Tag Archives: Black and White Hokkaido Landscapes

Hokkaido 2016 Photography Adventure Day 4

24th October 2016 – Day 4 Otaru -> Mikasa -> Ashibetsu -> Furano -> Biei

Day 4 marks the start of another new photography adventure in Hokkaido! I am on a photography tour planned for the next 4 days by my friend, Tsuyoshi Kato, who is also a Hokkaido Photo Guide. I first knew Kato san in November 2014 during my first visit to Hokkaido as part of the Central/Eastern Hokkaido familiarisation trip. Kato san is very knowledgable and experienced in planning for photographers who want to visit locations around Hokkaido for an unforgettable photography experience. I decided to engage Kato-san’s professional photography tour services for the next four days as I would love to explore different locations around Hokkaido whereby photographers love to visit.

Departing from my hotel Dormy Premium Inn Otaru, Kato-san’s plan for today was to visit the Furano and Biei region and we started the drive from Otaru towards Furano and Biei, making stops along Mikasa and Ashibetsu for some pretty interesting sceneries and landscapes!

Mikasa

On the car journey from Otaru to Biei, we passed by Mikasa City, this used to be a thriving and prosperous area with the coal mining industry pushing the local economy. Today, the coal mining industry is no longer in operation and this area had been quiet since then.

The Old Pombetsu Coal Mine

Kato-san made a quick stop to show me the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine. The former coal mining buildings and structures are still standing there and it is now closed to the public. There is a informative signboard that had maps, old photos and a short write up of the history on the Old Pombetsu Coal Mine.

Lake Katsurazawa

We continued our journey towards Furano, driving through roads that showcased distinct weather and climate of Hokkaido. In some areas, that would be snow falling on the forest/trees and they really made a very beautiful scenery with the autumn leaves on the branches that had not fallen yet. Another 20-30 minutes drive down the road, the sceneries and landscape might change into autumn only, no snow at all. This is a beauty of Hokkaido that I will always remember, the season can change in just some distance away.

Kato-san stopped at Lake Katsurazawa, it’s a beautiful location surrounded by forests, quiet and tranquil. The colourful autumn leaves can be seen in full foliage around the lake, making it a good spot for photographing the autumn season in Hokkaido. However, the water is brownish and unlike some of the other beautiful clear blue lakes in Hokkaido. The water is not free flowing because it is a large artificial lake created by the Katsurazawa Dam. Even though the water may not look as beautiful like some of her other counterparts in other areas of Hokkaido, the beautiful forests surrounding it would make it a place to visit during the other seasons.

Ashibetsu

Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝(Google Map location: https://goo.gl/maps/CByHFsf3Jnz)

Leaving Mikasa, entered into Ashibetsu first before reaching Furano. That was a location in Ashibetsu that Kato-san brought me to. It’s a waterfall with 3 sections thus the name Sandandaki Waterfall /三段滝.

A gorgeous location, while the weather was a bit overcast, we were able to spot the colourful trees surrounding both sides of the river, the 3 sections of the waterfall and the downstream after that. The path to the lookout point/hut that can get you close to the waterfall and the downward stream was a bit wet and slippery due to the wet weather.

When we finished photographing and about to leave, snow fell from the sky with a bit of gusty cold wind blowing. The weather in Hokkaido can change pretty quickly in the blink of an eye sometimes.

Furano

Continuing our journey, we drove into Furano. My first impression was a flat and wide valley ground, surrounded by 2 mountain ranges on the sides, Mt Yubari, Mt Ashibetsu and Mt Furano-Nishi on one side and Mt Furano, Mt Tokachi, Mt Tomuraushi, Mt Chubetsu, Mt Hiragatake (Daisetuzan National Park side).

Living at the bottom of a valley can get really really cold during winter, from my experiences when I went skiiing in New South Wales, Australia, many years ago. Mt Kosciuszko (Perisher Blue) wasn’t too cold at the top when I was skiing yet when I reached Canberra, I was kind of freezing (in the night).

