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I want to always keep it by my side; I want to hold it in my hands as long as possible. That’s because my PENTAX is a very special camera.

What a pleasure it is when you can pass on what you like to other people! It must be human nature to want to boast about the things you’re particularly fond of, as if they were your trusted partners — like a guitar you’re emotionally attached to because you’ve shared so many joys and sorrows with it, or a special fountain pen that you just happened to stumble upon after a long search for just the right one.

People look for something that’s special to them. For me, I can’t live without PENTAX cameras, special equipment that I like to boast about every possible chance I have. It’s their beautiful, solid designs; it’s the LED lights of the PENTAX K-1-series models, ideally positioned around the body for the photographer’s convenience in shooting either at dusk or night; it’s the Custom Image and other shooting functions which encourage me to create new and better photographic work.

PENTAX cameras are known for their ability to beautifully express blue and green tones. As you can see in my works, however, you can create subtler, deeper shades of other colors by making effective use of the Custom Image function, and more meticulously controlling the parameters.

PENTAX cameras are a symbol of absolute perfectionism in photography.

As always, I woke up in my beloved partner Kurozo, a Suzuki Sierra mini-4WD vehicle. Through the dew-covered windows, I could see the outlines of the scenery emerging, little by little, as the light began to grow from the darkness of night. After watching the light gradually fill the forest for a while, I got out of the car to take a deep breath. I could hear birds somewhere in the forest announcing the arrival of morning.

I started shooting images with sleepy eyes as I moved through the dusky, dimly lit forest. The fog started to drift into the gaps between the trees, almost as if it were trying to mislead me with its sensuous dance. However, I felt no anxiety; I rather had an emotional uplift growing within me.

While I was excited about these special circumstances, and looked forward to preserving this scene in my images, I was enticed by the fog to wander around the forest. A scene that spread out before me was both extraordinary and fascinating.

Photo 1: What I believe is most important in photography is the ability to recreate three-dimensional objects defined by the light in the flat, two-dimensional plane of photography. You can more faithfully describe the impression and condition of a particular scene by showing the atmosphere surrounding the subject along with the subject itself, rather than simply focusing on the subject alone. The first step is to identify the state of light before looking for a subject. Only when you have found beautiful light, you can find an interesting object and frame it in the image along with the surrounding atmosphere.

Dew-covered ants crawled across fields of moss, as if they too cherished the arrival of morning. As the temperature rose, the fog started to clear, revealing the shape of the forest in its entirety.

As the light continued to penetrate the forest, the sunbeams formed brighter spots in front of my eyes. Lovely flowers, previously hiding in the shade, announced their presence. Wild mushrooms that looked small the evening before had grown bigger, proving that the forest, which appeared to be still and motionless, was constantly changing.

It wasn’t an overwhelming, awe-inspiring moment at all, just an ordinary scene found in any forest. But every single stream of light appeared special and beautiful to me.

Photo 2: As the forest became brighter with the passage of time, I lowered the ISO sensitivity level. I constructed this image by first emphasizing highlighted areas by controlling the mid-range brightness level with the Key parameter of the Custom Image function, then intentionally drawing attention to the series of lit and shaded areas in the composition. By adjusting the Custom Image parameters, you can create the desired image even when you’re facing complicated lighting conditions.

Obviously, there was a hint of autumn in this forest, since I found that some of leaves had turned red. Sensing the change of seasons, I repeatedly looked into the viewfinder. I wanted to cherish the pleasure of the setting as long as I could, as I continued to capture images.

PENTAX cameras give me the sheer joy of an optical viewfinder, designed to provide a rich-gradation, true-to-life image of the subject. Although it may sound trivial, this is a very important factor to me as I continue to learn and practice photography.

The optical viewfinder, which provides a clear, beautiful view of the subject, never misses subtle nuances of light and shade, or slight transitions of color. Only when I can visualize my final image, based on the light and colors I see right in front of me, can I create a photographic expression that deserves to be called fine art.

Of course, you must have a correct understanding of the photographic factors — the effects of parameters such as highlight, shadow and key on the Custom Image modes — to be able to visualize an image. You can only find the elements that will be identical to your expected final image by repeatedly training yourself about how to make your conceptual image as close as possible to the actual final image. Only when you accomplish this task, you will be able to create your own, original works of art in all conditions.

Photo 3: People tend to think that a vertical composition is difficult to create, but I use it frequently because it lets me depict the depth of field more effectively. It’s important to detect faint light. However, image composition becomes easier when you can first identify a succession of clusters of light and shade, from foreground to background, by looking at a particular scene. If you can find this succession, you can then create the subject out of that particular scene.

I mainly photograph light in the forest. Even when I can’t travel to distant locations, I can always find plenty of fascinating scenes just by looking around. After all, the light exists everywhere around me.

Since photographic techniques of capturing light are identical, whether the subject is a forest or your everyday life, it is important to maintain the same concept of photography whichever the subject is, and wherever you are.

In the next article, I will explain to you how to find beautiful light in your everyday life, using my photographic works as examples.

Photo 4: When I visit a forest, I often find this kind of scene. By cropping it in a different way, you can more effectively emphasize its beauty.

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