Monday, September 3, 2018

On Exhibit - Mount Fuji


Mount Fuji, also known as Fuji-san, is the highest mountain in Japan, and is an active stratovolcano. It is not too active, though; it last erupted in 1707.  

Click on the above image to see a close-up of it.

With broad slopes, Mount Fuji is an easy mountain to hike. The first recorded ascent was in 663 by an anonymous monk. Women were forbidden to hike it until the Meiji Era (late 1860s). Sir Rutherford Alcock was the first foreigner to hike it (1868). Lady Fanny Parkes, the wife of British ambassador Sir Harry Parkes, was the first non-Japanese woman up Mount Fuji (1869).

Today, Mount Fuji is only open to hikers from July to early September. Since it is relatively easy to hike, even for beginners, and it only takes about 6 hours to go up, Mount Fuji is usually packed with hikers. Despite the challenges of the sometimes harsh weather conditions at the top, the biggest challenge is often the hordes of other climbers! There is a saying “A wise person climbs Mount Fuji once in their life. A fool does it twice!” I wonder if the crowds of people had anything to do with the origin of that saying?

In the 1800’s, the forest at the north-west base of the mountain (Aokigahara) was one place that poor families abandoned their very young and their very old. Sadly, Aokigahara is now the world's second most popular suicide location, after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. It has an English nickname Suicide Forest, and is the site of around 30 suicides a year. While we were visiting Japan, a controversy broke out when a popular YouTube blogger posted a video showing the body of a suicide victim in Aokigahara.

Mount Fuji is a tall and lonely mountain, standing at 3,776 m (12,389 ft) with nothing else around it for about 10 km. With a very symmetrical cone that is usually snow-capped, Mount Fuji is a very pleasing sight. It is the embodiment of the perfect mountain! All this combines to make Mount Fuji a powerful inspiration, and writers and artists from around the world have used it as a subject throughout the ages. Mount Fuji is so dominant in art that, in 2013, UNESCO added it to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Heritage Site and not as a Natural Heritage Site. It is an icon so powerful, that its profile is instantly recognizable to people around the globe.

Like many artists, I have long had the Mount Fuji bug. When I visited Japan in late 2017, it was at the top of my “must see” list. To ensure we went to the best places for seeing Mount Fuji, and to better understand what we were looking at, we booked a guided tour instead of trying to plan an itinerary ourselves. My only worry for the visit was that the weather would occlude the peak, or even the entire mountain. Fortunately, on the day of our pilgrimage, the weather was clear and crisp. The sky was a deep blue, and there was only a small cloud at the top of the mountain itself.

I quickly learned why visual art of Mount Fuji depicts it from a distance, as I could find no attractive composition of the mountain from its base. It was only when we later got to the top of Mount Hakone, some 20 km away, that I was able to finally capture Mount Fuji in a composition that resonated with me.

Standing near the top of Mount Hakone, at an elevation of 1,300 m, I was still only around one-third the height of Mount Fuji! The angle of view from my vantage point, however, was just about perfect. I had an unimpeded view of the mountain and its peak, and I could include enough of its base for a foundation of a composition. The only problem was the bitterly cold, blustery wind. It was so cold and so strong, that my hands shook while holding my camera.

That same strong wind was blowing over the peak of Mount Fuji, which was high enough for condensation to appear as the wind moved over its slopes. This condensation formed an ever-changing cloud that seemed to dance in front of me.

With the tones of the sky and the mountain itself in such contrast to the ragged, windswept cloud that seemed to fly from the snowy peak like a flag, there was no question in my mind that the image had to be done in black and white.

This image is on display at the Artpoint Studio and Galleries in the Members Exhibit during the month of September.




Artpoint is located at:

1139 11 St SE,
Calgary, AB
T2G 3G1

A link to the Google Map location is here.

The print on display is about 86 cm wide (34"), so it shows all of the interesting detail of the cloud at the top and the slopes of the mountain. I made it on a traditional baryta photography paper, using a high-dynamic range, archival ink-set. The folks at 17th Avenue Framing did the matting and the framing using archival acid-free mats and museum grade, anti-reflective 99% UV ray protection glass.

I hope you are able to get to Artpoint sometime in September and have a look at the print. It has much more impact in person than it does on a computer screen.
In conjunction with this exhibit, I am offering a show special through my on-line store. Use the discount code Eyeconic2018

I have two other prints on display at this exhibit. You can read about these images here (the Round Tower) and here (Carbonear Island).

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On Exhibit - Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, also known as Fuji-san, is the highest mountain in Japan, and is an active stratovolcano. It is not too active, though; it la...