of gunpowder, as though someone is plotting to blow up the foreground tree and has run a trail of gunpowder into the distance. There are also plow lines in the foreground snow, again, something that we would not usually be able to see.

I was shooting with an aperture of f/14, a 1/15 of a second exposure at ISO 100, and a focal length of 50mm. With such a slow shutter speed, you can probably appreciate how little the light was letting through the snow clouds, despite it still only being mid-afternoon.

Copse in Hills

This next image is a take on a subject that I haven’t photographed for a while. When the snow comes in, it completely obscures the distant mountains that are usually visible behind this copse in the hills of Biei, completely minimalizing the scene.

Biei Copse in Hills
Biei Copse in Hills

I’ve used the Levels sliders to bring out the tones a little and darken down the trees adding contrast to the image, and I really like how we can again see the plow lines under the snow. My settings for this image were f/14 for a 1/4 of a second at ISO 100, with the lens zoomed all the way in to 105mm.

Embarrassing Moment

I actually had a slight embarrassing moment with the EOS R as I shot this scene. The EOS R doesn’t autofocus great in heavy snow, so I’d switched it to Manual focus, to do a short video of this copse in the falling snow. When I went back to shooting stills I left the lens in Manual focus mode, and tweaked the focus manually, and when I did, looking through the electronic viewfinder, I thought that the warm light of a sunset was somehow shining through the trees.

I had to laugh at myself though when I realized that I’d just found out that the EOS R has focus peaking, where things in focus are outlined in red, but this only kicks in when using Manual focus, so I’d not seen it before. It’s a very useful feature, but it’s somewhat embarrassing to have thought I was seeing the warm glow of a sunset in the middle of a snowstorm.

Shirahige Falls

Behind the hotel that we stay in during our three days in Biei, there’s a waterfall called the Shirahige Falls. The water that flows through the falls and river below has a slight blue tint due, I believe, to the mineral content, so it adds a nice splash of color to this magical winter scene. I’ve enhanced the blue slightly here to increase the color contrast.

Shirahige Falls
Shirahige Falls

This is actually the first time in many years that I’ve shot these falls in their entirety. I usually zoom in much tighter, but the huge icicles to the right of the falls were appealing, and I also liked the trees framing the falls here, so I opened up the lens to 24mm for this image. My other settings were f/14, for 0.4 seconds at ISO 160.

This time I’d moved my ISO on purpose, to avoid having too long a shutter speed, which records more movement in the mist from the water, and that reduces the clarity of the falls.

OK, so that’s our ten photos for this first travelogue episode, and I slipped in a few bonus screenshots, so we’ll wrap it up there for this week. I’ll be back next week with the second part of this series, as we leave Biei and head over to the west coast of Hokkaido.


Show Notes

Buying with our B&H Photo Affiliate links helps to support the podcast at no additional expense to you. Thank you!

Canon EOS R: https://mbp.ac/eosr

Canon RF 24-105mm Lens: https://mbp.ac/rf24-105

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes to get Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

Visit this page for help on how to view the images in MP3 files.


Hokkaido Winter Landscape Adventure 2018 Travelogue #1 (Podcast 604)

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Adventure 2018 Travelogue #1 (Podcast 604)

Just back from the 2018 Hokkaido Winter Landscape Adventure tour and workshop, today I’m going to start a travelogue series to walk you through our antics as we pretty much circumnavigated the beautiful northern island of Japan.

Having met the group over dinner on the Sunday night of January 7, we gathered bright and early the following morning to board our flight to Hokkaido, where we’d spend our first three days in the Biei area. This is a part of Hokkaido that I’ve been traveling to for 15 years now, and I absolutely love this area for minimalist Winter photography.

Our first stop was to photograph a tree that I quite conceitedly called Martin’s tree. Many of the trees in the Biei area have names, often because of a commercial in which they featured, or just based on their appearance, like the Parent and Child trees not far from my tree, but my tree doesn’t have a name, so I gave it mine.

As you can see in the first photograph of this travelogue series (below) it’s a birch tree, situated on top of a hill, surrounded by small trees and bushes that are gradually overtaking the line of the hill. 

Martin's Tree in Biei

Martin’s Tree in Biei

It was nice and cloudy for much of this first day, although it didn’t snow. My tree generally looks fine without falling snow, but many of the other locations we visit in Biei depend on falling snow, so I always get a bit nervous on the first few days hoping to get the right weather.

I shot this first image at 85mm with my 24-105mm f/4 lens, with the aperture set to f/14, and ISO at 100, for a 1/50 of a second shutter speed. Back in my favorite snowy environment, I shot in Manual mode as usual, and just adjusted my exposure until the white’s were all the way over to the right side of the histogram, to ensure that the white snow was white and not too gray, as the camera would have it if left to its own devices.

