I’ve been wanting to take some close-ups of eyes for the next meeting of my photography group, and foolishly thought that maybe I could get my kids to cooperate. This first photo here happened basically by chance, but none of the others were what I was aiming for. So much for getting my kids to hold still. Still I took the opportunity to grab some nice photos of everybody. Here I used a plugin called Silver Effects Pro for the B&W conversion.
A couple days ago Genbo’s friend Anthony came over with his dad Jeffrey, and we went to the nearby park to play.
Zoe looking particularly young and innocent herefull exif
Genbo and Anthony went off to get some shaved ice, and it was fun watching (and taking way too many photos of) them all negotiating the two servings between the three of them.
Spring has finally come, and the garden in our building is bursting thanks to the Gardening Club, whose efforts I am grateful for but have no desire to partake in. (Gardening, ugh. Don’t they want to spend that time reading or playing bamboo flutes instead? I don’t get it.)
Another snow today, so I took the opportunity to snap a few shots from our balcony. I think we’re perfectly positioned as far as snow goes. It only snows enough to stick a few times a year, giving us the pleasures associated with it without most of the hassle.
Genbo is starting first grade next April at the school outlined below in red. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk.
Can already hear it: “Dad…Can you give me a riiiide?”full exif
On the other side of this mountain/big hill lies Kyotofull exif
So I upgraded to a D7000 yesterday, giving my mom the old trusty D90 in trade. (Thanks mom!)
I want to play with it, but I have been swamped with work. So, today I found a fallen leaf on my way to Starbucks to do some translation, and snapped this photo in between paragraphs. I like the new camera a lot.
It’s been cherry blossom season for a week or two, but the weather has been so rainy and cold I haven’t been able to get out and take any photos. Nor play shakuhachi under the cherries in Kyoto as I did last year for change. Today was finally semi-warm, so I took my macro lens with me out into town. As I was deciding how to take some non-boring pictures of cherry blossoms this bird alighted obligingly on a branch and made up my mind for me.
(“Birding” refers to a type of photography where people buy insanely expensive lenses to take incredibly boring pictures of birds. Sometimes these are actually good photographs, but pretty rarely. My own hypothesis is that these guys (and it always is guys) just like the technical challenge of shooting birds, and the fact that it’s a good excuse for buying a $10,000 lens.)
I’ve blogged often about my friend Kamada Koji (鎌田幸二), who has been kind enough to devote decades of his life to becoming a master potter in the Tenmoku (天目) style just so that I could take macros of his stuff. Last week he held a yearly show at Takashimaya, one of the fancier Japanese department stores. I would have loved to bring my tripod, kick everybody out, and adjust the light to my specifications, but any picture-taking at all is ordinarily forbidden. I had his special permission, but still felt it was a good idea to be as discreet and fast as possible.
Kamada-san pointing center, with his wife Kazumifull exif
It’s exceedingly difficult to capture the nuances of nearly all his glazes, but this particular one most of all, because in real life the colors are not only extremely subtle, but they shift mercurially (almost literally because they are metallic crystals) with small changes in light.
It’s so hard to keep a two year-old still. And, when she’s sleeping it’s usually in a dark room. Today, however, for some reason she didn’t take a nap at daycare, and hence fell asleep in my arms 30 seconds after coming home (about 10 seconds after insisting she wasn’t tired). After laying her down on the couch I brought out my tripod and a macro to take some still lifes.
Last night the kids went to bed relatively early after a day of play and Maki had the night shift, so I stayed up and fooled around taking pictures, first from my balcony and then from my preferred studio (the kitchen table).
On the other side of that hill lies Kyotofull exif
I’m going to have to start thinking of better post titles. Today we went to the Kamada’s for dinner, and I got another little sake cup. I decided to use it as an opportunity to take more methodical shots, this time lit only by the light of a single candle. This little cup was ostensibly given to me for my past birthday, but every time I go over to his house and ostentatiously praise a piece of non-for-sale-pottery, there’s a decent chance I’ll end up taking it home, so I have to be careful to keep my mouth shut for fear of wearing out my welcome.
This first shot is a pretty good representation of how the cup actually looks (or about one centimeter of it lit by a candle, anyway). However, since the candlelight was so red, I had to yank the whitebalance in Lightroom all the way over to the blue to begin to approach reality.
The image below is much closer to how it came out of the camera. Kind of makes me think of the fiery pillars of hell, reminding me to help little old ladies across the street. I like this alternate take, it being so much more expressive than the first, cool shot. One interesting thing about this shot is that there is much more information left in the image. I didn’t have to yank the image so far over to the blue end of the spectrum that lots of the photons in the red channel got lost, so we see much more of the cup than otherwise.
And, I couldn’t resist a shot or two of the candle as well.
3 February 2010 “Flaw”
Getting back into some macro work. This is another cup made by my friend Koji Kamada (鎌田幸二) that I use for sake or scotch. That little dimple in the middle, about a millimeter or two across, is the reason I have this beautiful piece of pottery. It’s a flaw that prevented it from being sold. As my kids would say, “Thank you, mister flaw.” (No, not referring to me.)
This one really deserve to be seen full size
The other day the Kamadas came over for a little new year’s get-together, which involved hanging around at our house for a while and then going out for some great yaki-niku, where you grill your own meat at the table and drink lots of draft beer. The owner is a fan of Kamada-san’s pottery, which I’ve blogged about in the past, and he treated us like kings, especially because Kamada-san brought him a little present at my suggestion.
He loves that thing. I think Maki made it for him. Those Japanese are good with folded paper. full exif
The photo below shows them playing something very interesting. Japanese people are very big on various forms of karuta, or cards. The most widespread version is the Hyakunin-Isshu, which was originally an anthology of 100 poems compiled in the 12th century.These were then assembled into a deck of cards, with each card containing a single poem in calligraphic form. The game is that two or more people will sit in front of the spread-out deck, while another person reads the poems at random. The contestants then have to find the appropriate card and pick it up before their opponent does. This is actually a very big “sport” in Japan, with national championships, ranks, and the level of obsession Japanese people pour into just about everything. The “pros” only have to hear one or two syllables before they recognize which poem is being read, and their hand shoots out unbelievably fast. Here is one gorgeous video showing people dressed up in the ceremonial garb of the 12th century playing the game at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto (a ritual carried out at the beginning of each new year), and here is a national news report about the national championships, with some great video showing how fast the pros are. Coincidentally, this is at the shrine where Genbo and Zoe go to daycare.
Anyway, Genbo got a deck of karuta for new year’s from his Japanese grandparents, although these don’t have the Hyakunin-Issue poems on them, but rather kotowaza, or Japanese proverbs. Being a confucian country, Japanese people are big at sprinkling proverbs into conversation. They learn them very early—five years old, in fact. Genbo already has his proverb cards memorized, and Zoe isn’t actually half bad either.
Here are a few more pics from the shrine I mentioned in yesterday’s post. As you can see, it was a place of pristine natural beauty.
As photographers in Japan soon learn, judicious cropping goes a long way.
And, of course, some leaves: