Sandro is an Italian photographer. He graduated with a computer engineering degree and worked for several years in the IT field.
After a long struggle, in 2017 he decided to quit the so called “Comfort Zone” and he started working on building his new career as a professional photographer. He loves nature, mountains, landscapes, hiking, and “getting lost” while travelling exploring the world. He is fond of Japan and its culture and he is working on a personal project about this fascinating country. He is always looking for projects that focus on the importance of preserving our Earth and respecting nature and he is deeply convinced that photography is still one of the most effective and important ways to communicate.
Words and images by Sandro Bernardinello
In the last few years I’ve been working on a big personal photography project about Japan and its most remote places. I’ve been solo travelling and exploring this country for several months now and I’ve seen many places. In July 2018 I was wandering in the north and I went to what is now one of my favorite places ever: The Ohachi-Daira Crater in the Daisetsuzan National Park. Located in the center of Hokkaido, it’s the largest national park in Japan and it covers 2,267 square kilometers of stunning mountains and volcanoes. Here nature shows, in all her matchless beauty, some of the roughest and wildest scenery of the country.
Japan is an easy country to explore. It’s extremely well organized and everything works smoothly. It is also true that solo travelling for months as a landscape photographer can be challenging, especially if you are on a budget and you can’t always afford to rent a car. Having to carry all your stuff around, from the busy streets of Tokyo to the wild mountains of Hokkaido, you must be organized. I’ve walked more than 900 km in 2 months, and I needed a great backpack that was at the same time capable and comfortable. I used an f-stop Tilopa with a Medium Slope ICU. I put the pack through all sorts of weather conditions and it never disappointed me.
In more or less an hour, I reached the summit of Mount Kurodake, where the mountain hut is located. From here, after a gentle ascent, I finally reached the first lookout over the crater. It was breathtaking. The caldera has a diameter of 2 km, and its bottom is covered by a puzzle of patterns like splashes of color in a painting. A river runs from one side to the other, drawing a sinuous line that goes all the way across the place. The white clouds and the deep blue sky complete the amazing view. The hike goes all the way around the ridge going up and down several peaks from which I got some astonishing 360-degree views over the surrounding mountains. I still have goose bumps thinking about it now.
The trek is not particularly tough, but I found myself testing my balance more than once when crossing patches of old snow in a few steep stretches along the trail. Right before the last ascent to the hut I knew there was a supposedly small river to be crossed walking on the various rocks in the water. Coming out directly from under a large bank of snow, the stream was actually pretty big. Thus, I just had to roll up my trousers, put all my gear and shoes in the backpack and go for a healthy, revitalizing bare-foot crossing in the freezing water.
After such a great hike, there is nothing better than relaxing and having dinner in what was probably one of the best "dining room with a view” I’ve ever been to. After a refreshing nap I went out to check the sky for some night shots and I was not disappointed. A sea of stars and one of the brightest Milky Way views ever were shining against the dark sky. That was one of those moments that is worth any fatigue, any missed hour of sleep, and any difficulty I had to face before.
As a landscape photographer, I feel sunrise is undoubtedly my favorite moment of the day. After a few hours of sleep, I got up at 3:30 a.m. to check the weather conditions and, again, my heart filled up with a joy that made me forget any tiredness. The stunning view of the rising sun flooding the entire landscape with its golden light was unforgettable.
After two years of travelling around, I’m now back in Italy for a few months. It feels good to be back home for a while and it’s a good way to sum up and to set new goals too. I’ll surely be going back to Japan in autumn or winter to get more shots in those seasons when the colors are simply stunning. I’m also planning some other pretty adventurous trips for 2020, focusing on environment conservation involving Italy and Africa! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or check my website www.sandrobernardinello.com. Stay tuned!