17th February: Hokkaido – Dawn at Otowa Bridge

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Red-crowned cranes and river mist

We turned up at Otowa bridge before dawn to photograph red-crowned cranes as they woke up for the day.  The temperature was -26˚C  (-15˚F) and the dew point was -18˚C  (0˚F).  I had known what temperatures to expect before leaving for Japan so I was comfortable except that my fingers got a bit cold because it is not possible to operate a camera while keeping heavy over-gloves on.

Because the air temperature was lower than the dew point, the air was unable to absorb water vapour, which formed as fog over the water.  So we got nice foggy effects but because it was so cold, the birds weren’t moving much.
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Sun at dawn through branches


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Red-crowned cranes and river mist

Sometimes the fog was very heavy and we could hardly see the birds.  Many of these images are quite delicate.  I have prepared them on my monitor which is profiled with a hardware device called a colorimeter.  Most people viewing will have unprofiled monitors which might give the images an appearance different from my intentions.
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Branches in snow with the backlight of dawn.


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Red-crowned cranes and river mist

This is a rare moment in the early morning when the fog was relatively clear.
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Whooper swans and river mist


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Whooper swans and river mist

The cranes were quite a long way away.  Fortunately, there were a few whooper swans closer to us.  The youngsters would have to be sygnets (young swans).  Curious that they should be there in late winter, though.
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Red-crowned cranes and river mist

Very occasionally, one of the birds would fly a short distance.
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Whooper swan and river mist


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Whooper swans and river mist

All shots in this post were taken at an effective focal length of 600mm.   The action was a long way away.
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Whooper swans and river mist


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Whooper swans and river mist

There came to be quite a few people on the bridge.  We were there before dawn and amongst the first to turn up. Yet there were quite a few people who had turned up the night before and left a tripod to reserve a prime viewpoint.  I thought that was quite unethical and that it would have been only fair if one of the first people to turn up had moved all those tripods out of the way.
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Whooper swan flying out of the river mist


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Red-crowned cranes and river mist

A magical way to start the day.

15 comments on “17th February: Hokkaido – Dawn at Otowa Bridge

  1. gemmaberkhout says:

    So beautiful , but I am getting cold just thinking about those temperatures!!!

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    • Murray Foote says:

      I come from New Zealand and live in Australia and I’d never encountered anything like as cold as that before but with appropriate clothing it all becomes quite comfortable.

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  2. Beibei Wu says:

    WOW! Looks stunning in Hokkaido 🙂
    http://www.beilovebei.com

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  3. i appreciate the dream-like quality in your lovely photographs 🙂

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  4. andybeel says:

    Hi Murray the atmosphere in these pictures is outstanding – thanks. Andy

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  5. […] Hello ← 17th February: Hokkaido – Dawn at Otowa Bridge […]

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  6. […] 17th February:  Hokkaido – Dawn at Otowa Bridge […]

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  7. dalzellphoto says:

    I’ve had to stand waiting for the bus at the temperature some days. It is not pleasant. I feel bad for your poor fingers, so cold. Really liking the fog photographs though, dream like images.

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    • Murray Foote says:

      Thanks very much.

      This was much colder than anything I had encountered before. Canberra only gets down to -8˚C (18˚F) at 4AM in the middle of a cold winter and Antarctica, when I was there, didn’t get much colder. Perhaps because of that I was quite well prepared and quite comfortable standing round for an hour or so. Perhaps it’s harder if you live in such a climate, too, because there’s less of a choice just being there. I think it was just on the right hand I took the outer glove off and I would have been using a rain cover for the camera so there would have been a little protection from that. There were also chemical hand warmers on offer but I don’t think I used them. The fingers definitely did get a bit cold, though.

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  8. Homepage says:

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  9. […] The temperature was -26°C that morning and the fog over the river was because the frost point was warmer, at -15°C. […]

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