As the day progressed, the sky cleared and was almost completely blue at some points, which made me even more nervous. We continued shooting and got some shots that I am happy with, although I knew it would be much more special with falling snow, so I kept my fingers crossed. Here’s another shot from the first day, when we stopped at a place I like, where the plow lines in the soil often show through the snow. This is one spot that works when there is some sunlight, as it helps to accentuate the troughs made by the plow lines.

Tree on Ploughed Hill

Tree on Ploughed Hill

Some members of this year’s group asked me why I often place the tree in the top of the frame, with lots of snow instead of more sky, and the answer is really quite simple. If I’m looking up at a tree on a hill, I want it to look like it’s on a hill in my photograph. If you place the horizon closer to the bottom of the frame, it’s harder to tell that the tree is on a hill. Of course, if there is a great sky, I’ll consider including more of it, but as you’ll see, a snow-covered hill is generally more important to me than a relatively uninteresting sky. I shot this image at f/14 for a 1/30 of a second at ISO 100, with a focal length of 56mm.

The last image from the first day that I want to share is this very simple photograph of a line of deer footprints in the snow (below). I find the simplicity of this shot quite appealing, although I’m sure it’s not for everyone. I also like the fact that you can’t easily see that the prints actually make their way into the frame from the right edge until you study the image a little more closely.

Deer Footprints

Deer Footprints

Again, there’s lots of hill here, but this time because the snow contains the main subject, and we do need to see that these prints are going uphill as well, so this composition makes sense to me. I shot this at f/16 for a 1/4 of a second at ISO 100 and a focal length of 100mm. This was actually the wide end of my 100-400mm lens, which I use for landscape quite a lot on this tour.

The following morning, on day two of the tour, I got my wish as we started the day with a beautiful shoot in the snow around the Takushinkan Gallery. This is pretty much my standard photo (below) of the line of trees behind the gallery, which I can’t resist shooting each year.  

Takushinkan Trees

Takushinkan Trees

Three Birch Trees in Snow

Three Birch Trees in Snow

The snow completely cleans this scene up. The top of the hill behind the trees disappears, as do the distant mountains and trees, which you can just about see to the right of the right-most tree in this image. I shot this at f/14 at 22mm with my 11-24mm lens for a 1/13 of a second at ISO 100.

Right next to the line of trees are three silver birch trees that stand proud looking somewhat austere in their wintery surroundings, as we can see in this next image (right).

Here the line of the top of the hill behind the trees is still visible, with the somewhat brighter sky above it to add a bit of contrast. There were some human footprints in the snow in front of these trees that I cloned out in Capture One Pro, but I left the animal footprints behind the trees, as I often don’t mind seeing these if they are non-human.

You can probably make out the streaks of snow above the trees in this shot as well, showing that the snow was actually still falling quite heavily.

I think the reason that the top of the hill is more visible in this shot is because I’m closer to the trees. The more distance I put between me and the trees, as with the previous image, the more the snow is able to white-out the background.

This image was shot at f/14 for 1/15 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 31mm.

The next image has become a standard that I simply have to shoot when the snow starts to fall in Biei, but again, I can’t resist this shot (below). 

Pencil Drawing Trees

Pencil Drawing Trees

This image works for me because it looks like a pencil drawing, with the streaks of snow caused by the 1/15 of a second shutter speed at f/16. I was at ISO 100, but as the snow gets heavy, the light is this low without using an ND filter or anything else to reduce the light. I also really like the way the brow of the hill to the left of the trees is only visible for a little way, then completely merges into the sky from around the middle of the photograph. 

This is actually the same hill that had the deer footprints in that we looked in an earlier photograph, but the snow had completely covered them by the time we got back there on our second day.

In this next image too, I really like the beautiful subtle line in the snow and a slightly brighter patch of snow behind the tree adding an accent (below). I zoomed in on the tree a little more for this shot, and that also helps us to see the snow streaking across the black bark of the tree trunks.

Tree on Snow Covered Hill

Tree on Snow Covered Hill

I also like the bamboo grass and few additional stick poking out of the snow to the right of the tree in this shot. These things just add a touch more interest to otherwise very minimalist work. I shot this at f/14 for a 1/25 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 371mm.

The next photo is slightly different to my other work from this area, in that it’s not quite a beautiful tree, rather a scrappy mess of twigs, but I was really attracted to this form (below). Initially, it kind of looked like a cartoon character, with that top right twig almost like the head of a raggedy bird.

