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CPMC 2019: Shooting Full Steam Ahead in the Land of Mount Fuji

Held from 18 to 26 March 2019, the Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship 2019 (CPMC2019) took 16 Canon PhotoMarathon grand prize winners on a 9-day all-expenses-paid adventure across Shizuoka and West Japan, including the Mount Fuji area and Izu Peninsula. We take a look at some of the highlights.

Group photo

 

Honing photography skills with every new location

CPMC2019 took participants to various places in Shizuoka Prefecture, home to Mount Fuji, the Hamamatsu Flower Park, sprawling tea plantations and a beautiful coastline with stunning views of the sea.

But it wasn’t simply about the scenic locations. Photography challenges are the highlight of every Canon PhotoMarathon, and the CPMC takes them to new heights. At 6 of the locations, participants were given an on-the-spot challenge that required them to shoot and submit an image according to a given theme.


Some memorable challenges

Colourful flowers in flower field

Challenge 1: Unique
@ Hamamatsu Flower Park, Shizuoka Prefecture
EOS R/ RF50mm f/1.2L USM / FL: 50mm/ Manual exposure (f/4, 1/800sec, EV±0)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
Photo by: Luke Anthony Singson, 3rd place winner

“We were in a flower park, which basically meant that everyone was sure to have a flower as the subject of their photos. I really racked my brains for ways to make my shot unique! Initially, I tried to use different angles but was not satisfied with the results. Then, I saw the graduated filters in my camera bag. This shot was created by placing a blue graduated filter at the right corner of the lens. I placed the sun behind the flowers for more contrast and depth.”

– Luke Anthony Singson


Shinkansen next to tea plantation

Challenge 2: Balance
@ Kikugawashi Horinouchi Tea Plantation, Shizuoka Prefecture
EOS R/ RF24-105 f/4L IS USM / FL: 24mm/ Shutter-priority AE (f/4, 1/640 sec, EV-0.3)/ ISO 640/ WB: Manual
Photo by Mohd Safuan Bin Salahudin, 1st place winner

“This challenge was also a train photography challenge. Hoping to get my envisioned shot of the Shinkansen railway tracks, I hiked up a hill with tall wild bushes carrying my 17kg bag, all the time praying that there would be no snakes. But when I reached the top, I realised that there were not one, but two railway tracks and had to abandon my original shot idea. Then, a new idea hit me and I decided to show ‘Balance’ by juxtaposing technology (the Shinkansen) next to nature (the tea farm).”

- Mohd Safuan Bin Salahudin


Train leaving station at dawn

Challenge 4: Dawn
@Kawanecho, Shimoda, Shizuoka Prefecture
EOS R/ EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM (with mount adapter)/ FL: 135mm (216mm at 35mm film equivalent)/ Shutter-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/400 sec, EV-1.3)/ ISO 500/ WB: Auto
Photo by William Leung, 2nd place winner

“As it was a rural area, trains were infrequent and there were only two trains in the early morning. I woke up at 5 a.m to capture this train, which was scheduled to leave the station at 6.30am. There were a few potential shooting locations that were all far away from each other. I chose this location as I thought the wooden poles along the railway tracks would create interesting framing. I also underexposed the shot a little to create a dim mood.”

– William Leung


Fujikawa bridge with Shinkansen and Mount Fuji

CPMC2019 participants shooting at Fujikawa Bridge. There was no lack of Mount Fuji and trains throughout the entire trip.


Photographer shooting in sunshine and in rain

Be it rain or shine, the CPMC2019 participants were determined to get their ideal shots.

In addition to the usual tight timelines and constraints, participants also had to adjust to the unfamiliar environment of a foreign country. The fact that everyone else was shooting at the same locations added an extra layer of competition, with participants putting in extra effort to ensure that their shots truly stood out.

But as second place winner Luke Anthony Singson puts it, such competitions are a great way to put photography skills to the test: “It makes my creativeness go crazy.”

 

Not one, but two photographer-mentors

One of the most rewarding aspects of CPMC is the opportunity to be mentored by a professional photographer throughout the entire trip. For the past four years, this role has been assumed by renown landscape photographer GOTO AKI, known affectionately as “Goto-san”.

This year, Goto-san was joined by a guest instructor, Hirokazu Nakane, one of Japan’s most well-known train photographers. Many of the photographs submitted by the participants captured trains against beautiful scenery—no doubt inspired by Nakane-san.


GOTO AKI with CPMAC participant

GOTO AKI providing advice as a participant composes a shot.


GOTO AKI with Hirokazi Nakane

Nakane-san and Goto-san provide feedback on participants’ submissions during one of the nightly review sessions.

 

The opportunity to use the EOS R and EOS RP

This year’s participants were all provided with one of Canon’s newest full-frame cameras—the EOS R or the EOS RP —for use during the trip, together with an EF-EOS R mount adapter so that they could use their camera with their current lens. Existing EOS R users were provided with an RF50mm f/1.2L USM lens.

EOS R, EOS RP, mount adapters and lenses on table

For many, it was a much-welcome opportunity to try out the EOS R system for an extended period. Overall second place winner William Leung, who usually doesn’t shoot with a Canon body, shared that he enjoyed the EOS R’s body build quality, user-friendly controls and fast, accurate autofocus so much, it would be his first choice if he were to upgrade to a full-frame camera.

Existing EOS R user Mohd Safuan, who emerged overall champion, fell in love with the RF50mm f/1.2L USM loaned to him. “The lens is very sharp, the speedy AF helped me a lot when I was shooting in low light, and the effect of the f/1.2 bokeh was stunning.”

 

The winners

The participants were scored on their submissions for 7 themes, as well as for 3 open challenges where they could submit any photo they took during the event. The top 3 winners, who had the highest scores, were:

1st prize: Mohd Safuan Bin Salahudin (Malaysia)

2nd prize: William Leung Wai Yum (Hong Kong)

3rd prize: Luke Anthony Singson (Philippines)

CPMAC 2019 top 3 winners holding prizes

From left: 2nd prize winner William Leung; 1st prize winner Mohd Safuan; 3rd prize winner Luke Singson.

The 1st prize winner went home with an EOS RP, the 2nd prize winner with an EOS 5D Mark IV miniature, and the 3rd prize winner with a limited edition EOS R notebook by Mahrker. But the takeaways from the CPMC go beyond the prizes. Besides gaining new knowledge and experiences, there were the lifelong friendships and networks forged from a shared passion for photography.

For William Leung, the event went as far as to change his original impression that Canon simply sold cameras. “I felt Canon’s willingness to put in the effort to push photography culture forward, and it is a great contribution to contemporary art.”

No doubt, CPMC2019 was a significant event in the participants’ photography journeys—which will hopefully be fruitful for a long time.


Next: Our interview with 1st prize winner Mohd Safuan, who shares what he learned from participating in photography contests.

 

Find out more about previous instalments of CPMC in:
Through Different Lenses: An Interview with the CPMC 2018 Winners
Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship Report: Battle for Top Spot in Final Showdown in Japan!

 


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