Yachiho Highlands – Part #3 (Podcast 143)

Yachiho Highlands – Part #3 (Podcast 143)

So, this week, we wrap up our three part virtual tour of Yachiho Kougen, or the Yachiho Highlands, in the Nagano Prefecture, a couple of hundred kilometers north-west of Tokyo. Before we get into the main topics today, and take a look at some photos of the Big Falls, among other things, I wanted to correct what I said at the end of last week’s Podcast. If you downloaded the Podcast more than a few days after it was released, then you will have heard the new version, in which I’d updated what I said, so this won’t really matter to you. Anyway, I spoke a little about Diffraction at the end of the last Podcast, and got my terms mixed up. Much of what I said was accurate, but I also spoke about Diffraction being what helps to bend the light as it passes through our lenses, which is of course not Diffraction, but Refraction. It had felt strange when I said it, but I couldn’t recall the word Refraction, and things got a bit messy. Then on Tuesday night, I received an email from a kind listener, Roger Walton, pointing out a mistake in what I’d said. Having seen the word Refraction, it all came back to me and I felt a little stupid, so I updated the episode and now things should be fine. I explained this a bit in the forum too, but having been in Japan for most of the last 18 years now, English is really becoming like a second language to me, and I find that I am really forgetting lots of words too, and it gets worse when I’m tired, so this was a good reminder that I need to be a little more careful when I prepare and record my Podcasts. So, thanks to Roger for pointing this out. Let’s get into the rest of the Podcast now.

Ootaki (Big Falls) #3

Ootaki (Big FOotaki (Big Falls) #3alls) #3

So, at the end of last week’s episode, we were looking at some shots looking up the hillside, across a forest where the trees were literally growing over and around numerous large rocks, forming some pretty cool shapes as they straightened up to grow skyward. I was walking along this path to get to a waterfall called Ootaki, which literally translates as Big Waterfall. The falls were beautiful, and I spend a little while here shooting them, and want to look at five of the resulting shots first off today. I won’t go into too much detail about all of them, as we have a number of other shots to look at too, so let’s try to get through them relatively quickly. The first shot, is number 1815. Here we can see much of the falls, with many rocks, like the ones the trees were growing around, kind of laying in the river, with the water flowing around them. I have used my 24-105mm F4 lens at 40mm to crop out a fair amount of the surroundings to enable us to inspect the falls in their full, but without much other distraction. There are a number of other shots that we won’t look at today by the way, including some pretty wide angle shots, in which you can get a much better feeling for the place, but photographically, I don’t like them as much as these ones that we’ll look at in this episode. I will put a link to all the images I shot in the area in the show-notes though, in case you are interested in checking them out. You can see here that I’ve left a pretty large rock with a smaller rock on top of it across the bottom third of the frame. The water flowing around this side of the large rock is calm enough to not be white water, like most of the rest of the falls, but still has lots of ripples, giving it some nice texture. We can see lots going off, as the water makes its way through the scene, across and around the rocks, and in the top to the right we see the largest drop, which is probably only around 2.5 to three meters max. I imagine these are called the Big Falls, more because of the area they cover than the height of the falls, but I guess everything is subjective. If the people that named these falls had never seen anything bigger these could have seemed positively Niagran. I think they’re beautiful all the same. This was shot with an exposure of 1/5 of a second at F11, with ISO 100 by the way. The 1/5 of a second exposure is enough for getting that nice dreamy flowing effective in the water. Much slower than 1/5 of a second and you can start to struggle, but we’re fine here.

One other thing I like to do at waterfalls is to get out a telephoto lens, and single out a few small parts of the falls as I’ve done in image number 1817. Here I’ve founds various rocks of which some were pretty much submerged, some were half submerged and one just off center towards the bottom right that did not have water running over the front. This has mean that moss has been able to grow on this rock, and part of the one below it, which really helps to add a little colour to the shot. The other rocks also have some moss, but not as much, and not as vivid. Here I’ve selected a shutter speed of 4/10ths of a second, which is slow enough to give us that flowing water effect, but because we are zoomed in on a smaller portion of the falls, it also allows us to see a certain amount of texture in the water too. We can not only get a feel for the water flowing, but we can see some trails of the water, as it has splashed up around the rocks, which I think is quite effective. Again at ISO 100 with an aperture of F11, and shot with my 70-200mm F2.8 lens at 170mm. Note too how I’ve composed this shot to allow the water areas to both flow into and out of the frame.

