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Evening at Chureito Pagoda in Japan



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I have been dreaming and planing to take this photo for years, and when the moment came it still took my breath away. Chureito Pagoda is one of those sights whe...
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I have been dreaming and planing to take this photo for years, and when the moment came it still took my breath away. Chureito Pagoda is one of those sights where everything has just come together into one perfect scene. It is only very popular with tourists and thus if you choose your timing right, you can have it mostly to yourself. Be advised that tripods are banned though.
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6 Comments |
BrunoHeeb PRO
 
BrunoHeeb May 01, 2019
The perfect shot, absolutely amazing,got, my vote
NejcDraganjec
NejcDraganjec June 17, 2019
Thank you, much appreciated :)!
jamesjohnston_3471 Ultimate
 
jamesjohnston_3471 June 22, 2019
Amazing image! This has the feel of a true classic Japanese woodcut. Brilliant.
NejcDraganjec
NejcDraganjec June 27, 2019
Thank you for your kind comment. Much appreciated.
Alfredo_Jose
 
Alfredo_Jose August 05, 2019
Wow, wow, wow!
CzierExplores
 
CzierExplores October 24, 2019
Amazing photo!
gryphonjewel PRO+
 
gryphonjewel June 21, 2020
Nice work!
gizellavgi
 
gizellavgi November 28, 2021
El lennék ott
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Behind The Lens

Location

Chureito Pagoda is one of those places where everything came together into one picture-perfect scene. It is not very popular with the locals, but it has become somewhat world famous in recent years. There are 396 steep steps leading to the overview platform but I think a view like this is more than worthy of the effort.

Time

This photo is a time blend, capturing not one particular moment in time, but rather encapsulating my memory and experience with this beautiful place. I came to the platform in the early afternoon. For popular spots its important to take extra time to prepare and compose your shots since we should always stay mindful of others also trying to enjoy the view. When I found my composition I clamped my camera to the support and started to take exposures from the moment of sunset, through beautiful blue hour when city lights turn on and continued well into the night.

Lighting

The main light on the scene is natural golden hour light, right after a stunning sunset. I also gelled a flash with CTO and filled in the shadows on Chureito pagoda to fight the contrast while shooting at the backlit subject. When city lights turned on I closed the aperture to the smallest size to get beautiful starbursts and then after astronomical dark started began a sequence for star trails on the maximum aperture opening.

Equipment

Canon EOS 6D body, Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD, Quadralite Stroboss 60 flash, Quadralite Parrot flash gels, Astronomik UHC-E astrophotography filter, Quadralite Super Clamp, Genesis BH-46 Ball Head.

Inspiration

I have been planning to take this photo for years, ever since my very first visit to Japan in 2008. I had no luck with the weather the first time around, but that is the nature of photography around Fuji-san. Then I started to see this location becoming more and more popular and I saw many inspiring photos from extremely talented photography peers. So I was wondering what could be a fresh take on this very popular location. Since I really like night and astrophotography, I decided to go for a time blend that can capture all the beauty one can enjoy there.

Editing

Time blend of multiple exposures for different parts of the image. Although I used Astronomik UHC-E filter to fight light pollution, the end result of star trails was still not of satisfactory quality. So, a couple of days later, when I was on a dark site in Japan, I took an opportunity to bring my total exposure time up, get better SNR and repeated the exposures in the same direction. Then I aligned both star trails and composite.

In my camera bag

As a travel photographer, I'm limited to what I can carry with me. I currently adventure the world with Canon EOS 6D body, Canon EF 70-200 F/4 L USM, Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD, Samyang 14mm f/2.8 ED AS IF UMC, Quadralite Stroboss 60 flash + NavigatorX + Quantum reflector, LitraPro lights, Genesis C5 tripod with BH-46 ball head and clamp, GoPro Hero 7?, Zendure A8 QC power bank, Parrot Anafi drone, and laptop, mobile phone, batteries, cables, backup disks, filters, ... All packed into Peak Design Everyday Messenger. It always surprises me how much can you pack in that bag.

Feedback

First and the most important is that you should choose your timing right. This particular location is not very popular with the locals, but infamous around the world. So you will mostly meet other international travellers there. Contrary to popular advice to travel to Japan, for this particular spot, I would strongly recommend going during the so-called Golden week. It's the period of collective holiday in Japan and most international tourists avoid it in a big circle. Which mean you might have this spot even just to yourself. Second is, bring a clamp with you if you want to make long exposures. Tripods are forbidden. Also, check a weather forecast for the Fuji and try to go on a cloudless day. It's always a lottery though... Also, bring everything to the platform the first time around. I forgot my food/water and had to return down and back up again. Then in the evening it cooled down and mousquitos came, so I had to go down the 396 stairs and back up for the third time. I felt that the next day :)!

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