Tips & Tutorials

Stunning Summer Landscapes: Scenic Spots in Japan & Pro Photography Tips (1)

The four distinct seasons in Japan offer an enjoyable shooting experience to photographers all year round. In this series of articles, we will feature spots that are especially scenic in summer and also popular among professional photographers, and also share some extremely useful techniques for photographing morning and sunset views. (Reported by: Michiko Kaneko, Rika Takemoto)

Sunset, taken with the EOS 5D Mark

 

1: Kokaigawa Fureai Park Flower Garden (Ibaraki, Japan)

A shot of Mount Tsukuba, taken after sunrise with the EOS 5D Mark III

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/16, 1/20 sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 100/ WB: Daylight
Photo by Michiko Kaneko
Location: Horigome, Shimotsuma, Ibaraki, Japan/ Best timing for shooting: early June/ Time of shoot: 5am.

 

Poppy blossoms spreading across the foot of Mount Tsukuba

To photograph this scene, I chose a 24mm lens that has a perspective exaggeration effect that can bring out the seemingly endless field of poppy blossoms. I moved close to the poppies that were glowing brilliantly in the early morning sunlight, and filled two-third of the composition with the flowers to get a stronger perspective exaggeration effect.

Care is also needed to ensure the horizontality of the composition. If you shoot after sunrise, when the sun becomes visible from behind Mount Tsukuba, it is possible to capture the fleeting glitter of the morning dew on the petals and stems despite the backlit condition, and also portray the colour tones of the flower petals at their most vivid.

 

Failed shot: the morning dew will not glitter if you shoot before the sun rises

A shot of Mount Tsukuba, taken before sunrise with the EOS 5D Mark III

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE(f/16, 1/5 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Manual
Photo by Michiko Kaneko
If you take a shot before the sun rises, the poppy blossoms will appear dull and it will not be possible to capture the glitter of the morning dew.

Check out our article on: 
Early Morning Landscape Photography: To Shoot Before or After Sunrise?

 

2: Lake Shinji (Shimane)

Sunset, taken with the EOS 5D Mark

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 47mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/25 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Shade
Photo by Rika Takemoto
Location: Sodeshi-cho, Matsue, Shimane, Japan/ Best timing for shooting: late June/ Time of shoot: 7pm

 

Popular spot recommended in “Japan Sunset Best 100”

Chosen as one of the locations in Japan Sunset Best 100*, there are many spots by the shore of Lake Shinji that offers a spectacular sunset view. The alluring silhouette in the photo below is that of Yomegashima, an island that stands alone on the lake.

At the time of the shoot, clouds that appeared over the lake were coloured by the sunset glow, so I decided to have the sky occupy a large part of the composition so as to bring out the magnificent scale of the landscape. I chose a focal length of 47mm upon taking into consideration the balance among the sky, evening sun and the island.

Strong wind was blowing on this day, thus I adjusted the ISO speed to prevent the shutter speed from slowing down, which may in turn give rise to camera shake. The horizon was covered with clouds, and just when I thought there was no chance of capturing the setting sun, it suddenly showed from in between the clouds. Unexpected “encores” like this are not uncommon in sunset photography and often result in the most stunning photos, which is why I would recommend that you continue with the shoot until at least 30 minutes after the sun has sunk below the horizon.

When photographing the evening glow, setting white balance to “Shade” or “Cloudy” enhances the red tone of the setting sun, thereby creating a more dramatic effect. The colour tone parameters of some Picture Style settings may result in very loud colours in your final picture, so attention needs to be paid to the colour balance when taking the shot.
*Compiled by the NPO Association of Township Building Sunrise and Sunset in Japanese Islands, the “Japan Sunset Best 100” is a list featuring 100 spots in Japan with the most scenic sunset view.

Check out the following articles for more tips on white balance and adjusting colour tones:
White Balance Basics to Achieve Your Desired Colour Tone!
How to Render Colours with the White Balance Correction Function

 

Failed shot: Sunlight turns out bluish

Sunset shot with the EOS 5D Mark II (bluish)

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 47mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/25 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Daylight
Photo by Rika Takemoto
Setting white balance to “Daylight” reduces the red tones in the image and makes the sunset appear bluish.

 

1: Kokaigawa Fureai Park Flower Garden (Ibaraki)
2: Lake Shinji (Shimane)

 

Check out the following articles for more tips on photographing sunrises and sunsets:
Decisions in Landscape Photography: Morning or Evening?
Capture the Fiery, Vibrant Colours of Sunrise
Decisions in Landscape Photography: Whether or Not to Include the Sun in the Frame


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EOS 5D Mark III (Body)

EOS 5D Mark III (Body) has been discontinued. EOS 5D Mark IV is now available.
Click here for more details (will be directed to EOS 5D Mark IV page)

EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Click here for more details

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

Michiko Kaneko

Born in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Kaneko started to engage in photography activities after chancing upon a deeply inspiring shot in Okunikko in 1987. She studied under the late renowned photographer, Shotaro Akiyama, before setting up a photo studio and becoming a freelance photographer. Fascinated by the beautiful colours of nature, she travels around Japan in a car, to capturing soothing shots of landscapes in the different seasons as well as photos that feature both trains and landscapes. A member of Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS) and Japan Society for Arts and History of Photography (JSAHP).

Rika Takemoto

A landscape photographer, Takemoto started photography as a hobby since 2004. In 2007, she became involved with managing a photo-sharing website. She studied under the natural landscape photographer Yoshiteru Takahashi, and later became a freelance photographer. Since then, she has been shooting landscapes all over Japan (occasionally overseas), covering a wide range of themes.

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