I managed to get out of London to shoot the Eclipse, photographing it from down in Cornwall luckily dodging the cloud that plagued London! Above shows the partial covering mid way through.
A Vietnamese farmer stands proudly on his water buffalo as the sun sets near Hoi An, Vietnam.
I am very happy to announce my photo shown above from my trip to Vietnam last year was shortlisted for the National Geographic Traveler UK competition 2015. It has also been selected as one of 16 photos of the thousands that were entered to be displayed in The Print Space gallery on Shoreditch High street, London where it is on display until the 4th of March 2015.
At the end of last year I visited Scotland with some friends, I had previously only visited Scotland for the day, and this time wasn’t much longer, but I did spend a long weekend in Glasgow, Edinburgh and surrounding area. After arriving in Glasgow we drove up to Loch Lomond.
By this point the famous Scottish rain had really set in by this point and had swelled the normally tranquil waterfall to this raging torrent of brown water.
One of the oddities of Glasgow is the Necropolis, essentially a huge graveyard which was built in the 1800s, a very highly prosperous period in Glasgow’s history where vast sums would be paid to build elaborate tomb stones and monuments to the cities great and good on their death. It is perched on a hill overlooking the similarly shaped and coloured tower block of Glasgow and is quite a eerie place to walk around. Scotland is somewhere I want to spend a lot more time, so many beautiful places to photograph.
After 2 weeks destroying ourselves in the Japanese snow it was time to head back to Tokyo before catching the plane home to London. Tokyo is one of my favourite cities I have ever been to, insanely busy and huge but also highly organised and endearing. The people in Tokyo always seemed polite and interested to see these crazy Westerners who had come to find snow! Numerous people came up to us in the street just to say hello and ask us where we are from, without being over bearing or annoying.
One of the places we tried to visit was an owl cafe, it was a way out of the centre of the city, around half an hour on the metro but we arrived but it was already fully booked for the day so we weren’t able to go in. I did manage this photograph in the entrance.
We were staying in Shin Okubo in very basic accommodation, a room with 6 mats on the floor for 7 people… But we weren’t planning on dong much sleeping in our three days so it suited us fine. Our first day we were met with rain and a biting wind, I was glad I had kept my snowboard jacket on still.
Having only seen the manic neon streets of Tokyo last year it was refreshing to and walk around the outside of the Imperial Palace where there was a lot more space and tranquility, despite being able to see tower blocks just a few hundred meters away.
Shinjuku station was according to Wikipedia ‘used by an average of 3.64 million people per day in 2007, making it, by far, the world’s busiest transport hub’. It is easy to believe it too, there are around 200 exits and you can walk for miles in circle underground if you are not careful. Even above ground you can walk for 15 minutes and still re-enter the station from another point. Unlike London’s underground system the hallways are wide and large, but no less bust. The London underground scowl seems less prominent here, but it is just as busy. Something I noticed and I think it says a lot about the cultural differences in the countries is that the ticket turnstiles in Japan are open by default, only closing if your ticket is invalid. Quite the opposite from London’s closed default.
The robot show was one of the highlights of Tokyo from the previous year, I didn’t actually make it to the show this year but this is a snap from last year. The show is something that could surely only exist in Japan! 8 foot high robots, scantily clad women dancing in intensely choreographed shows held in a tiny basement in the center of Tokyo. Truly mind blowing and likely unlike anything you have ever experienced before.
Shibuya crossing is one of those places you have to visit when in Tokyo. Made famous in numerous films, most notably Lost in Translation, it is a truly awesome spectacle. Watching thousands of people stop and start in perfect unison according to a set of traffic lights is really captivating. Sitting there with a coffee time seems to pass without you noticing, waiting for the lights to send the next wave of people across, then finally as the lights change back watching the last few people race across as the cars start again.
This is a time lapse I shot of the process in action, some from ground level and some from Starbuck above. Shooting in the night made me really long for my Canon 5d Mk III which I had left at home in favor of the lighter weight 60D.
After a couple of hours sleep it was time for the long flight back to London. Japan – It was a blast.
For the second year me and a group of 6 friends travelled to Japan searching for the elusive powder that Europe so often lacks. The previous year was a blast; amazing snow and an alien but very friendly culture so the urge to go again was strong! The main aim of the trip was to ride as much powder as possible, with photography taking a little bit more of a back seat.
Our first stop was in Niseko one of the best know resorts in Japan, very popular with Australians. The mountain is not large compared with European resorts, but it has a good lift system and powder in abundance. Unlike most resorts in Japan off piste skiing/snowboarding is allowed within gated areas which are opened depending on conditions.
Whilst travelling around Cambodia at the end of last year I met Shoki, who it turns out lives close to where we were snowboarding in Sapporo. He came up and met us for a couple days boarding in waist deep powder, he picked the right days.
One of my favourite purchases of the last few years was a GoPro camera, you clip it to your helmet and head down the mountain. I used it a lot on this trip until the mountain reclaimed it from my head into some powder, never to be seen again…
After about a week in Niseko we were off on a road trip around Nothern Japan to ski some different resorts hoping to find some more Authentic Japanese experiences. First stop was the resort of Rusutsu, a strange resort with a large tower hotel and a roller coaster for the summer time. The roller coaster certainly makes the resort memorable.
Our next stop was Mount Asahidake, a more remote location with just one cable car, or ‘ropeway’ as they are called in Japan. There are two cat tracks leading down from the summit and some pretty full on off piste terrain in between. The temperature was -18c, with fierce winds and very low visibility, but the deep powder made for great riding. I would love to go back here with proper trekking equipment and better visibility as we only scratched the surface of what this place had to offer. The mountain definatly wasn’t the steepest I had ever ridden, but there were tons of fun gullies and tree runs to keep things interesting. You did have to keep you eyes open for volcanic vents and other random holes in the snow…
The hotel we stayed in was very old school Japan, with dated beds and a very traditional atmosphere. The amazing on-site Onsen (natural spring baths) and quirky food made for a memorable experience. The hotel played Western pop songs, but played by bells, giving an eerie horror film feeling to the place.
Whilst driving between resorts we came across this place and had to go in and have a look, it roughly translates ’24 hour, we will buy anything’. It was a mad emporium of everything you could ever want to buy, everything from DVDs, to sex toys, to fishing gear, to guitars and everything else in between. I could of spent hours in this place wondering around its neon aisles.
Our final snowboarding stop was a resort which has 4 massive tower blocks and seemed to be a kind of Japanese Centre Parks, including a huge indoor wave pool. The lift system was pretty extensive here, and not very busy. We had been really hoping for a final big dump of snow before we got there, but it wasn’t to be. Even without snow for a few days there was still powder to be found between the trees higher up.
Linking the towers were these massive, freezing corridors which felt strangely abandoned, you could often run through them in the depths of the night without seeing another soul.
Waking up to this view from the 28th floor of Tomamu towers at sunrise at sunrise, having forgotten to close the curtains the previous night was one of the most memorable experiences of the trip.
By this point we had been snowboarding and skiing pretty much non-stop for 2 weeks and were all pretty knackered. As we were leaving the resort to drive to the airport for our flight the next day to Tokyo a warning light showed up on the van, so for the next 3 hours we sat awaiting a call from the hire company as to whether we could drive it to Sapporo. Eventually we got the all clear and we made it without problem thankfully.