Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category
Last spring I spent a few hours in Nara, the capital of Japan over 1300 years ago and the home to many priceless temples and shrines. On this visit, I took a stroll through Deer Park and it’s adjacent temple, the Todai-Ji. This temple is a World Heritage Site and offers an opportunity to view the Daibutsu housed inside. This Buddha was cast over 1300 hundred years ago although some parts were recast due to damage several hundred years ago. However, having been here several times, I was more interested in capturing images of people and deer.
By the way, if you visit Deer Park, be very careful as they have been known to attack people on occasion. And they can be agressive if you offer them food.
One thing about Japan, there are plenty of trains to look at. From quaint narrow gauge systems that take you up into the mountains to the very latest “Bullet Trains”, one is never bored looking at and shooting trains. And people that are naturally found around train stations. These photos were taken earlier this year and are good examples of addressing perspective. By virtue of their length and narrow footprint, trains naturally draw your attention to the subject of your photos. When shooting trains, quickly figure out the subject of the shot and use the train’s vanishing point to focus attention on the subject. Of course, the same goes for any scene with strong bold lines.
All photos were shot with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor AFS 24mm f/1.4 lens or Nikkor AFS 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens.
Omoide Yokocho (or Memory Lane) is an old neighborhood of small yakitori joints that harkens back to days long past. It is located within the neon-lit skyscrapers of West Shinjuku. Adjacent to the Uniqlo store near the Lumine Department Store, Omoide Yokocho’s days are numbered as it is beyond its shelf-life. The area is ramshackle and its only of matter of time before it is torn down in the name of progress. The option is to rehabilitate the area however no one except for some of the tenants is in favor of this. Some of the Yakitori is quite good as the numbers of patrons indicate.
This area dates back to the US Occupation post World War II and has always been a favorite for good relatively well-priced food.
All photos taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor AFS 24mm f/.4 lens.
Visitors to Kyoto and Nara almost always focus their activities to visiting temples, shrines and castles. Of course, that’s why people visit these beautiful locations and there’s nothing wrong with that. For something just a little different, consider taking a two hour drift boat down the Hozukawa River. The starting point is near the Kameoka City JR Station, which is about 20 minutes by train from the Kyoto Station. And the dock is a five or ten minute walk from the station. There are prominent signs leading the way from the station. And if you’re lost, the information center at the station will point the way.
The river drift is mostly placid with a few sections of rapids and very small elevation changes. It is not a dangerous drift. Each boat has two crewmen. One mans the oar to steer the boat while the other mans the pole to keep the boat from colliding with the rocks in the river.
All photos were taken with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor AFS 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens. [Note: recommend that you use a polarizing filter on the river as the glare is prominent. I didn’t.]
A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha, who undergoes five years of training in the arts before they are considered Geisha. Geishas are still seen with frequency walking the small streets of Kyoto to their next performance. Usually you can tell the difference between Maiko and Geisha by the younger age of the Maiko and the size of their obi. There are other differences that are explained in detail here.
On this day, these three Maiko came strolling into the Heian Shrine. They were inundated by tourists armed with DSLR’s, P&S’s and camera phones. It was quite a commotion. They simply maintained their composure, posed for a few photos and kept on walking.
Photos taken with a Nikon D300s and AFS Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII zoom lens.
Over most of Japan, for a period of two weeks at the end of March and April, cherry blossoms spring to life and bring a splash of color that is a sign that spring has arrived and winter will soon be left behind. The blossoms don’t come out all at once. Instead it depends on the variety and the weather conditions. This year the blossoms arrived just a bit early and luckily were still in bloom for the week I was in Kyoto. Some of the trees had started to lose their flowers while other had just opened. How you shot them of course is up to you. It makes for a grand image to capture a landscape although closeups are also spectacular.
Photos were shot with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor AFS 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens and a D300s and Nikkor AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII zoom lens.
I’m normally don’t shoot with telephoto lenses. Most of the time I use wide angle lenses with an occasional long normal lens thrown in. There are occasions when I have needed longer lenses and have been satisfied with the Nikkor DC 135mm f/2 lens. Recently I purchased a 15 year old AF Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 ED lens for $300 in Japan. The condition, both cosmetically and performance-wise is stellar. Sure, the lens does not have VR (image stabilization) and is somewhat heavy since it’s body is metal. Still, it’s a very capable lens and more than matches up with the D700 since this camera is exceptional at higher ISO’s. This latitude allows one to crank up the ISO to compensate for the lack of image stabilization. I have been tempted to purchase the latest AF-S VR Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 IF ED but will postpone this until Nikon improves this lens so its performance on a FX body is better. With the performance of the 80-200mm, there’s no reason to buy right now.
Photos were taken in Tokyo and Bangkok with the Nikon D700 and an AF Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 ED lens. Post processing is minimal (or none). All photos shot at or near f/2.8.