Tips & Tutorials

Stunning Summer Landscapes: Scenic Spots in Japan & Pro Photography Tips (2)

The four distinct seasons in Japan offer an enjoyable shooting experience to photographers all year round. In Part 2, we introduce two natural landforms that are especially scenic in summer, as well as share some photography tips from the professionals on how to showcase these scenes in their best light. (Reported by: Michiko Kaneko, Fumio Tomita)

Cliffs in Hyogo, Japan, shot with the EOS 5D Mark II


1: Blue Pond (Hokkaido)

Blue Pond, Hokkaido, shot with the EOS 5D Mark II

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 35mm/Aperture-priority AE (f/18, 1/10 sec, EV+0.3)/ISO 100/WB: Daylight
Photo by Michiko Kaneko
Location: Shirogane, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido/ Best timing for shooting: early July/ Time of shoot: 3:30pm


A fascinating emerald green pond whose colour is 100% natural

When I arrived at the Blue Pond, the mountains in the background were not visible as they were covered by clouds. However, I wanted to include the mountains behind the grove of trees as an accent, so I waited about two hours for the clouds to clear before continuing with the shoot. I decided to make the emerald green pond the main subject, contrasting it with the trees and the blue sky. To express the overall expansiveness in the photo, I decided to use a focal length of 35mm and shoot in a horizontal orientation. I then narrowed the aperture to f/18 to clearly show the trees and mountains. Additionally, I set the white balance to ‘Daylight’ to depict the other-worldly mysterious emerald green that appeared before me.

Failed shot: Using a vertical orientation makes the composition look less expansive

Blue Pond, shot with the EOS 5D Mark II in portrait orientation

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 40mm/Aperture-priority AE (f/18, 1/10 sec, EV+0.3)/ISO 100/WB: Daylight
Shooting in a vertical orientation constricts the composition and makes the subject look less impressive. Moreover, it is not obvious that the pond is the main subject of interest.


2: Imagoura Kasumi Coast (Hyogo-ken)

Cliffs in Hyogo, shot with the EOS 5D Mark II

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 24mm/ Manual exposure (f/22, 1.3 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
Photo by Fumio Tomita
Location: Kamicho, Mikata-gun, Hyogo-ken/ Best timing for shooting: late July/ Time of shoot: 7pm


Impressive and unique rock formation dyed red at sunset

This rock cliff jutting out over the Japan Sea fully catches the sunset, casting it in a brilliant red hue. The waves were calm between the Senjojiki rock formations, so I used a focal length of 24mm and searched for an angle where the reflection was emphasized. I also placed as many of the uniquely shaped rocks into the frame as possible to bring out the sense of scale.

Technique: Capture the rocks in the foreground of the image frame to convey a sense of scale

The photo below was taken around the same time at sunset as the one above. Because this photo was taken at an earlier time, there isn’t as much of a reddish hue, with yellow being the dominant colour. Even so, the photo is able to convey the idea of sunset. I took the photo from a position where the Senjojiki rock formations were not in the foreground of the image frame, composing the image symmetrically using the real object and its reflection. Such a framing connects the reflection and real object, so the height of the rocks can also be expressed.

More tips and ideas on photographing symmetrical water reflections here:
Composition Basics! “Center Composition” and “Symmetrical Composition”
Tips for Water Reflection Photography: Fun with Puddles!
Photographing Sakura in Japan: Scenic Spots & Pro Photography Tips (3)

Cliffs in Hyogo, shot with the EOS 5D Mark II

EOS 5D Mark II/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 24mm/ Manual exposure (f/22, 1/8 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
Photo by Fumio Tomita


1: Blue Pond (Hokkaido)
2: Imagoura Kasumi Coast (Hyogo-ken)


Regions coloured in blue have been covered in the article below:
Stunning Summer Landscapes: Scenic Spots in Japan & Pro Photography Tips (1)


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EOS 5D Mark III (Body)


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM


Fumio Tomita

Born in Tokyo. After graduating from Tokyo College of Photography, he studied under a mountain photographer, and later became a freelance photographer. He specializes in natural landscapes inside Japan.

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).


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