On Assignment: Japan for Nat Geo Travel

Last October I photographed in Japan for a branded content project with National Geographic Travel and Japan National Tourism Organization. I posted images from the field on my Instagram account and after the assignment wrapped up, Nat Geo Travel did a takeover on their Instagram account and recently published articles on the Shimane and Hiroshima regions featuring my photography.

This was my second time to Japan and I remain charmed by the beautiful, friendly country. Scroll down to see my favorite images from the assignment along with some insights into the experience.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Unfortunately, when I arrived in Japan, I arrived with a typhoon which was lashing the country with high winds and heavy rains. Though this was not an ideal start to an assignment, luckily I had head-to-toe rain gear and protection for my camera. When I arrived at Dangyo-no-taki Waterfalls on the Oki Islands I was able to make this image of falls. Read more about my experience in a Behind the Lens article on National Geographic’s website.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The Oki Islands, located north of Honshu, felt like a magical place to me. The countryside was dotted with traditional drying racks for rice, the coastline was rugged, and the forests felt ancient and wise. In one of those forests, I photographed the Chichi-sugi Japanese Cedar, which at over 800 years of age and 10 meters in circumference, was definitely something to behold.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

My favorite thing about being on assignment is meeting the people. I was invited into the home of Keitaro Nagaoka, a fisherman, painter, and herbalist who has lived on the Oki Islands for 38 years. He let me photograph him while he mended his fishing nets in his home.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

In Keitaro Nagaoka’s kitchen, I saw his shelves lined with herbal tinctures and some unusual remedies, such as pit viper alcohol. Although he offered me a tipple (which I politely declined), this wise man doesn’t use the alcohol for imbibing, rather for treating wounds.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

I loved the moody look of Dogo Island, the largest of the Oki Islands, from the Nagu-misaki Cape.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

From the Nagu-misaki Cape on Dogo, the typhoon weather finally eased at sunset and I caught my first glimpse of the other Oki Islands, called the Dozen Islands.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

At Teuchi Soba near Goku one can try their hand at making soba noodles and then feast on them for lunch. Soba noodles are unique on the Oki Islands because they use 100% buckwheat.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The road leading to Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine is lined with shops, eateries, and sacred torii gates. I couldn’t resist photographing this adorable Japanese couple as they ate from a food stall near the famous shrine.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The Izumo-Taisha Grand Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in Japan and claims to be the oldest. The surrounding region of Shimane Prefecture is known as the land of the gods because the gods return to Izumo-Taisha every October and the god of fortune, O-kuninushi-no-mikoto, is housed in the shrine.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Before the Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane Prefecture opens to the public, a team of gardeners spruces up the famous gardens, which are considered a living painting that changes with the time of day and the four seasons.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

The gardens at the Adachi Museum are not for strolling, but rather for viewing. Around every corner is a carefully curated viewpoint for looking at the “living painting.”

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Tamatsukuri Onsen is a hot spring village located near Matsue in the Shimane Prefecture. I loved seeing families and friends, like these Japanese women, enjoying the public foot baths that lined the Tamayu River.

Shimane Prefecture Japan

Tamatsukuri Onsen glows during the blue hour. The hot spring’s water is used in various bathing facilities and ryokans (inns) along the main thoroughfare which follows the Tamayu River.

Hiroshima Prefecture

Visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was both a heart-breaking and hopeful experience. Although the atomic bomb devastated the city, somehow one building near the hypocenter remained standing after the infamous blast on August 6th, 1945. The Genbaku Dome was left in the same condition as it was found after the explosion.

Hiroshima Prefecture

The Children’s Peace Monument in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was built as a monument for peace and to commemorate Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Ten years after surviving the atomic bomb being dropped on her city, Sadako Sasaki died at the age of twelve from leukemia, a common disease caused by nuclear radiation. During her illness she worked to fold over 1,000 origami cranes, hoping this would bring her a wish for good health. She did not survive, but her legacy of folding cranes has. Now children from all over the world come to the monument inspired by Sadako to deliver or send paper cranes to the memorial as a prayer for world peace and the end to nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima Prefecture

A man at his stand in the Omotesando Shopping Arcade which leads to the famous Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island.

Hiroshima Prefecture

Japanese deer wander freely on Miyajima Island and have been accustomed to tourists, like these Japanese women who had just come from a wedding.

Hiroshima Prefecture

The bright orange Itsukushima Shrine is known as the floating shrine because of its unique placement on the Seto Inland Sea. At low tide, the illusion of floating disappears as the water retreats and the local deer come in to graze for a bite to eat.

Hiroshima Prefecture

The bright orange O-Torii, or Grand Torii Gate, which stands in the Seto Inland Sea at about 16.8 meters in height, is the most well-known structure of Itsukushima Shrine.

Hiroshima Prefecture

At low tide, visitors flock to the base of the O-Torii to marvel at its size and to make wishes by placing coins into the wooden base of the gate.

If you’d like to see even more images of Japan or license images for commercial or editorial usage, please visit my Photoshelter archive.