Jiminy Cricket Climbing a Twig

Jiminy Cricket Climbing a Twig

Then, after getting home and looking at this photo on a larger screen, initially my 56-inch 4K television, my wife and I noticed what looks like a little man, perhaps even a Jiminy Cricket type of character climbing the top right twig that I was originally seeing as a bird’s head and beak. You might not be able to see this in the web version, but I thought it was a fun little “Easter egg” to find in the details of the photo. This was shot at f/16 for a 1/25 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 158mm.

Trying unsuccessfully to keep the number of shots from Biei to a minimum, this next image (below) is the same tree from the second shot we looked at today, but again, the troughs from the plow lines were pretty much hidden on this second day. Another reason that I love it when it snows is because the sky is generally either the same tone or darker than the snow, so the snow is allowed to stay white, as it feels most natural. When the sky is brighter the snow gets greyer, which I don’t really like.

Tree with Grasses

Tree with Grasses

Other things that I love about this scene are the subtle shadow under the tree, and the grasses poking their way out of the deep snow. These add a lovely accent and really help to complete the photograph, in my opinion. I shot this at f/14, for a 1/50 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 76mm.

I couldn’t resist the light hitting the four trees in this next image (below) as we drove through Biei, so we stopped at a place that we don’t normally stop at, and I’m pleased we did. It’s nice to add new location possibilities to a trip, and I’m sure we’ll stop here again.

Five Trees

Five Trees

Some of the scenes we shoot are somewhat deceiving as you can’t see what’s outside the frame. Here, to the left of this scene, there is actually a thicker line of trees and a fence, and if I recall a bit of a ditch running down towards the foreground. Although that will work for some people, personally I prefer the simplicity of this composition, shot at 214mm with an aperture of f/11 a 1/320 of a second exposure. I had increased the ISO to 400 for that faster shutter speed, as it was blowing a gale and there actually a bit of rain in the wind that hit the front element of my lens very very quickly if my exposures were too long.

Just as we’d all gotten back on the bus after shooting the previous scene, the cloud started to break, revealing an amazing stormy cloud sky, so we filed back off the bus and spent another fifteen minutes or so photograph the new scene, as you can see here (below).

Five Trees Five Shadows

Five Trees Five Shadows

With the sky being so bright in places, the trees were forced into almost silhouette for this shot, but I love the strongly defined shadows that they cast. I’m a huge fan of the previous type of image with much more subtle tones, but this is a nice addition to my Hokkaido Winter Landscape portfolio in my opinion. Because I had exposed for the sky, I actually had to brighten up the foreground snow quite a bit with an Adjustment layer in Capture One Pro.

Because the scene was so much brighter, I dropped my ISO back down to 100 for this shot, as that still gave me a shutter speed of 1/400 at f/14, and my focal length was slightly wider at 170mm.

OK, so that was actually eleven images for this episode, one more than usual, but I wanted to show the comparison between the last two images. We’ll pick up the trail in part two with a visit to the blue falls near our hotel on the morning of day three, before we head around to Mount Asahi for some beautiful scenes from the ski slopes, and then we’ll head over to the coast to continue our journey around the island of Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure 2020

If you think you might like to join this tour in the future, either let us know that you’d like to be added to the 2019 cancellation list, or secure a spot on the 2020 tour with special guests Nicole S. Young and Brian Matiash, who will be around to offer advice in addition to me, and will be doing a number of workshop sessions during the course of the tour. For details see our tour page at https://mbp.ac/hlpa

HLPA 2020


Show Notes

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure 2020: https://mbp.ac/hlpa

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.


Hokkaido Winter Landscape Tour 2017 Travelogue #1 Biei (Podcast 557)

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Tour 2017 Travelogue #1 Biei (Podcast 557)

Having just completed my Hokkaido Winter Photography Adventure tour for 2017, and having whittled down my final selection of images, today we start a four part travelogue series to walk you through the locations we visited, illustrated with twelve photographs.

Having met and had dinner with the group on the Sunday night, we got up bright and early on the first Monday morning to fly from Tokyo to Hokkaido. We spend the first three days of this tour in Biei, a beautiful inland area of Hokkaido, that I’ve been visiting for more than ten years now.

All About the Weather

This tour is all about minimalist winter landscapes, and therefore depends on not only a good covering of snow, but often falling snow to complete the scenes for us. There has been no shortage of snow in Hokkaido this year, although high winds have caused it to blow off the hills making the vegetation show through in some areas. The hills in Biei were mostly covered with snow though, which is a great start.

To kick off the tour we initially headed over to a tree that officially has no name, unlike many of trees in Biei, but I affectionately and selfishly call this Martin’s Tree (below). The small bushes and vegetation around my tree are getting a little tall, and don’t make for as beautiful a photo as it has in the past, but I still love to visit this tree first, almost like paying respect at the start of our tour each year.

