The Japanese Macaque (commonly known as the snow monkey) are a species found high within the mountains of Japan. These monkeys can be visited by tourists, and an observation in such hours would lead to the perception that these fur coated humanoids live a safe and prosperous life. However, with the fall of night comes the danger of not only predators, but the cold. Seeking protection through the height of towering branches, a monkey can escape its aggressors, but hot steam does not rise this high.
Instead, troops of monkeys must huddle together, an exclusive heat producing factory. Lone monkeys can be gifted survival through friendship, or freeze to death, rejected. To avoid alienating these animals, I shot portrait at eye level, promoting empathy with the viewer. Heavy snowfall and steam made it difficult to autofocus but added to the genuine nature of the images. Also relating to weather (i.e. luck), cloud cover provided a soft fill and meant I didn’t have to worry about backlighting the monkeys or falling snow.
Image One: 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO 800, 600mm (autofocus) – To emphasise his weather-beaten weariness I shot the image tight yet not claustrophobic. A vignette of frozen fur frames the image to direct eyes.
Image Two: 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 335mm (autofocus) – Whilst shooting this similar to image one would have worked, I found it more suitable to display their closeness by shooting wider. Representative of how togetherness in such an environment is awarded with survival.
Image Three: 1/320 sec, f/6.3, ISO 400, 435mm (manual focus) – This Macaque is cold, wet and alone. This could not be shown with a close-up, but through the negative space displaying the absence of mates, his vulnerability is therefore evident. The fragility of life and a life of fragility, demonstrated in three photographs.
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