Furano had many farms growing different kind of crops. This area is a very popular destination during spring and summer, I can understand why. The entire area in summer season would be packed with crops ready for harvesting. For those growing flowers, the colourful and beautiful flowers would brighten up the whole place. I would love to visit Furano during the summer season and hope to do it some day in the future!

Torinuma Park  

Our first destination in Furano is Torinuma Park. Upon arrival, I was greeted by good weather, I saw clear blue sky, sunshine with cloud cover! This good weather made me very excited, I had overcast sky, snow, rain and chilly winds for my first four days in Hokkaido. The beautiful sunlight cast the colourful autumn leaves on the leaves into something magical, green, yellow, red and orange colour leaves against the beautiful clear blue sky. I was ecstatic and blown away, this was the autumn that I had been seeking when I arrived in Hokkaido.

We explored the forest surrounding the lake at Torinuma Park. There were some great places to take photographs from different spots with different perspectives, when the strong winds blew across, the leaves dropped and fell onto the lake, providing the lake with a pretty layer of colourful leaves on its water.

Lunch – Shinasoba ramen by Shinatora

One of my favourite Japanese food is Ramen and during that afternoon, I was brought to this local ramen shop in Furano, the name of the ramen shop is Shinatora, their shop speciality is a soup base mix of pork and fish! When I had my first taste of the Shinasoba ramen, I was in heaven!! This special and unique ramen is really oishii!! Ramen is an absolute delight during the cold autumn/winter seasons, hot and heartwarming.

Rokugo Viewing Platform / Kyohsai Farm (Furano Jam Garden)

With such a delicious and hot ramen lunch inside us, Kato-san brought me to the area near the foot of the Mt Tokachi / Mt Furano mountain range where the famous Kyohsai Farm / Furano Jam Garden was located, they had some many different types of jam for sale, along with a nice café to have coffee while resting at the same time. Although I didn’t buy any jam, I would love to come back during summer and visit this place again! Kato-san said this place is very popular during summer season!

Behind Furano Jam Garden, there was a small dirt road leading up towards a small hill, suitable for cars to drive up the small dirt road. On the road upwards, there was a famous lone tree that stood out from the row of forests beside the road. From the ground up perspective, the lone tree looked like it’s “floating”!

On top of the hill, there were farm lands, we visitors must be careful and considerate, not to trespass and trample onto the farm lands because we might destroy the crops and hurt the farmers livelihood and hard work.

There was an open area with a nice hut on the top of the hill, known as Rokugo Viewing Platform. The view up there was breathtaking, a great panoramic view of Furano. The cold autumn winds were blowing hard at us and I was freezing again when the cold winds hitted me! However, I was greeted by another iconic scene of Hokkaido, the light rays shining through the clouds onto the land.

There was another monologue tree nearby the Rokugo Viewing Platform, used by television company for some of their drama productions! It’s a very famous and iconic tree!

Mizusawa, Biei

The sky was turning dark as Kato-san drove up towards in the direction of Biei. A tale of two seasons in Hokkaido, separated by maybe 30km, from autumn into winter season. It was close to sunset timing when we arrived at this spot in Biei, snow was falling and it was cold around -1° (it’s not the coldest yet for Biei, Hokkaido).

There was a small farm house up on the hill, standing alone in the midst of the snow covered fields. While the small house stands alone in the open, it’s not alone at all, the role and significance cannot be underestimated. Somehow, I am always able to relate to lone/single objects e.g. lone tree, lone house etc etc … We might be monologue / single at times, however we are not alone because we attract the things around us to come to us.

Driving down a short distance from the small farm house, Kato san made a stop beside an open field between two forests. There were two trees that stood out in between the two forests. I stood there, enjoying the sceneries, peace, quiet and tranquility. It was really cold for me because I wasn’t really suited for winter season. After taking a few photographs, I stood there and enjoyed the moment while I am freezing myself out there (due to the chilly wind and rain).

