Working With Writers, Investigating the Silk of Yukitsumugi.

lorionophotography-lori-ono-orimoto-yukitsumugi-nobuko-suto-japan-weavingI’m excited to announce that I’ve been working with a writer on some articles about Japan that are published in some online Tokyo magazines. I had the privilege of accompanying the fabulous Joan Bailey to do photography when she went to Tochigi to learn about yukitsumugi silk. I have a very keen interest in traditional crafts and artisans in Japan so I was very excited to be working on this.

lori-ono-yukitsumugi-weaving-japan-craftsmanship-loom-lorionophotographyYukitsumigi is a designated intangible cultural treasure in Japan. The complete production of the silk is by hand. It’s extremely labor intensive. Two things that make yukitsumugi unique (other than completely un-automated production) is that the fabric lacks the regular shine of silk since the strands are not twisted; and the pattern is not dyed or painted onto the fabric after weaving. Instead, the threads are dyed before hand, looped and knotted according to complex calculations then dyed. The pattern of the dyed threads emerges as the fabric is woven.

This was my first time to work with Joan and Gaijin Pot and Savvy Tokyo. Our guides were great and the artisans incredibly friendly and generous with their time. I hope to do more stories like these in the future.

You can read Joan’s article at Gaijin Pot here. Joan goes into much more detail about the silk. The photos are by yours truly. Here’s the link for the article for Savvy Tokyo piece.

 

 

The Most Difficult Location to Shoot.

I’ve been obsessed with the ice monsters, the juhyou, of Zao Ski Resort in Yamagata Japan. They are pine trees covered with snow, frozen then sculpted by the high winds. I first saw them on a ski trip ten years ago. At that time, I only had a really cheap point and shoot digital camera and it did not enjoy the cold. Plus I was skiing. It is very hard to take photos on skis or on deep snow wearing ski boots.

Last year I finally figured out how I could get the photos I was looking for–snowshoe around the area. It didn’t really matter that I didn’t know how to snowshoe. I was determined to do it. Snowshoes HAD to be more stable than skis. I convinced my friend, fellow photographer, Maria Trabucco to join me.

I found a tour guide, Ito-san, who was a certified guide as well as an instructor! Excellent! The one thing about traveling with a photographer is how long it takes to move along. We are always stopping to take a shot. It was good to have a guide who understood.

I wanted to bring a medium format camera but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to carry a large camera safely. It would have been fine… sigh. But I suppose that’s better than crying over a broken, beloved camera. I vowed to pack light. I was worried about my fitness. Would I be able to carry my gear around a mountain in deep snow all day? I ended up bringing three cameras: the pinhole converted Minolta7, iPhone and my Canon EosM. It seems like a lot of gear but it all fit into a smallish backpack with a change of clothes included.

We had amazing weather for February. It was warm enough we even saw the unkai, a sea of cloud in the valley, that usually only appears in March. The last time I was on the peak, it was -30C and this time it was just below 0C. Snowshoeing was not as hard as I thought. It was certainly work, but I was much more stable than on skis. I fell quite a bit but always managed to keep the camera out of the snow. Priorities, right? The other challenge was the intense brightness at the peak. It was hard to compose images because of the glare.

So what was your toughest location shoot? How did you overcome your challenges?