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I like to complete my work on the spot: I finally found a camera that fulfills this desire.

My ongoing passion is isolating the light found in the woods.

Sometimes it rains, but I keep moving forward on a steep mountain path. My sensation when I find the light I have been looking for is absolutely the moment of truth. It makes my completed work a special, one-and-only piece.

The essence of my work changes dramatically between what I recall later during a retouching process, and what I perceive right there, on the spot. That’s why I was searching for a camera that could truthfully reflect my sensibilities in the work I create.

The Custom Image function featured in a PENTAX camera allows me to shape an image from the light when I choose the right contrast and highlight/shadow settings.

The camera also provides me with a selection of excellent fine-tuning tools, including the key function, which allows me to adjust the intermediate light levels. The viewfinder transmits to my eye a true-to-life image of the subject, while the body is extremely durable, designed to withstand all the challenges of the harsh conditions in the field.

This full-featured PENTAX camera means I can successfully produce very special work.

Everyone pursues those scenes which they have never seen before; everyone cultivates their own world of the mind. That’s why I like to capture one-and-only images exactly the way I originally saw and sensed them, and express the light in a way like no one else does.

One day, I found myself living a life pursuing the light found in the woods, searching for that singular moment in time that no one else has ever witnessed, isolating and capturing the subtleties of a light that will disappear an instant later.

Before leaving on a photo-shooting journey, I double-check all the equipment I have gathered together on a previous day, including enough spare clothes for the length of the journey, bear-deterring pepper spray, a whistle, emergency and safety gear, and of course, the essential photographic equipment. All of my photographic equipment is PENTAX. In this article, I will explain to you the reasons why I choose PENTAX.

After every necessary item is accounted for, I squeeze everything into my traveling partner, a black Suzuki Sierra mini 4WD car I have dubbed Kurozo — the black one. I place the PENTAX K-1 Mark II, PENTAX 645Z and a set of lenses on the front passenger seat, with the backrest pushed down to a full-flat position to create a bed on the road.

Photo 1: I hardly ever carry a tripod with me, because I prefer to hold the camera in my hand for most images. The PENTAX K-1-series camera’s dependable SR II five-axis mechanism assists me with this: it allowed me to create what I think is my distinctive shooting style of instantaneously changing various parameters while I walk freely through the forest. Thanks to the SR II mechanism, I can capture dimly lit scenes like the image above without raising the ISO sensitivity setting more than is necessary. (With the PENTAX 645Z, however, it requires extensive training to keep the camera steady in handheld shooting.)

I will regularly change the shooting location, depending on the feeling of the moment. The movement of the clouds, the flow of the air, the sound of the wind and the moisture in the air all might affect my decision; all of these factors combine to lead me to the particular location.

Kurozo and I wander the roads we happen to discover. Following a rough, rain-soaked trail deeper into the woods, we reach a beautiful spot enveloped in mist. Here, even the sound of the rainfall and birdcalls seem to blend in with the stillness.

Because the light is diffused by the mist, the entire forest is veiled in a faint light, creating a mystically beautiful atmosphere that is both dramatic and inspiring.

Photo 2: I can tell you that all PENTAX cameras, including the PENTAX K-1 Mark II, provide superior durability and dustproof, weather-resistant construction. This lets me continue shooting regardless of weather conditions. I can even use it in heavy rain without any worry. (I do have to be extra cautious in the rain, though, because my main lens, the PENTAX D-FA 31mm F1.8AL Limited, is not designed as a weather-resistant lens.) The durability and weather-resistance of PENTAX cameras is very reassuring out in the field. The image above is a gold-banded lily on a rain-drenched trail.

I park Kurozo on the shoulder of the trail, and exit the car with my eyes fixed on the breathtaking light. I feel stones, roots and layers of fallen leaves under my feet. In that moment, I feel as if I have transformed to become part of this forest.

I watch the ever-changing scenery around me, listing to the eternal sound of rain falling. The dense forest, rich with scent of rain-soaked conifers; the entirety of the scene stretching in front of my eyes — all of this is part of the now, this exact moment of life that will never return.

It doesn’t have to be a singular, overwhelming moment. Even a single ray of light shining on a fallen leaf can be beautiful enough for me. My only wish is to freeze this feeling of the moment in an image, right now, right here.

Photo 3: I turned the image to the desired colors by adjusting the color temperature in 100-degree steps (in the Kelvin scale). PENTAX cameras generate rich colors with distinctive beauty. In particular, the depth of green and blue hues is unmatched by others.

I believe that the most important factor in creating a photographic work is in my ability to craft the image by reflecting the true atmosphere of the shooting location, even though it is also important to process the captured images later on at my desk. To be able to craft an image that conveys the feelings I have in encountering a soul-stirring moment, I believe that it’s essential that all the necessary adjustments and settings be made right there in the moment.

To photograph the faint, beautiful light enveloping a forest, or the rays of sunshine filtering through the trees, my ability to capture that delicate light three-dimensionally comes from carefully assessing the amount of light present, and making the necessary adjustments on my camera. And it is because PENTAX cameras faithfully respond to those feelings and desires felt at the moment that I can employ my distinctive photo-shooting style.

In the coming travel essays, I will share some of the essential points of crafting an image with PENTAX cameras, and some of the topics related to specific shooting locations.

Photo 4: I mainly use two Custom Image modes — Bleach Bypass and saturation-reduced Vibrant — because they enhance the richness of certain colors and emphasize the light. I reduce the exposure level, adjust highlight and shadow settings using the extension mode of the Custom Image function, and finally adjust the key setting (the intermediate light level), which I regard as the most important factor in digital photography. This key adjustment is very useful because, when you use it effectively, you can highlight a single light source in a dark scene, or soften the overall impression of the image. PENTAX cameras also automatically process annoying noise for you when you adjust the key setting. This for me is one of distinguishing and unique features of PENTAX cameras.

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