Ootaki (Big Falls) #5

Ootaki (Big Falls) #5

Ootaki (Big Falls) #7

Ootaki (Big Falls) #7

In the next shot, image number 1819, I’ve kind of purposefully not given the water a passage out of the frame. You can see here that I’ve cropped in a little tighter than the first image we looked at today, now shooting with my 70-200mm, set to wide open at 70mm. As we trace the water through, we can see that there are gaps for it to flow out of, and obviously, we know that the water has somewhere to go, so we don’t necessarily have to see that, but I was conscious of placing these rocks along the bottom when I made this image, and think it works like this. With a shutter speed of 6/10 of a second, now I’m making that water seem to flow even more. I was shooting at F11 still, but this time I’ve reduced the ISO to 50, to enable me to get an even slower shutter speed. For overall composition I really like this, with the main falls taking up most of the top third of the frame, with a nice slice of green at the top, but also the rocks kind of outline the larger expanse of water that occupies most of the bottom of the frame, making a kind of loose border around the flowing water.

Balance is important, and in the next two shots I want to explore the difference between having something at the bottom of the frame to anchor is down, as opposed to a shot that does not have that. I like both, but there is definitely a difference that I think we can learn from. Let’s first look at image number 1820. Now I’ve moved up a lot closer to the main falls, and positions myself so that there are four rocks running across the bottom left to the center of the frame. I have also placed a fifth rock in the bottom right hand corner. I feel that these rocks really help to put things into perspective, and if anything, I’d have perhaps liked a few more along the right side too, but I’m not sure how that would have looked. I also like being able to see the quality and texture of the water in the basin which having the right side open allows us to do. I’ve placed the green on the leaves at the top right, which I feel adds a secondary focal point, and I kind of was lucky to have another patch of green in the top left corner, which helps to balance this out as well. Still at ISO 50, I shot this at F11 for 1/2 a second, so again, we have lots of nice dreamy running water, but not overdone, in my opinion.

Ootaki (Big Falls) #8

Ootaki (Big Falls) #8

Let’s now look at image number 1821, in which we can see pretty much the same shot, but I’ve stepped a pace or two forwards, to get a different look at the falls. Although the two patches of green leaves are in almost exactly the same place as in the last shot, I’ve actually zoomed from 70mm to 120mm, to get pretty much the same framing in both shots. The only difference is that I’m looking down on the falls slight now, which has of course enabled me to not include the rocks. Now, although I like this shot too, as we can see the effect of the flowing water as it spreads out in the basin of the falls, I really feel that it is not as well composed overall as the last shot, with the rocks. The really help to anchor the shot, and provide a lot of overall balance. It does force the question as to whether or not I’d have liked this second version better if I’d never seen the first, but I guess I’ll never know now. I would certainly have not thought about just how different adding something like those rocks in the foreground changes the image, without having tried, so I’m glad that I did.

Ootaki (Big Falls) #9

Ootaki (Big Falls) #9

One last thing that I want to mention before we move away from the falls is that you’ll notice how there are very few bright highlights in these falls. I often try to get to falls when they will be in the shade, either on an overcast day, or when the sun is low enough in the sky for the surrounding hills and mountains to stop the sun from hitting the water directly. I’d come here late afternoon, and as I arrived, the sun was still catching a number of areas, though literally just a few small patches. As I explored the falls, the sun dropped still further in the sky, and the conditions were just right for these shots. Of course, sometimes you are going to want to shoot the falls in full sun too, but my advice would be to make sure that if you are going to do that, try to get the entire falls lit by sunlight. White water is very reflective, so there is a lot of contrast between the sunlight water and shaded water, and really takes a lot of working around in post processing, if it is even possible to do without making the falls look unnatural. This is just something to bear in mind.

