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Bamboo Forest of Hokokuji

Although the bamboo forest of Arashiyama in Kyoto is likely Japan’s most famous bamboo grove (and for good reason), there are many other splendid bamboo groves around the country. The grove connected to Hokokuji Temple in Kamakura is a great example of this. Although Hokokuji itself is rather small and a bit out of the way, it’s a great place to visit if you’re in the Kamakura area. Not only can you take in the lovely grounds around the temple, of which the bamboo is just a part, but you can also enjoy a cup of matcha – a special kind of green tea with a very frothy, light texture. I’ve been to the temple twice, but it was on the second occasion that I was able to grab this photo. As you might imagine, the temple can get very crowded, and with such narrow paths through the bamboo, that makes it especially hard to take a photo like this. But having arrived very early in the morning, before the temple opened in fact, I was able to set up nice and slow with some great morning light blasting through the leaves.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
Shot Info: f/11 | Multiple Exposures (HDR) | ISO100 | 11mm

photo of bamboo forest in JapanClick Here To Purchase A Print

And just so you know what I’m talking about, here’s a photo I took of some matcha I enjoyed on one of my trips here. Tasty!

Photo of Japanese matchaClick Here To Purchase A Print

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Storytelling With A Triptych

I don’t usually share photos of my kids here on my blog, but I wanted to share this triptych that I made recently with my youngest daughter. What is a triptych you ask? A triptych is a series of three photos which have a flow to them in some way, and there are so many ways you can use them. One way is how I used it in this case – a series of photos from the same event which allow you to experience the moment more than a single photo would. Here with my daughter, the triptych allows you experience both motion and emotion. If I were to only use the final photo in the series, you’d simply see a smiling (and extremely cute) little girl but without any context. If I were to use only one of the mid-spin photos, not only would you get only one aspect of the motion, but you would completely miss how much she’s enjoying it. With all three together, you get a much better idea of the moment.

Of course, there are many other ways you can use this. For example, with a nature scene you could use a triptych to show a lovely landscape shot, and then add in a couple of details from the area that you can’t focus on in the sweeping landscape. If you were exploring a city, you could use contrasting scenes to express the different aspects of the town; for example, scenes from the poor, middle class, and rich communities. There are so many different ways you can use triptychs and other variations of this style to tell photographic stories, and honestly it’s limited mostly by your imagination. While it’s not for every occasion, it’s a powerful tool to include in your photography toolbox!

triptych storytelling

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Waterfall In The Woods

As I’ve often mentioned in various posts, one of the most important skills a photographer can have (in my opinion) is gathering multiple photos from a single scene or location. To me it makes the trip more worth while, but it also shows more of what it’s like to experience the sight itself. I’m guessing this isn’t one of the most traditional shots of Kegon Falls, but perhaps that’s part of the reason I like it. I think it shows a little bit of how much lush growth there is around this beautiful waterfall. Perhaps one day I can visit for the Fall colors – I’m sure it’s spectacular.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
Shot Info: f/11 | 1/2sec | ISO100 | 14mm

Photo of Kegon FallsClick Here To Purchase A Print

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Beneath The Pensacola Beach Pier

I’ve been going through some old photos lately and came across this one that I’m pretty sure I haven’t shared before. I took this in 2011, not long after my interest in photography had been rekindled. My Nikon D7000 was only a few months old, and I had just purchased my first super wide angle lens – the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. At the time I was living in Pensacola, Florida, so I headed over to Pensacola Beach and shot this there beneath the lovely pier.

I think it’s good to go back and look at old photos sometimes, especially ones from a time when you were still learning a lot. Of course, you never quit learning really, but that’s kind of my point – looking at old photos is a great way to learn and challenge yourself. For example, although this photo isn’t bad, if I were taking it again now there are a lot of things I would do differently:

  • I’d back the camera up a bit so the pier isn’t squished so much against the left edge of the frame.
  • I’d try a lower angle of view closer to the sand.
  • I’d do multiple exposures so I could balance things out better in Photoshop.
  • I’d do one exposure much longer than this one so the light trails would be longer and more interesting.

There are probably a number of other things I’d do differently as well, but you get the idea. By looking at this photo, even though I can’t physically go back to the location at the moment, there’s a lot I can pick up for when I do get another chance, or when I have a similar scene at a different location.

