Time was a tickin for me. I had one more free day available to go into downtown Tokyo before I would be leaving Japan and I STILL had not shot the Roppongi clock. It is kind of easy to miss since it is behind the Mori Tower, but damnit, there is a Starbucks right across the street with an open air seating area. I could have been comfortably sitting across the street sniping people as they walk past the clock while sipping down my Grande Carmel Machiotto that is sized for a midget and priced for a baron!
I don’t know what the hell kind of time it is flashing, if it is even time at all. The numbers seem to be a bit more random and only change once every 10 seconds or so. Maybe it is a Mayan numerical countdown until the end of the world, I don’t know. I just know that you need to take a walk behind the Mori Tower and find this clock and feed your camera!
I usually do not mess around with using filters in my post processing, it seems to take a long time for me to get them right. I attempted it in this shot since the sky was ugly as can be reflecting all of the city light in the frozen moisture particles. I think it is an improvement, but it is hard to make the look subtle. I am also thinking about purchasing a Cokin Z-Filter system in the future and switching the 14-24 for the new 24/1.4, mostly so I can use filters in my landscape shots. I’ll test it out on the 70-200 before making the switch; I have never used filters before and 14mm is a lot to lose!
And last, but not least.. I leave you with more snow monkeys. I just cannot get enough these little guys!
This friendly local fly fisher saw me shooting pictures of the sunset on my tripod and tried to communicate with me, asking if it was okay to move to the area my camera was pointed. Above and beyond respectful and I would never expect anyone to stay out of the way of a photographer in a public area like this, but I was actually quite glad he was going to position himself close to the setting sun rays reflecting off of the water. I hurriedly moved my tripod into place for a better composition with my freezing cold wife in tow and snapped these off.
I have only a couple of weeks left here in Japan and kept realizing that there were quite a few shots that I did not have due to my short notice move to Turkey before last summer. Now that I am back, I now have only a few weekends left before leaving Japan for good. We basically only had this last weekend as our only time when we don’t have something planned and getting a good shot of Fuji was one of “those shots” I was missing out on. So we threw our sleeping bags into our small little Toyota Starlet to camp out on Friday night for a 4am viewing of Fuji across Lake Motosu as long as our luck way for clear viewing conditions.
Two people sleeping in a Toyota Starlet goes against the grain of the universe and I would never recommend anyone ever try that. On top of not being able to sleep in 3 cubic feet worth of space, I also omitted my allergy meds, and allergies in Japan kick my ass. Luckily the weather cooperated and we had our first clear skies in what seemed like weeks. Not only did we get an awesome viewing at Lake Motosu, but we were also able to get some nice warm light paint on Fuji across nearby Lake Saiko.
My weakness in Tokyo.. Architecture. I have to shoot it.
I always enjoy going back to Shinjuku for a chance to shoot all of the many buildings and man-made structures that are abound in this area. Some of my favorite shots were from these two vantage points below. I already have shot both of these structures below from almost the exact same spot. This time I just tried a slightly different angle of view and differences in processing.
One thousand and eighty photos over the past two and a half days of crawling around Tokyo. The arches in my feet feel as if they have completely disappeared and this is only the beginning. For now, here is a sampler of shapes that have caught my eye during the grand Tokyo extravaganza.
Visited the Yokohama landmark tower for a second time with the intentions of capturing some shots of the ferris wheel spinning; I like the light painting effect it gives for long exposures. The last time I was up there, it was spinning, but I was sans tripod. This time I had the tripod, but the ferris wheel was not spinning. I don’t think it was open yet since it was stationary the entire night, I guess I should just be happy they turn the lights on! The third time might be the charm..
After a couple of days of skiing, we headed back to Sapporo to finish our trip. The Sapporo Bier Garten seemed to top the list of recommended things to do while in town, so we booked dinner reservations for two in the Ghengis Khan Hall.
