Sunset from Mount Iyogatake

Earlier this year in May, I took a trip to the Boso Peninsula of Chiba Prefecture. Although I live in Chiba, the area where I live is much different from most of the prefecture. I live in the city of Matsudo – it has a population of nearly 500,000, and is only about 30-40 minutes away from central Tokyo. As you might imagine, it’s a pretty urban town. However, as you head east from Matsudo, the prefecture quickly becomes more rural. The Boso Peninsula to the southeast is an especially beautiful area for nature lovers, as it offers everything from sandy beaches, waterfalls, and great mountain views.

One of those great mountain views can be found from Mt. Iyogatake. At 1,104 ft (336.6 m), it’s not all that tall of a mountain. However, it is quite steep, especially as you move closer to the summit. About the last third of the hike is actually climbing more than hiking, with chains and ropes playing an important part in the ascent. You can watch the video below for some behind-the-scenes footage from the climb.

Thankfully, your efforts are richly rewarded once you reach the top. In good weather, the summit offers clear views across both sides of the peninsula. The day I climbed was very hazy, but even with the haze I could see well into the distance, and ultimately the haze made for the beautiful image you see below. This photo was taken from a chained-in area on the rocky outcrop which marks the summit of Mt. Iyogatake. Although the rocks made for a nice foreground element, I had also hoped to get a non-obstructed view. Unfortunately, a tumble off the side of this outcropping would certainly lead to serious injury or death, so I decided not to risk it.

If you’re ever in the Boso Peninsula, I definitely recommend a trip to Iyogatake. Come prepared for the beautiful views and a serious workout!

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Iyogatake Chiba

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Photos From My 2016 Autumn In Tokyo Workshop

This past Friday I held my 2016 Autumn in Tokyo workshop. My photography workshops are small – there were 3 participants for this one – which gives me the opportunity to talk to and give attention to people as needed. It also helps keep us all together, which is useful in Tokyo, especially during the crowded autumn season!

During this afternoon workshop we went to some great locations in Tokyo for autumn colors. Our first stop was the famous “Ginkgo Avenue” which, as the name implies, is a long road lined with lovely yellow ginkgo trees. The colors this year were a bit early, so many of the trees had already lost their leaves, which in turn made the light and contrast much stronger than I had hoped. But we still enjoyed stretching our photography muscles out here for the start of the workshop.

Autumn chat

Fallen Ginkgo Leaves In Tokyo

Our next stop was Koshikawa Korakuen. This garden sits adjacent to Tokyo Dome, meaning it is not exactly secluded or even quiet much of the time. Despite this, it remains one of Tokyo’s oldest and best gardens. During the autumn season the colors are simply incredible.

Autumn leaves in a basin

Autumn market Tokyo

autumn leaf japan

Our final stop took us to nearby Rikugien Garden, which is conveniently located near Komagome Station on the Yamanote line. This is a fairly large garden with a beautiful central pond, but most importantly for the workshop, it offers an evening illumination during the peak autumn season, from late November to early December. All around the park the fall foliage is lit up, making for stunning and unique seasonal scenery just begging to be photographed!

Rikugien Autumn Illumination

illuminated fall leaves

Everyone had a great time at the workshop, and most importantly, I think we all went away with photos we were happy with. I’m thankful to those who participated, and look forward to doing more workshops in the future!

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Autumn On Lake Haruna || Lightroom Only

A couple of weeks ago I took a visit to Lake Haruna in Gunma Prefecture with my friend Anthony Wood. We were shown around by an older gentleman who is a friend through church – he grew up in the area, so he knows a lot of the best places to photograph. It’s always nice to have a connection with a local when it comes to photography! For lunch we ate at a restaurant in a local hotel, and it was just across from there that I took this photo. The colors were popping so nicely, and I loved seeing the birds flying across the lake along the adjacent shore. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to be there at that moment.

The photo is yet another great example of how powerful Lightroom can be all by itself for photo editing. This edit was a little more complicated because of the contrast of the scene. The bright sky, reflections on the water, and various colors made for an interesting challenge in Lightroom, but the tools are all there to make it work.

Camera: Nikon D610
Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
Shot Info: f/11 | 1/100sec | ISO 250 | 85mm

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Unasawa Valley in the Autumn

Last year I went on a hike with Anthony Wood in the Unasawa Valley – a rather remote area near Okutama, Japan. There are several waterfalls in the area, which was the main reason we went, but there ended up being some other sights worth seeing as well. I thought this particular view which is at the beginning of the hike was very nice. With a blanket of wet autumn leaves all around, it gave a great fall vibe to start the trek.

Below you can see a before and after comparison of the photo. I spiced this one up pretty strongly in Photoshop, but in a way I think it’s closer to what I remember when I was there. The original image is a long exposure, and it had to be because things were getting pretty dark by the time we left, but that left it brighter than it really was. I think the darker feeling of the finished image captures the scene a little better.

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before image
unasawa autumn final image

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Yokohama Bay Evening View

So, a little background to this image. Almost 4 years ago I took a trip down to Yokohama, which is about a 2 hour trip by train from where I live. My plan was to get there around sunset and shoot into the early evening around the Yokohama bay area. I ended up running a little late, and had already been forced to ride some very crowded trains through Tokyo, so when I finally got there I was ready to shoot! I got to my spot, set up my tripod, got my camera locked in … only to realize I had left my battery at home. Talk about a face palm moment! What could I do? I ate the dinner I had brought with me, packed up my bags, got back on the crowded trains and went home.

I’ve wanted to go back for that photo for quite some time, but things just never worked out. I’ve been back on several occasions for meetings, but the weather was always rainy. Thankfully, while my brother was in town, we were able to spend an evening in Yokohama and I finally got a shot that I was looking for. It’s been a long time in the making, but I like to think it was worth it.

Camera: Nikon D610
Lens: Nikon 16-35mm f/4
Shot Info: f/10 | Multiple Exposures (Blended Image) | ISO 100 | 16mm

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Yokohama Bay

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  • Calum - Hi Les, I have mainly used long exposure shooting around Yokohama at night but you used HDR blend instead – what do you get from HDR rather than long?
    Ps there are some other good little spots close byReplyCancel

    • leslie - Hey Calum! Basically this allows me to balance the light better. This photo is made up of 3 different exposures that I took using the bracketing function on my camera. The longest exposure was around 20 seconds long. That longer exposure gives nice details in the darker areas like the grass or sky, but it leaves most of the bright areas blown out. By blending in a darker exposure, I’m able to return some detail to those areas as well. So for example, if you were to zoom in on the image all the way, you could actually see the ceilings in some of the windows in this image, whereas in the 20 second exposure, it’s just light. If I make it back down to Yokohama by myself again I may try to send you an email and get you to show me some of those little spots. 🙂ReplyCancel