Shooting the Tadami Line: Tips from Pro Photographer

Back in October I was interviewed for a program called “Fukushima Then & Now, the Samurai Spirit”, which aired on NHK World as part of one of their J-Trip Plan shows in December. You can see the program online here!

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During the filming I was joined by Hoshi Kenko san. We visited the Tadami Line Bridge No. 1 Viewpoint and Mugenkyo Ravine, which I wrote about in a previous blog post here.

We went to Tadami River Bridge No. 1 Viewpoint to make it in time for one of the first trains to pass over that day, but even so, we were joined by a number of people. Some locals, but also international tourists! In this photo, you can see me interviewing a couple from Taiwan.

During the filming, Hoshi Kenko – a local photographer who is known internaitonally for his stunning photographs of the Okuaizu region of Fukuhsima, and in particular, his photos of the Tadami Line – showed me a number of spots in Okuaizu. Hoshi san takes hundreds of photos a day, and is an expert in capturing the Tadami Line Bridge on camera.I wrote about Hoshi san on my previous blog here.

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One of the focuses of the show was on Hoshi Kenko san’s amazing photographs. Hoshi san is a really inspirational guy. His passion for his local area really comes through in his photos. When he’s not taking photos, he’s operating an old-fashioned ferry across the Mugenkyo Ravine in order to share the beauty of this area with visitors from far and wide.

I have been a huge fan of his photography for years now, so it was great to get a chance to speak to Hoshi san specifically about how he takes his photos.

Here are Hoshi san’s tips on taking photographs of the Tadami Line train crossing over the bridge.

1) Give yourself 2 chances

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Once the train starts passing over the bridge, it doesn’t take long before it’s disappearing into the bushes on the opposite side of the track.

If you want to get a good photo, Hoshi san recommends arriving at a time when there will be one train heading in one direction, and a returning train crossing the bridge in the opposite direction shortly afterwards.

Arriving at the viewpoint at 7:20 or 9:00 should give you 2 chances to snap a great photo. For the times of the trains passing over the bridge, see my Guide to Visiting the Famous Tadami Bridge Viewpoint article.


2) Get in the bushes

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I was really suprised by this one! Hoshi san recommends stepping away from the gravel of the viewpoint and into the shrubbery in order to adjust your composition to get the bushes and foliage to border the train in your photo. Here is a little illustration of where we stood (well… crouched) when taking our photos. The letters represent the four different viewpoints (A, B, C and D).

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3) Concentrate on composition

Don’t worry about getting the railway bridge right in the middle of your photograph, and try out lots of different angles when taking your photo. The train/bridge doesn’t even need to be the focus of your photo. Hoshi san recommended “Looking at which aspects of the scenery look most beautiful that day, and make an effort to include those in your composition”.

You can see below how I focused a lot on trying to get the red and orange autumn leaves in the photo, but kept the bridge right at the centre of my photos, where as Hoshi san experimented more with how to frame the picture.


4) Wait for the sun to shine

Our filming happened a bit too early (a week or so) for really capturing the beauty of Aizu’s autumn leaves on camera. But even so, the leaves (and the rest of the scenery) looked so much more vibrant and beautiful when the sun was shining on them. It might be an obvious thing, but waiting for the sun to peak out from behind the clouds before snapping your shots will improve your photos!


5) Get there early!

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This viewpoint is becoming more and more popular with tourists from inside Japan and abroad, so make sure to get to the viewpoint early in order to make sure you get a good spot to take photos. Also, arriving early means you don’t have to worry about potentially missing the train going over the bridge (something I can definitely imagine myself doing!!)

For an example itinerary of how to plan your trip to the Tadami Line Viewpoint, click here!

See below for my other blogs about the Tadami Line Viewpoint:

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