A Snapshot of Japan Part 4 – The Tourist Spots

Of course, when you venture to a faraway land with camera in hand, the first thoughts are to visit the main attractions and get the proverbial “record shots”. You know what I mean, the touristy shots, and Japan is full of them. As I mentioned in Part 1 of the series, the busloads of tourists start arriving by 9.00am so it’s a matter of getting to a popular location early if you want people free photographs.

Here are few of the iconic locations that we visited where we managed to get a half decent shot, many of them you may recognise from travel brochures and the like.

I hope you have enjoyed the 4 part series as much as I have enjoyed putting together a handful of the 3,000 photographs taken during our visit to this fascinating land. We only touched on a few locations, mostly in the major cities, and a visit to the northern regions and more rural locations would create a totally different impression.

_5GE7896-13

_5GE7922-48_5GE7451-12_5GE7407-9_5GE8614-41_5GE6556-32_5GE8597 Osaka-Jo-52_5GE8530-1_5GE6546-27_5GE6551-29_5GE6717-39_5GE7675-44_5GE8513-39_5GE5904-5_5GE6449-4_5GE6452-11_5GE6480-15_5GE8407-32_5GE8646-10_5GE8682-45_5GE6368-1_5GE6532-2_5GE8365-1-3_5GE6367-1_5GE5923-Edit-1_5GE8644-3Edit-7791-2

A Snapshot of Japan Part 3 – The Food Stalls

One of the attractions for heading to Japan other than to see the cherry blossom in full bloom was to visit the small bars and eateries to photograph the subduedly light mood and atmosphere of the environment.

I wasn’t disappointed! The alleyways were filled with small establishments packed with people, both locals and tourists alike. In the months before the trip, I had images in my head that I just wanted to capture. I knew what they were and what I wanted to achieve long before arriving. I even purchased the lens for the job, a 35mm f1.4 that would perform well in low light and give me the desired shallow depth of field. For the non-photographers reading this, it meant I wanted the subject sharp and the background out of focus but sufficiently recognisable to place the subject into context. I think I achieved that on a few occasions.

The food, well what can I say other than it’s out of this world, or at least the part of the world I’m used to living in. Small morsels of tasty meat and poultry seared over hot coals and dipped into some of the tastiest of sauces I’ve ever come across. One I shall never forget though was the small round tomatoes wrapped in bacon, cooked over coals and served piping hot three to a skewer. The burst of the combination of sweet tomato juices and salty bacon as you bit into them was unbelievable.

_5GE6818-12_5GE8367-22_5GE6828-14_5GE6865-5_5GE6868-7_5GE6800-11_5GE6826-13_5GE6799-10_5GE6866-6_5GE6809-41_5GE6801-3-40_5GE6858-4_5GE6847-42_5GE6853-3_5GE8386-28_5GE6854-1_5GE6790-1

 

A Snapshot of Japan Part 2 – The People

When you arrive in Japan the first thing that strikes you is that there are lots of people, and I really mean lots. Most are local residents, but then there are also the busloads of tour groups who arrive at the popular locations in their masses. When faced with the dilemma of photographing interesting scenes in crowded locations the solution is to include the people and make them the subject.

Here are a few shots of people going about their daily routine that were taken in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.

_5GE6448-8_5GE7850-45Edit-7889-47

_5GE6373-Edit-3_5GE8203-20_5GE8039 crop Noise-49_5GE6472-13_5GE6671-8_5GE8173-19_5GE6631-3_5GE6419-6_5GE6639-7_5GE8222-50_5GE8046-17

A Snapshot of Japan Part 1 – The Cherry Blossom

The association of Springtime and Japan always brings the thought of cherry blossom to mind and what better way is there to capture this special event than with a camera in hand.

Join me in this first part of a series of articles covering my visit to the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka as we explore the wonders of these ancient cities, their people and modern-day lifestyle.

Each year, the cherry blossom, or sakura as referred to by the locals, only lasts at its peak for around one week, so timing for photography purposes is critical if you are to capture the full beauty of the pink and white blooms at their best.

_5GE6422-2

_5GE6129

The cherry blossom means more than just beautiful trees to the people of Japan as the sakura has ties to Japan’s history, culture and identity, and brings the feelings of hope and renewal of life.

The gatherings of groups of family and friends under the trees for flower watching parties, called hanami, are a very important part of Japanese life and tradition.

On the particular Saturday that we were there, we were told that 3 million people passed through the gates of the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo between 9 am and 4 pm. The gardens occupy an area of 58.3ha or around 145 acres, but that’s still a lot of people for just one day.

_5GE6059

image

_5GE6254-2

_5GE5982

_5GE6276

While the trees look spectacular from a distance with all their majesty, there are always photos of the small detail to be had within the bigger scheme of things.

