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2010 Mino Candle Road

August 3, 2010

The truth is that the photo walk was a week too early. The Mino Summer festival continued this week with the highlight of the festival ‘Mino Candle Road’. The city, merchants and the park line the road to the waterfall with candles.

This of course brings the crowds like in the image above.

But with a little patience and luck, I got an image without any people.

The truth is that Mino doesn’t have a space for fireworks, so they came up with this idea and I really like it. Fireworks are rather generic — everybody does that. But not everyone has a waterfall. The Mino summer festival is a nice change of pace from the rest of the summer festivals. I haven’t been to the fireworks yet, but I will being going this coming weekend.

Orange Moon

July 27, 2010

Orange moon over Osaka.

Came home last night and saw this nice moon. I shot it with my G10 and it’s quite noisy. I really need to either get a new portable camera (I’m quite attracted to a Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm lens) or get better noise reduction software or both. Anyway it was some nice light and quick shot.

3rd Annual World Wide Photo Walk

July 25, 2010

The photo walk is over! Although attendance isn’t what I had hoped for, I had a good time and made some interesting images. The waterfall was pretty average, which for other photographers was fine, but for me not really worth it. So, I tried making some images with my Lensbaby Composer.  I grabbed it just at the last minute because I had some extra room in my camera bag and I’m glad I did. Here are some of the images from the photo walk:

A blue heron near Ryuanji Temple in Mino Park, Osaka, Japan. Taken on July 24, 2010 during the 3rd annual World Wide Photo Walk.

A blue heron near Ryuanji Temple.

Mino Waterfall, Mino Park, Osaka, Japan. Taken on July 24, 2010 during the 3rd annual World Wide Photo Walk with a lens baby composer.

Small falls below Mino Waterfall taken with a Lensbaby Composer.

The main trail in Mino Park, Osaka, Japan. Taken on July 24, 2010 during the 3rd annual World Wide Photo Walk with a lens baby.

The main trail in Mino Park. Taken with a Lensbaby Composer.

Alfresco diners in Mino Park, Osaka, Japan. Taken on July 24, 2010 during the 3rd annual World Wide Photo Walk.

Kawadoko‘ alfresco diners in the Park.

Red lantern light reflected on the Mino river, Mino Park, Osaka, Japan. Taken on July 24, 2010 during the 3rd annual World Wide Photo Walk.

Red lantern light reflected on the Mino river.

A souvenir stand with red lanterns in Mino Park, Osaka, Japan. Taken on July 24, 2010 during the 3rd annual World Wide Photo Walk.

A souvenir stand with red lanterns.

I had a good time and maybe next year I can get more people to come with me.

2010 Gion Matsuri (yoiyama)

July 17, 2010

After work Friday, I ran and caught the train to Kyoto in order to get some shots of the 2010 Gion Festival. I won’t go into all the details of the festival, I’ll let you check wikipedia yourself, but I will say that it is one of the three biggest, most famous and some say most important festivals in the country.

I used to work in Kyoto about seven years ago and I would take in the festival on my way home from work. Just spend a few minutes walking around before I got on the train; I had never properly attended it before and I had never photographed it.

So this year, despite my dislike of crowded festivals, I made the nearly three-hour trip from work in southern Osaka to Kyoto. I arrived about 6:30 just in time to get some images before it got too dark.

While I was there I was reminded why I don’t like crowded festivals: too many people. Japan, and Kansai in particular, is a very crowded place to begin with. Add hundreds of thousands of people into a space designed for far less than that and it is absolute chaos. It’s hard to describe the crowds to people who’ve never been to Asia, especially people from the inter-mountain west of America like me. It’s like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, but with less crowd control and more public intoxication. This year  had record attendance because the main part of the festival (which is always on July 16th and 17th) fell on a weekend. Next year will be the same.

I was totally unprepared and it was a nearly impossible photographic situation. The crowds meant no tripod. The low light levels meant high ISOs and shooting wide open. I’m not really happy with any of the images that I got, but I did the best that I could. I might consider going again and trying for some better images, but never again on the 16th and never on weekend. I think I’ll wait a few years until the 15th falls on a Tuesday, then maybe I’ll try again.

It’s summer, time for another photo class

July 13, 2010

So I’ve signed up for another online photo class. They’re kind of expensive, and they are mostly review for me, but I like taking them. This time I am in a class at http://betterphoto.com. The first lesson came last week and wouldn’t you know it, the assignment has to do with light. I love photographing light and I often look for just the right light for subjects (I’ve blogged about that before) but Kansai is still in the rainy season. The light, when there is any, is mostly just soft and flat. Which is great for some subjects like flowers and foliage, but for this assignment I really want to get some images with really dramatic lighting. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. It’s raining now and the forecast for the rest of the week is rain.

It was supposed to rain yesterday, but the sun made a surprise appearance. I wasn’t ready for it, but I did take my G10 along for a walk to the supermarket. I made the image above then. It’s not a great image, and certainly doesn’t have great light, but it just might have to do for this week.

I’m Leading a PhotoWalk…

July 11, 2010

Earlier this week my application was approved to be a leader for Scott Kelbey’s (3rd Annual) World Wide Photo Walk. As far as I know, this will be the first time in Kansai. I wanted to lead one last year, but I had to work that day.

We will be meeting in front of Hankyu Mino Station at 5:00 and walking to the water fall in the park. Mino National Park is a great place for taking pictures and I’ve taken lots (see below or click here). For more details and to sign up for the photo walk please visit the official site here.

Off Topic: One month with my iPad

July 5, 2010

A little off topic, but today is the one month anniversary of getting my iPad. In general, I am pretty impressed with it, but I have to admit that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to really get to know it. In no particular order here are a few observations that I have:

1. It’s great to use on the train (despite everyone staring at me) as long as I am sitting down. It’s too heavy to hold securely in one hand on a moving train.

2. The 3G is quite nice. It’s reasonable fast and gets better reception than my iPhone 3GS, but it’s  frustrating to use on the subway. In and out of reception. I wish I had a constant signal all the way through (but that is a Softbank issue).

3. To really use the device to its full potential one really needs to be a Mac user. I find that a lot of apps don’t quite work with windows. They work, but not a 100%

4. It’s great to sit on the couch and hold the Internet in my hands. I don’t think that I will ever be able to give that up.

5. Finally, It’s just over three months old and it feels a little like an unfinished device, like it’s still in beta. For example, there are some apps that I have for my iPhone that I really want an iPad version of — Flickr for one. And there are things that it seems obvious one should be able to do with it, but I can’t because there isn’t an app yet. Also, there aren’t a lot of accessories yet. I haven’t been able to find the perfect case. (Mostly it’s just different colors of the same thing.) I’ve had it for a month and I’m still waiting for things.

All in all — I’m happy. I bought the device to use on the train during my long commute and it’s great for that. But I’m still trying to get used to it. I’ve been using a computer for so long (since 1978 for those who are asking) that I feel more satisfied with a keyboard, a fixed screen and a mouse. Using my laptop, even for things like Internet browsing, is more efficient and frankly more comfortable. I think that might change, but it’s going to take me more than just a month.