Biei Tree 2017

Biei Tree 2017

The snow wasn’t falling as we photographed this tree on the first visit, but the following day, when we returned, the snow fell quite heavily for a few spells, as we’ll see, but to keep the number of images that we look at down, I’ll only share this one of my tree. I shot this at f/14 for a 1/60 of a second, ISO 100. Just in case you didn’t know, you can click on the images to view them larger, and if you want to stop them from auto-progressing, just place your mouse over the image.

After lunch, we drove over to Hanazono where I’d hope we could photograph the lone tree on the hill with a fence that I used in as the main marketing image for this year’s tour, but unfortunately it wasn’t there. There was a very strong typhoon in Hokkaido last year, and we saw a number of trees that had been blown down, so I imagine that was the fate of the Hanazono tree as well.

As we drove down the hill to that tree though, we saw the tree in the next photograph through an opening, so we drove back to this. It’s sad that the original tree is no more, but nice to have found another tree close by. As you can see in this photo (below) the snow was being whipped up a little, forming a small snow devil to the right of the tree, and I feel that adds to the sense of harshness while maintaining the minimalist appeal of this image, for me at least.

Tree with Little Snow Devil

Tree with Little Snow Devil

I’m really attracted to this kind of scene, with the highly graphic elements of the tree with just its white hill of snow and a simple gray sky. I have converted this to black and white in Capture One Pro, but the scene without this is already close to a black and white. I shot this at f/14, with a shutter speed of 1/20 of a second at ISO 100, so you can tell that there wasn’t really a lot of available light for a shot in the middle of the afternoon.

Hoping for some snow fall, we headed over to Takushinkan, the gallery and museum of Shinzo Maeda, the gentleman that put Biei on the map photographically, and as with last year, we had our bus driver drop us off a few kilometers away and walked back photographing the beautiful hills and trees. Towards the end of the walk there are a few copses on the slopes that I also love to shoot.

Although it wasn’t snowing, it was totally cloudy and gray, which is necessary to block the view of the distant mountains behind this copse (below). I know this might sound strange, but if you share my appreciation for minimalist work, you’ll hopefully understand that when you can see all the scenery behind this copse, there simply isn’t a photo here.

Copse on Hill

Copse on Hill

In this form, we are able to appreciate the line of trees, dissected by the foreground hill close to their base. The slightly darker gray sky makes a beautiful background in my opinion. I shot this at f/14 with a 0.2 second exposure, at ISO 100, so again, you can appreciate how little light there was under that heavy sky. It must have been full of snow, just waiting to fall, but it was also at this point close to sundown, so shortly after this we made our way back to the hotel for our first night in Hokkaido.

Making the Most of Weather Opportunities

The following morning, still hoping for some heavy snow, we headed back to the road that we’d walked down the previous afternoon, and had our driver drop us by the huts and tree that you can see in this next image (below) because the sky had opened up just enough to form these beautiful crepuscular rays or god rays, as they are sometimes called.

Huts and Tree in Crepuscular Rays

Huts and Tree in Crepuscular Rays

Unlike the first two images, this is quite heavily processed in Capture One, making the sky much darker to accentuate the sunbeams, and because I was exposing quite dark to stop the highlights in the clouds from blowing out, I also brightened up the foreground snow quite a lot.

We rushed to set up, as these conditions rarely last long, but on this occasion it actually seemed to last a very long time, so we continued to shoot to bag lots of options for our processing and final selection. I have a number of images of these scene left in my final selection. This was shot at f/14, my go-to landscape aperture, and a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second at ISO 100.

Compositional Restrictions

As we continued down the hill, there is a lone tree just above the copse that we looked at a few moments ago, which I usually shoot from a different angle, but this year there was a beautiful pattern caused by the drifting snow a little bit further up the hill, as we see in this photo (below).

Tree with Snow Drift

Tree with Snow Drift

Although I am happy with this composition, I kind of had my hands tied by another tree and some scrappy vegetation just to the left of this scene. Ideally I’d have liked more compositional freedom, but it doesn’t always work that way in nature. When we are presented with something like this snow drift though, it’s nice to have something like the tree in the shot to give us something to work with. I shot this at f/14, for a 1/40 of a second, at ISO 100.

As I photographed the tree and snow drift, it started to snow a little, so I moved around to get a few shots of the same tree from a different angle, and then moved on to the copse in the photo I shared earlier from the previous day. Then, just across the road from that was another copse that I absolutely love to shoot in heavy snow, as we see in this photo (below).

