Archive for the ‘Urban’ Category

Under Umbrellas

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Under Umbrellas

Rushing through the rain, with heads held low under umbrellas, we sometimes miss the obvious.

Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo & Mount Fuji

Monday, February 15th, 2010
Tokyo & Mount Fuji

This shot of Mount Fuji and the skyscrapers of Shinjuku is one of my favourites from my trip to Japan.  Before my trip, I had made a list of quintessential photographs to take while in Japan, and Mt. Fuji with the city in front of it was at the top of my list.  After a fair bit of internet research, I managed to find a “top secret” location in a public building to get this shot.  I was surprised when I eventually got there to find a handful of other photographers with the same shot in mind.  Obviously my secret location was well known.  🙂

Those familiar with Tokyo will undoubtedly know that such views of Mt. Fuji are quite rare.  In fact, even on a clear sunny day the chances of being able to see the distant mountains and Mt. Fuji are slim to none due to the typical heavy layer of smog covering the city.  I somehow lucked out on this occasion, as a weather system had rolled in over night.  It was quite windy the night before this shot, which I suspect helped clear out the smog.

I will admit, that when I made my way onto the observation gallery and saw this spectacular view I got quite excited.  This was exactly the view I had pictured in my mind.  Unfortunately, in the rush of it all, plus the lack of coffee (I’m a mess without it) I forgot to switch the ISO on the camera back to 100.  I had been shooting night scenes the night before.  Sadly, all of the shots I took of this view were made at ISO 800 on my Canon 20d, which is quite a shame.  This actually ruined my day when I realized my mistake about an hour after I left the gallery (and by then the smog would have hidden the mountains).  I highly doubt I will ever get this shot again, so this is one of life’s hard lessons I learned.

Shinjuku at Night

Friday, February 12th, 2010
Shinjuku at Night

Nighttime in Tokyo is just as busy as any other time in this city.  The city never sleeps, and if anything, it feels even busier at night with all the bright flashing lights from traffic, billboards, and other advertisements.  Like a moth to a flame, your eyes are drawn into the bright lights.

I took this shot while walking back to my hotel after a long day of sightseeing.  Leaving the Shinjuku train station there is a pedestrian overpass that takes you to a plaza filled with Christmas lights (this was taken in December).  This is the view from that overpass.  The towers in the distant background are the Tokyo’s government buildings (aka city hall).  They’re the tallest buildings in the metropolis, though you can barely make them out in the dark night sky.

The shot was taken hand-held, probably resting on a railing, I can’t remember exactly.

Yodobashi Camera

Monday, February 8th, 2010
Yodobashi Camera

My hotel was located in Shinjuku, one of Tokyo’s more livelier prefectures, and was about 4 blocks away from this shopping area.  The area consists of about 3 blocks of brightly lit stores that are actually just one store: the Yodobashi camera store.  I can’t remember what happened when I realized this, as my brain had gone into overload thinking about all the camera gear surrounding me.  I was in the Mecca of photographic technology.

The main Yodobashi store (pictured above) consists of about 8 stories of technology ranging from cameras, to laptop computers, to books, to rice cookers and home appliances.  The camera selection at this particular building was the mainstream point and shoot variety.  Down the street was a more professional camera store that carried SLRs, medium format, lighting, developing, etc.  Basically a mini B&H Photo, but in Japan.

As for prices, they were very similar to those of B&H Photo in New York.  I probably could have saved $150 on a Canon 7D bought in Japan, but everything would have been in Japanese, including the warranty so I decided not to bother.

As for this photo, it was shot hand-held in manual mode.  It was difficult finding a good exposure that balanced the neon signs and the ambient light on the street, but I think I got it.  I think the Japanese couple walking in front of me adds a bit of character as well.

Blowing Leaves at Yasukuni Shrine

Friday, February 5th, 2010
Blowing Leaves at Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine honours soldiers who have died fighting for the Emperor of Japan. It is fairly famous in the far East for various reasons (historic and political), but this photo is not about the shrine as much as the entrance to it. Leading up to the shrine is a long mall bordered with trees. At the time I was there (early December), the trees were pretty much at their peak colours. The clear blue sky and bright sun really made the yellow leaves seem extra bright. An occasional gust of wind would stir up leaves, making it a really beautiful sight to behold.

I really wanted to capture the scene complete with blowing leaves, so I waited around with camera in hand for more than a few minutes. But of course, like a watched pot that does not boil, the wind didn’t blow while I waited. Finally, as I was about to leave, a small gust picked up some leaves which I quickly snapped some shots of.

I used a polarizing filter to help the colours pop and to darken the blue sky a bit. A slight vibrance and saturation boost were added in Lightroom. I think the final image comes pretty close to depicting what I actually experienced there. I only wish the leaves were a little more visible in the shot.