Masahiro Miyasaka cites nature as the fuel for his creativity. Nagano, Japan, his hometown, is famous for its clear skies and abundant mountain ranges, which he has been shooting for 10 years, revealing beautiful shapes and reflecting earthly nature in the stars. In 2012 Miyasaka was named Astronomy Photographer of the Year by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in the Earth and Space category.
I began to shoot the stars in June 2004. My fascination with the night sky stemmed from my photographic interest in the microscopic world of insects and flowers. I loved shooting flowers and scenery; it pushed me to develop my technical ability and soon I began to discover patterns of nature in the stars.
The Shokoji Temple is a Buddhist temple located north of Lake Tateshina near the Yatsugatake Mountains at an altitude of 1,200m. Built by the Toyota Motor Corporation, it is said that if you pray here, you can drive safely. This gate symbolises moving on to another world, and two huge statues stand on either side of it. But up this high, I like to think of it as a star gate.
When I saw this beautiful angelica flower I was compelled to create a simultaneous multi-viewpoint composition. To achieve this effect I set my camera low towards the flower, illuminating it with LED lights. I set the exposure to 60 seconds and released the shutter. During the exposure I shifted the camera angle higher towards the sky, adjusting the aperture and focus ring accordingly during the shift.
This majestic cherry blossom tree is 150 years old. Once upon a time, there was a temple here, but the tree has grown in its place, still providing comfort in the hearts of the people who visit it now. The delicate shades of pink reach out to the stars, like tiny fairies journeying to the Milky Way.
This frozen waterfall in the Kiso region of Nagano is one of Japan’s largest, with a width of 200m and a height of 40m. The lines of ice naturally draw the eye skyward towards the twinkling star fields above. I imagined the stars of Orion’s Belt fell from the heavens, morphing into pillars of ice as they reached earth.
I came across a fragile and beautiful white birch on an iced-over plain. On this particular night, Mars and Orion shone brightly like jewels. For this shot I used a Canon TS-E17mm F4L lens to play with the perspective and shape of the tree. I also made use of a yellow LED to add a little warmth to the colour.
Milk of the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus and protector of constellations, flows through the night sky. The starlit sky forms a tributary stream that becomes the waterfall – Takamori Fudou-Taki waterfall in Nagano, Japan.
Sirakomanoike Lake in the Yatsugatake Mountains of Nagano lies 2,115m above sea level. The waters were especially still, and the beautiful reflection of the deep blue sky created a pleasant contrast with the rich orange, red and green hues of the treeline. The open star cluster Pleiades was visible on this night.
If you look carefully, it is easy to find the stars of a galaxy in the spiral of a simple seashell; the cosmos can be found in small flowers and tiny insects. This perfect commonality in space and in life is what I try to capture and share using various techniques that I’ve adapted from my greatest artistic inspirations.