Trees Pencil Sketch

Trees Pencil Sketch

This is pretty much a repeat of a photo I made in 2015, but I couldn’t resist this. It feels just like a pencil sketch with the horizontal lines of the snow brushing across the front of the trees, and I adore that beautiful faint line made by the hill and shadows of the trees against the very slightly brighter sky. Shot at f/14, the shutter speed here was 1/25 of a second at ISO 100. To leave the streaks of snow like this I generally shoot between 1/15 and a 1/40 of a second.

The other subject that really relies on falling snow is the line of trees behind the Takushinkan gallery that I mentioned earlier, so we rushed back there, but in the three minutes it takes to walk down the street, as heavy at it had been, the snow stopped. Partly because it’s not a bad photo, but mainly to show you the difference, here is a photo of the trees with the big sky as the snow eased (below).

Takushinkan Trees with Big Sky

Takushinkan Trees with Big Sky

When it’s clear, with a mainly blue sky, I don’t even shoot this scene, mostly because it’s boring, but also because you can see distant trees and mountains behind the right-most trees, and I don’t like that. Here the sky had a bit of interest and was still blocking out the distant mountains.

Snow on Demand

Pretty sure that the snow wasn’t far away, we took this opportunity to go inside the gallery and admire the work of it’s founder, the late Shinzo Maeda. The group was very excited to see Biei in other seasons, and just enjoyed looking at the beautiful work. As I’d hoped though, as we drew to a natural end of our viewing session, the snow started to fall again.

We went back to the bus, grabbed our camera and tripods, and went back to the line of trees to make this photo (below). Less than an hour after the previous image, I think this will help you to appreciate just how important the falling snow is to our images here in Biei. You can see that the snow has not only completely whited out the sky, but there is now no sign of the top of hill that runs directly behind the trees.

Takushinkan Trees in Snow

Takushinkan Trees in Snow

I also simply love it when you can view the image large and see countless snowflakes in the image. I’ve just started using BenQ’s new 32 inch 4K display and viewing all of the detail in these images full screen is an incredible experience, almost like being there again, but without needing to wrap up warm. This was a 1/50 of a second exposure at f/14, ISO 100.

I was using my Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens for this shot, as my 24-105mm isn’t quite wide enough, and this means that I had that big bulbous front element of the 11-24mm pointing directly into the snow for this shot. In relatively light snow, I generally just use my rocket blower to keep the front element clean while shooting, but when the snow gets this heavy, I use a lens cloth to wipe it off between shots, but then I keep the cloth over the front of the lens as I move around to the back of the camera, and then only take it away as my two second timer ends and the exposure is made.

Man Made Patterns in Nature

After this we headed for lunch, and passed a spot with another tree on a hill with a nice line of vegetation to its right. I have some shots of that which I like, but to the right of the tree, a spell of sunlight caught the ridges in the snow caused by the plough lines on the hill, as you can see in this photo (below).

Plough Lines Under Snow

Plough Lines Under Snow

Just a day and a half into this year’s tour, I was starting to feel as though we were in control of the weather. It was almost snowing on demand, but when the sun would help us to define patterns like this, or simply provide more texture in the fallen snow, it would pop out for us from behind the clouds. As the tour progressed this continued to an almost uncanny degree.

Mount Asahi

On the morning of day three, we drove around to Mount Asahi, and walked up the ski slopes there a little way, to photograph the beautiful mix of evergreen and deciduous trees in their winter coats. One of my favorite images from 2016 was shot here, but I found that a crucial foreground tree had been removed, so last year’s image of that particular scene remains my favorite.

There was some beautiful snow to the left of the trees in that earlier shot, but without a discernible main subject when zooming in close to the scene, I decided to go a little wider, and include the cable car, the cables of which I had painstakingly removed from my shot from last year. As you can see in this photo (below) I had also hidden the tower to the right, behind the right of the two foreground trees in last year’s image.

Mount Asahi Cable Car

Mount Asahi Cable Car

I kind of like this shot still. It helped me to show the patterns in the snow to the left, and I think the cable car gives us a little bit of perspective, after all, this is a ski ground. I didn’t increase my shutter speed, because the cable car itself doesn’t move fast, so I shot this again at f/14, for a 1/40 of a second at ISO 100.

Winter Wonderland

Back down the hill, near the end of the ski slopes, a stream cuts it’s way through the snow, making some beautiful leading lines. The stream itself is actually quite ugly, so I didn’t want to include it, but as I looked at the scene, it was the trough in the snow that appealed to me, not the stream, so I searched for a composition that would work, and this is what I came up with (below).