Windy, Wonderful Wellington

New Zealand is known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes and adventure sports, but I had no idea that it also boasts an urban gem in the capital city of Wellington.

Welly, as locals call it, made me feel right at home. Maybe it was the buzzing coffee culture where I could get a flight of flat whites at the Flight Coffee Hangar? Perhaps it was the plethora of funky second-hand shops selling vintage and retro treasures? Or it was the inviting waterfront that drew me like a moth to a flame to enjoy the sweeping views and breezes, outdoor artwork, museums, and farmer’s markets?

Whatever it was, Wellington has it. I hope these outtakes from my assignment with Nat Geo Travel and Tourism New Zealand give you a taste of Wonderful Welly.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

The Laundry Bar on Wellington’s famous Cuba Street hits the right chord with its funky New Orleans vibe and Southern-inspired menu.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Stretch your legs from central Wellington to the Aro Valley where an old garage is the now the new home of a popular brewery, the Garage Project.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Wellington has embraced the Cuban theme, which originated from a settler ship named “Cuba” in the 1840s and not with the country. Regardless of the origin, you’ll see nods to Cuba the country throughout the city, including at Fidel’s Cafe on (you guessed it) Cuba Street.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Who needs a wine or beer flight when you can get a different sort of buzz with a flat white flight? I was a skeptic until I sampled the espresso at Flight Coffee’s Hangar and was fueled up for the entire day picking up on notes of toffee or orange.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Another nod to Cuba, Havana Coffee Works is home to a roastery and a coffee shop. Here master roaster Joe Stoddart soaks in the toasted aroma of roasting beans.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Floriditas is a bright and airy eatery on Cuba Street.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

It is hard not to drool at Sheperd, a new restaurant in the Hannahs Factory Laneway, when a colorful bowl of radish, carrot, and beetroot salad greets you on the table.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

I loved wandering down the charming laneways like Eva Street in the Te Aro neighborhood of downtown Wellington.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

A Wellington icon is the Bucket Fountain kinetic sculpture on the downtown Cuba Street pedestrian mall.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

A trip to Welly isn’t complete without a ride on the famous cable car which carries visitors up to the beautiful, rolling grounds of the Wellington Botanic Gardens.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Passersby can’t seem to resist posing with the waterfront sculpture called, “Solace of the Wind.”

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

In a city more famous for its wind and rain, the sunshine brings out people in droves to the Wellington waterfront. The Karaka Cafe provides seating, mats, and even hats to sun seekers.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

A wander along the waterfront will take visitors by text sculptures with words from New Zealand writers on the Wellington Writers Walk.

Wellington, New Zealand by Krista Rossow

Actor/director Bryce Dallas Howard explores the Harbourside Market with Ray Letoa from Wellington’s Roxy Cinema. To learn more about Wellington, including a video featuring Bryce and more photos of the city from me, click here.

If you’re keen for more New Zealand inspiration, check out Nat Geo Travel’s Ultimate New Zealand Experience website. To license images, please visit my Photoshelter gallery.

On Assignment: New Zealand for Nat Geo Travel

This past April I went to New Zealand on assignment for Nat Geo Travel to make images for a special website, the Ultimate New Zealand Experience. National Geographic writer Carrie Miller and I joined actor/director Bryce Dallas Howard and Tourism New Zealand to explore the beautiful island nation.

The results of our explorations are now live on the Ultimate New Zealand Experience website. Every page is packed with inspiring content including short videos, my photography, and informative articles. I’ve broken out some highlights below to make sure you see it all!

A feast for the eyes:

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The Bay of Islands near Kerikeri on the North Island looks blissful at sunrise. To see just how diverse the many landscapes of New Zealand are, visit my 19 Epic Landscapes photo gallery.

Urban exploration:

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In addition to being New Zealand’s capital, Wellington is also the capital of coffee and beer culture, second-hand shops, friendly folks, gusty winds, and small-town vibes.

Maori culture:

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Discover 6 Ways to Experience Maori Culture and see images of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, sacred and spectacular Cape Reinga, and an ancient kauri tree named Tāne Mahuta.

Strap on your hiking boots:

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Watch Bryce Dallas Howard, Carrie Miller, and me walk amongst the clouds near Queenstown and venture onto the Routeburn Track, one of the 9 “Great Walks” of New Zealand.

For foodies:

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A visit to New Zealand will not leave you hungry. Inspire your appetite with images of impromptu roadside stands, bountiful farmers markets, and gorgeous wine regions. And read Carrie Miller’s 7 Ways to Eat and Drink Your Way Through New Zealand and don’t forget to look for us in the video where we dine al fresco one of the prettiest settings in the Bay of Islands.

Before this assignment, I’d never been to New Zealand and I now find myself daydreaming about how to get back there as soon as possible. I’ll be sharing more of my experience and outtakes from this epic assignment in upcoming posts.

Krista Rossow Speaking at OPTIC 2016 in NYC

optic2016

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be speaking in New York City as part of OPTIC 2016, a photography event from June 5th-8th put on by the legendary B&H Photo Video and National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions. This “Outdoor Photo/Video Travel Imaging Conference” can be attended for free in person or via livestreaming. Simply visit the website to register for either option.

