I have always been of the mindset that in late winter, if there’s no snow on the ground, most outdoor photography is just plain difficult. It’s still cold, most flora is dead or in hibernation, and days are short enough to limit time out and about. That said, it is hardly an excuse to stay inside. Gloves exist for a reason, not all plants succumb to the elements, and with some careful planning a photographer can still get many hours of adventuring in before the sun sets! Continue Reading
Despite a whole year since my last go-around at CP+, it seems that just a short while ago I was ranting and raving about the latest A7rii and GM lens tech at Sony’s crowded booth. This time around, there were not as many bombshell products to shake up the exhibition hall at Yokohama Porta. The general atmosphere was thankfully much less chaotic as a result, and it gave me a chance to move around and get to see a good deal more than last years’ hour-long product lines. Continue Reading
Another weekend, another couple days to write up a website post! Japan hosts an abundance of sights to see, and if you live anywhere near the world’s largest megacity, that goes doubly-so! In early December, right near the tail-end of Fall in my area of Japan, I took a midday trip to Minato, a small ward connected to Tokyo by Rainbow Bridge (fitting name, given the title photo…). The purpose of the trip was actually to have some fun at Tokyo Joypolis with a friend (think indoor amusement park/arcade galore), but I am very glad I brought my camera gear with me. There turned out to be a lot to see and photograph! Continue Reading
Well, day by day, I’m still editing and posting up what’s left of my previous photo excursions into the late November/early December time of year here in Japan. As the chill of winter starts to set in, the flora all around is slowly dying off, with colors fading and leaves falling to be swept up the next day. Pretty soon, the hum-drum of my least favorite season will take over for a few months, leaving me a bit more time to a) Sleep in more b) Work on some lens/gear reviews and c) Hopefully sleep in again some more! Of course, when the cold does get here to stay, I will make my best effort to get some snow shots, maybe even as far north as Hokkaido’s epic snow villages if I get a 3-day weekend.
But, if my current photos have anything to say about it, that time has not yet come! Right near the peak of Fall color in Tokyo, some friends and I headed on a late afternoon trip to the 143-acre Shinjuku National Garden to catch some late November sights. I did not realize just how impressively the park expands into about a third of the size of New York’s Central Park. As are many things in Japan, however, the park is very space-efficient and contains many smaller vistas and gardens for visitors to enjoy, in addition to vast stretches of open field for picnicking and recreational sports. At the super-reasonable 200¥ admission price, I’ll likely see myself coming back again later next year. All photos below with the NEX-7 and Rokinon 16mm f/2, Zeiss Touit 32mm, and Laowa 105mm T3.2 (the last of which I really, really am trying to find time to review!). 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
It isn’t every day that you get to hike up a mountain to see a temple nestled in the clouds. But, that’s exactly what I did during a brief trip in July to Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture in the northern Tohoku region of Japan! In the few days I spent in the city to meet a new friend and explore the area, I experienced enough to make it feel like a nice mini-vacation! Continue Reading
With the entirety of my Kansai trip chronicled for posterity on this site (Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3), I can now move on to tying up the loose ends on my last few bits of photography in late June (hey…it’s my own personal workflow, I’m allowed to be a little behind! 🙂 ). Up for posting today is a quick collection of photographs from my limited free time while on business in Singapore and India! It always pays to bring a camera along wherever you go, as you never know what fun and interesting sights and sounds you will encounter that a cellphone camera just cannot capture! Continue Reading
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!
The spirit and tone of sightseeing varies greatly depending on who you are with, the weather of the day, as well as whether or not you brought a camera along. The last time I visited Kamakura, my camera gear had not yet arrived to Japan. Granted, it was also December, and a little too cold14 to be holding a camera all day. For a long time, I wanted to go back to this historically significant city and take a closer look around with my trusty camera in tow. Continue Reading
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!