I talked a little bit about the concept of dynamic range here. One of the reasons I sported a little extra for my camera was because of its dynamic range, something not even matched, supposedly, by the dreamy new $5,000 Nikon D3, which, by the way, would make an excellent birthday present for my birthday tomorrow if anyone of near-unlimited means is reading and wondering.
Anyway, this particular closeup of an architectural feature of Kyoto Station (where I also shot yesterday’s photo), is a good example of dynamic range. The first photo below is the image as it came out of the camera, with lots of highlights and shadows. The second photo is where I’ve taken advantage of the dynamic range the S5 gives me and toned back the highlights and pushed back the shadows to reveal lots more detail on both ends.
All of which reveals…that the first image is better anyway. It’s a lot more dramatic. However, the advantage of thinking to myself in blog format like this is that I get to share both with all three people who visit every other month.
[Some more of Kyoto's very cool station can be viewed here. ]
Today I went and played shakuhachi at an old-age home about half an hour away. I know the accountant for this home from this place I go drinking occasionally, and he was nice enough to introduce me.
I’ve been so busy with work and kids that I haven’t had much time to play recently, so I was a little bit tentative going in. I managed to practice in the cold outside about half an hour yesterday after the kids went to bed, then about an hour today, but that’s all I’ve played for a few weeks.
I played mostly folk songs, lullabies, and tunes that would have been popular when my audience (in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, mostly) was young, as well as some more traditional pilgrim’s hymns.
They were very appreciative, clapping their hands and sometimes humming or singing along to songs they probably hadn’t heard for decades but which they remembered anyway. It takes a lot to get a 90-year old excited, but watching them be involved for the whole 40 minutes I played was very rewarding. It reminds me of why I like to play to begin with.
That being said, I still wasn’t very happy with my performance. It was fine, but that’s about the most you can say for it. I recorded it, and listening objectively after the fact I could pinpoint very few actual mistakes, but the fact that I’m rusty was apparent to my ear, anyway. Who knows whether or not it would have made a difference to my audience if I had played my best.
Here’s a picture I snapped while everyone was still congregating. This was about two-thirds of those who came, which ended up being about 60-70 people, or about half the population of the home. A good turn-out, I guess. Hopefully I can get myself invited back and then go play again when I’m better prepared.
(Click to enlarge or you’ll be insultin’ my daughter.)
So the wife ended her maternity leave, going back to her cushy job as a resident in internal medicine, leaving moi as the primary care-giver of one three year old and one seven month old. Oh yeah, I have to work, too!
It’s incredibly hectic, but I’m actually enjoying it all very much, in a masochistic I’m-sure-this-will-be-remembered-fondly-someday kind of way. However, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else. Hopefully I can put some of the incredible, mold-breaking photographs that I’ve been taking in my abundant spare time up here in a couple days.
These are scans of postcards created by my shakuhachi teacher, who is almost as amazing an artist as he is a shakuhachi player.
He is incredibly prolific, turning out small stuff like these postcards and much larger paintings and pieces of calligraphy at a rapid rate. I have a bunch of his stuff, much of which he painted especially for me, with my (Japanese shakuhachi) name and various and sundry words of encouragement. I’ll probably post some of that stuff later, but for now some smaller work.
The two main characters here spell out chikuzen, or “bamboo zen.” For hundreds of years in its history the shakuhachi was played almost exclusively by zen monks. All of the characters in red are from his formidable collection of hanko (stamps, chops, etc.). This, as the next one, is similar stylistically to traditional representations of Boddhidharma, who brought Buddhism to China from India.
This next one has the characters for zen and katsu, zen being zen and katsu being….er….I wish I were a better translator….let’s say, the vitality that you put into any activity that you really care about. The smaller words say: “Since you’ve been born a human being in this world this time around, live strongly strongly strongly strongly strongly strongly!”
Finally, another favorite subject of his is the Kannon, who is the bodhisattva of compassion and fulfills very much the same roll in Buddhism as Mary does in Christianity.