The Master and Apprentice: An Autumn Adventure


 
We recently sent Canon Master, Richard I’Anson, and The Master’s Apprentice winner, Kayle Gordon, to Hokkaido to explore and capture the autumn wonderland of Japan’s north.

We caught up with the two of them for a quick recap of all the best bits and their most memorable shots.

JNTO:

Thanks for sitting down with us, guys. First off, how are you guys feeling post-adventure? Jet lag?

Richard:

Our pleasure. No jet lag for me, although I would say I’m quite used to it by now. As expected, the flight to and from Japan was excellent through and through. We flew premium economy with JAL and thoroughly appreciated the lounge access pre-flight and the comfy seat—oh! and the extra leg room on board! Food and service were great as usual. These little things really help with things like jet lag.

Kayle:

I’m still pumped to be honest. Like Richard said, flight was great. It was my first time flying premium economy. The extra legroom and the delicious food made the flight super comfortable and allowed me to get a decent amount of sleep ahead our trip. Big thanks to JAL.

JNTO:

Good to hear! So on your flight before meeting up, what was going through your head?

Richard:

I was just hoping that we had given the prize to a worthy winner. I soon realised we had!

Kayle:

More excitement than anything. I was super ready to meet Rich and get stuck into our trip.

JNTO:

We’re so glad to hear you got on so well. Kayle, was Richard a good mentor?

Kayle:

We got along great. He was a great mentor both in photography and in life in general.
I learned so much. Richard touched on pretty much every area of photography. Composition, right settings, gear, lighting, editing, storing photos, everything.


 
Richard:

Agreed, we got on really well. Kayle was a great student and very good company. He was eager to learn, asked lots of questions and put into practice the things we discussed at the next opportunity. He was quite open to my feedback and suggestions and clearly wants to take his photography to the next level.

JNTO:

Next level indeed. We’ve pulled one of our favourites from the trip. Can you tell us a little bit about the setup and story behind the shot?


Photo credit: Kayle Gordon
 
Kayle:

This is a portrait I shot of a bride wearing a traditional wedding kimono. Our driver said we were very lucky in that there was quite a high number of traditional weddings happening that day. Portraits aren’t my forte, but I feel I did pretty well capturing her and some other portraits from our time at the shrine.

Richard:

I think this is one of Kayle’s best shots. We waited until their official photographer had finished and then raced over and asked if we could take a couple of shots. She was more than happy to pose for us. Before we approached, we set our cameras up with the right focal length lens, shutter speed, ISO and aperture so that we captured the shots quickly and efficiently, minimising our intrusion in her day.

JNTO:

Speaking of gear, what gear did you take with you?

Richard:

I took my standard set of gear. Two Canon EOS-1D X MKII DSLR camera bodies and three lens; My Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L III USM zoom lens, Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM zoom lens and Canon EF 70-200 f2.8L IS II USM zoom lens. Plus my Gitzo carbon fibre tripod.
I also packed my laptop and external hard drives to store and back up the images. This equipment allows me to capture the full range of subjects that I expect to come across and work quickly and efficiently. I always head out with the 24-70mm lens on one body and the 70-200 on the other. That way I rarely have to change lenses.

Kayle:

I brought over my Canon 6D Mark II which I won from the competition. Thanks, Canon! As well the 25-70mm f4 lens which was also included. My tripod for some steady shots and also my laptop for editing photos. Worked a treat!


 
JNTO:

So, what was the highlight of your trip?

Kayle:

The day we left Sounkyo in Daisetsuzan National Park. We were headed to Sapporo. A really diverse day, in the morning we shot at a cemetery, then visited the ridiculously saturated Blue Pond and the hot spring waterfall—White Beard Falls. Both close to Furano. An amazing Tonkatsu lunch with a few cups of sake to go with it in Furano. That afternoon we enjoyed more rolling hills of autumn colours on a winding decent down to Sapporo.

Richard:

I loved every day. Each day presented different subjects, conditions and challenges so there was a lot to talk about and a lot of insights to pass on to Kayle. But if I have to choose, I’ll go for the hour or so we spent at Hokkaido Shrine. At first there wasn’t much going on but by waiting we were rewarded with a series of interesting cultural shots. Given we were mostly shooting landscapes I enjoyed the opportunity to explain to Kayle how I work in these situations, which is very different to what we had been doing until then.

JNTO:

Favourite place to shoot?


 
Richard:

I think we can both agree it was Daisetsuzan National Park. We were surrounded by forest, cloud and mountains; in fact we got some great shots from the driveway of the hotel! More importantly, with easy access to numerous viewing points and the Kurodake Ropeway, we were able to quickly travel to varying elevations in the park enabling us to shoot a variety of different landscapes in varying atmospheric conditions including snow, low misty cloud, bare trees, trees in the process of losing their leaves and trees displaying full autumn colour. Perfect!

Kayle:

Definitely Daisetsuzan National Park. There were barely any tourists there when we were there which really added to the charm of the place.
JNTO: What makes Hokkaido so unique?

Kayle:

Well Hokkaido’s autumn colours alone are enough to make it a destination for photographers. Mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, volcanic geysers, waterfalls, beautiful forests, wildlife—the list goes on. For Hokkaido’s size, it packs a punch in what it offers in a relatively small place.

Richard:

Couldn’t have said it better myself.


 
JNTO:

What did you get up to when you weren’t taking photos?

Richard:

The days were quite short due to the time of year so we spent a couple of hours after sunset and before dinner processing images from the days shoot and discussing Lightroom techniques. We had a bit of travelling to do in our very comfortable car so there was plenty of talk about photography, travel and AFL football! And when we were in Sapporo we enjoyed wandering the streets looking for interesting bars and restaurants.

Kayle:

And trying all the different Japanese food and drink!

JNTO:

Wrapping things up—your adventure summed up in 5 words?

Richard:

Fantastic! Should have been longer.

Kayle:

Incredible, Beautiful, Diverse, Exciting, Satisfying.


 
For more photos of their time in Hokkaido:

Richard — https://www.instagram.com/richianson/

Kayle — https://www.instagram.com/kaylegordon/.
Interested in learning photography with Richard? Visit https://www.expandmy.world/ and start your own journey today.

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