20180330-_5GE6022B_5GE6135-Edit_5GE5954_5GE5932-Edit_5GE5930-Edit

What better place for a photo when dressed in full costume than in front of the cherry blossom

_5GE5966_5GE6553
_5GE5948_5GE6556

_5GE6269_5GE6096-Edit

_5GE5970

_5GE6383

Watch for Part 2 to follow shortly

 

Impressionism & Abstract Photography – am I out of my mind

Many long years ago as a school student, my art teacher called me aside at the end of the year and informed me that he was going to give me two bonus marks for my final assessment. I think this was for the benefit of both of us, for me it meant a pass and for him, none of the class failed.

We both realised that art was not one of my strongest subjects so we parted our ways, probably pleased to see the last of each other. I moved on to the science subjects of chemistry and physics where everything was real and meaningful and there wasn’t a need to use one’s imagination in order to be creative. I still remember every action had an equal and opposite reaction. Well my reaction was to clap my hands and rid myself of the artistic world in which I was practically a failure.

It was around that same time that I took up photography, a hobby that included the physics of light and the chemistry of film development. I was happy.  Over the last 50 years I’ve slowly come to realise that photography and art go hand in hand to some extent but realism and photo-journalism had been my thing in the past. Everything sharp and accurate, that’s the way the brain worked, until recently. Great cameras, fabulous lenses with incredible optics, all in the quest for the pin sharp image.

Occasionally something would go wrong. The shutter speed was too slow, the lens didn’t focus where I wanted, or the camera moved when it shouldn’t. Those images would be blurred and useless but somehow they had some appeal. Little did I know that the dormant and artistic right side of the brain was showing signs of awakening.

It was only recently that I decided to undertake a course in Impressionist Photography run by one of my Facebook friends, Eva Polak, a New Zealander who specialises in this form of artistic photography. With great enthusiasm, I have discovered a new and refreshing dimension of photography, one that I’m sure will remain with me.

Learning the distinction between abstract and impressionism took a little while but once I got the feel of it, the creative juices began to flow. For me that’s a big achievement when I think back to my school days and that drawing stick figures was about the limit of my artistic ability.

Here are some of my recent and not so recent images that have now seen the light of day thanks to Eva and her course. All images were totally created in-camera except the last two abstract images that were produced from regular images but using editing software to create the effect.

 

Red Barn

Red Barn

_GNE5138 Redo dpi

Dawn

_5GE1697 B crop dpi

Tram Stop

_5GE1629 V2

Innocence

Behind Bars

Behind Bars

Baby Face

Baby Face

Take Off

Take Off

Dazzled

Dazzled

E_5GE1888 B

Sparkling Melbourne

Whirlwind

Whirlwind

Firefly

Firefly

Working the Sunset

Armed with a new lens in hand, a Sigma 12-24mm ART Series, and the first opportunity to put it to the test, what better than a colourful sunset to give it a try.

Over the duration of about an hour, it was interesting to see the constant atmospheric changes that were taking place and how the light affected the location. It soon became obvious that there were many opportunities to capture not just one sunset shot, but many images, and all so different to each other. I call that “working the scene”.

You never know just how interesting the images will look unless you keep shooting and constantly adjusting exposure settings as the circumstances require. Starting the session with a shot in aperture priority and allowing the camera to do the rest soon proved that some human intervention was required. The old friend exposure compensation soon came into play with a -2 stop setting proving to be the best to start off with while the sun was still fairly high above the horizon. At this point, blues and gold colours were rather dominant and reflections were colourful and artistic. The light changed constantly, and the colours in the clouds intensified from orange/red to subtle pinks and mauve. By moving around the location as the incoming tide changed the foreground, watching the sky and the reflections that it created and working the scene, time quickly passed. Once the light was gone the show was over for another day as darkness descended.

The moral of my story is to keep shooting and keep looking for the best location within the area you are working in, in order to maximise the variety of images that may be possible. Don’t forget to look behind you from time to time as often there is another shot to be had as can be seen from the last image in this series.

_5ge0297-wp

_5ge0318-pano-wp_5ge0366-wp_5ge0371-wp_5ge0383-f-wp

Karawarra Australian Plant Garden

A visit to any garden in the Springtime is sure to provide plenty of opportunity to photograph beautiful flowers. Visiting an Australian Native plant garden certainly won’t produce the usual garden specimens of roses and daffodils, but there is plenty of beauty to be found once you look a little closer at our Australian natives.

Nestled in the Dandenong Ranges, the two hectare Karawarra Australian Plant Garden in Kalorama was established in 1965 and our destination for a photo shoot. While nearby, the Destiny Point Cafe, located on the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road proved a welcome lunch time spot on the day of our visit.

Here are just a few specimens from the 1400 different species of native plants that can be found at Karawarra.

_5ge0128_5ge0133_5ge0134_5ge0144_5ge0163_5ge0171_5ge0174