O’haido

From an extremely fun trip to Hokkaido for some skiing at Niseko and a little exploring in Sapporo, this being on top of Grand Hirafu resort after a small hike from their highest chairlift, classy little single seater.

It was a cold March night in Sapporo and the foggy storm told me it would be interesting to get out and take some shots despite it being late in the middle of the night, so I rolled out of bed with my camera and ended up with a few shots like this.

I was a little tipsy one night after eating out and ended up with a bunch of crooked, off kilter shots, but this decent one was found in that series.

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Shinjuku Cluster

Oh my god! Who ever gets tired of shots from Japan? Not me, not you, not anyone! I guess I will call these series of shots I post that are geographically minutes away from each other a “cluster”. I bring you a Shinjuku cluster. Post dated of course.

I’m like a monkey drawn to the lights I guess, but I mean, look at everything going on in this scene! It just makes me want to walk into all of these stores and buy stuff even though I don’t know what any of it is!

Every one of these shots from my last three posts were taken with a photo buddy who visited just before we packed up and left. He makes a ninja appearance in this shot.

The Light Show

Wow, over a year since my last post. My original excuse last year was that I was too busy with training at my job to take or process shots. Then during the last 2 months I have barely worked any hours at all and had more free time than I have ever had. Still didn’t take or process shots. Oh well, here we go again..

So here we are on Odaiba Island just outside of Tokyo. When you see this unique building with a giant sphere overhead, you’ve come to the right place for a light show once the sun has set. In fact, I see this spot on TV quite a bit, most recently the Black Eyed Peas used it as a backdrop for their “Just Can’t Get Enough” music video.

Just below the bay side of the building there is a wicked escalator that puts on a rather interesting, yet oddly psychotic light show.

I had shot this little area quite a bit while I was in Japan, but it was kind of challenging to get any usable shots as the lights change so often that it seems to wash out the highlights if you capture more than one color on the same neon tube. I had to bump up the ISO so my exposures were not too long and just hope my timing was synced to the color changes. I’m sure others have been able to provide much better examples!

Ceyhan Nehri

The city you see on the other side is Turkey’s fifth most populated city, Adana. There is an American Air Base minutes away from this city. It is kind of arid, dusty, and dingy compared to what most Americans are used to, so most of them think Adana is a terrible place. I, however, love it. Where else can you get some of the best food in the world for cheap while watching people drag 100ft long bundles of rebar down the street in the middle of traffic while an old man squats in the median to relieve himself? It feels like a different planet, but there are hidden gems all over the place.

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The Gateway

After driving from South Dakota down to St. Louis in a day, we were pretty tired and it was very late, but we made a quick stop to see the Gateway Arch. I don’t know how this thing is able to stay standing in a wind storm. Would like to go back for their fireworks display. I have seen some amazing shots with the fireworks going off right next to the arch.

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St Louis

Fireworks 101

This was my first fireworks show that I have ever attempted to shoot. I thought it would be an easy affair other than finding the right spot amongst the throngs of people. We were at Jekyll Island on the coast of Georgia for the event, so we set up a small plot on the beach and waited for the show begin. I figured it would be cool to get really long exposure by stopping down to about f18 and even covering the lens between bursts to get as many fireworks in the shot without overexposing the areas below.

Jekyll Island-1853

This does not work. You are lucky if you can get a series of 2 shots without the bright blasts completely over exposing the area of explosion and also lighting up the smoke in an unappealing way. I was getting my best shots by capturing only one at a time, which meant lowering the exposure to around f9 for proper exposure. Ideally you would be somewhere like Sydney Harbor that has a linear series of shots that do not explode in the exact same spot in the sky.

Jekyll Island-1852

The last thing I would like to have changed, but is usually out of a persons control is the wind. If you could keep the wind blowing directly against your back as you face the display, that would help hide the smoke that easily lights up in your shot. I wasn’t too happy with the shots, but it was a good learning experience for next time.

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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

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.

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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

Warp Zone

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.

Warp Zone

Erciyes Dağı Yeni Yıl

Took a little New Years break ski trip up north to Mt. Erciyes, a big 3,916 metre stratovolcano that can be seen from Cappadocia. When we arrived at night, it was extremely bright out due to the full moon, which I hear was a blue moon. Me and one of my friends eschewed the New Years festivities at the deluxe hotel that we had booked and decided to enjoy the blisteringly cold night air with our cameras.

Erciyes Dağı

I pulled out my handy LED key chain light to graffiti the mountain with a New Years declaration about some girl I know named Amber who should have been there to partake in the lovely wind chill with her husband!

New Years Declaration

These long exposures were really fun to play around with my flash as well. Me and my friend would hold my SB-600 flash and fire off the test flash a couple of times at each other while strategically hiding the flash unit from view of the camera to create some neat effects. Too bad my retarded ass kept moving around between flashes so that I look like a fragmented apparition!

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Combined, neither me or my friend had enough common sense to at least dress up warm enough to stay out in the cold for very long, a damn shame because the views were simply amazing. After about an hour and a half, our tennis shoes became the weakest link and we had to quick pack everything up and head back to a warm car to try and regain feeling in our feet. While packing up we noticed our gear was extremely frosted over.

D90 Stress Test

Modern gear is pretty damn awesome though; it all kept working so well, we had no idea it was all coated with frost until I happened to shine my LED on it. I think we were too preoccupied running in place and hopping around in circles like Indians for warmth! We headed out again the following night since this night was so amazing, but the 2nd time was so windy that we could not steady our tripods enough to take any sharp shots with such long exposures. I guess I’ll just have to go back again!

Frosty the Tripod

Railay Night

I used my little Photox Cleon remote to take this 141 second exposure of the west side of Railay, the area that we stayed in. The beaches there are amazing and the reason there are 2 sides is that the hotels are all on a very narrow peninsula that only takes about 5 minutes to walk from one side to the other. Both sides are dotted with restaurants right on the beach and the food is pretty damn good and not too prohibitively expensive at only about 600-800 baht for 2 people with more food than you can usually eat.

I notice a lot of blurriness from the trees on the rock face due to the long exposure, which I now see why most long exposures of the ocean or sea turn out better when you mostly focus on the glassy water and wicked skies that start to come out despite what looks like complete darkness to the human eye. I had a few other long exposures that had long tail boats in them and they were so blurry it kind of ruins the shot for me.

Railay Night