Gotemba Project

Last May we took a quick trip over to the Hakone area to go to this crazy onsen that has everything from a coffee bath, a wine bath, sake bath, and a pool you dip your feet into and let little fish nibble off your top layer of skin. We also were able to see another side of Fuji I had not seen before once we reached the Gotemba area. The city of Gotemba has got one hell of a view! I took these shots from their shrine, which was also nearby an awesome camp spot we found that was cheap and had a pretty amazing view of Fuji as well. I think I actually enjoyed the Gotemba area a bit more than Hakone, which is probably blasphemous to even say as so many people love Hakone, but that is the problem.. So many people in Hakone!

Gotemba Project

Peeking Fuji

Skybrant

Of course, every time I go through my shots of Japan I miss it quite a bit, but it is easy to forget that during the spring time when I took these shots I had the worst allergies of my life! I could barely sleep at night for over a month during our last year there. I guess that is the price exacted by Mother Japan for so much amazing photography potential.

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Spiderer

I am pretty sure this is in no way a unique shot as about 5 million people have probably stood beneath this sculpture with camera pointed towards the sky, but this is my take. I used a 7 shot DRI for the sky and HDR for the sculpture and building. I cheated a little bit and cloned out a small amount of some random building on the bottom left side of the shot.

Tokyo-6208And7more_tonemapped

Holy Decrosion

I haven’t touched this blog in a while, but there is good reason for this. I took a conductor position with the BNSF railroad in Alliance, Nebraska. I am about to start into my 3rd week of training out of 15 weeks total before I shake baby noob status and become a regular full-time employee. I have been wanting to get out of working in an office and instead working outside and this position definitely offers this as well as the ability to work almost anywhere in the mid-west and western states.

Photography wise, Nebraska speaks to me a lot more than Georgia ever did. The sky is one of the few places in the country that has very little pollution in the sky, the sun starts to bake warm sunset tones onto the terra firma by about 1:30 pm, and there is a ton of interesting farm scenery and plenty of abandoned buildings sprinkled through out. The biggest problem I have will be finding time away from the volumes of books I need to study to pass all of my tests in between my OJT.

I don’t usually go into churches on my own free will, but I spied this abandoned beauty right off the side of the road the first time I was in the area for my hiring session a few months ago. I made a couple of mistakes to chalk up to my list of photography foibles.

  • The D700 remembers what ISO you shot at last in RAW or JPEG rather than just using whatever ISO you dial in, at least this is what I think happened. The camera was at ISO 1250 in JPEG when I pulled it out of the bag and I knew enough to dial the ISO down to 200. Then I switched to RAW to shoot Like a Boss and ended up coming home to discover all my shots were set at ISO 1250. I assume the camera remembered what I was using the last time I shot RAW, but I will have to test this to be sure.
  • When I went inside the church, I started walking around like a clown not being cautious with my steps. Sure enough I stepped right onto the only piece of wood with nails sticking straight up. Lucky for me, the nail was not long enough to make it through the sole of my tennis shoe. FACT- Anyone who has ever been in the military has 1/4 parts blood and 3/4 parts random inoculations running through their arteries and veins.  I now deplore inoculations and anthrax filled up the last remaining space that tetanus would need to occupy my circulatory system. This is why they now mist the flu vaccine straight into my brain via my nasal cavities due to all of the empty space up there.
  • I left my polarizer back in Georgia with my wife who will not be moving out here until she separates in February or March 😦

The interior shots are HDR’s that I could barely sharpen due to the higher ISO creating noise problems during the HDR processing and the outside shots are just that, outside shots. Had I not taken the shot of the church from the outside, knowing it was taken in the middle of the day when the sun is the strongest, I would have guessed it was DRI processed, but it is just the Nebraska 5-hours-long sunset at about 1:30 pm with the sun behind my back!

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Church-3444

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Church-3485

~Randomill~

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Dodged

Not Dodge as in the auto maker, but dodge as in a little dodging here and a little burning there really helped make this picture have an almost three dimensional feel to it. The four exposures ran through Photomatix HDR process helps with bringing out a unique look to the textures as well. I must say I love the new version. It is stupid simple to get rid of ghosted objects and even has a bunch of presets to get you to a starting point for getting your shot to look how you would like it. Anyways, I found this truck a while ago and wanted to come back with a camera during a sunset or sunrise. Got lucky on a trip to Andersonville and hit this as the sun was setting on our way back.

Dodged

Glowr

Been a while since I dug down into my D80 archive territory, but I have been yearning and burning for more time back in Kyoto, especially for this coming fall. That is just torture to think about because there isn’t any way it will happen this year. 😦

Glowr

Street Monkeys

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!

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And last, but not least.. I leave you with more snow monkeys. I just cannot get enough these little guys!

Monkey Pow-wow

Second Chance

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.

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Odd Odaiba

Odaiba is one of the best vantage points for a cracking Tokyo sunset scene with the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower as a backdrop, all interspersed with architectural shots of the futuristic urban environment unlike pretty much any other city I have ever seen, but here are a couple of random shots of the less obvious shots, which will of course come later on this blog.

Vacanseat

Bluoddity

Feilacious

Probably my last picture I will be posting for a few days. About to have my last grand hurrah in Tokyo with a friend and our camera gear. I really want to eventually move to Germany in the future, but I will be missing all of the sites to be seen in Tokyo and how easy it is to get around anywhere in the city. It is a photographers dream.

Feilacious

Birds Nest

I sure loved out our visit to China, even Beijing was a lot better than I thought it would be, but man… I do not have fun processing the sky in my Beijing shots. Even at night it is kind of a dull grey and very noisy result. The sky in my posted image is still rather bland, but I had to use a lot of blur tool on the sky to clean it up. I would definitely look into getting a polarizing filter for any lenses you take with you to Beijing.

Birds Nest

In Spite of Ferris

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..

In Spite of Ferris

Sapporo Bier Garten

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.

Kessel 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.

Yakiniku Pride

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!

Mutton Salad

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!

Boiler Room

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!