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A little perspective can fool you

Nikon D800, 1/640 f/4.5, ISO 800, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 f/4.5, ISO 800, 70mm

Here’s a great photo that always makes me laugh a little every time I see it. The photo was taken at The National Art Centre, Tokyo. It’s an architectural marvel and photographer’s delight to be inside, especially during sunset, like above.

During one of my trips to Japan, I came here with a friend of mine—the one standing in the middle of this photo with a camera up to her face. The great thing about this photo is that because of where I was standing with my camera, the two people who happen to be in the frame look like they are totally different heights. The security guard on the left looks like he is quite a bit taller than my friend in the middle. Now I know my friend isn’t that short!

As it turns out, although the security guard was only a few feet in front of my friend, because I was so low to the ground, this particular angle makes it look almost as if my friend and the guard were standing along the same line—or the same distance away from my camera. This perspective trickery makes the subject standing further away from my camera appear to be much smaller than the subject who is only a few feet closer to the camera.

My camera was sitting right on the hardwood floor here, and I was taking random photos as people passed by. That was a great moment as there were so many different people walking by my camera. I did manage to get many photos here, and I will be sure to do some more show and tells  in the future.

The takeaway here is to remember to play with the perspective of your camera as you can easily fool the audience by making your subject matter appear much smaller or larger than they really are.

The sun shines in Ikebukuro

I was out shopping one fine early evening in Tokyo when I came to this roadway with people walking down it. Normally it would have been just a regular pedestrian-filled road, but I soon realized the sun peeking out of the clouds every-so-often, shining its glorious rays right down the centre of the street. The golden light it emitted when it did shine down the street was magnificent.

I only had a few short minutes to try and capture this golden light because the clouds would cover the sun after a short time. It was just one of those days where I was happy I had my camera with me that day.

Nikon D800, 1/4000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 56mm

Nikon D800, 1/4000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 56mm

What do you bring on your walks?

When I go out travelling, I often like to take my full gear with me because you never know what to expect. Even on casual walking days like when I took this photo above, I always loved to carry my Nikon along with my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at a minimum. This combination, however, isn’t always so portable, let alone light on my shoulders.

With the advent of mirrorless cameras though, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s a better option for me to take on these casual walks. It’s something to consider one of these days.

What camera do you bring on your photo-walks? What lenses do you like to use? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to suggest any great walk-around cameras that you like.

People watching season has begun!

Nikon D800, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 640, 62mm

Nikon D800, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 640, 62mm

For some of us, people watching can be a real treat. Just pick a random location, sit down, and watch what goes on in front of you. If you’re at a relatively active location, you can sit there for hours on end just enjoying the time pass you by.

It’s those lazy Sunday mornings that make you feel like just taking the moment as it comes. The Spring season is good for that, as people start to make their way out of their homes and into public spaces. The sun starts to shine brightly warming the outdoors, and the overall aura of happiness floats about.

When I went to Japan last year, I took a few days off to just walk around and enjoy the moment around me. Taking random snaps along the way, I meant to post a whole series on these snaps at one point on my blog, but that never came to fruition.

This picture was taken at the Tokyo Forum, in the Ginza district. It’s a great place for photographers any time of the day, with its striking architecture, criss cross patterns all around, and muted colour palette. If you come here to take pictures, you won’t be alone.

As the Spring season unfolds here in Toronto, I look forward to more outdoor adventures to come!

Street scene in Tokyo

iPhone captured street scene in Tokyo.

iPhone captured street scene in Tokyo.

This may be one of those photos where it may not seem like anything special but somehow strikes me as being something. It’s another black and white street scene from Tokyo, but this time taken with my iPhone 6 Plus camera.

It was a blind shot in that I aimed the camera in the direction I wanted, and shot—hopefully getting the person I wanted in focus. The biker is the sharpest subject while the people all around him are blurred by their respective movement.

The grain comes from the fact that it was shot at night, and converting it to black and white also adds to the mood of the photo.

For the longest time, I was trying to edit this photo as it was in colour, with all the street lights in the background. But for some reason, the edits never satisfied the photographer in me. Finally when I converted it to black and white, it all seemed right.

A little B&W goes a long way

People who know me, know me for my colour photography. I was never a guy for black and whites. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them at all. They have their own beauty to them, when done right.

Today I thought I’d bring to you some b&w that I edited from a little photowalk that I did in Shinjuku, Japan a while back. At night, the area is filled with guests filling the small restaurants that often seat no more than a handful. Each place has their own specialty and charm. I went there during the day, so I managed to catch most of the shops closed, or if I was lucky, the owner preparing for their evening menu.

Shinjuku photowalk

Soba, Udon

Shinjuku photowalk

Prepping for the evening.

Shinjuku photowalk

Texting.

Shinjuku photowalk

Empty seats.

How I edited Tokyo Bay Sunset on my iPhone

Today’s iPhone Post-Processing technique is of the sunset that I took from Odaiba, looking towards the Tokyo Bay. It was a glorious sunset and I wanted to show the world how I felt when I saw this. While the original photo doesn’t look that bad, I felt the overall photo lacked a little excitement. The sunset at the time was a warm orange colour, and the clouds were a little dark, grey, and gloomy. I wanted to edit this photo as if I were seeing one of those beautiful sunsets of Thailand or Fiji.

Let’s see how I made this happen. The photo below is what I took from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera app. You can see how I exposed primarily for the highlights because that’s what I wanted to highlight in this photo.