Magical Woods

Magical Woods

If i recall there was a tree in the foreground just to the right of this scene that I was trying to keep out too, and this feels perhaps a little cramped without a little more space below those two branches sticking out of the snow in the foreground, but I’m still pretty happy with the results. I shot this at f/14 for 1/50 of a second at ISO 100.

Shirahige Falls

On the morning of day four, we would leave Biei, and drive most of the morning over to the west coast of Hokkaido from where we’d start to circumnavigate the northern tip of the island. Because we’d be on the bus all morning, before breakfast on this last day we go for one last Biei shoot behind the hotel, where the beautiful Shirahige Falls flows in her beautiful blue tones (below).

Shirahige Falls 2017

Shirahige Falls 2017

This and one other shot of these falls would end up being the only two images from the 120 final selects from this trip that I would leave in color. I actually have a third black and white image from the falls, but I wanted to share this color version today. We visit before the sun comes up, because the light is naturally bluer at this time, but there is a lot of blue already in the water, from the mineral content, and I only increased the saturation a little to bring it out a little bit more for this image. This was shot at ISO 400 for a 3.2 second exposure at f/14. I didn’t need to use a neutral density filter, as it was still a while before sunrise so the light was naturally low.

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure 2018

We’ll wrap it up there for this first travelogue, and pick up the trail again next week. I have just updated the tour page to start taking bookings for the 2018 Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure tour and workshop, so if you think you might be interested, please do take a look. You can find the page at https://mbp.ac/hlpa, and if you have any questions at all, please drop me a line via our contact page.

Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure 2018


Show Notes

See details of the tour and sign up for next year here: https://mbp.ac/hlpa

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.


Hokkaido Landscape Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue #1 (Podcast 507)

Hokkaido Landscape Photography Tour 2016 Travelogue #1 (Podcast 507)

Just back from our Hokkaido Landscape Photography Tour for 2016, this week we start a three part travelogue series to walk you through the tour with a total of 36 images.

We start the tour with with an early flight to Hokkaido, following a night at a hotel at the Haneda airport, where we have a pre-tour dinner and start to get to know each other. Five of the participants of this tour were on my Winter Wonderland wildlife tours last year, so it was lovely to see those people again, and of course it’s always nice to meet the first time participants on any of my tours. I recorded a message from each of them at the end of the tour, that we’ll listen to at the end of part three of this series.

Once in Hokkaido, it’s a relatively short drive to our first location, in the rolling hills of Biei, where the photography is centered around a tree that I’ve been in love with since my first Hokkaido tour back in 2008. For the real long-time listeners among you, you’ll know that we used to visit Biei on the landscape leg of my tours before I decided to cut away the landscape leg and concentrate on wildlife, until I started this landscape specific tour last year that is. Now we spend the first three days in Biei before heading over to the west coast of the island then around the northern-most tip, and back down the east coast during our 12 day itinerary.

As you can see from this photo (below) we had a somewhat dramatic sky on this first morning, with the sun poking through the cloud enough at time to give us these sun’s rays amongst the heavy clouds. For this image I was a way down the hill to include the brow of another hill in front of the tree to give the scene a little more context, and also just because I like the shape. Despite the sun being out, if you look closely at the image you’ll also see snow in the air, which I think adds a nice additional dimension.

Biei Tree with Sun's Rays

Biei Tree with Sun’s Rays

My camera settings for this shot were f/14 for a 1/400 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 170mm, so you can tell I was a little distance away from the tree. I was shooting with two Canon EOS 5Ds R bodies on this trip, and three lenses; the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L lens, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens and the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens.

This kit was perfect for this trip, giving me a backup body in case one failed, but also enabling me to use two lenses attached to cameras at the same time. I will change lenses in most conditions, so that doesn’t really bother me, but it generally just speeds up my shooting workflow to be able to simply reach for a different camera for another focal length rather than changing lenses.

After working the area around my favorite tree for a few hours, we went for lunch, and then visited another location where I know there are a number of stands of trees that look beautiful on heavily overcast or snowy days, and you can see one of them in this photo (below).

Stand of Trees on Hill

Stand of Trees on Hill

The settings for this photo were f/14, 1/30 of a second exposure at ISO 100, and a focal length of 176mm.

On last years trip, it was sunny for most of the first two days, and that can seriously limit our shooting options, because the snow becomes too contrasty and sky is clear, giving us too much background. In my mind, the locations that I guide my group to only really come to life when it’s overcast, and when it actually starts snowing, it changes the scene again, as we’ll see.

It was cloudy or snowing for most of our time during this trip, which was really nice, although it was not snowing for this particular image. I often feel as though the shots of trees with heavy snow look like pencil sketches, but this image, converted to black and white in Silver Efex Pro feels more like a pen drawing to me, which I also like.

