As many of my online followers and subscribers have probably noticed, I was conspicuously absent for most of the month of September. To make a long story shorter, I have been dealing with some health issues that prevent me from getting the energy needed to go out and make photos. What a shame, too, given that September was the last full month of warm weather here in Japan. As the calendar changes to October, I can already feel the cool Fall breeze setting in. With any luck, though, I’ll beat my current condition and get back to my shutter-happy self sooner rather than later. After all, with Fall comes lovely color changes in the trees, and the temples here in Japan are absolutely surrounded by flora! Continue Reading
Welcome back to another website update, folks! August marks the last full month of summer, and Japan definitely felt the heat for a lot of the month. I didn’t get to experience the “beach scene” that is apparently super popular here, though I had some personal time a couple weekends to go stand-up paddle-boarding (harder than it looks!) and deep-sea fishing for mahimahi. For the former, I’ve managed to paddle-board over 4 miles without falling off, and the latter, caught hundreds of pounds of fish with a fierce sunburn worn as a battle wound. Continue Reading
Just like that, another summer month flies by! However, it’s not like I can complain much, as I finally caught up with the plethora of photographs I made in my June travels, and still had some opportunities to make more photographs with what little free time I had.
One opportunity, as you can see above, gave me a nice chance to brush up on my sports photography chops and capture a new sport entirely! Annually, my base’s fitness department hosts a sprint triathlon on base, aptly titled “Beat the Heat Triathlon” since it starts in the morning just before the summer heat gets going. With my trusty NEX-7+200mm f/2 and a borrowed Canon camera (man, Canon’s are weird…), I scurried around the event area, capturing all I could from the athletes of all ages! This event marked the first time I’ve photographed sprinting bicyclists as well, which is another challenge entirely; with a 200mm at f/2, there’s only one frame out of a 10fps burst that will be in focus due to the high subject speed.
You can check out the full set of photos from the swimmers, bicyclists, and runners on the Navy Fitness Yokosuka official Facebook page.
Moving back a couple weeks, though, July began with a nice 4-day break from the trips made to Singapore and India. Because I apparently don’t understand the meaning of taking time off, I decided to go traveling inside Japan on my own again. This time, I took to the northern area of Japan and stayed in Sendai! This is the same general area hit hard by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and radiation disaster. Five years later, and many of the coastal areas affected have been completely rebuilt. I spent most of my time in downtown Sendai and also made a short day trip to a wonderful mountain temple called Yamadera. I will write a short post for that trip soon.
In photography-business news, Sony is reporting to have a quicker recovery from the Kumamoto earthquake than they originally predicted–good news for getting back on track for production and new announcements, I hope! Also, Nikon released a bombshell 105mm f/1.4 FX lens to complete their 58/85/105mm fast prime set. I am sure that lens beats the pants off my 105mm f/1.8 AI-s, but I do have to wonder how favorably it would compare to the Laowa 105mm T3.2 I own…If I had a full-frame Nikon, and a sample lens to test, I would gladly do a write-up, but it is very unlikely I would ever get my hands on either of them any time soon.🙂
I do not have many photographic opportunities planned for August at the moment, so if anything, there may be just a few spontaneous trips to my local areas. Tokyo is always full of opportunity, so I do see myself going there a couple more times. Otherwise, I want to make a point to at least get started on reviewing that Laowa 105mm T3.2. I don’t need to write a review to tell you it is fantastic, but I know for many of my readers, a bit of objective testing would really help to form a better opinion. That’s all for this update, guys and gals, thanks for dropping by. As always, have a great day!
I know, I know…it’s already July! I missed my June update window by a few days. But I promise I have a good reason (see above)!
That’s right! June has been a month full of travel, both for personal vacation time and for work. After I played catch-up with my Kamakura trip, it’s looking like the beginning couple weeks of July are going to be my catch-up time for the bevy of photographs I made!
Although I have not done much sightseeing in my immediate area recently, I traveled to the Kansai region for a full week to explore Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. I’ve already got a head-start on those photos, thankfully, and it’s looking like I will have about two more posts from that trip alone! Immediately after returning from Kansai, though, I headed to Singapore and India for two work engagements. These were technically business trips, but in both instances, I had a couple opportunities to make some photographs of the area. I’ll put both of those visits in a single, short post after the Kansai series.
In other news, I broke an almost two-year lens dry spell and purchased a new optic last month too! The Laowa 105mm f/2(T3.2) STF is a well-built and unique lens that is looking to replace my venerable 105mm f/1.8 AI-s. I can’t wait to put it through the paces of a lens review and share my experiences with you all. Though I don’t have any definitive tests yet, I can spoil one thing a bit: the lens is pretty awesome all around, so far. This is definitely one lens that makes me wish I shot full-frame! For my recent hands-on video, check out the link.
In the world of photography, things have been relatively quiet, with a few notable exceptions. Hasselblad decided to shake up the industry by releasing the world’s first medium-format mirrorless camera, the X1D. Using the proven 50MP Sony sensor, it gives a hint at what Sony might do if given the chance to make their own medium-format body. However, cost is definitely a prohibitive factor when going to medium-format, as the body alone will run $9k, with the two-lens kit soaring to $14k. Yikes! On the flip side, Sony also announced publicly that production of cameras has been greatly affected by the Kumamoto earthquake. This can mean camera shortages, for sure, but may also affect roadmaps for new camera releases. A shame, really, because every day that goes by without an a7000/9000/A9 release is another day my NEX-7 grows older! As always, time will tell, and there are still a lot of days left in 2016 for some announcements to come out.
