Photowalk in Todoroki Ravine

The results of two recent excursions to this lovely corner of Tokyo.

After hearing about it on numerous occasions, I discovered Todoroki Ravine last year and did a couple of walks there. I went back with two groups of students this year to give the place another shot. None of us were disappointed; superb autumn colours and a lovely walk in a piece of Tokyo that feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle.

On the Saturday of my Todoroki weekend, I was met by a few of my regular students and one or two new faces. The weather couldn’t have been better and despite finding that the local council had set about re-engineering sections of the river, we found some beautiful spots for a bit of tripod and slow exposure work. Why the Japanese seem intent upon re-ordering nature is a mystery to me. The stream through the ravine, this year, had a digger in it and it was obvious that there were forces at work to try and change the shape of the little waterfall and generally to mess with the stream. Not great but we worked around it all and people got some fun shots of slowed-down water with autumn leaves on the wet rocks.

The display of leaves in Todoroki is always good and although a bit late this year, the colours and shapes never fail to disappoint. One of the lovely things about this walk is that, because one is walking a little lower down – in the cleft of the stream – the tree canopy soars above and makes perfect shooting-ground for longer lenses. I took the 80-200 on the Saturday and went armed with the 300mm on Sunday. Charles had his monster Olympus zoom and got some great shots with it. A longer focal length and big aperture combined with the perspective-compression one naturally gets with lenses over 200mm all come together wonderfully on subjects like leaves in trees.

The small shrine and the larger one at the top of the hill kept us occupied for some time, as we all enjoyed the last of the afternoon light playing across the trees. From the top shrine’s viewing area, one is literally up in the tops of the trees and able to shoot through them horizontally; a superb perspective from which to enjoy the rich, late afternoon sun.

Sunday saw me back at Todoroki to give a walking workshop to a group from Barclays Capital. They are one of a few corporate clients I have for the photowalks and on this occasion about ten people turned up to enjoy the scenery and get some tips. We repeated the slow-shutter/silky-water shot I’d done with people on Saturday, which produced great results from everyone. The challenges of doing this in daylight are a good way of working out the variables of shutter-speed, aperture and ISO and juggling them to get the longest speed. Everyone got some practice with their tripods and discovered neutral-density filters and polarizers as a way of increasing exposure time.

All-in-all, an awesome weekend of fresh air, photography and good company.

Big thanks to Meg for coming along on Sunday to help me with my Barclays group. Meg got some superb shots. She’s got a great eye as you’ll see in her gallery below.

Here are some galleries of people’s shots. More on the way….

Photos by Mike Ross:

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Photos by Charles Lacz:

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Photos by Meg Yamagute:

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Photos by Simon Pascoe

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Here are some of my shots from day two. All are straight from the cameras; Nikon D700 with mixture of 300mm f/4, 135mm f/2 and 50mm f/1.2 and Mamiya 645AFDii with Carl Zeiss 180mm f/2.8 and Mamiya 80mm f/1.9. Not particularly happy with the colour on the pics you see in these galleries. NextGen Gallery plugin for WordPress is great but you have to set the colour profile to sRGB when you batch your RAWs to JPEG. Then the colours get muted. It’s annoying and the only way around it would be to do ‘Save for Web’ in Photoshop. But I still find that writing a batch Action for that in Photoshop a little annoying [the save and close part of the action is not fully automatic] and individually editing 80-odd shots is too time-consuming. So, will get some up on Flickr so you can see how they should really look.

Saturday gallery

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Sunday gallery

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Japanorama is run by British professional photographer, Alfie Goodrich, and provides practical photography teaching in Tokyo. Weekly workshops, group and one-to-one lessons bring together photographers of all ages and abilities.

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