Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Winter's Tale


Yuji Obata. Homage to Wilson A. Bentley #1. 2005 - 2006.



My latest enthusiasm is for the work of Yuji Obata who we are now lucky enough to represent. I was introduced to Obata’s work by Yoshiko Suzuki, curator of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, who kindly gave me a rare copy of Obata’s study of winter in the Hokkaido Province titled “Winter Tale”.

Yuji Obata was born in Japan in 1962. He attended the Nihon University College of Art and currently resides in Tokyo. In 2003, Obata was compelled to photograph winter scenes in Japan as he stood in front of Pieter Bruegel's painting "The Hunters in the Snow" in Vienna's Museum of Art History. Upon returning to Japan, he traveled to the country's northernmost island, Hokkaidō, known for its cold and snowy winters. As he worked there photographing ice skaters at a middle school rink and a local speed skating team, his enchantment with images of winter deepened. Traveling around different regions of the island in winter, he began noticing the varied qualities of the snow itself, and finally became fascinated with the unique challenge of photographing snowflakes in motion as they fell from the sky.

Obata was inspired by the story and works of W.A. Bentley, an American farmer and photographer who adapted a camera and microscope to photograph a single snow crystal for the first time in 1885. Bentley went on to photograph more than 5,000 snowflakes in his lifetime, and his technique was so successful that it continues to be used today.

Like Bentley, Obata was obsessed with the challenge of doing something no one had done before – in his case photographing snowflakes in freefall rather than on a flat surface without digital or any other manipulation. It took Obata five years to achieve but his breakthrough resulted in the capture of pictures that allow the snowflakes to relate to each other in space and size, creating dynamic compositions and scenes. Obata chose to shoot the series in the mountains of Hokkaidō, based on its extreme cold and its history as the place where Dr. Ukichiro Nakaya did research that led to his invention of artificial snow. And while Obata is properly reverent to those who inspired him in this project, his photographs stand alone as fresh and original works.

I hope you enjoy them and if I don’t get around to posting again for a while I hope you'll find these pictures seasonally cheery and appropriate. Happy Holidays!



Homage to Wilson A. Bentley #4. 2005 - 2006.



Homage to Wilson A. Bentley #10. 2005 - 2006.



Homage to Wilson A. Bentley #7. 2005 - 2006.



Homage to Wilson A. Bentley #8. 2005 - 2006.


14 comments:

pianosa said...

I just wanted to say I've been following the blog since the very first post, and continue to appreciate your posts, no matter how frequent or infrequent. :)

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Nice photos. Reminds me of the unique quality living things posses amidst the seemingly uniform quality of existence (birth, life, death.) How each of us meets life's challenges stamps us with what is called Character. The photos are a perfect coda to what, for most of us, was a challenging year. Let us hope for a positive 2011. Cheers!

Susan said...

What a lovely surprise, both that you're back and the beautiful photos. Thank you!

lula alvarez said...

A perfect post for the season! Me too have been "out" of reading your blog for a while. Obata's images are strong and challenging for he is looking for the soul or the essence of what the subject to photograph is. It is always difficult to portray nature, and here it is all about simplicity, yet carefully crafted images of timeless natural beauty. Great you are considering this photography worth of represent and thanks for sharing. Happy holidays to you too!

Anonymous said...

Terrific post. Beautiful work. And this is why we need you to POST MORE OFTEN.

Alice Olive said...

I've been following your blog for a while and still love it.

These images are spectacular and somehow, calming. It's like you can imagine the silence of snow falling in the middle of the night. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Any idea if & where you can purchase a print of these photos? they are stunning.

Trina

Siria said...

I like the snow-fotos, they are so beautiful!

The Year in Pictures said...

They can be purchased at Danziger Projects. They are $2,500 and come in editions of 10. If you mention you are a reader of this blog we will give a 20% discount!

coy colleen said...

wow these are fantastic - and even give me chills. thanks for sharing!

Macthomson said...

I look forward to a 2011 with many of your valuable posts. In the meantime let me pass onto you a discovery I made recently.

http://sandlander.blogspot.com/2010/12/istabsir.html

In the case of Donovan I think tilt-shift is fully justified by his subject... Dubai.

Joe Holmes said...

Hey, James. Happy New Year!

liz baller said...

Wonderful...and simply beautiful photos! I also have been following your blog for a couple of years and find it interesting and informative. Thanks

Wild Rose said...

I have to say these photos are pure genius and well worth the work! As someone who is on the constant look out for new patterns for fabrics, this would be amazing on fabric.

Really impressive!