105mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/400, 2 images stitched
Now that the festivities of Christmas and New Years have wound down once more, many reading this are back to their normal lives. I hope everyone out there had a great time with friends and family the past couple weeks and didn’t do anything too crazy (but hey, I can’t tell you how to celebrate!). Especially with it being a great time for gifts and resolutions, I’m sure many are finding themselves learning a new camera or lens to shoot with. As long as you are mindful of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.), you should be fine. 😉
Oddly, WordPress didn’t put together an end-of-year analysis like it usually does for this site. A few clicks into my analytics still show great numbers despite my decline in post frequency (which, if you’ve been following previous updates, are due to a myriad causes). Over 110,000 views from 71,000 visitors, with the top three countries being U.S.A. (no surprise), the U.K., and Germany (Hallo!). I can’t thank you all enough for still supporting the site through my many life changes. Speaking of those life changes, 2018 definitely had its fair share. I moved from Japan back to the States in Chicago, got married, bought a car, and even managed a promotion at work. Keen readers may know what Mrs. Matthew Durr Photography looks like from a previous post or two, but just in case… Continue Reading
105mm, ISO 100, T3.2, 1/640
This summer, I have searched for some local photo-friendly spots that I can use to test out lenses and other gear. There are local parks, trails, and the like in North Chicago, but little to nothing that compares to the sprawling metropolis/park areas I saw on the daily in Japan. Some of the smaller areas and bike trails are great for getting out for an afternoon of fresh air, but they don’t offer much in the way of a bonafide picturesque and scenic location. Thankfully, I did not have to search too far to come across the excellent Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL. Housing 27 separate gardens and four nature areas on 385 acres of land, the “living museum” has so many great places to make some great photographs. As it should be no surprise to some of my readers, I’m very excited they house an extensive bonsai collection as well as a well-manicured Japanese-style garden (that I plan to visit on my next trip!). In a summer filled with Navy Weeks and other projects, here’s a few photos made during a day trip to help keep my photographic chops sharp.
Slowly but surely I am upgrading the lenses in my kit to be full-frame compatible. Longtime readers of my site already know I sport a deep collection of Nikkor AI-s lenses, ones that I could easily adapt to a full-frame a9000 or the like. As time goes on, however, I begin to notice the problems the old optics exhibit almost universally: low sharpness/contrast wide-open, mediocre flare performance, and relatively pronounced chromatic aberrations at larger apertures. I’m starting to see the benefits that modern optical formulas can provide where vintage lenses can rarely match.
With the Laowa 15mm f/2, I have found my wide-angle option to cement itself as part of a full-frame-ready kit. Featuring a native E-mount optical design, the compact and fast lens feels right at home even on an a6500, and performs quite admirably all-around. Does the lens perform up to its steep price point compared to the competition? Let’s take a look! As always, if you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, check this post first! Continue Reading
Lit in Time
32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1000
What a difference just five days can make! Continuing after my last post along the Ooka River in Yokohama, I made sure to return for another walk at just the right time to catch almost the entire area in full bloom! Even though the festival itself was well-finished up at this point, I joined crowds of thousands to partake in the Japanese custom of hanami, simply known as “flower viewing”. The tradition almost always refers to Sakura viewing, however, and with it usually comes the appreciation of the transient beauty of the flowers and their relation to life itself. As such, this time of year usually invokes feelings of joy mixed with a bit of melancholy. Continue Reading
32mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1000
Spring has sprung, as the saying goes, and this year marks my second go-around at one of the more popular times around Japan! Unfortunately for all those involved in planning special events and meals, the main attraction of the fleeting Sakura bloom ended up delayed by about a week in the Kanto region. Persistent cold and cloudy, wet days kept much flora dormant up until only a couple weeks ago. Foolishly hoping that the weather would break and the initial blooming forecasts were correct, I headed out to Yokohama with a couple friends to walk along the Ooka River during their 2-day Cherry Blossom Festival. Continue Reading
16mm, ISO 100, f/2, 1/100
In my first catch-up post (of likely a few to come from November), I went on a mini-tour of the Sankeien Garden located in the southern outskirts of Yokohama in early November. My base’s Liberty Center is experimenting with cheap afternoon/morning tours to local hotspots lately, and I am glad to participate in as many as possible for some easy ways to get more photographs and explore my cozy little corner of Japan. Continue Reading
(Photo Story posts contain mostly streams of photographs with little technical information on the photos themselves. At the bottom of the page you will find camera and lens information/specific shooting conditions)
Sometimes it can be difficult to simply “get out there” when there’s still a nip of cold in the air and you’re still trying to heal some busted knees. However, Spring’s arrival is just one of those times that can’t be skipped. In Japan, the blooming of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) marks the end of Winter, and brings out droves of people to enjoy the sights and smells of the delicate flowering trees. Continue Reading