Photo of Pensacola Beach PierClick Here To Purchase A Print


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Narita Gion Matsuri

This past weekend I went with fellow photographer Anthony Wood to the Narita Gion Matsuri. Since coming back to Japan in 2012, I haven’t been to that many festivals, so when Anthony invited me to join him at this one, I was excited to take him up on it. And this one did not disappoint! From the crowds to the floats, the atmosphere is a wonderful mixture of playful and traditional. I could say more, but I think I’ll try to let the photos do most of the talking:

Lanterns at Narita Gion MatsuriClick Here To Purchase A Print

The people working with the floats have to pull the whole thing up (or slowly let it descend) this hill during the festival. Thankfully, hundreds of people get together to help make this happen!

Crowds at Narita Gion MatsuriClick Here To Purchase A Print

Floats at Narita Gion MatsuriClick Here To Purchase A Print

Men at the Narita Gion MatsuriClick Here To Purchase A Print

This guy looked like he was really enjoying himself!

Photo of dancing Japanese manClick Here To Purchase A Print

This particular float ran across some logistical troubles it seemed. They were stuck in this spot for a good 20 minutes or more, waiting for another float to make its way by, as this was the only spot that would let them pass. As the float came by, the men atop it raised their lanterns in some kind of festival salute.

A matsuri floatClick Here To Purchase A Print

Photo of young girl in traditional clothingClick Here To Purchase A Print

Older men at japanese festivalClick Here To Purchase A Print

As night falls, the festival doesn’t slow down. As you can see below, people still crowd the streets and the energy of the festival remains.

Crowd at Japanese FestivalClick Here To Purchase A Print

During the course of the festival, spectators in upper floors of various shops hold out donations of different types for the passing floats. Usually it was money, but I didn’t really pay attention to see all the different exchanges. Of course, this means a lot of stops along the way for the floats!

Taking donationsClick Here To Purchase A Print

Matsuri PiperClick Here To Purchase A Print

Men playing drums at festivalClick Here To Purchase A Print

young japanese woman in traditional clothesClick Here To Purchase A Print

I hope you enjoyed the photos, and if you ever get a chance to visit the Narita Gion Matsuri, definitely give it a go! And bring your camera!:)

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Tokyo Blade

This past week I had the opportunity to run down to the Shiodome area of Tokyo with the intention of shooting some of the great architecture in the area. At the top of the list was the Dentsu Building. This building has not only a great shape to it, but also a perfect position for some awesome lighting, especially when mixed with the long exposure effects of an ND (neutral density) filter. It takes about an hour or so from my house to get there, so it’s not exactly a quick trip, but not too bad by train really. After finding a good spot, I set up my tripod and camera, and started shooting. Unfortunately, after about 3 shots a security guard came by and told me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures there. Talk about a let down! I’m not sure what the reason was. There are likely a variety of them I suppose, but I think it’s a bad idea to ban photography – especially someone who is clearly trying to make the place look nice. I say that because, if you go do a quick Google search of the Dentsu building, you’ll find mostly uninteresting shots. Not bad necessarily, but not good either. If you allow people to take photos of your property however, you’re more likely to saturate the web with nice photos that might make more people want to come to see it or be interested in it in some form. If nothing else, to me it honors the brilliant architecture of the creator. You wouldn’t take a photo like this of a Walmart, you know? Even if they just asked you to go inside and sign a paper, I’d be fine with that. But telling anyone who comes by that they can’t take photos at all is truly unfortunate. Additionally, since the all the buildings in that area are kind of connected (i.e. share the same security measures), it meant I couldn’t photograph the other buildings either, so they all missed out as well.:(

Anyway, off my soapbox now!:)It took me a while to get adjusted to the light and everything, so I really wasn’t sure if I was going to wind up with a photo I could work with once the guard had said I need to leave. Happily, I did! The 3rd and final photo I took turned into today’s shot. I’m pretty happy with it, all things considered.

Photo of Dentsu BuildingClick Here To Purchase A Print

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Zarragossa Street in Pensacola Florida

Today is the 4th of July, and for my non-American friends, that means it’s Independence Day! Although we couldn’t have the customary fireworks, my family did have some homemade burgers. On a day like this I’m left remembering my home. I love Japan, but there are definitely times that I would love to be back in the states. But since I can’t do that, I can at least go back through old photos and remember what it’s like.:)

This is an old photo I reprocessed from my hometown of Pensacola, Florida. This is Zarragossa Street – part of the beautiful historical downtown district. Lots of history in this area, but it also provides a great atmosphere for one of those famous Florida sunsets.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
Shot Info: f/3.5 | Multiple Exposure (HDR)| ISO100 | 11mm

Photo of Pensacola FloridaClick Here To Purchase A Print

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