My focus here was to capture the changing light in the clouds, so by exposing for the highlights I allowed the shadows to fill in, attracting the eye to the most important part of the image.

Tokyo sunset

Photo as it was taken from the iPhone 6 Plus native camera app.

See those orange clouds in the centre of the image? I felt as if that area needed some more excitement, as it looked too plain the way it was. I imported the image into LensLight, a great app by Brain Fever Media, which allows you to add lighting effects-among other things-to your image. I added a subtle sun glow and made it peak out from the clouds. One of the great things about this app is that it allows you to fully customize the look of the lighting effect. I changed the opacity of the sun, and the colour to match my scene. In addition to this sun glow, I added a warming filter as well, which gave it more of an orange hue to the overall image.

IMG_8482

First round of editing done in LensLight, where I added a sun glow and warming filter to give rise to a more pleasing sunset.

After saving this image back to my camera roll, I imported it into Mextures where I edited the image to reflect more of what I envisioned with this particular photo. Adding the Bonfire filter in the Radiance section gave it the purple-pink hue I was looking for. It added a little more excitement to the bland, grey areas of the photo, giving it new life. In addition, I did some further tweaking by adjusting the Tint, Fade, and Sharpen options to my liking.

As a final touch, I often like to import my image into VSCOcam to see if anything else can be done to give it that extra something special. As it turns out, applying an F3 Mellow filter at a strength of 8 yielded a softer version of the image that I liked. So that’s the version I uploaded to Instagram, after cropping it to a square format.

IMG_8483

The final image after editing in Mextures and VSCOcam, giving it the overall feel that I was after with this particular image.

Cropping an image is an equally important part of editing an image. It’s important to take care in that you don’t crop out any vital part of the image, and that you retain the feeling that you wanted to disseminate.

I could have easily left out the hand rail on the bottom left of this image, but I wanted to keep just a little portion of it in the final image so that it looks like we are peaking over it. Leaving it out would have made for a nice sunset image, but keeping it in adds just a little more interest to it.

The final image cropped and uploaded to Instagram.

The final image cropped and uploaded to Instagram.

Apps used:

lenslight

LensLight

VSCOcam

VSCOcam

Mextures

Mextures


The glow of the sun

Nikon D800, 185mm, 1/250 sec., f/5.6, ISO 800

Nikon D800, 185mm, 1/250 sec., f/5.6, ISO 800

On cold days like today, it’s nice to bask in the glory of the sun. These people here have the right idea. During sunsets, the sun shines brightly in this direction, allowing people to enjoy their meals directly in the sun.

The National Art Centre, Tokyo, is great in during this time, when the sun makes for great lighting in this unique and architecturally striking building.

I tried to capture the warmth of the sun here, as the people ate their meals. I’m also testing out a new program that I recently bought—Topaz Labs’s Glow—that produces this glowing effect on images. I’ll have to play with it more to see how I can better make use of it, and then perhaps do a review on it as well! So far, I have to say it is promising as I can still use it to make realistic images.

Tokyo Performance Doll in Odaiba

Nikon D800, 48mm, 1/5000 sec., f/9, ISO 800

Nikon D800, 48mm, 1/5000 sec., f/9, ISO 800

Back in the day when I first started listening to Japanese pop music (J-pop) (think early 90’s), I had a fascination with one artist, Shinohara Ryoko. She wasn’t the prettiest of girls, nor was she the best singer; I just liked the attitude that she exuded when she sang—perhaps I should thank her producers for that.

She was one of the core members of a larger group of girls, forming the girl band, Tokyo Performance Doll (TPD). I even bought her album, including her spin-off album when she went solo. Over the years, the group disbanded, and I moved on.

On my latest trip to Japan last year, I was wandering around Odaiba when I encountered this setup, seen above. It struck me by surprise since I hadn’t heard of that group name for the longest time. Looking at the group of girls on the sign, I jokingly said to my wife, “I wonder if Shinohara Ryoko will be here.” She immediately dismissed my remark thinking it was a childish comment. Hey, I were able to meet a Japanese pop-singer-cum-actress, I would gladly take the opportunity! Shinohara Ryoko was noticeably missing from the sign, so instead, I decided to take this picture for the sake of commemorating this event in my life.

That’s when the girl sitting next to the sign spotted me as she was taking a sip from her water bottle. With her mouth full, she knew she had to do her job. She quietly put down her bottle and lifted up a sign that said, No Photos. I was oblivious to the sign since I was busy framing this shot until my wife tapped me on the shoulder and urged me to put the camera down. Sometimes I can be so focused on a task!

Walking away, I see another couple approach the sign. The husband takes a look at the sign, and says to his wife, “Hey, I wonder if Shinohara Ryoko will be here!”

For that split moment, I felt proud to be a fan of her during her heydays.

 

Asakusa Dori

24mm @ 1/2500 sec., f/5.0, ISO 250.

24mm @ 1/2500 sec., f/5.0, ISO 250.

This street on the left is called Asakusa (nakamise) Dori. The street is lined on both sides with a number of small shops selling anything from trinkets to snacks to take-home meals. It’s a great place to just wander around and enjoy the atmosphere. The street eventually leads to the Senso-ji, or the temple to the goddess of mercy. While it may not be evident in this photo, the street is always packed with locals and tourists—and during the new year is no exception!

If you’re ever in the area, try this vantage point, which not too many people know about. It’s located just across the street from the main entrance of this Asakusa Dori. Find the Asakusa Visitor’s Centre and head on up to the third floor where there’s a small observatory. It offers a great overview of the area, as you can see.