Just along the road from the last scene is the tree that we see in this next photo (below) sitting nicely on the brow of a hill, with some “Sasa” bamboo leaves poking through the snow, which I feel adds a nice added element too. My final selection of images from this tour is 101 images, and I actually have two more shots of this tree left in the set, where there is some really nice light coming over the hill, but the tree is on the right side of the frame. For now, I have chosen this left position as that’s supposed to be more comfortable for left to right readers to view, although I think I actually prefer the other composition. I’ll think about flipping one of them too maybe.

Tree with Sasa Leaves

Tree with Sasa Leaves

I shot this at f/14, 1/25 of a second at ISO 100, with a focal length of 188mm. You can probably see a pattern forming here, whereas the 100-400mm lens or a 70-200mm lens are really useful for this leg of the trip, although my other lenses do get more use as we progress.

The following morning with the promise of different light, we revisited the tree that we went to first on day one. In this photo (below) you can see that the dawn light and overcast sky enables us to record the detail of this tree, rather than having it fall almost into silhouette, as it does in the first photo. Many of the trees in the Biei area have names, although I’ve never found a name for this tree on any map, so I selfishly call it Martin’s tree. I’m OK with that, because I have not found anyone else producing images of this specific tree, and definitely not as long as I have been doing.

Biei "Martin's" Tree

Biei “Martin’s” Tree

My settings for this image were f/14, 1/4 of a second, at ISO 100, this time at 255mm, a little longer that I would have been able to shoot with my 70-200mm, which I brought with me last year. You’ll probably have noticed too noticed that I shoot a lot in f/14. This is to get a good depth of field before diffraction starts to kick in. I know some people profess to shoot at wider apertures, but the image quality is totally there at f/14, so I use that aperture a lot.

There was a time when the sky started to go pink through the clouds as the sun rose during this dawn shoot, and I toyed with the idea of leaving this next photo of “my” tree (below) in color, but in the end, I gave in to the temptation of converting it to black and white like the rest. I just love seeing most of the scenery that we capture on this tour in black and white. To me it just so matches the subject matter.

Bie Tree

Bie Tree

This was also shot at f/14, for 1/13 of a second this time, at ISO 100 and a focal length of 135mm.

There is another spot that I like to take the group, where we have to walk a little bit down the road from a place where we can stop our bus, to a location where there is a beautiful tree on hill, as we see in this photo (below). This is actually the same tree that I’m using as the marketing image for the 2017 tour at the moment, although I might change that later as I live with this year’s work for a while.

Hanazono Tree in Snow

Hanazono Tree in Snow

This year it was snowing quite heavily when we photographed this tree, so this has become almost like the pencil drawing that I like, but the snow was coming straight for us, not across the scene, so I think for this subject, I prefer the clarity of last year’s image. We can’t control when it snows of course, and although we can try to chase the subjects that look best in snow, it’s sometimes difficult to time it just right. I still really like the subtle difference in tones between the line of the hill here, just above the fence posts, and the ever so slightly lighter sky. This was shot at f/11, as I needed a slightly faster shutter speed to overcome some nasty wind. The ISO was left at 100 though, and the focal length was 135mm.

While it was still snowing a little, we went back to the few stands of trees before going to lunch, and I made this photograph (below). This is almost a replica of last year’s shot of these trees, but it was snowing much heavier last year, making it look more like a pencil drawing, but I still like the structure in this year’s version, and there is still snow crossing the front of the trees adding that additional dimension of being able to see the air.

Sketched Trees

Sketched Trees

Remember as you view these images, if you open up your browser window much wider than the post width, and click on the images, you can view them much larger. They will automatically advance to the next image too, but you can use your keyboard arrow keys or mouse to move back and forth, or place your mouse over the image to stop the slideshow from progressing. I shot this at 1/60 of a second at f/14, ISO 100 at 100mm.

After lunch, I had our bus driver drop us off at the top of a hill on the way back to the same areas that we shot the last image, and he parked our bus in a car park that the group all now knew, and we walked back to it through the hills for about a mile. One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to photograph the tree in the next image (below).

Tree in Hollow

Tree in Hollow

This tree was sitting in a slight hollow, which dissects its shadow a little, and I found that quite pleasing. Again, I also really enjoy it when there is only a subtle difference in tone between the color of the snow and the sky. I was also interested to find that I processed a number of my images from this trip in Lightroom, instead of Silver Efex Pro. I still love the ease of Silver Efex, but for some of these images I found that the control over the black and white conversation that I have in Lightroom was enough, and that’s  perhaps a first for me. I do prefer to keep my images in their original raw format too when possible, so using Lightroom for black and white conversion enables me to do that, which is an added bonus.