So, with a soggy right foot, as I’d managed to step into the water at the falls, we walked back along through the rocky forest and having scared another deer along the way, we walked back to the car and drove back towards the hotel, so 20km away. We drove through the place where I’d shot those first couple of black and white landscapes the previous day, hoping that there might be something nice there again today, but there was no cloud in the valley, and the sky was relatively uneventful today, so we only stopped for a few minutes to take in the mountain air before going back to the hotel.

On the morning of June the 2nd, we got up relatively early, and headed out again before breakfast to see if there was any mist around that Rhododendron that had been surrounded by lots of photographers the previous day. Although I wasn’t that interested in shooting something that everyone else was shooting, you can’t really deny that it’s a nice spot, and I’d have been kicking myself if I’d chosen to stay in bed instead of getting up and getting out there seeing if my luck was in with the mist. Anyway, we can see in image 1823 that I was not lucky, and the mist was not there. There’s always next year, so I’ll come back again, on a rainy day, like the first afternoon when we arrived out here this year too. I selected a wider angle for this shot, using my 24-105mm F4 lens, at 32mm, again at F11, for 1/6 of a second at ISO 100. Again, I’d just like to note a few things that I had kept my eye on while framing up this shot. Firstly, I wanted to give us just a bit of green below the Rhody bush. I didn’t want to crop that off along the bottom, or it would have seemed sloppy. I also made sure that the white birch that runs along the right of the frame as totally in the frame, not cut off. I always use a spirit level that fits into my flash shoe, to ensure my shots are straight, and this is no exception. It means that many of the trees are leaning to the right, but in real life, they are leaning to the right. Also, there are some brown tree that creep into the scene at the very left of the frame, and I was trying hard to minimize the extent to which they did so, without cutting of the bottom of the white birch along the left of the frame, or the Rhododendron for that matter. I was shooting in Manual mode, so I have no record of exactly how much over zero this exposure was, but I’d say I was shooting at around +1 or at least +2/3 of a stop here, to make sure our whites are white, and our greens are nice and fresh, as well as the pink flowers being nice and bright too. This is one of those times when the histogram is well and truly hitting the right shoulder, as the sky was blown out pretty badly, but I was not too worried about that. It was a white uneventful sky anyway. The problem that happens when you allow this to happen is of course the white of the sky starts to bleed into the green of the leaves, but this is really not a big deal, and when viewed large, I actually quite like the effect, so did not try to underexpose and bring out the white and other colours in post processing. As you know, I try to do as little in post as possible, always preferring to get it as good in the field as it can be.

Rhododendron in White Birch #3

Rhododendron in White Birch #3

So, a fun shot now, as we take a look at image number 1824. As I’d said last week, when I came to this tree on the previous day, I’d found it because of all the cars parked at the side of the road. It was not like the red Rhody that I’d found further around this road and we looked at over the first few episodes of this series. I had that one all to myself for as long as I wanted. Here though, when I came the previous day I had to wait a while to get a spot, pretty much where the guy in the off-white jacket is, second from the right in this shot, and I really wasn’t that interested in hanging around to wait for another spot to free up. I actually shot the last image that we looked at from a little further around from where the guy on the far left is in this shot. Another reason why I’d come back here on this last morning of our stay is because it was a Monday, and I figured that the Sunday crowds were there because of just that, it was a Sunday. Still, some of the over sixty white-lens brigade were here, doing their stuff. I actually felt happy that despite my day job keeping me pretty busy most of the time back in Tokyo, I at least can get away like this and be out here myself on a week day, enjoying the mountain air and the wonder art of photography that we all love so much. This is the only image from this series of three episodes that was not shot with a tripod by the way. Everything else was, regardless of the shutter speeds I was using.

Rhododendron Hunters

Rhododendron Hunters

So, again, after a little pre-breakfast shooting, we went back to the hotel and ate, then packed our stuff away and checked out before heading back out before making our way back to Tokyo. We’d decided to go down and take a look at the lake Matsubarako, which I’d thought might have possibly been what we saw as we rounded the corner in the mountains two days before, to see what turned out to be a valley full of clouds below us. I’d seen the lake on the map, and as I said, it should have been much smaller than that, and I was not wrong. We drove down to the lake, and really it was pretty uneventful. It was actually typical of many lakes in Japan in that it has the obligatory white swan paddle-boats that you can hire, and like many, they were all just tied up until the next weekend, when a few people might take them out for a spin around the lake.

