The night has just fallen on the small valley of Ainokura village, and this is my only chance to capture its beauty, because tonight my girlfriend and I will sleep in one of those Gassho farmhouses. With my backpack full of gear and the tripod in my hand, I undertake the “climbing” of the path that leads to an high viewpoint on the slope of nearest mountain: it’s completely dark, and turning off the headlamp is the same as closing the eyes. The path is steep and incredibly slippery, because the soft snow has turned itself into compact ice; so I proceed with the speed of a turtle for about half an hour. My efforts are repayed when I reach a good vantage point and a beautiful scenery discloses itself at my eyes: the traditional houses are embraced into the warm yellow lights of the lamppost, the same light that comes from their windows sealed with thick rice paper. Outside of the illuminated area, there is the darkness and the silence of the mountains, that is where I am: the only sounds come from my steps and my breath, and from time to time I can hear some little snowdrift falling from the tall trees and rolling down on the slope. If this is not heaven, I can’t imagine what could be: I feel the peace of being close to nature and my soul lightens itself in the thin cold air of this this snowy corner of Japanese beauty.
After about an hour of contemplation, my hands and feet are freezing, I turn on the headlamp again and… a couple of tiny eyes glows in the reflection of the light beam! They are about 100 meters away and I don’t know if they belong to a fox, a raccoon or a wolf, but maybe it’s time to go back to the village cautiously…

This shot is a single long exposure of about 3 minutes, took using the “mirror up” function, in order to avoid the slightest vibration. In the out-of-the-camera shot, the only visible things are the lights and some details of the houses but, thanks to the incredibly high performance of the Pentax K-5 sensor (it has a massive 14EV of latitude!), I managed to recover a lot of details in the darkness.

EXIF: Pentax K-5 + smc A 50mm f/1.2 – 50mm – 185s – f/11 – ISO200

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