Japan Photo Drift: Niigata Snow Country

Niigata Dec. '14

Yukiguni “Snow Country”

Tokyo may be generally mild, dry, and sunny in winter, but it comes at a cost to its neighbours: much of the snow that crosses from continental Asia bumps up against the mountains of central Honshu and dump their burden on the Sea of Japan side of the island. Niigata, where R. is from, lies within this yuki guni,”snow country.” In fact, the novel Snow Country by KAWABATA Yasunari is set in the mountain resort area of Yuzawa. Each New Year, R. and I pass through on our way by Shinkansen to coastal Niigata. The change from the balmy Kanto plain to yukiguni is always dramatic as the shinkansen exits a tunnel from Kanto and enters mountainous Gunma prefecture. The photos taken from the train are of Gunma and Niigata, both coming from and returning to Tokyo.

This year, 2014, Niigata has had a particularly hard spell of snowfall. In fact, the day after we arrived blizzard conditions kept us holed up for most of the day at the home of R.’s parents. We did manage a walk later in the day, however, and these are the town and castle pictures in this set.

As usual, most of these pictures were shot with an Olympus E-P5 and my current choice of lens, the m.Zuiko 17mm 1.8. To cut down on glare from the train window, I attached the optional lens hood and pressed it to the window. Foolishly, I didn’t have my PEN with me the time R. and I walked to the castle, so we shot these images on her little Canon iXY, which gave surprisingly good results.

I processed these images in Lightroom 5, and used single-shot settings in DxO Optics Pro 10 for HDR results. The results areNiigata Dec. '14 Niigata Dec. '14 Niigata Dec '14-4 Niigata Dec '14-5 Niigata Dec '14-6 Niigata Dec '14-7 Niigata Dec '14-8 Niigata Drift Dec '14 Niigata Dec '14-10 Niigata Dec '14-11 Niigata Dec '14-12 Niigata Dec '14-13 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA brilliant on on the Retina screen of the new iMac.

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3 thoughts on “Japan Photo Drift: Niigata Snow Country

  1. Cool images. Growing up in New England I miss snow sometimes. These images are great. If you didn’t mention you HDR processed the images I would not have guess. Good job on the processing.

  2. Hey David, I know what you mean about missing snow. I got so homesick for a Canadian winter last year I finally made a Christmas trip to Toronto – just in time for the biggest ice storm and power outage in years! Cured the homesickness…

    I just upgraded DxO OpticsPro to 10 and have only started to play with its features. Have to say, I’m not in general a big fan of HDR images – too plasticky. Still, I think the DxO “realistic” HDR setting adds a certain presence to many pictures, especially when used with a judicious amount of ClearView for landscapes.

    Thanks again for the comment!

    1. … should have said that these images were processed with the “artistic,” not “realistic,” preset levels of HDR in DxO Pro X… Don’t usually apply such heavy-handed filtering, but in these pictures I like the result.

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