The sun had set for the day, we also made our way to our hotel in Nakafurano, had our dinner, enjoyed the onsen and had a good night sleep.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016 Day 4 


Created with flickr slideshow.

Hokkaido Autumn 2016


Created with flickr slideshow.

My 1st Photo Book – Hokkaido B&W Landscapes

At the start of the year 2015, I wrote and shared my photography resolutions for the year. Point number 4 was “Produce My Own Photography Book”, something that I never done it before in my years of photography journey. When I decided to embark on this very personal and special photography adventure, I didn’t look back and trekked towards my goal and objective.

In the months of January and February 2015, the progress was pretty alright from the two articles that I wrote down and shared with my supporters and readers. My work in progress and producing my draft photo book, they were key milestones, timeline and crucial learning experiences in producing my own photo book. The journey was a bit of ups and downs, frustrations, dilemma, which photos to curate, what’s the flow and placement like etc etc. Meeting and chatting with photographer friends helped me to reach my mid way point of producing and printing my draft photo book that defines my own personal and unique photojournalist style.

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A very talented fellow photographer, Zinkie Aw, she introduced to me this particular printer, that a group of photographers in Singapore worked closely with. That printer is Grenadier Press Pte Ltd and after the email introduction by Zinkie, I went down and had a chat with them on printing my personal Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book. They are very friendly, professional and very knowledgable in the printing line. There is one X-factor that stands out, that is they understand photographers and knows what photographers want. During my first appointment with them, I had a chance to view some of the photo books printed by Grenadier Press for some of the established and well known photographers in Singapore. From that day, I know my photo book printing is in good and experienced hands!

They are willing to share and guide me, this newbie in printing photo books. I confessed that I made some stupid newbie mistakes and the folks from Grenadier Press helped me a lot to get it right for my photo book print when I met them for my second appointment to submit my draft photo book layout/write up/photos in for printing. That is something that I am very grateful and thankful for, their guidance and priceless assistance in getting my first photo book printed!

Photographers in Singapore, if you are planning to print your own photo book, I highly and strongly recommend Grenadier Press, here is their website and go contact them!

After I submitted draft photo book layout/write up/photos in for printing, Grenadier Press took over the process. Since I wasn’t rushing for the photo books to be printed, we had a good time frame that both parties can work on. Once they got the final final draft up, I made an appointment to go down for the final confirmation of my photo book prints, inspected each photo book page proof, signed and acknowledged. That was the moment, the final lap of my photo book printing adventure.

Finally, a message arrived from Grenadier Press, my photo books are ready! Yes, I have produced my FIRST Photo Book! My personal Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book. As much as I wanted to rush down and collect my photo books, my work commitments did not allow me to and I waited for about a week plus before collecting them.

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The moments, feelings and emotions when I collected my photo books from Grenadier Press, it’s a mixed bag comprising all of the above. I was proud yet humbled, happy beyond words when I collected 50 of my photo books, they are my very own photography style and artwork. It’s not perfect, there is definitely room for improvement in terms of producing my next photo book. The support and encouragement from friends were great, I am very grateful and thankful for their continuous support!

I would like to say a big Thank You to the following photographer friends for their inputs/opinions/help in the curation of photos, flow and lay out of my photo book.

David Tay

Wong Renhao

– Marcus Lim

– Jude Yue

Zinkie Aw

– Dave Koh

My write up and photojournalism story telling were edited by Ms. Chrissy Priya and Mr Michael Tay, both were very strong in their English language proficiency.

Thank you very much, Grenadier Press for producing and printing my FIRST personal photo book! My goal and objective is 3 photo books for 2015, I have to work a lot a lot harder to achieve producing and printing my 2 other photo book!

