One of the often overlooked but essentially Japanese experiences is the slow train journey through the Japanese countryside in summer. One of the reasons I get to travel around so much in Japan is that I don’t mind spending hours and hours on the train, just staring out the window. A year and a half ago I took these photos while traveling through northern Gunma prefecture, between Minakami and Takasaki. It is difficult to get good photos through a moving train window but I still had to share these with you. The landscape in these photos are absolutely typical of the countryside, with the buildings, the bamboo forests, the distant mountains, village stations and much more. Just looking at these photos makes my heart ache for the next train journey through the summer Japan I love so much! Oh, and can you spot the real life house of Satsuki and Mei from the animated movie “My Neighbor Totoro” (となりのトトロ) in the sixth photo? Doesn’t it look just like in the movie? I could live here, just a couple of hundred meters past the Gokan station in Minakami-cho. Don’t miss the slow train when you visit Japan next!
A perfect solar eclipse does’t come along too many times in the life span of a typical human. You’re lucky to see it once or twice in your life perhaps. Yesterday morning the entire southern Japan had such a chance, but in most cases clouds and even the smoke plume of an active volcano made it hard to see anything. I got up early to find the sky in dense cover of clouds but as the magic moment came closer the clouds gradually disappeared, only to reappear a few minutes before the eclipse, to cover the sun. Still, the strong light of the sun shone straight through the clouds even in the middle of the eclipse and I managed to get these photos of the perfect ring of fire with my 500mm Bigma lens, set at 1/8000, f36 and ISO of 25, in addition to holding up a polarizing filter in front of the lens and a pair of sunglasses. It was magical to see it live in the viewfinder of my camera though, the clouds drifting past and the edges of the ring of fire casting rough flames across the rim. I sure hope all the people who had bought special eclipse viewing glasses keeps them for a while longer – there is another eclipse coming up in 2038, but this time in the northern island of Hokkaido. I wonder if I will be able to see it?
Last two shots from the kimono photo shoot last month. I have plenty more but I don’t want to bore you, and the rest would just be variations on these. It’s fun to have so many different shots from a single shoot to play with, in terms of editing and re-touching. This guy is one of the few models where I hardly do any actual re-touching, focusing on fixing shadows, evening out highlights and colors. Great fun! It almost reminds me of the good old days I used to spend in the dark room. Ah, memories!
More manly kimono for everyone that didn’t get enough of this guy wearing a different kimono, or him in a suit, or him holding the flashgun, or the dramatic close up of him (which is also the current cover of a Japanese model agency site), or a semi nude, or the three portraits of him here, or… well the list goes on!
Again this was the same studio (my studio) the same light set up (one light, good models don’t need more), and the same stylist using a different kimono. I tried a red background to get a more dramatic and visual look. I screwed up on the color correction of the skin tones, but please don’t try and find the areas where I missed, I am already sporting big red marks on my forehead from banging my head on the keyboard once I noticed this. Don’t know if I succeeded overall, but as I said earlier, even a blind monkey with a disposable toy camera could get a good picture of this guy. Enjoy! A couple more coming up next week.