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
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
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
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
As much as I do not want to admit it, I am very quickly running out of time to devote to photography, be it for personal engagement or even pay. Graduate work in music performance, my main passion in addition to photography, is surprisingly much more involving than my undergraduate work in music education (what was a very time-consuming major to pursue).
Stubbornly dedicated to a fault, however, I will update this site for as long as I make photographs—no matter how busy other obligations get.
In an effort to catch up, then, a couple months ago I took a brief trip with family to the Daytona Beach, FL area. Only today have I managed to find a bit of time to sort through my photographs, made with my usual Zeiss 32mm and Nikon 85/200mm trinity of lenses on the Sony NEX-7. In stark contrast to my brief trip to Nashville, IN, I kicked back for a good part of my stay, photographing only when I felt up to it, as I knew with the then-late summer heat, humidity, and harsh direct light, photographing during the day would mostly be a pain. Continue Reading