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!
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
Just like last week’s installment of my 2014 Project 52, I am working one bit at a time towards getting this past summer’s photographs organized and uploaded. On one weekend in-between a three-week sports camp photography gig, my family and I traveled only a few hours north to the small town of Nashville, IN just for the sake of going.
Nestled in the southern portion of Indiana, downtown Nashville is full of dozens upon dozens of artisan shops, stores, and eateries. Surrounded by trees and gardens, each block of the town looks something akin to this:
To continue on with my yearlong project of topic-driven photography, weeks 27-39 threw even more creative challenges my way that unfortunately forced me to do some photographs outside their original time slot. Turns out, it is pretty difficult to manage personal photography pursuits on top of freelance assignments that have to come first. However, in these past couple weeks, I began to catch up in editing photographs for website posts here. To kick things off, let’s get up to speed on the third quarter of my 52 photographs:
Adolescent rabbits are very fun animals to play around with. Depending on their age and fear of humans, you can walk right up to one and almost pick it up before it scurries off. This little guy didn’t know that even when hiding in tall grass with his ears back, a photographer can still see him! Continue Reading
In the world of fast primes, not often are the specs of “200mm” and “f/2” combined in the description of a single lens. Inherently large and heavy, the ultra-fast design of a 200mm f/2 has long enabled photographers to effectively shoot telephoto in very low light as well as create stunning subject separation simply not possible with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom. Though the available light advantage afforded by the f/2 aperture is somewhat offset by the high-ISO abilities of modern digital sensors, the extra depth-of-field control still has its place in creative photography. Additionally, when used on an APS-C sensor camera like the NEX-7, a 200mm f/2 helpfully acts as a 300mm f/2.8 would on a full-frame camera.
Though it should come as no surprise, telephoto primes such as the Nikon 200mm f/2 are somewhat bulky and cumbersome even used with a suitable DSLR like a d300 with its vertical grip. When a lens of this caliber is mounted onto a comparatively tiny mirrorless camera such as the Sony NEX-7, the combination looks outright comical. That said, it is far more important to see how the lens performs in front of an unforgiving 24-megapixel APS-C sensor in making photographs rather than how the kit may turn heads at an event. Read on to find out how the 200mm f/2 stacks up as the professional fast telephoto it aims to be. As always, if you are unfamiliar with my lens review style, please read up on this post first! Continue Reading
Last weekend I got the chance to tag along for a short 2.5-day road trip from Kentucky to Oklahoma and back. Though I knew there wouldn’t be a wealth of time for photography, I decided to bring my entire kit with camera, lenses, chargers, and everything else I might need should something break along the way. Though it all filled up the backseats of the car, a lot of my gear saw use, so there’s something to be said for over-prepared-ness. 🙂
Photo ops only began after arriving in Oklahoma—a time crunch kept me from stopping for photographs along the way. After a nice supper at an Italian restaurant in Edmond, OK, I took a brief look around the small town to come across the Bella Forte glassware studio located in Italian Jim’s Restaurant. One of the artists was blowing glass as I passed by, and he welcomed my camera in the intensely-hot blowing furnace room:
Typical of many small-town areas, a prominent and detailed sculpture adorned a street corner outside the restaurant:
Naturally close to the historic and iconic Route 66, we detoured in the late evening to see if there were any landscapes or old buildings to catch in the fading light:
With the sunlight gone, we made a final stop at Pops, a fun restaurant and gas station featuring an enormous neon pop bottle that lights up in myriad colors after dark: Continue Reading