On Sunday, June 5th, I’ll be speaking for Fujifilm discussing my recent experience using the X Series mirrorless system while traveling in Asia this past winter. For those curious about making the switch from DSLRs to mirrorless, I’ll be discussing my experience while sharing the resulting photographs and teaching why bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to cameras. If you can’t make it in person, read a recap on B&H’s Explora blog here or watch the archived footage here.

Also on Sunday, I’ll be on the main stage speaking about how to “Think Like an Editor.” I will discuss how I believe that for travel photography, photo editing begins even before taking a picture. Today’s photographers are their own photo editors, and not in the sense of using Instagram filters or Photoshop, but in the sense of selecting the best imagery to share with an audience, whether that is in a family album or professional portfolio. I will give tips on how to “improve your photographic odds” by preparing to take travel photographs through research and planning. I will discuss considerations for capturing the best images while in the field and give insight on the process of curating the best images once the images have been made. From my experience as a both a photographer on assignment and as a photo editor needing to convey an effective story, I will give practical insight into improving your photography and telling your own story. Register here to livestream this talk.

Sign up to also hear talks by my National Geographic colleagues Erika Larsen, Jay Dickman, Flip Nicklen, and Ralph Lee Hopkins and many other industry professionals. If you are in New York City, make sure to visit the trade show and to register for portfolio reviews, a photo walk in Central Park, a photo cruise, and a dinner party sponsored by Nikon. All the information is on the website: www.optic2016.com.

I hope to see you in New York or virtually on the small-screen somewhere in the world!

UPDATE: The talks I gave in New York are now archived with B&H. To see my editing talk, click here, and to see the talk about shooting with mirrorless, click here.

Man riding horses on Costa Rican beach.

On Newsstands: Costa Rica for National Geographic Traveler

Last November I had the opportunity to photograph la pura vida in a tiny corner of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula for National Geographic Traveler magazine. In a rented 4×4 I bounced my way down potholed dirt roads to the tiny surfing villages of Santa Teresa and Mal Pais. There, nestled between the thick jungle and rocky coastline, I met local Costa Ricans, or Ticos, as well as folks from all over the globe that had come to this slice of paradise to soak up the surf, sun, and slow life.

Although summer isn’t quite over, the October 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler is in subscriber’s mailboxes now and will shortly be on newsstands. For more photos, stay subscribed to this blog where I’ll be posting outtakes from the assignment. Read the article by Johanna Berkman in it’s entirely here.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Costa Rica article in National Geographic Traveler

La Vida Local, photographed for National Geographic Traveler’s October 2015 issue.

Buds on grape vines in Oregon Willamette Valley

On Newsstands: The Oregon Trail to Pinot Noir

Last month, just as buds were appearing on vines, I explored Oregon’s wine country while on assignment for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine. Head to newsstands to pick up an issue of this Pacific Northwest magazine and get inspired to take “The Oregon Trail to Pinot Noir.”

1859 Magazine Spread

Road Reconsidered article shot for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine, May/June 2015 issue.

1859 Magazine Spread

Road Reconsidered article shot for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine, May/June 2015 issue.

For more images from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, see outtakes here.

Durban and Kwa-Zulu Natal in National Geographic Traveler magazine

On Newsstands: Durban for National Geographic Traveler

In January, I went Into the Zulu Kingdom with travel writer extraordinaire, George W. Stone, for National Geographic Traveler magazine. The folks at Traveler already knew I was in love with South Africa from a piece I shot for them a few years ago and I was more than happy to return to explore a different area of the country.

George and I, with the unfailing support of our fixer Rhys, made it our mission to discover the highlights of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. We ventured to the near unpronounceable iSimangaliso Wetland Park and were rendered speechless by the wildlife we spotted. We explored Zulu culture in the beautiful rolling hills outside of Durban. And while in the Northern Drakensberg Mountains, we went in search of the world’s second tallest waterfall only to be foiled by fog and spoiled by other gorgeous vistas.

And then there was Durban. We got to explore this breezy city on the banks of the Indian Ocean and its rainbow of cultures, flavors, and activities. We sniffed out the up-and-coming scenes and visited old classics.

I gauge the real success of an assignment on how badly I want to return to a place. This assignment has done nothing to abate my desire to return to South Africa and catch a wave in a pastel sunrise on Durban’s waterfront.

Click on a photo below to see it larger. Bonus: Can you find my cameo?

Head to a newsstand to read the full story in the current May 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine and see more photos in an online gallery here.

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Thanks to the team at Traveler for a great story, especially Dan, Christine, and Jerry. And kudos to George for being such a wonderful travel companion and collaborator!

Editor’s Note: The recent xenophobic attacks in Durban and other parts of South Africa are shocking and tragic. If I’ve learned anything from my visits to the country, it is that South Africans are proud, strong and resilient. I hope that this dark, passing cloud is brief over the sun of South Africa. I encourage you to visit this amazing country to see the beauty of its people and culture firsthand.