Japan in winter is one of the most majestic locations you could ever imagine. A slight dusting of snow turns the regularly bustling streets into a proverbial winter wonderland. The colder temperatures also tend to cut down on the amount of crowds, which makes photographing the iconic sites much more appealing.
We will embark on an eleven-day intensive photography workshop covering the most photographic sites, from buzzing cities to the calm atmospheric landscapes, stretching the length of Japan. First we’ll visit the snow macaques that live in the mountains about two hours west of Tokyo. Here in an isolated steep cut valley with an amazing mountain lodge are three extended families of macaques, numbering around 50. Because they are the most northern primate on earth, they have the longest, luxuriant fur of any primates, particularly in the winter months. They come down from the pine and oak forests and for a couple of hours a day they hang around a natural hot spring. They have been habituated to people visiting them there, so you can photograph from within inches without interrupting their behavior, which is very animated and fun. It is a photographic bonanza.
After visiting the macaques, we will travel to the northern island of Hokkaido. Hokkaido reminds me a bit of Alaska, full of forests of birch, pine and fir with a back drop of beautiful volcanic mountains. There are also large lakes and wild running rivers, and hosts three species of bird wildlife that are extraordinary to photograph. The Japanese Crane has been symbolized in Japanese culture for thousands of years due to its grace and beauty. Giant whooper swans come in the winter months from nesting in Siberia. They have been fed by locals for years, helping them sustain thru the winter, as well as creating an easy and wonderful photographic opportunity for us! And often Steller’s sea eagles will swoop around the same area. They are massive black and white raptors that winter over on the icy shores of Hokkaido.
If you’re not a winter person, it’s probably been a few months since you’ve taken a single photo. But, you’re in luck. Spring is just around the corner, and it won’t be long before blooms of daffodils, tulips and cherry blossoms begin dotting the landscape. But, instead of settling for the same old photos this year, why not try something a little different?
I recently began experimenting with a program called Topaz Impression. I briefly touched on this program in my article, “The Final Frames,” in the last installment of eNEWS last year. Topaz (topazlabs.com) makes over a dozen programs that can really add a unique flair to your images, but when it comes to nature photography, Impression is probably the most useful. Taking its name from the impressionistic-style of painting that emerged in France in the mid-19th century, this program can transform an ordinary-looking photo into a stunning work of art.
jon holloway is a professional photographer who concentrates on nature and wildlife subjects, along with other types of work. jon has been a photographer for over twenty years, and has been a member of the Art Department faculty at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina for the last seven years. jon serves on the NANPA Board of Directors, and has been involved with the organization since its earliest days. He believes in the power of the image to inspire thought and promote awareness of global issues pertaining to us all. His work has been nationally and internationally exhibited, and collected by private and corporate clients, museums, and galleries.
After earning an undergraduate degree in Biology, jon worked on a ranch in Montana, and got to know California photographer William Neill during one of Neill’s workshops. During the summer of 1993, jon biked across America, and that’s when he really fell in love with nature photography. Afterward, he decided to pursue a photography degree at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) at the main Savannah, Georgia campus. jon points out that this was a great experience, and was “a great time for me to really explore photography.”