It is a wonderful thing to get out of the city and into nature. This is especially true if we can simultaneously step away from the technology that dominates daily life for most people now. This is why, when I travel for pleasure, I pack a film camera and head for the forest.

Over the summer, I took a weekend trip to the mountains to depressurize after a particularly intense period of work. I work in Tokyo, and my mountain destination was also in Tokyo. Many people don’t realize it, but Tokyo is a whole prefecture (not just an urban area) and the western part is extremely rural.

I took one camera, one lens, and ten rolls of film. My Hasselblad 500C/M, Carl Zeiss Planar CF 80mm f/2.8, and Kodak Tri-X 400. Tools I know inside and out. With a few accessories like my light meter and cable release in a belt pouch and the tripod-mounted camera on my shoulder, I meandered from the train station to the summit of Mount Mitake, slowly winding my way up a steep and narrow road. The whole mountain was engulfed in a dense fog that turned the massive cedar trees into towering silhouettes and put the forest on mute.

I shot about six rolls on my way up the mountain, and the remaining four rolls the next morning as I descended. There was no schedule to keep, no appointments, no email, and no calls. Just the mountain, the trees, my camera, and all the time in the world to study my surroundings. For most of the climb, the loudest sound I heard was the sound of the shutter. Barely any thinking, even, just working intuitively.

Making photographs that weekend was rejuvenating. After developing the film (in HC-110) and scanning the negatives, I enjoyed finishing the images more than usual. It’s been several months since the trip, but when I look at the photographs, some amount of the peaceful mood of that day is transmitted back to me and I feel better.

~ David

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About the author

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David R Munson

David R Munson is an American photographer and essayist permanently based in Saitama, Japan. His work focuses primarily on the built environment and explores themes relating to uncovering the stories hidden in the everyday and the mundane.

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  1. I feel the same way when I am out with my analogue friend . The Hasselblad is an amazing piece of engineering . The journey is as important or more important than the photographs .