Look up into Maple

Look up into Maple

We had a walk around and I decided to shoot some simple scenes of the bright green fresh leaves and grasses, and we just had a relaxing hour poking around. There was beautiful Japanese maple tree in a field near the lake, which we can see in image 1828. Here once again, I’d set my 16-35mm F2.8 lens up very low on my un-extended tripod, looking up into the tree. This was shot wide open at 16mm, with an aperture of F11, again, and a shutter speed of 1/4 of a second, with ISO 100. Again, I’m metering for the underside of the leaves, so the pieces of sky poking through were over-exposed, but again, a white overcast sky, so I’m really not too worried about it. If it had been a clear sky, the contrast would have been too great to get this shot in this way anyway, so nothing to pull myself to pieces over here. You can see how the wide angle has given an effect that this is a pretty big tree that we are looking up into, but we’ll see shortly that this really isn’t the case.

Let’s quickly look at another angle first though, which is image number 1829. Here I have switched my 16-35mm for the 70-200mm F2.8, and looking up into the underside of the tree in much the same way, but now with my camera flipped around to a landscape aspect rather than portrait. Again with an aperture of F11, now shooting at 1/6, still of a second with ISO 100. We can see the shape of the leaves more now, and how the leaves close to the opening in the tree are starting to blow out with the sky. Again, I’m not worried about this, and actually think it might add to the shot. The thing I don’t like about this image is that there are two patches of leaves creeping in, in the bottom left and top right. I saw these when composing the image and tried to make them work in the frame, but I really don’t think they do. I couldn’t go much tighter though, without messing around with the overall composition. Later, I wondered why I didn’t just use a slightly shorter focal length, and shoot from a little closer. I think this was because there were other branches in the way, but I at least had a clear shot, so maybe I just didn’t think of it at the time, as we weren’t really in 100% photography mode by this time, and my other half was ready to go back to the Tokyo which we’d so happily fled a couple of days before this time.

Inside the Maple

To get some idea of just how small this tree really is, take a look at image number 1825. Actually shot before that last few, but I wanted you to see the effect of the wide angle lens and of looking up into the tree, before seeing that it really is a small tree, and that the perspectives we choose can really change how we see something. There were a couple of flowering Rhododendron tree in the background here, which I’d played on a little, but still here, the bright green of those fresh maple leaves had really grabbed my attention much more. I used F11 again here, and separated the foreground from the background with the depth of field, though allowing the Rhody to at least have some form, giving it a place in the shot. I was conscious here of position those grass seeds in the bottom left just there. A few inches further left was a post, which I didn’t want to include, and to the right, was another lamppost or something, so I was working in very tight parameters for this, but still quite like it. I is a nice reminder of our last hour in the area before we made our way back to the big city, relaxed, refreshed, and read to face the grindstone again.

Maple with Azalea

Maple with Azalea

So, that’s it for this series in which we visited the Yachiho Highlands. I hope you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed actually getting out there photographing the area. I dare say I’ll be going back again, maybe next year, or at some point in the future. Although I’m relatively happy with the shot I brought back with me, I still really want a good shot of the flowering Rhodys in the mist.

There is just one more thing that I wanted to run by you before we finish. Many moons ago, I was asked by a number of listeners to reduce the size of the audio files of this Podcast. This I did, but it means that the audio suffers just a little, because of the compression. The audio that you listen to is not quite as good as I can record it. As I really don’t have a problem with the downloads, I’d like to know if you, the listener would prefer small files, or better quality audio, at the cost of somewhat larger files? I’ve started a poll in our Forum to find out how you feel about this. Please come along and check out the poll in the MBP Podcasts Forum at martinbaileyphotography.com and let me know what you think. If you can’t find the poll, check the show-notes. I’ll put a link in there too.

And that’s it for this week. You just have a great week, whatever you do. Bye bye.


Show Notes

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Yachiho Highlands – Part #1 (Podcast 141)

Yachiho Highlands – Part #1 (Podcast 141)

As I mentioned last week, with the pressures of living in Tokyo and the need to breathe some fresh air got a hold of me and my other half, we took off to the Yachiho Highlands from May 31 for a few days. Today we start to share some of the images I brought back with me in a multipart series. I wasn’t going to spend the whole time photographing, as we took a steady drive over there on the Saturday, because I’d been up until 3AM finishing some work on the Friday night. We also started back at around lunch time on the third day, so the only time for photography was the last few hours of light on the 31st, granted, pretty much the whole day on the 1st of June, and then the morning of the 2nd. It was nice to have a relatively relaxed time though, although as usually I couldn’t resist getting up at the crack of dawn to see how things looked in that first hour or so of light. The main subjects we’ll look at are some wild Rhododendron trees surrounded by White Birch trees, which I love to photograph, and some waterfall shots from the afternoon of the 1st. I also was trying to get a lot of depth-of-field in many of the shots over this trip, which is exactly the opposite to most of my recent work, so I’ll talk about considerations when maximizing depth-of-field too.

As is so often the case, with my busy day job, and then fitting in my photography, which is definitely like having a second full time job for me, I didn’t actually book the hotel for the Saturday and Sunday nights until Friday night. I didn’t even book the days off from my day job until the Friday evening before I left the office at around 7PM, then I had to get two invoices off to a client for my Photography work, so I was really leaving all of this until the last minute. Having booked the hotel the invoices couldn’t wait either, so as I just mentioned in the intro, I was up until around 3:30AM on the Friday finishing up everything that had to be done. The idea was to have a relaxing weekend, though get lots of photography in too, so I didn’t push it by trying to get up in just a few hours to drive for three to four hours to the Nagano Prefecture, which is where we were heading. I was still pretty tired, having gone to be so late, but after having almost six hours of sleep, I got up at 9:30, got breakfast and got my gear together. We jumped into the car at just after noon and had a steady ride out of Tokyo and over to Nagano. Having stopped for a bight to eat on the way, we arrived in the area at around 5PM and started to scout out some photo opportunities.

I actually came here in mid-May, 2007, having seen a photograph of a wild Rhododendron tree in the White Birch trees that this area, Yachihokougen, is pretty famous for. The weather forecast had been rain for the Saturday, and then clear for the Sunday, which was perfect, as I wanted to photograph the Rhododendron trees in the mist if possible. When I came last year though, I couldn’t find any of the trees flowering, and when I asked a local, it seemed that the late snows had held the flowers back last year. This time, I was heading out here two weeks later than last year, because again, I’d heard there’d been some late snow, so I was hoping to found some of the trees flowering. The other problem was that I didn’t actually know which parts of the White Birch woods the Rhododendron trees were in, so it took a little bit of driving around, and even then, I couldn’t see anything obvious. The roads were empty though, so I figured leaving my car parked and having a walk into the woods wouldn’t hurt, and the White Birch has to be one of my favorite trees anyway, and because it was pretty misty with the low cloud, I figured that if nothing else, I’d be able to shoot some nice misty birch trees.

The funny thing was though, within literally 30 seconds of walking up the hill into the woods, I started to see the odd Rhododendron tree flowering in the mist, so I was starting to feel pretty happy about my choice of place to stop. Let’s take a look at the first image for today, which is number 1801. Here we can see the tree, with beautiful deep orange, almost red flowers, amongst almost all white birch trees. The mist was not that thick, so isn’t really registering very well here, but hopefully you’ll get a sense of the moment. It was raining pretty heavily too. At this point, my significant other was still enjoying the fresh mountain air, and happily holding a large umbrella over us both and my camera gear, set up on a tripod. We’ll look at maybe up to 20 images from this and the next episode, but I wanted to note that all but one of them were taken using a tripod. I’m a big believer in using a tripod to make the whole process of photography very well thought out and deliberate. Some of the images we’ll look at would have been possible without a tripod, but I am a proponent of using them whenever time allows, not just when the shutter speed or circumstances demand it. When I shot this particular photograph, I’d already been further up the slight incline, and shot the tree from a very low perspective, which is image number 1800. I won’t include that image today, for the sake of time, but I’ll put a link to all the images from this long weekend in the show-notes.

