If you are a fan of the work of Michael Kenna, like I am, you recognize the scene in the photo below from his photo books or from the very inspiring video that he put up on his website. If you haven’t watched it yet, take a few minutes and watch it now and you’ll love it. This photo is taken around Biei in Hokkaido and this is an amazing area, especially in the snow, and a very popular area for photographers these days.
For me the most remarkable thing in the video is that Michael and his assistant enter the field and plough through the snow to find the right spot to take the photo. When I visited in January, the fields at several of the famous locations around Biei were roped off and large signs in Japanese, Chinese and English every 20 meters indicated that it was forbidden to enter the fields, including the area around this copse. But as you can see in my photo, people do enter the field nevertheless; damaging the seedlings, spoiling the shots with their tracks for us who decide the follow the rules and triggering investigations by the forestry ministry. We ran into a car of the ministry and a guy was taking eyewitness reports about the people who had entered the field that morning.
I’m not saying that Michael Kenna behaved incorrectly, it is clear from the video that the field was not roped off and no signs were visible at the time. But I’m saying that if it is roped off and if signs are indicating that it would hurt crops to enter the field, people should follow the rules. You might have your shots, but what if the farmer is fed up with the constant damage and decides to level the copse and end this great location for everybody forever? You probably don’t care about that, as I said, you have your shots… 🙁
Normally I never hesitate to shoot first and ask questions later, but the reason for the ban was explained and I would hate to leave tracks that would impact all the other photographers that would come after me as is obvious from my photo. Thanks for nothing!
Aoi-ike or Blue pond is a relatively new tourist attraction around Biei, Hokkaido; very beautiful with dead trees in a blue pond. Of course the pond wasn’t blue frozen over, so the choice for black & white film was no issue.
The scenery was lit up at night making it a magnet for photographers who, probably because they wanted to catch snowflakes in the foreground, couldn’t stop using their flashes resulting in images of walls of white in the heavy snowfall with no trees visible. I guess you need to know what you’re doing to get the effect right and probably using your flash in automatic mode wasn’t the correct way as it was pretty much pitch dark even with the lights so the flashes were bright like nuclear explosions. (A “feature” of a DSLR on a tripod is that everybody standing behind you gets to see the result on the tiny screen and I checked out the results of quite a few of my fellow photographers — it didn’t look like any of them had any “keepers.”) 🙂
Anyway, a lot of my long exposures were ruined by the flashes and I tried to out-wait them for an hour or so, but in the end I gave up and returned at another night which turned out to be exactly the same. In the end I returned during the day time as the pond was just a couple of kilometers from our hotel at Shirogane Onsen on the way to Biei.
Ameyoko Street market in Ueno just next to the Ueno JR station (Shinobazu Exit) is always a good idea to visit when in Tokyo, but just before New Year it is very crowded when fish, and other food things required for the New Year celebrations are sold there cheaply and lots of people want to profit. A perfect chance for a spot of street photography! Everybody was very accommodating, I guess I wasn’t the first one to put a camera in their faces.
The market is a constant drone of “sen en, sen en (1000 yen, 1000 yen)” with which the vendors promote their wares and I suppose it doesn’t really matter that we bought a same-sized chunk of the same fatty tuna for 500 yen a week later. 🙂 And it was crowded, so very crowded. The police was present in drones and had even constructed a platform to keep an eye on the crowds from above. Surprisingly people had led children and even carried babies into the crowds.
For a unique view of the Tokyo skyline and the Rainbow Bridge, make your way to Daiba Koen, preferably after dark for some great night photography. And if you visit on a Saturday, wait for the fireworks at 7PM. The location as pointed out on the map below is pretty popular, as you can imagine, and I met several other photographers, we’re a great and friendly bunch no matter where we’re from. 🙂
Easy access from central Tokyo via the JR Saikyo/Rinkai Line in the direction of Shin-Kiba, alight at the JR Tokyo Teleport station.
