Before I even start to talk about my experience of shooting in Japan, I must confess that one of the proudest moments of my life so far was wearing the India badge over my jacket when I represented my country as the finalist of the Canon PhotoMarathon Asia Championship 2019. Representing your country at such a big stage is always a matter of pride; it certainly brings the best out of you especially when the format of selection was a huge challenge in itself.
On the event day of the Canon PhotoMarathon India competition, we were given two themes in consecutive halves of the day; we had to go out on the streets, capture images relevant to the themes and submit one best image without any sort of post-processing in that limited time frame. It was not just about the skill but the clarity in thought process and decision-making ability that was put to test. For once, I would say that my experience of working as a consultant helped immensely since one of my winning frames had a quirky reference to one of my past assignments. I must say that the format of this competition (i.e. the prelims and the mains) is amazing, it certainly prepares you for some of the toughest challenges that you might face as a professional photographer, going ahead.
Shooting in Japan at the Grand Finale was an eye-opener for me in many respects. Though I didn’t manage to win the championship in the end, those 10 days were perhaps the most productive in terms of my personal development as a photographer. It was the perfect platform to polish my skills. Three of my key takeaways from the trip would be:
- How to Capture an Impressive Shot of a Moving Train with Continuous Shooting– as discussed by the legendary train photographer Mr. Hirokazu Nagane.
- Professional Tips for Shooting with a Tripod with a focus on the use of a tripod for horizontal panning shots without the chance of vertical shake and improvement in success rate – as discussed by our beloved mentor of the entire trip, Mr. Goto Aki.
- Maintaining crisp focus is a mandate for all images – Our mentor, Mr. Goto Aki had mentioned in one of his recent interviews that one common mistake that he spotted in course of the entire trip was that many of the shots, though spectacular in composition, were not as sharply in focus as they could have been. This is one of the most critical aspects to look at since the photographs shot in the trip are not just meant for digital use but there will also be opportunities to showcase large prints of them. And when that happens, it will be very obvious that the image is off-focus.
Furthermore, I was the only contestant of CPMC 2019 who is a regular Nikon user. As I arrived at Tokyo, everything seemed to be pretty much on track, until the briefing, where Evan, the CPMC coordinator from Canon Singapore, made an unexpected announcement – “All images were to be shot on the EOS R or EOS RP.” As we spent the rest of the evening tinkering with the cameras and familiarizing ourselves with the features, customizing the settings, etc., one concern was lingering in my mind, this battle was going to be quite tricky. Thankfully, my initial experience of using the Canon 550D helped immensely in getting acquainted with the Canon EOS RP and it was a smooth ride from thereon.
Landscapes and travel photography are closely aligned with my interest; the landscapes in Japan were an absolute treat, to be honest. I certainly tried a lot of long exposures in the course of the competition, which I believe was quite different from my usual style of photography. Making effective use of the ND Filter while shooting landscapes in broad daylight is something that I mastered in this period.
The experience of shooting Shinkansen-and-MountFuji-partnership under various conditions was nothing less than spectacular. Special mention goes to the authentic and luscious Japanese food that absolutely stole the show. I personally loved our daily schedule which was defined by the underlying principle “Eat-Shoot-Sleep-Repeat” and most important made bonds for a lifetime. The experience, to some extent, addressed my lingering confusion in line with the idea “whether a street photographer can end up shooting landscapes efficiently”. The results are in front of your eyes!
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