Wild Azalea in White Birch

Wild Azalea in White Birch

What I wanted to mention though is something that I’ve mentioned a number of times before, which is to always be aware of what is behind you. I spent maybe thirty minutes shooting this tree and the surrounding birch trees in various ways, and had started back down the hill to where the car was. Whenever I’m walking away from a scene though, to the great disappointment of my other half, I continue to look back, to make sure that I’m not missing something that would make a nice shot. I feel that when you are approaching a scene, you can be more interested in getting in and working the location, and are all excited about seeing what there is to offer, but there is no intimacy between you and the subject matter yet. You’re still exploring. Once that exploration is done though, and you decide what angles to shoot it from, what lenses and apertures and shutter speeds to use, you start to become more comfortable with the subject. Then when you feel you’ve exhausted all the possibilities, you pull the cord and start to walk away. The fact is though you usually haven’t really exhausted all the possibilities. You’ve probably really only scratched the surface, so I always keep an eye on a scene as I move away from it, in the hope that a face that I was not open to earlier presents itself to me now that I am more familiar with the subject or location.

Although I’d been shooting nice and wide with my 16-35mm F2.8 lens earlier, I used the 70-200mm F2.8 lens for this shot. I had moved away from the scene, but I was also moving down the hill, so we can see that my eye-level is almost ground level here, as we look across the forest floor. The focal length was 100mm so the telephoto has compacted the perspective a little, allowing the trees to almost be on top of each other, but still have a little bit of distance. I have placed the tree just off center towards the bottom right third, and ensured that the threes to the right and left are cut off in a non-distracting way. I used an aperture of F11 to ensure the whole scene was in focus, and that gave me a shutter speed of 6 seconds at ISO 100, so you can probably appreciate how dark it actually was at the end of this rainy afternoon in the mountains.

Shortly after shooting in this patch of trees, as the light was fading pretty fast now, we decided to head to the hotel for our first evening. As we rounded a corner on the mountain road heading down into the valley, both me and my other half gasped as we saw that the valley was totally enshrouded in cloud. We thought for a split second that we might have even been gazing at a huge lake, but there shouldn’t be a lake of this size in this area, unless my map reading skills had been totally off. There was a lake down there, but it should not have been that big. A few moments after starting to view the scene it became obvious that this was cloud, but still, it was sitting so perfectly in the valley, surrounded by the mountain on which we were standing and the mountains on the other side. I guess that’s what makes it a valley, right? Right there though, there was a lay by, so we pulled up and jumped out of the car. The light was fading fast, but it was a beautiful moment that I did not want to miss. We’ll look at two shots from here, and the first one is number 1802.

Yachiho Evening Sky #1

Yachiho Evening Sky #1

It isn’t as easy to see the clouds in the valley here, because I’ve shot this at 16mm, with my 16-35mm F2.8 lens. This first exposure lasted for 20 seconds at F11, still at ISO 100, so again, you will be able to appreciate how fast the light was dropping now. The long exposure has made the clouds close to me blur, a little like a lensbaby image, but this was not only expected, but an effect that I wanted. Of course, the clouds further away aren’t moving as much in relation to my position, so they aren’t blurred. They are obviously moving at the same speed, but they are coming towards me, as opposed to moving over me. I converted to black and white in Lightroom, and dragged the blacks down a little to emphasize the heavy sky and also bring out the black of the mountains on the other side of the valley. They were a little greyer in the original. Again, I decreased the saturation of the all the colors to zero, then adjusted the balance between each color channel with the Luminosity. I think I heard Derrick Story talk about this tip that he’d picked up from someone else on his Podcast “The Digital Story”. If you don’t listen to that Podcast actually you should. Some of it can be a little basic, but there’re often a few gems to pick up for just about any level of photographer and Derrick has a very entertaining way of putting his message across. Anyway, converting to black and white in this way prevents the shadows from going all grainy and muddy, so try it yourself next time you convert something to black and white.

