I recently have visited Hokkaido, Japan in an officially organized trip by Olympus. There were rounds of sight-seeing and doing touristy activities, and I had the opportunity to bring with me an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with several PRO lenses to use throughout the trip. We did not have a lot of time, and most of the trip was already planned out, so I was merely tagging along. As a result, most of my images taken were nothing more than snapshots that any ordinary visiting tourists would have taken, in the eyes of a foreigner visiting an alien land.
The experience was quite surreal, it was my first time seeing so much snow, and being in a place with almost -10 degrees Celcius was both fun and painful in some ways. I have always loved the cold but the trouble to go through, putting on layers and layers of cloths, wearing proper walking boots as well as using gloves, seriously no joy in those. And operating a camera, shooting through the gloves was so difficult!
I did have one final day in Shinjuku, which I had some brief time to myself to explore on my own. I have decided to merge the images from Shinjuku together with Hokkaido series, since I did not have enough images to create a Shinjuku series on its own.
All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko lenses 7-14mm F2.8 PRO, 25mm F1.2 PRO, 45mm F1.8 and 40-150mm F2.8 PRO
The Sapporo TV Tower, with an observation deck at the top. Of course, like any other tourists I went up and had a high viewpoint of Sapporo's beautiful city from up there.
Japanese cities are so beautiful, many of them are surrounded by high mountains.
Naked tree branches, in winter. I know some of you are bored of this sight, but to me, this is something quite unusual and never seen in Malaysia.
Portrait of a Stranger 1
Bathed in glorious morning golden light.
Similar view of the previous image, at night.
Snow festival happening right in the middle of Sapporo city.
One way to attract customers, shine a bright light through the menu.
Temperature was cold enough that ice sculptures do not melt at all.
It was snowing most of the time I was in Hokkaido. As it gets colder and colder the fun was somehow lost.
We visited the Asahiyama Zoo, about 3 hours drive out of the Sapporo City. Did not shoot much here since I did not have a long tele lens with me. I needed to borrow the lens from my colleagues for some shots.
My first encounter with a Polar Bear. Not sure if the temperature here was cold enough for the bear though.
I love how the sky was so clear and blue all the time I was there.
The congestion is real in Japan. Looking from high viewpoint, it was incredible how the Japanese could maximize every single space of the land they have.
Again, attracted to the blueness and clean lines. I like how the straight lines were placed against the unpredictable doodles of tree branches.
The light is always directional in Japan, even at times close to noon. How I wish the light in Malaysia is the same. Basically at about 10am onward in Malaysia the sun is so harsh coming from the top it was almost impossible to get good lighting on any subject you shoot outdoor. Here in Japan even at noon, you get good shadow features and side light, and the sun was never too harsh.
We caught the snowboarding competiton which was a huge thing in Hokkaido. Shot this with the 40-150mm F2.8 mounted on the E-M1 Mark II. The prowess of the Continuous AF continued to amazed me. I only had about less than 5 minutes with the long lens since it was not mind, and I managed to capture some perfectly sharp in-focus images.
This dude was my favourite from the bunch because of his expressive hair!
In one of the mornings I went to the fish market with my colleagues. We had an awesome breakfast there, fresh fish and seafood. And of course we spent some time walking around, shooting. I was standing at the cold storage area where this shot was taken.
Portrait of a Fish Market Seller.
Portrait of a Stranger 2. I think it is too cold out there.
The snow gets piled up, and somehow turned into ice, creating very slippery walkway, and even roads for the vehicles. I have witnessed a few skids of cars, and I myself almost fell down, slipping off the walkway. Almost.
Working on a new Signboard.
One of the creepiest looking snowman ever.
I seriously love the light here! I can spend the whole day shooting, if only I was given such opportunity.
Portrait of a Stranger 3
Crab to go.
Sapporo by night.
This was the first image I took at Shinjuku, Tokyo. Such a lovely, lovely place for street photography! So much possibilities and I only had about an hour here. Such a shame.
I went up the Tokyo Metropolitan Tower for this shot. This was at 45 stories above the ground, overlooking Tokyo, with clear view of Mount Fuji (the snow capped mountain) in the far background. The view was simply majestic, though this was just an ordinary, tourist shot that can be taken with a smartphone.
Bicycle was actually a huge thing in Japan.
So much fun playing with pockets of light shining throughout the city.
Love the drama the morning light created. Even simple shot of a man walking his dog has so much ambiance and beauty with such incredible light!
It was also easy to find shapes, lines and repetitive patterns to play with in composition! I was overwhelmed with choices to shoot. Too bad, time was not enough.
Even the Policemen were on bicycles.
A wider view showing the Tokyo from the Metropolitan tower.
This was perhaps the best breakfast I have ever had in my life. 5 super thick slices of Salmon, and 5 smaller slices of salmon, with so much Roe topping on Japanese rice.
My colleague, Pond's breakfast. Prawn and Octopus... yummy!
We had a plate of Shashimi in almost every meal!
Seafood on top of rice, for lunch!
The last time I had a good Beef Tataki was with a friend and ex-colleague Stephen Tai from Perth, about 10 years ago! I have not had a good one ever since. It was so good we had the photo of the beef tataki as our desktop wallpapers, both Stephen and I. Stephen, if you are reading, this Tataki beats the one we had in Perth. Hands down.
Some seriously delicious lamb!!
Jelly Fish. Mum, you would have liked this!
Yes,. we had plenty of Ramen as well. This one had like the chunkiest Chasu slices I have ever seen in my entire life. This was the only image I am showing here, taken with a smartphone camera. Yes, there were many times I put down the camera and just enjoyed my food too.
Of course, having the ever famous Sapporo beer was a must!
Some street food that I did not try.
Pond, a colleague and photographer from Thailand.
This was Pond's E-M1 Mark II and 12-100mm purposely placed on snow.
I sure hope you have enjoyed viewing the images I have taken from my recent short trip to Japan! I shall treat these images as an extension to sample images that I have for the E-M1 Mark II review. I did not do much post-processing on them, and most of the images were almost straight out of camera.
Do let me know if any of you have been to Hokkaido, or Japan recently. I think Japan is such a beautiful country, and I really wish I have a full on photography trip next time. You know, just do nothing and walk around awesome places shooting photos. That would be an experience of a lifetime.
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