This year we visited the same area in the Vosges as last year. I like doing that, being able to visit the same places again under different circumstances. The old mirabelle trees that I photographed last year were still there and this year I visited the location in a thick fog.
The fog isolated the trees completely from the background and made the trees appear like ballet dancers.
I shot this on Rollei PAN 25 film, I have no idea if this film is identical to ADOX PAN 25 film. I always assumed so but the Rollei film curled a lot more than the ADOX film so I have my doubts now.
I did get a better exposure now that I’m using my Seconic L-758D meter (spotmetered) instead of the Seconic L-308S Flashmate that I used last time. The TTL meter was suggesting all kinds of under- or overexposures so using that would have been useless in this situation.
Sort of a new project for me, the different water tower designs here in Luxembourg. Shot on my Cambo SC2 4×5 Monorail Large Format camera with Rodenstock 150mm f5.6 Sironar N lens, a combination I really start to like.
The water tower on the left is on my way to work and I have had now several weeks to see what light would work best. A sunny early morning seemed the best and that is what I went for: the light would not be too contrasty yet and the sun would still touch the tower horizontally without throwing a shadow downward. The light-play makes these photos interesting. I spotted the water tower on the right on Google maps and will try this one again after the corn has been harvested so I can get a little further into the field to avoid the narrow crop.
Sometimes things go wrong and the results might be worth keeping. Here a few of my recent favourites:
In the above photo, I accidently put the camera in multi-exposure mode and took some long exposures from different angles. The Pentax MZ-S is a professional 35mm camera with all the settings conveniently available as switches on the outside of the camera for quick adjustments, yet it also means that you do need to check the settings when pulling the camera out of the bag.
If you work without tripod and put the camera on the railing of a bridge for a long exposure or night photography, make sure it is not a train bridge! I had put my camera on the railing of Norra Järnvägsbron in Stockholm to photograph the City Hall for this eight second exposure and the moment I released the shutter a long train came by.
While walking around Skansen in Stockholm I had the chance to shoot some ADOX Color Implosion film and some Kodak TRI-X. As Skansen isn’t too large, we came upon the same scenes several times and I shot the same things with the different films.
This is not intended to be a comparison between colour and black and white as ADOX Color Implosion film is of course a very atypical colour film.
Even though I enjoyed shooting the ADOX colour film and the results were fun, I probably won’t be buying it and will continue to rely on slidefilm for my colour photos and for black and white film for everything else.
During my visit to Scottsdale, Arizona, we walked the short, 3.7 mile, Marcus Landslide trail at the McDowell Mountain Regional Park in the Sonoran desert north of Scottsdale. Some 500,000 years ago one of the instable mountains crumbled and 5.5 million cubic meters of granite rock, vegetation and soil flowed eastward for 1.5-kilometres.
What’s left is a very scenic area with beautiful and changing vistas around every corner of the hike with the mountains on one side and the valley on the other.
The surprising thing is that this enormous landslide was only “discovered” in 2002. I think the word really is “recognized” as the location had been known for ages, of course, it was just that nobody had recognized it as the remains of a catastrophic landslide.
Shot on Kodak TRI-X at EI 400 using an orange filter, developed in HC-110 dilution H for 11 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.
After my grandfather had died, my grandmother from my mother’s side remarried a retired farmer who had a farm in Wapenveld, Holland, see here for the location. The family name was “Warning,” and the farm was worked by the youngest son. The farm building, Hulsbergen, is interesting as it contains remains of a medieval friars’ abbey, the “klooster” to which the local names refer.
Adjacent to the farm is still a forest and a stream, this forest was the main reason for my father to visit the farm as my father was photographing birds and wildlife at the time and the area was quiet like an early bird sanctuary and full of rare species of birds.
Sometime in the early 1960s, my father took a series of photos of life at the farm that I recovered and scanned. I love these photos: the photos of today, are the quaint and vintage photos of tomorrow. With about forty milk cows, at the time this was a decent sized farm and I do wonder what happened to the farm in later years when farms became fewer but larger. As you can see on Google Maps via the link above, the farm is still there and is still in the same family.
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