Otowa Bridge Cranes in the Mist & A Sharp/Soft Multiple Exposure « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Otowa Bridge Cranes in the Mist & A Sharp/Soft Multiple Exposure

What’s Up?

We left the lodge way early and spent an entire day with the wonderful Whooper Swans. We did OK in the pre-dawn trying for the Paul Mckenzie overhanging branches stuff and then got lucky well after sunrise with backlit onsen (hot springs) steam images. Then another great lunch at the world’s best ramen noodle restaurant in Teshikaga. I have eaten so much on this trip that I skipped the ramen noodles with pork and went for pork dumplings with a side of diced pork and a spicy pork ball. It was much less to eat but superb. We were blessed with overcast skies for our afternoon sleeping swans on snow on frozen lake shoot. All but one of the clients headed back to the lodge early but the three leaders and Sam Hogue, a multiple IPT veteran, stuck it out to the bitter end and were rewarded with some nice sunset colors. I am starting this blog post in the car on the way back from Lake Kusharo and will finish it after a visit to the local onset and dinner. Then it will be early to bed and early to rise as we head to Rausu for an experimental one day sea eagle cruise…

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 107 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated.



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This image was created at the Otowa River Bridge in Tsurui on the Japan in Winter IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 222mm and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode. Shade WB.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the closest line of cranes in the center and recompose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Red-crowned Cranes in pre-dawn river mist

Otowa Bridge Cranes in the Mist

Though I made more than half of my images with the 600 II and a 5DS R, pretty much all of my favorites were made with the 1-4II. The image above was created just as the first rays of the sun struck the trees on the right hand bank.


This sharp/soft double exposure was also created at the Otowa River Bridge in Tsurui on the Japan in Winter IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 400mm and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/640 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode. WB: 10000K.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the closest line of cranes in the center and recompose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Red-crowned Cranes in river mist well after sunrise

Sharp/Soft Multiple Exposure

This sharp/soft two-frame multiple exposure was created about thirty minutes after the sun first hit the river. Lucky for us that the mist actually increased. To create a sharp/soft blur set your camera up for a double exposure and create a sharp image. Then de-focus the lens and create the second image. You will either need to use rear button focus or use One-Shot AF for the first frame and then turn the AF switch to Manual thus turning off AF. As with all blurs, experiment with different techniques when defocusing; you can turn clockwise or counter-clockwise a lot or a little.

Your Favorite?

Which do you prefer the traditional image (#1) or the more creative version (#2)? Be sure to let us know why.


Consider joining me in Japan in February, 2017, for the world’s best Japan in Winter workshop. Click on the card to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Japan In Winter IPT. February 9-24, 2017: $13,999/double occupancy.

All lodging including the Tokyo hotel on 9 FEB, all breakfasts & dinners, ground transport and transfers including bus to the monkey park hotel, and all entrance fees and in-country flights are included. Not included: international flights, all lunches–most are on the run, and alcoholic beverages.

Please e-mail for couple and IPT repeat customer discount information.

This trip is one day longer than the great 2014 trip to allow for more flexibility, more time with the cranes, and most importantly, more time for landscape photography. Hokkaido is gorgeous. You will enjoy tons of pre-trip planning and gear advice, in-the-field instruction and guidance, at-the-lodge Photoshop and image review sessions in addition to short introductory slide programs for each of the amazing locations. Skilled photographer Paul McKenzie handles the logistics and we enjoy the services of Japan’s best wildlife photography guide whom I affectionately call “Hokkaido Bear.” His network of local contacts and his knowledge of the weather, the area, and the birds enables him to have us in the best location every day.


Amazing subjects. Beautiful settings. Nonstop action and unlimited opportunities. Join me.

The Logistics

Arrive Tokyo: 9 FEB 2017 the latest. 8 FEB is safer and gives you a day to get acclimated to the time change. Your hotel room for the night of the 9th is covered.

Bus Travel to Monkey Park Hotel: 10 FEB: A 1/2 DAY of monkey photography is likely depending on our travel time… This traditional hotel is first class all the way. Out stay includes three ten course Japanese dinners these sumptuous meals will astound you and delight your taste buds. There are many traditional hot baths (onsens) on site in this 150 year old hotel.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 11.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 12.

13 FEB: Full travel day to Hokkaido/arrive at our lodge in the late afternoon. The lodge is wonderful. All the rooms at the lodge have beds. Bring your warm pajamas. A local onsen (hot springs bath and tubs) is available for $5 each day before dinner–when you are cold, it is the best thing since sliced bread. The home-cooked Japanese styles meals at the lodge are to die for. What’s the best news? Only a small stand of woods separates us from the very best crane sanctuary. During one big snowstorm we were the only photo group to be able to get to Tsurui Ito; we had the whole place to ourselves in perfect conditions for crane photography!

FEB 14-23: Red-crowned Crane, raptors in flight, Whooper Swans, and scenic photography. Ural Owl possible. One 2-night trip to Rausu for Steller’s and White Tailed Sea Eagles on the tourists boats is 100% dependent weather, road, and sea ice conditions. Only our trip offers complete flexibility in this area. It has saved us on more than once occasion. An afternoon of duck photography in the harbor at Rausu is a strong possibility. The cost of 3 eagle-boat trips is included. If the group would like to do more than three boat trips and we all agree, there will be an additional charge for the extra trip or trips. Do understand that few if any tours offer at least one afternoon boat trip….

Lodging notes: bring your long johns for sleeping in the lodge. In Rausu and at the Snow Monkey Park, the hotel the rooms are Japanese-style. You sleep on comfortable mats on the floor. Wi-fi is available every day of the trip.

FEB 24. Fly back to Tokyo for transfer to your airport if you are flying home that night, or, to your hotel if you are overnighting. If you need to overnight, the cost of that room is on you.


Life is short. Hop on the merry-go-round.

To Sign Up

To save your spot, please send your $5,000 non-refundable deposit check made out to “Birds as Art” to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. I do hope that you can join me for this trip of a lifetime. Do e-mail with any questions or give me a buzz at 863-692-0906.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent Galapagos cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

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7 comments to Otowa Bridge Cranes in the Mist & A Sharp/Soft Multiple Exposure

  • avatar Richard

    Pictures are creatively clicked!! I really liked the color mixture in picture. Thanks for sharing this post 🙂

  • avatar David Peters

    Amazing Photography! Very creative, beautiful colour schemes, enriching the looks of the birds in the image.

  • avatar Gretchen Cole

    Image #1 gives me a sense of place and overall the dynamic of the sun hitting the trees. I do not care for the sky. The trees hanging over on the right are lovely.

    Image #2 has a beautiful overall color palatte and is “mystical” by way of the double exposure. Very creative.

    I cannot choose. Just my thoughts on each image.

  • avatar Catherine Costolo

    I think the soft focus image is beautiful and I love the way the soft colors surround the birds.
    The traditional image is lovely too but I prefer the soft focus one.

  • avatar Brendan

    I like the traditional (#1) image better overall. Most of your blurs convey a sense of action and movement, and I don’t get that from the #2 image here. That’s the biggest determinant in my choice, I think. I think the mist is well captured in both pictures. I like the crop better on #2 – I think the big strip of bright sky on #1 is distracting, and the overall color palette is better with #2.

  • avatar James Saxon

    I like the soft focus double exposure because the image has more color throughout the upper portion and it gives me the sense of experiencing the mist. Great image.

  • I like the soft focus image. Just looking at it brings a sense
    of calm to me. Makes me feel like I’m floating.