Gone to See Japan. Street Photography Workshop with Steve Simon and Soichi Hayashi. Day 2: Tokyo (Shinjuku Station, Harajuku, Shibuya).
The sky cleared, and the rising sun was reflected into my hotel room off the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. It took six images to get the entire building in order to generate a composite image. I still need to work a bit on the geometry of the two towers.
The first stop in the morning was the Shinjuku Station. This is the worlds largest and busiest transportation hub. We got there in time to observe the morning rush. I have never seen so many people moving in an almost choreographed manner. I couldn’t really figure out how to capture the frenetic activity in a single photograph, so decided to make a short time lapse video of passengers entering and exiting at one of the main entrances.
After this I went outside to clear my head and look for another subject. I found a pedestrian bridge where I could watch a busy street crossing from a distance. The folks in Japan only cross at intersections when permitted by a green light. As soon as the green light starts blinking the pedestrians start running to avoid being in the cross walk after the light changes. These images of folks starting to run rather than walk were taken with a Nikon 1 V3 camera with a 70-300 mm VR telephoto lens in burst mode.
In the afternoon we traveled to the famous Harajuku area and Shibuya shopping district. I am starting to lean toward a theme of folks taking pictures with phones, especially if I can see the image within the image on the back of the phone. Despite my preference for B&W, I have to show the two women in Harajuku with brightly colored hair. I noticed a large number of non-Japanese tourists during this walkabout.
Individual images in the slide shows can be viewed here.
Gone to See Japan. Street Photography Workshop with Steve Simon and Soichi Hayashi. Day 1: Tokyo.
May 17th is the day that Norway celebrates its independence. There was an article in the newspaper delivered to my hotel room where Japan congratulates Norway, and comments on the shared goals of both nations — especially having to do with the sea and fishing.
The sun rises very early here in Tokyo — at 04:35. Combination of latitude, and not adjusting the time in the summer (daylight savings time in the US). I am not sure how the local residents use this daylight time in the morning. I did see a group doing stretches and exercising in Chuo park near Niagara falls at 06:30. I took some pictures of the group from my hotel room (on the 20th floor, distance about 400 meters). Then played with the scripts/statistics function within PhotoShop to try to indicate the motion. Later on after breakfast I went for another walk in the park.
The Street Photography workshop started at noon, with a lunch and initial classroom session. After an initial greeting and orientation we got to look at some samples of the workshop participants work, and expectations of what we would be doing for the next eight days. Each day we would have a review session of the images taken the previous day. We also needed to decide on a theme/subject/story line for what we would be photographing. The definition of “Street Photography” can be nebulous. After the classroom session we did a photography warm-up walkabout in Shinjuku. There area is visually overwhelming, and I was having trouble even deciding on what to shoot. During the classroom session, Steve suggested using prime lenses, aperture mode (relatively wide open with a narrow range of focus), a high shutter speed of > 1/400 second (to stop motion — both subject and photographer), and auto ISO (up to 3200 depending on camera sensor). The two cameras that I am using for the workshop (Leica CL, and Leica TL2) do not react and focus as fast as some of the Nikon Pro cameras I am used to. I selected the mirror-less cameras and lenses that I would be using based on their lighter weight (both for travel and being smaller and less conspicuous for street photography). I set the cameras to display the B&W image. I also chose to mainly work with B&W images for this workshop (although I saved the raw images so I can get to the color images). As you can see from the street walkabout images, I was struggling.
Individual images in the slide shows can be viewed here.
Gone to See Japan. Street Photography Workshop with Steve Simon and Soichi Hayashi. Day 0: Tokyo.
I woke up early trying to adjust to the 13 hour time change and spent the morning doing a walkabout near the Keio Plaza hotel. One thing I noted on the map of the area was “Niagara Falls” in Shinjuku Chuo park. The waterfall is not as big as the one on the New York/Canada border. I found a woman walking her turtle (tortoise?) to the waterfall. On the way back to the hotel, I took a 360 degree series of images in Citizen Plaza. At 09:30 the two observatories on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building open. There is no admission fee, but a quick bag check before entering the elevator. I chose the south tower, since the line was a bit shorter. The elevator going up is really fast bringing you to a large room with viewing windows all the way around the building. There is a toy store in the center, and a cafeteria/bar along one side. I took a series of images from each of the windows (except the ones in the restaurant area with restricted access) to see if I could generate a 360 degree panorama and/or little planet view of Tokyo. I did not see Mt. Fuji which is visible from the observation towers on clear mornings.
In the afternoon, I returned to Shinjuku Chuo park and found some Poppy flowers. Which was good since I don’t think I will have many (or any) back home this year. I then did another series of images in Citizen’s Plaza and from the North Observation tower — this time with a wider angle lens.t
The images from Citizen’s Plaza and the Observation towers were processed with AutoPano Giga Pro to create composite 360 degree panorama, fisheye, mirror ball, little planet, and tunnel view images. Individual images from the slide-shows can be viewed here.
The direct flight from New Jersey to Tokyo was long. I’ve never been on a 12+ hour flight before, and upgraded so I would have more leg room. I selected a window seat since the polar route was going over Canada, Alaska, and Russia — and hoped to take some images of the ground (weather permitting). Unfortunately, my “window seat” didn’t have a window. ARRG! One interesting note is that the seats on the plane had shoulder seat belts that we were supposed to wear during takeoff and landing. Once we arrived at the Narita Airport, the queues through immigration and customs were quick and efficient. It appeared that women got an extra metal detecting hand wand exam looking for gold bullion while passing through customs. I got a limo-bus ticket from Narita to the Keio Plaza hotel in the Shinjutu district of Tokyo (3100 Yen). The bus ride took a little over 1 hour. After arriving and checking in at the hotel I did a short walkabout where I saw many Azalea flowers in bloom. I used to have Azalea shrubs and flowers around my house, but the deer ate them to death.