After a good, long run, I can finally say that after this post I am fully caught up with my main photographic adventures from 2016. Save for a few shots here and there (that I may share by themselves on social media), this post joins 27 others from mostly my first year living in Japan. So with that, consider this my “monthly” website update for January, but for the whole year of 2016 as well!
During my break around Christmas, I got to spend some much needed time with friends and family. In addition, I managed to catch up on a lot of sleep that I previously missed out on in my barracks room. Photographically, though, I still wanted to put my new α6500 through its paces to see how it holds up to my style of shooting. If I can ever manage the time, I may write up a real-world review comparing it to my trusty NEX-7. In a sentence though? The α6500 is a far more capable camera than the 5+ year old NEX-7, yet from a manual-control perspective the NEX-7 doesn’t suffer from any of the performance quirks the α6500 exhibits.
In addition to the new camera, I had to either purchase Lightroom 6, or go the CC route to get up-to-date features and content. With Adobe’s relatively easy to swallow $10/month plan giving both Lightroom CC AND Photoshop CC access, I took the plunge and am now learning my way around Photoshop’s many ins and outs (previously, I got by using open-source programs like GIMP and Hugin when needed). Of particular interest to me is the program’s pretty extensive panorama output power and content-aware editing tools that give even the best Hugin plug-ins a run for their money.
First up, while visiting in Darien, CT, my girlfriend and I hiked up Bear Mountain, one of New York’s well known peaks in the Hudson Highlands area. The previous day gave the mountain a blanket of about 3 inches of snow, though much of it had melted from the 35-degree temperatures with sunshine. Unfortunately with all the foot traffic on the paths, much of the hike was covered with ice!
Bear Mountain also gave me the chance to use the α6500’s native 4k recording capabilities personally for the first time. Below is just some quick sample footage shot during the hike with stabilization on (no stabilization added in post), at 4k/30p, 100MB/s bitrate. Though I like the smoothness that the 60p and 120p modes provide better, the sheer resolving power of 4k in a camera like this is impressive. I am not a fan of the rolling shutter, so from now on I will likely only be using 4k for relatively static shots. Any panning or fast action will use the 1080/60p(120p) modes. ***You may need to use Google Chrome to view the footage in 4k***
The next day we stopped by small seaside park in Darien at sunset, to give me another chance to try out handheld panorama shooting. Don’t let the warm tones of the sky fool you, it was still very cold out there!
After Christmas, I got a chance to run out to my hometown’s local Japanese-style garden, Yuko-En on the Elkhorn, for some more test shots. Sadly the garden is not as well-maintained as its authentic Japanese counterparts I visit often here around Tokyo, but I admit the architects behind the small space still did a nice job. Looking back through my archives, I noticed it has been around 4 and a half years since I last photographed inside the garden, with my last shots found in my 35mm Series-E review! How time flies (and how photographic style changes!)…
And with all that, I am completely caught up with my personal photography pursuits from 2016. I have to say I am happy to put out 28 separate photography posts throughout the year. In spite of a double-knee injury around CP+ and some major sleep problems later in the year, I still feel like I managed to “get out there” for a good portion of my free time in Japan and in other countries. When I first arrived here, one of the biggest regrets I heard from others about to finish their tour was that they wish they visited more places and experienced the country more thoroughly. Thankfully, I don’t think I will hold that regret once I transfer back to the States by the end of the year.
Japan is a beautiful country that–although somewhat westernized–doesn’t seem to suffer from many of the problems currently plaguing my home across the big Pacific pond. A good part of me has deeply considered to eventually retire to this country whenever I complete whatever career path I settle on. Of course, I will have to really take my Japanese language lessons seriously to do so, for starters! That’s all for this year-long catch-up post, guys and gals. Thanks for dropping by! I already have some photographs and videos ready to edit from some quick adventures in 2017, but thankfully I am not but a couple weeks behind on them. 😉 As always, have a great day!