This is actually a beer garden owned by Sapporo beer, but it is well known for one thing, the mutton grilled on the table ‘yakiniku’ style.
Being stupid gaijin, we needed a few tips from the friendly staff like taking the cube of animal fat and gratuitously coating everything before putting meat to grill. One hundred minutes of all-you-can-eat mutton and beer ran us about ¥3,700. We noticed everyone else just dumped all their fresh cookins onto the grill and went to town, so we learned quickly how to maximize our 100 minutes!
I don’t usually like lamb or smokeless grills, but damn, this was a good meal, great beer, and a cool atmosphere. It was definitely worth the 30 minutes of running while lost trying to make your reservation!
Just be sure to bring some breath mints or gum for after the meal. I don’t eat mutton often, but the after taste is… not good!
We spent one of our ski days over at the larger of the Niseko area ski resorts, Grand Hirafu. It was by far my favorite as it was relatively uncrowded during the weekday we were there and had some epic back country easily accessible by a 10 minute hike from an old single seater lift that was just to the side of me when I was taking this shot.
Now, why did I not compose this shot to include the view of the amazing stratovolcano Mt. Yōtei? I did in another shot, but I inadvertently cut off part of the bull wheel and it didn’t take on the center role of this view since Yōtei is so damned cool looking and I was really interested in this really old lift for some reason and besides, I took tons of shots of Yōtei by then! How could you not?
Please forgive the awkward angles, this shot would have been much better if I had just shot the empty seat at a perpendicular angle, but we were on our way back from the Sapporo Biergarten and I am a lightweight since I rarely drink, doesn’t make for the greatest shots!. Still, I really thought it was neat to find an ENTIRE empty row on a subway in Japan! I could get use to that!
And more awkward angles, but the Sapporo beer was good!
Tonight is kind of sad since it may be the last time that I ever make it into the city of Adana before I leave for Japan. A lot of good times were had the first time I lived here since it is where I met, dated, and married my wife. Adana feels like such a foreign land compared to any other place I have ever been and I really love it. The crazy shit you see people do here is always entertaining as well! Anyways, me and my buddy found this bridge underpass and used my SB-600 light to create the shadow of me and then painted the scene with green and blue LED key chain lights.
-Go to the last shot in my blog/photostream.
-Take about 20 steps backwards.
-Turn 90 degrees to the right.
Every time I jump on any highway in Turkey and get a little ways out from where I live, I am constantly seeing things on the side of the road that are truly interesting from a photographic standpoint. Things like old abandoned buildings, odd animals all alone in the middle of nowhere, vast expanses of crops planted in a perfectly straight row leading towards the horizon, you name it. Usually we are in such a hurry that we just blast on by. We did make one stop for this interesting tree all alone out in a vibrant field with the Taurus mountain range lining the background. This spot is about an hours drive from Cappadocia.
Mt. Erciyes is a bit of a weird resort compared to what I am use to in the States. Each group of chairlifts and rope tows are owned by different people, so even though you can see 5 or 6 lifts nearby, you have to choose which one or two that you would like to ride and pay for a pass that is only good for a specific lift or two. Doppelmayr! How I have missed you!
I was having a lot of fun skiing for the 2nd time in 7 years. Last year I felt like a disaster, but this year was different for some reason. I think it might be the kebabs and sahlep? Anyways, I didn’t care to get my camera equipment until near the end of the day, so it was getting pretty dark by the time I started to shoot. You can also kind of see the runs that were pretty much 50/50 rock snow, not the pure snow like found on the K-12, but.. If something gets in your way, turn.
For the last run I locked my 50mm on and loaded my SB-600 and tried to get some shots of my friends as they were trying to breakout of beaterdom. It would have been nice to have my 70-200 to get in a bit closer, but I was a little weary of breaking my leg on a rock, smashing my head into the dirt, and having 50 pounds of camera reconstruct my face. Here is Dean showing me the dangers I speak of.
I can’t even see his upper body in this shot!