This was shot at f/14 for a 1/10 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 400mm. This is of course the long end of my 100-400mm, so you can tell how far away this tree was. The 70-200mm lens works as your long lens for this trip, but last year I found myself using my extender a lot, and figured that I could live without the gap of 30mm between my 24-70mm and the 100-400mm lenses, in exchange for this extra reach, and I was happy with my decision.

As we continued to walk back along the road to where our bus would be parked, I initially walked straight past this next photograph, but luckily I’m in the habit of looking behind myself regularly as I look for images. As I looked back at this point, this graphic composition of the fanned out grasses caught my eye immediately (below).

Radiating Grasses

Radiating Grasses

Once again, this was shot at f/14, for 1/6 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 227mm. I could have used a shallower depth of field here, with a wider aperture of course, but the grass was still, so there was really no need to change my settings so I just rolled with it.

This next image (below) actually made me a couple of minutes late back to the bus, but usually, the mountains in the distance to the right of this scene make it too messy for a really minimalist shot, but the snow and reduced visibility gave me the entire seventeen trees in this row, so I couldn’t resist running down to this spot for one last frame before I jumped on the bus to head back to the hotel at the end of day two.

Seventeen Trees

Seventeen Trees

I shot this at f/11 for a longer 6 second exposure, without a neutral density filter, so you can tell that it was really quite dark at the end of the day now, and the focal length was 25mm. This is another Lightroom conversion, as I just liked the subtle tones in the shadows under the trees a little better in this version.

We had a relatively steady start on day three, as we were driving a good distance from the hotel, so we had breakfast before we left. We drove around to the ski lift station at Mount Asahi, the tallest mountain in Hokkaido, where we walked a little way up the ski slopes, keeping out of the way of the skiers of course, as we looked for photographs like this one (below), which is absolute chaos, I know.

Chaos

Chaos

It’s actually the chaos that attracted me to this subject. I love visiting this spot, because it can present some very challenging composition opportunities, but often some extraordinarily beautiful scenes. I’m not sure if this falls into the latter category, for it certainly was a challenge to compose though. I found the foreground tree, and just love the detail, but when I framed it up, the background was just chaotic. I thought about using a wide aperture to reduce the depth of field, but I actually started to really like this look, with everything just all jumbled up together, so this became my image. It was shot at f/11 for 1/30 of a second, ISO 100 at 70mm, the long end of my 24-70mm lens.

Just along from the last image, I found this scene, that has probably become one of my favorite images of the trip (below). I felt this easier to compose than the last image, although there was a lot of thought that went into this. Firstly, the cable car cables run almost half way into the scene, and there was a large pillar to support the cables, so I moved into a position where the pillar would be behind a tree, leaving me only the cables to clone out.

Mount Asahi Trees

Mount Asahi Trees

I also wanted the twigs from that small bush in the foreground not to overlap with the other two bushes in the distance behind it, so I adjusted for that too. Finally, I tweaked my framing so that I cut off the trees at each side in a pleasing place.

Also, note that because I expose to the right, my original of this is almost pure white, with pale grey trees, but I decided to process this with a somewhat classic look, which I think suits the scene. For my black and white snow scenes, I pretty much always now turn on Enable Profile Corrections under the Profile tab of the Lens Corrections panel in Lightroom. This removes both lens distortion and vignetting from an image.

I sometimes only remove the vignette, but generally both. The reason I do this, is to stop the corners getting really dark during the black and white conversion, but as you can see in this image, I chose to leave the vignette there. I did not use the Lens Corrections. I could have corrected it and then added my own vignette later, but something about this image just beckoned me to leave it with this classic feel with a real lens vignette.

My settings for this image were, you guessed it, f/14, 1/25 of a second at ISO 100, and a focal length of 30mm, again with my 24-70mm lens.

So, that’s our twelve images for today, and we’ll pick up the trail next week with a photograph from the foothills of Mount Asahi from a shoot on our way back to the hotel later in the day.

Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure 2017

Before we finish, I just wanted to quickly mention that we have now started taking bookings for the 2017 Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure, from January 8 to the 20th, 2017. Hokkaido is the northern-most island of Japan, and as you might have noticed, it is the minimalist winter landscape photographer’s dream. This will be our third year running a dedicated landscape tour in Hokkaido, and it’s evolving into something very special that I’m extremely proud of. For details and to book your place, visit the tour page at https://mbp.ac/hlpa

Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure 2017


Show Notes

For details of the 2017 Hokkaido Landscape Photograph Adventure visit the tour page here: https://mbp.ac/hlpa

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.