Christmas in Japan is very, very different from Christmas in the United States. In the US, Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year, if not the most important. It’s a time when you get together with friends and family from all over the country, and celebrate together. It’s a time when you give and receive gifts, enjoy special music, sounds and sights. For many, it’s a holiday with deep religious meaning as well, a time to celebrate and reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ. So there are a lot of facets to it I think in America. Japan, on the other hand, doesn’t have that long standing tradition and so it’s a relatively new holiday here. In fact, most people don’t get off for the day. It’s just another day, probably most similar to Valentine’s day in the US. Many here eat KFC fried chicken on Christmas Eve and maybe have a Christmas cake. It was pretty strange to me at first, but I’m used to it now. Still, “Love! Loud! Xmas!” in large neon letters seems a bit much for this traditionalist, but then again, that’s the nature of Shibuya!
A couple of notes on this image. In taking the image, I had to increase the ISO to 500. Normally I keep my ISO lower, but I wanted to minimize the movement effect on the people crossing the road, which meant faster shutter speed. The combo of f/8 and ISO500 did the job without introducing too much noise. As for the pictures, I took this in Photomatix, so it started as a traditional HDR image. With a place like this, I like some of the feel HDR software can offer. I then masked different parts of the image separately, breaking it into 3 basic sections – the sky, the buildings and lights, and the people crossing the street. I used a combo of luminosity masks (for the lights), smart selections (for the sky), and general masks (for the people) to get everything where I wanted it. On the sky, I wanted the saturation increased a bit so it would match the vibrant colors of the buildings and lights, but the problem is that in doing this, you introduce some banding. To help reduce that effect, I added a low level of noise only to the sky. I actually decided not to fix the building distortion in this image, as I kind of like the perspective it adds to the scene.
Camera: Nikon D610
Lens: Nikon 16-35mm f/4
Shot Info: f/8 | Multiple Exposures (HDR) | ISO500 | 16mm
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