Listening to audiobooks has been one of my favourite activities for nearly a decade. It is a great pleasure to gain knowledge while driving, walking, jogging, cocking, and ironing shirts like a character in a novel by Haruki Murakami. Lately I started listening to audiobooks while shooting landscape photographs. Because you often need to wait for the right moment when shooting landscapes, there’s nothing left to do until you press the shutter button after you set up your tripod and camera. So I was listening to the Bhagavad Gita translated into English by Eknath Easwaran while shooting the sunset yesterday.
A brief description for those who are not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita: The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Indian text which is part of the epic Mahabharata. The Gita is a dialogue between the supreme guru Krishna and his disciple Arjuna, who is facing the duty as a warrior to fight his relatives. In Hinduism, Vishnu descends to Earth in a from of an avatar to restore the world. Krishna is said to be the eighth avatar of Vishunu, Buddha is referred to as the ninth avatar, and the tenth (and last) avatar Kalki is predicted to appear in the future .
Lord Krishna says:
“You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engaged in action, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself — without selfish attachments ,and a like in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.” (2:47-48)
I went on a day trip to the Nagano prefecture and visited many places yesterday. I usually visit one place to take a special landscape photograph. At times, I stay at the same place for a couple of days. But sometimes I want to take photographs in a more casual way and so I took a lot of hand-held snapshots this time.
Nikon D800E + SIGMA 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM | Art HDR image created out of 4 brackets to expand the dynamic range.
Many photographers with a big budget buy the so-called trinity, that is f/2.8 constant aperture wide, standard and telephoto zoom lenses. Why? Because it is the common knowledge that is the way to go for any serious photographer. But my ‘go-to’ standard zoom lens is a f/4 constant aperture zoom lens, SIGMA 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM | Art, although I can afford more pricey standard zooms. I’ve taken tens of thousands of shots with this lens . Let me explain why I prefer this lens.
Nikon D800E + SIGMA 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM | Art
ISO100 35mm f/11 1/4sec. Continue reading →
Nikon D600 + AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Nov 8, 2013 at Kuwazaki, Lake Kawaguchi
If you plan to come to Japan in autumn, I’d definitely recommend you to visit the Fujigoko area in Yamanashi prefecture. Here’s the top 5 reasons:
1) The air is cleaner and Fuji is more visible than summer!
A lot of people visit the area in summer and are often disappointed that they can’t see Fuji. Even people living in the area like me, sometimes can’t see Fujisan for weeks. So the chance for you to see Fujisan in this season is quite slim.
This is the second part of the story. Read it after the first part.
It was snowing at the top of Mount Eboshidake. It was very windy too. I could barely see a thing. I went down. But after 40 minutes of walk, the sky suddenly cleared up and I got direct sunlight for the first time in the mountain. I debated myself whether to go back to the summit to shoot Fuji or go down to the parking lot. The time was 1:00PM. It was almost midwinter. The sun sets much earlier than summer. I only had 3 and a half hours of daylight. Going back to the top and shooting Fuji with sunset means I would have to stay near the summit for a night. I wavered in my decision. I decided to leave the mountain just 40 minutes ago. Once you decide to go home and think about relaxing in a hot bath, it isn’t easy to determine to go back into the snowstorm. The sky may turn back to grey while I’m climbing. I looked up. Thin clouds were moving fast. Sometimes they turned into rainbow colours by the sunlight.
Shooting Fujisan seems to be one of the favourite activities for retired people. Famous shooting locations are getting more and more crowded with old people. I want to believe that everyone who loves Fujisan is a good person. But sometimes it is not true. I often pick up trash thrown away by some of such amateur photographers. They don’t throw away trash at popular places where their deeds are witnessed by other people. They reveal their true personality when they’re seen by no one. That’s what mindless jerks does. Some take pictures from the back of the spots with wide angle lenses and try to chase off everyone comes into the frame. I’ve heard someone actually did such even to people who came earlier to the spot than him, saying “I always shoot Fuji from this position. You guys must go away.” But his ‘place’ was owned by someone else. Some get furious when someone briefly lights his camera with a headlight or penlight. If he really doesn’t want any artificial light to enter his camera, I think he should shoot in back-countries. I’m sick of all of this. I wanted to stay away from them. I wanted to be all alone in nature.
For landscape photographers, Saiko (Lake Sai) is the least popular lake among the Fujigoko (Fuji Five Lakes). The number of photos of Mt. Fuji taken from this lake is much less than the other four Fujigoko lakes. The main reason why this place isn’t very popular is that Mt. Ashiwada lies between the lake and Mt. Fuji and thus we can only see the top of Fuji from Saiko. By the way, “-ko” indicates lake so Lake Saiko is a bit redundant translation but I think it is more understandable for those who are not familiar with Japanese. There is one great location for shooting mount Fuji on the lakeshore of Saiko, which is located at the western bay of Lake Sai.
I have trouble translating this article. If I could, I wanted to translate the title of the article as “What are the Genfukeis of Japan?” A genfukei seems to be a concept only exists in Japan. Or at least, It doesn’t exist as an English word. I couldn’t find any words that directly correspond to the word.
Genfukeis (原風景) are landscapes that remain in one’s memory most vividly when he/she gets old. It depends on each individual. But when we use the phrase “a genfukei of Japan (Nippon no Genfukei),” it indicates landscapes that invoke the emotions of nostalgia for the majority of the Japanese.
After I posted a blog entry about Mt. Fuji and cosmos flowers, I received an unexpected reaction from a Slovakian guy. He argued that cosmos bipinnatus originated in Mexico and introduced to Japan in the Meiji era. They explosively proliferated in Japan, and now represent the autumn season. He said the photos are beautiful but it isn’t good in terms of environmental protection. Honestly speaking, I didn’t know that cosmos flowers were introduced to Japan in the 19th century. Kanji characters given to cosmos flowers is 秋桜. 秋 indicated autumn and 桜 indicates cherry blossoms. I vaguely thought that it didn’t originate in Japan but it was probably imported to Japan much before than that.
Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM
Fuji with terraced rice fields and spider lilies, this is what we should call the Genfukei of Japan! It is, however, said that spider lilies are originally from the Yangzi river area of China and they came to Japan when rice agriculture was introduced to Japan.
Nikon D5300 w/ AF-S Nikkor 18-140mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR
According to the weather report, it is going to be fine and Fuji will probably be visible. I hate shooting in a crowded place in weekends. It is a Tuesday. I’ll probably enjoy shooting Fuji without being bothered by anyone.
I somehow wanted to go to Taikanzan, a popular vantage point to admire Fuji in Hakone. This place was haunted by legendary Japanese painter Taikan Yokoyama as he loved drawing Mt. Fuji from here. This mountain was originally called Daikanzan but was changed into Taikanzan in memory of the great painter after he died. That’s the story written in guidebooks. I’ve never found any authentic sources to prove the story though.