A New Travel Project

Tomorrow I start on a pilgrimage. I want to keep the details quiet until I arrive tomorrow. There are some clues in this post.

I’m super excited! It will be an adventure and I love an adventure. It’s going to be physically challenging. I also get to travel with friends from college that I haven’t been able to spend much time with in the last ten years.

So stay tuned! I’m hoping for daily posts or updates.

EDIT: JULY 2019

Wow!

That might have been the hardest trip of my life. We averaged about 25km per day. On our longest day, we walked 40km. Sometimes in rained, many days the mud was treacherous. I slipped, did a face plant, but escaped injury. At the end, it was VERY hot.

My travel companions were very fast so there wasn’t as much time for photography as I’d hoped. I’m still working on photos and trying organize things into a cohesive story in stead of an exhausted blur.

I took two cameras:

  • Canon Eos M5 with the 18-55 mm lens and the 22 mm (barely used the second)
  • IphoneXS Max

Because of time constraints, I used my iPhone a lot more than I planned to. I miss the large file sizes the Eos M5 delivered but I’m generally pleased with the iPhone photos.

The plan is to get the photos on the site by the end of August as I finish up some other projects.

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?