The years just keep rolling along, and this will be my eighth year of churning out serious photography. By serious, I mean I put a great deal effort into finding the location, composing the shot and post-processing. This is how I differentiate serious photography from my snapshots. Oh, there are times when I can get snapshots that look as good as my serious work, but those times are quite rare. In fact, these days, most of my snapshots are taken on my iPhone, and you’ll probably never see them. They just don’t hold up to my work on flickr. Unless I’m out looking for something specifically using my iPhone. I still use DSLRs for most of the heavy lifting. It would be hard to capture many of my photos on anything but DSLR camera, or one of those new(and expensive) mirrorless cameras. They allow me to select the lens and choose how far to step up or down in light. Camera phones are getting closer to this, but I don’t think they’ll ever do what my other equipment can do.
Anyway, before I announce my Best shot of 2012, here is a list of the previous winners from back when I started keeping track of the best of the year.
And finally, this year’s Best shot. I fell in love with this the minute I took and couldn’t believe what I had. I went out there looking for a cherry blossom tree photo. I never expected the clouds to be like that. It was a pleasant surprise. And there it is,
Every year, autumn comes to my little corner of northern Japan. I always great it with a smile, but I know it will be a fleeting visit. Unlike Kyoto or Tokyo, Autumn arrives in Iwate quickly and it only lasts for a handful of weeks. I treasure every moment I have with it. This year, I took many photos during the autumn season. Autumn in Hachimantai can be thought of as two sub seasons: The color season, and the golden season. For this years photos I will show you some of my best examples of each sub season. If you can, you should really try to come here during the autumn season. Japan becomes one of the most beautiful places on Earth during this time. Well, at least in my humble opinion.
The Color Season
The Golden Season
Living in northern Japan has its share of good and bad. Being in a smaller area means that you have less access to major shopping and entertainment facilities. These are downsides many people could not stand to live without. One major bonus, however, is the incredible amount of raw nature a person can experience. In my little area of Northern Japan, Hachimantai City, located in Iwate Prefecture, I live not 15 kilometers from Mt.Iwate, one of Japan’s one hundred famous mountains.
Mt.Iwate as seen from Hachimantai City
Now Mt. Iwate is famous for a number of reasons. It looks just like Mt.Fuji from some angles. It’s a great mountain for climbing, and its snow cap paints a picturesque view in the winter. Recently, I have discovered that Mt.Iwate, like other cone shaped volcanoes such as Fuji and Mt. Rainer act as amazing lenticular cloud making machines.
Lenticular Clouds near Mt.Iwate
Lenticular clouds are saucer shaped clouds that are often seen stacked like pancakes near large mountains. On certain days winds rolling off the mountains create a standing wave. If stable and moist the air is around the mountain and falling downwind when the dew point is reached, the disks condense into clouds will stack up on each other. Every year, many people call the police to report these odd clouds. They looks either like a flying saucer or a cover for one. they are perfectly normal clouds. But you tend to find them around mountains.
Mt.Iwate has been a perfect source of lenticular clouds this year, and I’ve had my camera going most of this summer trying to document them. The following is what I have recorded so far. Sometimes, the lenticular clouds bend and warp out of shape and form incredible bulges in the sky. Once or twice a year, they provide for a spectacular sunset. Please enjoy these photos and look out for them the next time you are hanging around some mountains.
You can see many signs that spring has come in people here as well. First comes the graduation ceremonies followed by the farewell parties(sobetestukai.) Then, new job assignments and High School placements are announced. After this, comes the first day and the welcome parties(kangeikai) and finally, to experience the explosion of cherry blossoms all over the country, there is a mass of flower viewing parties(called Hanami) all over the country. People in Japan take their cues from nature. It’s so timely, you could set your watch by it. This is spring in Japan.
Photo: Cherry Blossoms at Takamatsu pond in Morioka City, Iwate Japan. HDR with three exposures around sunset. Canon 350D 50mm f/1.8 ISO 100.