So all that said, this catches up on everything that happened in June! July looks to be a little more “relaxed” time, compared to June, anyway. I am headed to Sendai, Japan tomorrow for a few days to see what northern Japan has to offer, so that will be even more days of backlog from photograph-making without photograph-processing! Anyways, thanks for dropping by, and as always, have a great day!
Yet again I find that every day whizzes by faster and faster as I stay in Japan, with the months only feeling as if one or two weeks are passing. It’s not bad for getting through weeks quickly to enjoy weekends and time off, but it can make enjoying what time I do have off feel a bit forced and rushed.
To counteract this, I’ve had to mostly abandon my past way of urban exploration—that is, just “getting out there” with my camera and looking for photos. Now, I am trying to adopt a planned approach that puts me around places of interest where I am more likely to find good opportunities to make photographs. This way, I have a general direction to head, while still giving me room to explore freely. From the few trips I have planned out so far, it seems to be working out pretty well!
But, onto this little site update! This past month I got to photograph a lot of subjects, but unfortunately not all of it was for personal use. I did take a nice day trip to the Sumida/Asakusa area of Tokyo and stumbled upon a fun festival in the process, however. Without a doubt, I want to attend as many festivals as I can while I am stationed here. The atmosphere is joyful all around, and many unique photo opportunities present themselves with all the action. During a work trip to the 77th Shimoda Blackship Festival, I got to photograph a low-light performance from one of our ensembles with my trusty 200mm f/2. Unfortunately, since they are official photographs, I cannot release them here.
Main music gigs aside, I made a point to get another trip in this month for some photographs and personal exploring, and today happened to be that day. Soon to come in a website post of its own (in 1-2 days), I visited Kamakura again, this time with camera in hand. The historic city is filled with temples and shrines, as well as hiking trails and great hole-in-the-wall eateries. The feature shot of this post comes from one of those temples, but I won’t give away what or where it is just yet!
In other camera-world news, there is not much to report. The d500 got reviewed at DPReview.com, and as it deserves, received the highest score any camera has ever gotten, beating even the A7r II (albeit by 1 arbitrary percentage point). Great news for users like me who used to shoot the d300 and wished for an upgraded body for years. Due possibly to the Kumamoto earthquake, Sony has not announced anything this month in the way of cameras or lenses. Here’s to hoping the area can recover as best it can so the people and lives affected can return to normal.
However! One announcement I gave away in a comment reply last month…a couple months ago I mentioned wanting to pursue another lens purchase, since I have not gotten a lens in well over two years. Venus Optics’ Laowa 105mm f/2 STF lens caught my eye since its announcement in early spring this year. ePhotozine (one of the few lens review sites I know of that is relatively unbiased and straightforward in their review process) reviewed a production copy of the lens and gave it surprisingly high marks. So, after reading through it, I punched the buy-it-now button to get myself a copy! I can’t wait to review this unique and (hopefully) high-performing lens, but more importantly, I can’t wait to shoot with it and make some great photographs! As some of you original subscribers may know, my very first prime lens I purchased was the venerable Nikon 105mm f/1.8 AI-s, a classic fast prime that I still use to this day! With the extra apodization element, the light transmission is not as fast as the f/1.8 AI-s, but the modern optics and STF tech should provide much sharper images with a MUCH better bokeh quality.
So…you could say I’m pretty pumped. Stand by for late June when it is supposed to arrive in my PO box.😀
That’s all for this update, guys and gals, thanks for dropping by! As mentioned, I hope to get those Kamakura photos up quickly, and here in a couple weeks I will have even more photo opportunities in southern Japan! The annual Rice Planting Festival looks very promising in Osaka…As always, have a great day!
Site Update posts are a monthly (or best effort!) recap of happenings in the photography world, both from my personal experiences, as well as opinions on big releases or major events.
It’s a bit hard to believe that a month has already gone by since my CP+ post, as all the sights and sounds from the event are still so fresh in my memory. In that time, not too much has occurred in my own photography pursuits sadly, though I have to be glad it is not because of disinterest or an apparent lack of subjects to photograph. No, instead this month I am working toward recovering from a double knee injury brought about by many long-term factors that finally hit home–ironically–the day I went to CP+. Continue Reading
Well hello there, what a long time it’s been since I’ve written to all you awesome readers! Last time I checked in, I was already on my way to basic training to join the United States Navy. Fast forward nine months, and I’ve found myself stationed smack dab in the middle of any photographer’s/tech geek’s heaven, Japan! I couldn’t have been more excited to actually live in another country, in all its 14-hour time jet-lagged glory. Finally, I can experience a whole different society, culture, and region that is farther than I could have every hoped to travel to in the U.S.
Though I will not turn this post into a traveler’s experience, I will say I love it here in Japan so far. The food is always great, the people are ridiculously nice and amiable, the weather is mild, and there are an infinite amount of possibilities to spend my free time amid a language I…unfortunately…am still far off from understanding. Oh, and the technology, Japan has lots of that too, which brings me back to the post at hand. There’s a lot to get through, from the guns-blazing Sony GM lineup, to compact primes, to the ridiculous ZY 135mm f/1.4, so grab a seat and let’s all geek out over photography gear after the jump! Continue Reading