Michael Pilkington • Photographing Hokkaido

The second largest island of Japan, Hokkaido, has mountains, lakes and springs, and its vibrant character makes it a perfect place for photography. Michael Pilkington takes a trip through its chilled beauty

I have had the privilege and pleasure to travel to many countries in the pursuit of my passion of landscape photography. There are some that are better than others, and by that I mean that they are perhaps more rewarding or more challenging. At the top my list is Hokkaido in Japan. Hokkaido is the second largest island of Japan and the most northern. Hokkaido has the lowest population density in Japan with most of the land given over to farming and agriculture. This is important, as it is these activities that give the location its character.

In the depths of winter, temperatures drop to such an extent that the sea freezes. At altitude I experienced less than -30°C. When it is this cold your nostrils freeze and if you are not careful any water from previously melted ice on your tripod legs also instantly freezes, locking your tripod in the closed position. As an aside, I have to say that I was impressed with the performance of my camera gear in these extreme conditions.

It snows a lot in Hokkaido. Cold air blows in from Siberia across the Sea of Japan collecting moisture and creating dense clouds that dump enormous amounts of snow on the landscape. As with many countries that often experience many centimetres of regular snow, the Japanese are well organised, and the roads are continuously cleared. It is surprising to see the absence of ...

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About Author

Michael Pilkington

Michael Pilkington is a professional landscape photographer and co-founder of the Landscape Photography Workshop company aspect2i. He is principal lecturer of the Epson Print Academy and also teaches infrared and other aspects of landscape photography with aspect2i.

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