This shot is depicts exactly the same spot as this one here, but I shot this using a special photography technique. I framed the shot on a tripod, and set the exposure to 1 second. Then, after pressing the shutter, i manually zoomed into the frame. It is a trial and error technique, and it took me a few tries to get those light streaks to be straight lines, and not some wobbly curved lines. You should definitely try this, it works both at night and during the daytime, though when it is dark and the lights are popping out, the effect is more striking. Then I sat down and wrote the Chinese calligraphy of two characters, 東京 (Tokyo), in ancient seal script, and added it to the photo in photoshop.
Summer in Tokyo is very humid, and the air is extremely hazy, which accounts for smashing sunrises. Unfortunately there are not many cloudy evenings, and skies are often clear, so it is quite difficult to catch an interesting sunset. During the hottest season sun comes up just after 4am, and after 6am on winter, so if you want to it on camera, you need to wake up really early. Calligraphy art: 夏日 / summer sun.
Kids are one of my favourite subjects to photograph. Their face expressions and body language are pure, genuine and so effortless. It is extremely rare to work with adult models who have child-like nature. For me photographing kids is like going back to the old days, where life was black or white, full of joy and emotions, filled with unconstrained passion for doing whatever heart pleases to, without being held back by the vicious reins of social do's and don'ts. I added one of my calligraphy works to this photo. It is a Chinese idiom that reads: 雲心月性, i.e. mind free like passing clouds, and (human) nature clear like bright of the moon. The little fella in the photo is a kid of my best mate, and was taken in Tokyo last year.
If anyone in Tokyo area is interested in a photo shoot, please feel free to visit my commercial photography site for more details.
Searching for peace and tranquillity in Tokyo is like trying to get some sleep in a dorm, full of first year hormone-propelled students. I found this place on the 7th floor of Tokyo International Forum building. The whole level was empty and quiet, just the way I like it, not to mention a rather splendid view of the Gotham City of Japan. This photo is an HDR capture, which means that it was edited from a few exposures. In fact, I took this photo myself. First, I shot three exposures for my HDR photo processing software, and then took one more, with me sitting on the floor, using a remote control shutter. Then, I blended all photos together, added the calligraphy work in photoshop, and voila! The Japanese calligraphy text is also written by me, and it reads 心上雲, i.e. "mind above the clouds". Sometimes it is good to be someplace else, even if it is only in your mind.
Not sure how many readers of the Japan in Photography blog know this, but aside being a photographer I am also a calligrapher. I have been promoting and teaching the art of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy for a few years now, and throughout those years I realised that the Westerners have difficulties with appreciating the art of Far Eastern calligraphy. It is a very abstract and demanding type of art, placing many obstacles between the artwork and the viewer, where the language barrier is only one of them. What stoke me the most was that people desperately seek a connection between the form of Chinese characters they see, and real-life objects they can link those characters to, visually. In other words, they look for physical resemblances between the shape of the brush strokes and shapes of material objects that surround us. My guess is it puts the mind at ease, or in a comfort zone, giving some point of reference. Sadly, this is a clear symptom of misunderstanding the art of calligraphy. Japanese calligraphy is all about the energy of the brush strokes, and the abstract nature of Chinese characters, characters that should not be read but sensed. Then I thought of merging the art of Japanese calligraphy with photography in a way that would create a aesthetic symbiosis between those two types of visual arts. Artistic photography tells a story, a story of state of mind, and it tells it through an imagery. It captures a brief moment, but its message is eternal. Japanese calligraphy is very similar in this respect.
Tokyo streets during winter; calligraphy in Japanese kana script: ねむるまち (nemuru machi), i.e. "a street alseep".
This is yet another photo that I took yesterday in the early morning, at about 6am, and it is the same tree as this one here, I simply waited 20 minutes and turned around, facing the sun. The Japanese kana script ball pen calligraphy reads: あさひ (asahi), which has several meanings. One is morning sun (朝日), and another is rising sun (旭).
Japan stretches from north to south, from very cold areas to very warm areas. Every year we all wait for the sakura front to sweep by and decorate the world with its phenomenal show of nature. We tend to appreciate more things that last short, and the blooming cherry trees are definitely one of those things. Although there are many types of sakura flowers, each of them appears in Tokyo approximately for a week, and then it falls down like a flower blizzard. Sakura is very difficult to predict, and even a few days before the flowers open and we all can enjoy hanami (花見, lit. flower viewing), no one can exactly specify the date when it will be in full bloom. This year was no exception. By now, sakura should be in its peak, yet when we stormed the metropolis armed in our cameras we could see that it was not so. And today, it is raining.... This, however, does mean that we were not able to take some photos of sakura. Here is one of them with my calligraphy art added to the picture. Enjoy!
Calligraphy: 香漂; drifting fragrance
When I went to Yokohama earlier on this year, I spent hours and hours on walking from one place to another, seeking good places and subjbects for my photos. I was enjoying it so much, I had forgotten that I was hungry. It was half past twelve, which translates into the lunch hour in Japan, which is when literally everybody goes out and eat, as if this was written in constitution or something, that one has to eat lunch at noon. Since I hate crowds, and enjoy solitude, I bought my food and brought it outside near the small green square in front of the Minato Mirai. The moment I started to eat, I noticed more and more pigeons around me. You know, the fat little birds who would eat anything from anyone. But when I started to feed them, I noticed two seagulls landed nearby. Now once those two arrived, there was no chance for the other birds to catchy any bits of food. Their agility and reflexes were unreal. I was lucky enough to capture a few nice shots of them, and let me tell you, throwing food while trying to handhold and focus a 200 mm 2.8 lens, mounted on a camera armed with a batteery grip is not easy. Japanese calligraphy reads 自由, and it means "freedom".
Buy a print of this photo at my store on Fine Art America.