Friday 15 April 2011

Snow Monkey Photography

I said in my last blog that i would explain the difficulties in shooting Snow Monkeys in Japan-Is it the miles of walking? Is it the Altitude? or is it the extreme weather that makes it so difficult to get great images? Well its none of the above although it is a bit of a trek-1 mile but fairly flat track to get to the place to buy your ticket to get in, There are some steep steps towards the end and by the time you get there with all your gear you are glad that it wasnt further, There is also surprisingly no place to get food and the drinks machine is a bit of a trek so you end up carrying stuff there or going the whole day without and you really do need water, No the biggest problem in getting good images is people or rather the amount of them-coach loads turn up a few times a day and there can be a couple of hundred people in a relatively small area, Most of course want to shoot the monkeys in the hot springs as thats the classic image but the monkeys can be spread over a sizeable area, You just need to decide what you want and wait and be patient-not my best trait i must admit, It also takes away the image of 'wild' but the monkeys are not captive and can come and go as they want, What keeps them there is the availability of food and the hot water, Every hour or so a warden throws small petals (i think) out for them to fed on-he throws them in the water so that the monkeys will get in there if they are not already and he also throws it all over the snow which means time cloning to get a nicer image, The monkeys are not the cleanest of animals either and there is monkey nuggets all over the place-and they float-more cloning, One factor that played its part in most places that we went to was steam from the hot springs that are all over Japan and Hokkaido, Its like shooting in thick fog and you soon learn that the images with the animal IN steam look crap and you wait until the steam is behind the subject and it looks great, A lot of my deleted images are animals/birds in heavy steam,I started off using flash for all my images as the hot springs are in quite a steep sided valley so the light is dim but that made the steam pictures worse and i think limited use of flash is probably better and just time your images to coincide with the steam being blown away, The water to the hot springs are provided by black pipes that run all over the place and you have to be very careful when shooting that these do not get in your backgrounds, So the 'Monkey Park' is not a real wildlife experience but it is a fantastic place and one that i will be going back to, The local village where you stay is very traditional Japanese-No Starbucks or Mc Donalds etc just traditional Japanese food and drink, We spent 3 days at the park and i think that for 1 trip is plenty and you need to go away and process your photos and mind and then go back and have another go, If you are ever in Japan its a must see

There is small area where they have put some ropes up and a tiny swing for the young ones to play on

And there is a nice stream next to the hot spring which the monkeys sometimes cross for a different kind of images

And of course where you get Monkeys you will get interaction
The main thing that was missing in our time there was fresh snow, We would have liked the classic monkey in hot spring images with snow coming down and the snow that was there was getting very dirty but i am sure thats another good reason to go back, Its only 3 hours from Tokyo by train and possible in a very long day but a couple or 3 days is perfect


No comments:

Post a Comment