SHOWKASE: Steve Cheetham – 12 Days in Japan

SHOWKASE: Steve Cheetham – 12 Days in Japan

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As I turn fifty this year, I thought it was about time in my life that I should try to cross off some of the locations on my rather extensive bucket list.  One country that has always been pretty near the top of that list is Japan, inspired by the fantastic work of Michael Kenna.  This is obviously quite a journey from the UK, and to make it worthwhile I’d have to look at spending at least two weeks away.  This would easily be the longest distance and time that I would have spent on a dedicated photography trip, so was not something I undertook lightly.

I looked at various options including travelling myself, but after seeing friends images from a previous workshop decided to travel with Rohan Reilly on his tour taking in the area around Lake Biwa and the coast around Ise bay.  Also leading the trip would be Stephen Cairns, another photographer whose work I have admired for some time.

My flight took me from Heathrow to Tokyo, from where I made my way via a bullet train to our meeting point near Nagoya.  There were six photographers on the workshop and our two intrepid leaders split across two cars.  From Nagoya we first took in some of the sights of Kyoto, following which we travelled clockwise around Lake Biwa, before heading to the coast at Ise and then back round to our starting point south of Nagoya.

We put in some long days, mostly starting around 4AM and packed in a fantastic range of locations.  Some locations were on the shore that lent themselves to minimalist compositions, and others to a darker approach.  We visited shrines, Torii gates, trees, a bamboo forest as well as more modern structures and architecture.  Conditions, on the whole, were fantastic, particularly around Lake Biwa.  As well as some fantastic photography we also immersed ourselves in Japanese culture, staying in some authentic hotels with traditional customs and sampled some very traditional restaurants.  After the week-long workshop, I spent some further days in Tokyo capturing some of the fantastic modern architecture there before taking the flight home.

All in all it was a fantastic trip, great leaders and fellow travellers but above all the people of Japan were truly wonderful and so welcoming and helpful.  I hope you enjoy the selection of images below, all captured with my trusty Kase filters.  Please take a look at my website for some further images also made on this trip.

 

  • Grove of Trees


Conditions again were great for us to capture this attractive grove of trees on the shore of Lake Biwa.

Canon 5DSR, 24mm ts/e, 15secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 10 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

  • Meoto Iwa


Meoto Iwa is two rocky stacks in the sea off Futami and are known as the Married Couple rocks.  They are considered sacred and are next to the Futami Okitama shrine.  They are joined by a rope made or rice straw which is replaced three times a year in a special ceremony.

Canon 5DSR, 24-70f4L @70mm, 90secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 10 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

  • Ukimodo


Ukimodo or ‘Floating Temple’ hall at Mangestsuji Temple on the shore of Lake Biwa.  We were very fortunate with the early morning conditions here, including the fabulous reflections.

Canon 5DSR, 24mm ts/e, 15secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 6 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

  • Biwa Tree


My take on an often photographed tree on the shores of Lake Biwa.

Canon 5DSR, 24-70f4L @70mm, 60secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 10 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

  • Poles


Groups of poles like this can be found dotted around the edge of the lake and make great minimal subjects.  These particular ones are near Nagahama at the northern end of the lake.

Canon 5DSR, 24-70f4L @70mm, 60secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 10 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

  • Jetty


This jetty is one of a pair which make a great subject with the distant fishing poles.  It’s found on the northwestern shore of Lake Biwa.

Canon 5DSR, 24-70f4L @57mm, 30secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 6 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

  • Torii Gate


Torii gates can be found all over Japan and mark the transition from the secular world into the spiritual world of the temple.  This particular one is in Lake Biwa itself and is associated with the Shirahige Jinja shrine.

Canon 5DSR, 24mm ts/e, 60secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 10 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop

 

  • Sea Weed Farm


Seaweed Farms are found throughout Japan, these particular ones are off the coast of the Chita district in the Aichi Prefecture.

Canon 5DSR, 16-35f4L @33mm, 150secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 10 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

  • Fishing Poles


These fishing poles are near Otsu at the southern end of the lake.  The poles running perpendicular to the shore guide fish out towards the series of poles that run parallel to the shore.  On these poles, nets can be hung to catch the fish.

Canon 5DSR, 24-70f4L @45mm, 30secs @ f11, ISO 100, Kase Wolverine 10 Stop ND & Kase Wolverine 3 Stop Soft ND Grad

 

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