I said that I would also talk about getting lots of Depth-of-Field in this Episode too, which I’ll get into more shortly. For now, I wanted to say that if I was not too worried about calculating the hyper-focal distance for my shots over these few days, because I wasn’t really looking at getting a sweeping landscape in with the whole scene in focus from front to back, in the usual sense. If you want to learn what hyper-focal distance is and how to use it to achieve what we call pan-focus, then you might want to listen to episode 65 that I did, called Understanding Hyper-focal Distance. You might be wondering why I didn’t want to use it for this shot, but just look at how far away from me that line of trees is and think about the focal length I’m shooting at. At 16mm, basically the lens goes hyper-focal at 3.6m or 12.5ft, even when wide open at F2.8, so if I focused at 3.6m, everything from 2m to infinity will be in focus. Those trees were a good 50 meters in front of me, and I knew that everything this side of the trees was going to be black anyway, so I could have shot wide open and focused on the trees and I would have been fine. Remember though that I wanted a slow shutter speed to emphasis that heavy sky, so I closed the aperture down to F11, which gave me a nice long 20 second shutter speed. At F11 by the way, the hyper-focal distance is 1m, but we already know that that is irrelevant for this particular shot.

Let’s take a look at another image which is literally the next exposure I made, which is image number 1803. Here what I’ve done is zoomed in from 16mm to 35mm literally going from one extreme of the lenses focal range to the other. I changed the exposure time from 20 to 30 seconds as the light died, and wanted really here to give us a feel for the clouds, that I could see rolling over the edge of the smaller mountains in the distance to the left. You also get a better feel for the sea of clouds in the valley here, as well as the distant mountains and that wonderful dramatic sky. For the black and white conversion, I simply synced the settings from the previous conversion. No need to reinvent the wheel, as I’d just spent some time figuring out the best place for the Luminance sliders for the previous image. Here we also see more detail in the foreground trees, which I’ve focused on, but again, the entire scene is sharp, because the hyper-focal distance even at 35mm is 4.6m, or 15ft. I’d have still been OK at F2.8 but that would start to worry me a little. I wasn’t using my DOF utility on my cell phone by the way, and I’m using Barnack to lookup the exact numbers for the sake of the Podcast. But the more you use hyper-focal distance the more you get a feel for where you need to be with your lenses, so it isn’t always necessary. Especially here, I just knew that I’d be way OK if I focused on those trees and let the physics of the lens do the rest.

Yachiho Evening Sky #2

Yachiho Evening Sky #2

This particular time was actually incredibly special. Once I’d gotten the camera set up, and was making a few exposures, and just standing there listening to the sounds of the forest. The birds were just about all asleep now, though there was still a little bit of chirping going on as they settled in to roost, but every so often we could hear the cries of what sounded like the dominant male in a pack of macaque monkeys, not far from where we were. As you look at this image, the area to the right, is actually a very deeply wooded area of deciduous trees, and seems to be home to a fair number of macaques. We’d also startled a pair of deer moments earlier with my headlights, and was feeling pretty close to nature, even though we were little a few paces from the car at this point. Without getting all Mills and Boon on you, I had put my arm out and pulled my significant other over, and with my arm around her shoulder just stared out across this magnificent vista while listening to the cries of the macaque and birds settling down for the night. These literally final moments of the day were truly magical, almost spiritual. The hair on the back of my head stood up as I waited for my exposure to end. It was this, the fresh air, the beauty of the land and nature, and the sounds of the wilderness that had brought us some three hours northwest of Tokyo on this murky yet beautiful Saturday afternoon.


Show Notes

Check out TinEye here: http://tineye.com/

Here’s a link to Mikkel Stegmann’s Barnack utility that I reference so much for depth-of-field and hyperfocal distances, and mentioned in the Podcast: http://www.stegmann.dk/mikkel/barnack/

The music in this episode is from the PodShow Podsafe Music Network at http://music.podshow.com/


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