B&W Story Title: Walk On

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The journey had been very harsh and cold, with huge challenges and obstacles lying in front of you, it began to pile up on you, like a mountain leading up right into the sky. You were very brave and courageous, you continued fighting the obstacles and challenges. Many times, you were discouraged, fighting the emotional battles inside and outside of you.

When you were down, there will always be family and friends beside you, helping you up when u fell. Encouraging you to pick up and continue the journey to fight and overcome the challenges and obstacles. With their love, blessings, support and encouragement, you picked yourself up and continue the journey ahead. In your heart, you know your destiny is to do something kind and meaningful for the world. That’s where you tell yourself, not to give up and continue fighting whatever challenges and obstacles come into your way, in the present and in the future.

Walk On, Walk On, with your head up high, don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm, a clear blue sky and the beautiful sunshine are waiting for you.

Remember, You’ll Never Walk Alone towards the light at the end of the forest, where the beautiful shining light guides you from the world of darkness to world of beauty and love. Now, let it shine on you!

I will be there to welcome you with open arms and continue walking the journey together with you.

Work in Progress – Hokkaido B&W Landscapes Photo Book

The Hokkaido Photographers Invitation Program 2014 had been one of my highlights in the year 2014, it was also my biggest photography portfolio till date. Being part of this wonderful program, it was a great honour to be invited and participate in the Hokkaido Photographers Invitation Program. Hokkaido was so beautiful, allowing me and giving me the opportunity to produce a number of beautiful and gorgeous landscape photographs.

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After returning back to Singapore, I wrote and uploaded my Hokkaido travel articles along with the travel photographs that I took during the trip. Hokkaido pulled many heart strings inside me that I was inspired and motivated to produce a travel photo book of my Hokkaido trip. The photo book was part of my Photography Resolutions for 2015, however, something phenomenal happened, I started to post process selected Hokkaido landscape photographs into Black and White. It was mind blowing, an eye opener and I was hooked. My attention diverted from producing my Hokkaido travel photo book to Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book.

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This journey was addictive, challenging, self searching and self learning. It was my maiden journey in producing my own personal photo book, I was discovering something more about my photography, how my eye, heart, mind, soul and perspective of photography makes my photographs stand out. The process of curation from approximately 1811 photographs to approximately 63 Black and White photographs to 26 photographs before another round to 19 photographs. Printing out the Black and White photographs on 4R photo paper was key and essential to producing my mock up Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book. I learned the method of printing 4R photos to have a better visualisation of my photo book flow and placement from photographer friends Callan and Jingwen who produced and printed awesome photo books before.

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With the help of my photographer friends, I was able to reach the placement and flow of this photo book. I would like to say a big Thank You from the bottom of my heart to the following photographers and friends for their continuous support, advice, suggestions, views and opinions during the initial curation, placement and flow of my personal Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book –

David Tay of WK Photography & Services (for teaching me the 2 by 1 crop for landscape photography)

Wong Renhao 

Marcus Lim

– Dave Koh

Zinkie Aw of I Shoot Habits – Zinkie Aw Photographer 

– Belinda Tan

– Jude Yue

Ellen Chia for her energy and continuous support of my photography works!

Tsuyoshi Kato, our Hokkaido Photo Guide for this program!

– Fellow Hokkaido Photographers Invitation Program photographers ~ Jensen Chua, Weng Seng and Manami-chan!

I am going to do a test print of my Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book using iPhoto app. It will be just one draft photo book and I will go around to my photographer friends and seek their opinions and views on the pricing and quality of the photo book, and whether I can continue with them or I should go to local printers to get my Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book printed.

Curating and producing this personal Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book had been very exciting, at times anxious and frustrating. I will remember every step of this journey and I am looking forward to the day when I collect my Hokkaido Black and White Landscapes Photo Book prints. For a glimpse into what could be the Black and White photographs that would appear in the photo book, this Black and White Photos set on my 500px portfolio would be able to give you some answers!

This is my first photo book, there is no price to it because it’s very personal and it’s priceless.


Created with flickr slideshow.