Pictures within the pandemic: Preserving creativity flowing near dwelling

A Japanese photographer deterred from traveling turns to technology to make art.

By Kumiko Tezuka

A year ago, Masato Terauchi had the whole world in his viewfinder. The internationally recognized landscape photographer simply buckled on his backpack and set off around the globe, wherever he wanted to capture a subject or scene.

Then came COVID-19. Like most of us, the pandemic has severely restricted the scope of his work and lifestyle. Now that international travel is out of the question, Terauchi is focusing more closely on his homeland – a majestic lake at the foot of Mount Fuji, the imposing snow-capped volcano that is an icon of his native Japan.

Photo: Masato Terauchi

“I currently limit my activities to the area around Lake Kawaguchi, where I live,” he says. “Most Japanese consider Mount Fuji to be the ultimate example of natural beauty, but Lake Kawaguchi (pictured above) is my personal favorite.”

Terauchi says living in today’s “new normal” has changed the subject matter of his work and his approach.

Over the years, great advances in digital technology have revolutionized the art of photography. Much can now be preset and then checked and adjusted in a camera itself.

A lakeshorePhoto: Masato Terauchi

However, many photographers still choose to edit their images on other devices using special software. This usually means leaving a shooting location and returning to a studio or office desktop to select, crop, and optimize images.

Now the demanding processing can be carried out on site immediately after the recording. Terauchi is among a growing number of high-end photographers using Surface Book 3 as an on-site editing tool.

During photo shoots, Terauchi routinely switches between different cameras and lenses to get different images with different effects in different ways. He also uses the many modes of his Surface with similar versatility – as a PC, tablet or portable studio for editing and processing (see image below).

A man editing a photo on his laptop

On site, he checks the photos he has just taken on the high-resolution display of his surface book. He can edit his recordings there and then to adapt them to the nuance of light and other physical conditions.

When he gets home, he uses his individual Surface Dial for more detailed retouching and other post-processing. He then consults and delivers the final recordings to customers via Microsoft Teams.

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“Having a surface book is like having a darkroom wherever I go,” he explains. “I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that just like creating new types of colors over the centuries has helped expand the world of artists, it helps expand the scope and creativity of photographers.”

Happy flowersPhoto: Masato Terauchi

Terauchi has a little more time these days and also shoots videos. Here, too, he relies on his Surface Book 3 for editing.

“There is a Japanese word that roughly translates to ‘my darling’. It’s the perfect word to describe my surface book, ”he says. “Whenever I was in trouble, it always helped me.”

A lake at sunsetPhoto: Masato Terauchi

BIOGRAPHY:
A smiling man is sitting and holding up a book. Masato Terauchi was born in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. Terauchi became a freelance photographer in 1991 after working for a publishing company. His photos of Mount Fuji were exhibited at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 2012.

He gave a talk at the FOTOGRAFICA BOGOTA 2015 in Colombia. In 2016, he held a solo exhibition at the Fujisan Sengen Okumiya Shrine on the summit of Mount Fuji. He has been a policy advisor to Toyama City since 2014 and is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society.

Top photo: Mount Fuji by Masato Terauchi.
A Japanese version of this story can be found here.

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