Jun. 12th, 2011 02:18 am
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On a whim, I started taking a photo a day... the 365 project. I'm 47 days in.

I've learned a bit, and taken some good photos. I've also found myself "cheating" by taking pictures of just about anything at hand when I run out of time in the day. Sometimes that results in very creative photos; other times you can tell I'm going through the motions.

In a way, the subtext of the photos is a bit more about me than I'd have expected.

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From Miyajima, we took the ferry, the train back to Hiroshima, the shinkansen back to Kyoto, then the train down to Nara, Japan's first capital.

On Thursday night, there were mosquitos.

I was surfing the web in my yukata and noticed a number of bites on my left leg and another couple on my right, all itching fiercely. I started hunting them down, and managed to kill a couple.

While we were in our futons trying to sleep, the mosquitos would buzz right by our ears. I tried staying completely under the covers, but ended up with a bunch of bites on my forehead. Plus I was hot. So I eventually gave up, and got eaten alive. I still have some of the bites.

(Not unlike Loft Ness back when I didn't have window screens, actually. I love those things, screens. Screens that cover the whole window. Screens that stop making you choose between overheating and getting bitten to death, neither of which allow you to sleep.)

I thought I was the only one, since mosquitos tend to love me, but we all had a somewhat sleepless night.

The next day I went on a mosquito killing rampage. I neared double digits killed, each of them plump full of our blood that smeared on the wall as they died.

That was definitely the low point, there, but things got better. And we slept well the next night.


On Friday we went to Todai-ji to see the Daibutsu (big buddha)... which was actually the reason I brought the fisheye lens. (I was worried it might be too large to get in one shot, and thought the fisheye might see more use than my 17-40, but it turns out my 24-105 was wide enough. Ah well.)

todaiji todaiji

todaiji todaiji

daibutsu daibutsu



daibutsu todaiji

The two flanking towers are no longer there.
The daibutsu-den, along with the daibutsu's head, were rebuilt after an earthquake.
The daibutsu's body is hundreds of years older.

A miniature of the daibutsu-den, with a miniature daibutsu inside.




aki gets bored; himo-den; the feeding of the shika )


This was an amazing trip. I had so much fun and got to spend time with my parents, who live in SoCal. Lots of good food, lots of beautiful places. And monkies. And deer. And Hiko-nyan!

We definitely were burning out on the trip a little bit near the end... so much walking, so many temples. At one point I was looking forward to getting back to work, so I could sit all day.

I think my photography chops are back, and are about to become rusty again. I kind of want to take a photowalk in SF again, maybe this weekend.

I think I had more to say, but if I can't remember, it must not have been that important.

... The full set of pics from Nara are here.

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(aka, a shit ton of pictures about the same thing ;-)

(Back in SF; this is the first of my final 2 blog posts about this trip.)

[itsukushima at low tide]

On Tuesday, we checked out, walked to Hiroshima Castle, then walked to the train station. A quick train trip and ferry ride later, we were in Itsukushima, commonly known as Miyajima (shrine island).

I've seen so many breathtaking pictures of Miyajima that I knew this island would be a treasure trove for photography, and I was right. A dead giveaway: the number of people on the ferry with us, with significantly larger and pricier camera rigs than mine. (The same was true at the Eikando light up.)

All waiting for that first view of Itsukushima Shrine.

view from the ferry
The view from the ferry (low tide).

This torii was first built in 1168, and has been rebuilt 7 times. The most recent was in 1875. They built it from a single tree, and spent twenty years searching for the perfect tree.

We arrived before our room was ready, so we left our luggage at the hotel and walked to the shrine.

itsukushima at low tide itsukushima at low tide

itsukushima at low tide

We paid to enter the shrine itself, and planned to come back later during high tide (around sunset) but that never happened.

itsukushima at low tide
You could tell how the water would rise to hide the pilings at high tide.

itsukushima at low tide
There was a lot of seaweed left behind at low tide.
We later saw a cleanup crew gathering it and hauling it away, like leaves.

itsukushima at low tide itsukushima at low tide
There was a wedding happening in the shrine's main building, with a view of the torii.
Tourists lingered and took photos; I didn't feel right doing that, so I moved on and took pictures elsewhere.

itsukushima at low tide
The tide slowly coming in.

shika; itsukushima shrine at night; setonaikai )

Full set here.

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Tuesday was a national holiday, a Labor Day equivalent. Since Kyoto is famous for its autumn leaves, and Thanksgiving week is the height of said autumn leaves, we decided it might be best to try visiting autumn-leaf-less places to avoid the crowds.

We took the bus to the Kyoto station and walked a ways to Sanjusangen-do. Inside are [a claimed] 1001 Buddhas: 1000 semi-identical, human-sized standing Buddhas, and one large seated Buddha in the middle.

A priest chanted his prayer in front of that central Buddha; visitors donated coins and prayed, or purchased candles to write their prayers on.

I would have pictures, but every 5 feet there was a sign saying that anyone taking pictures would have their camera confiscated. Wikipedia has a picture.

Afterwards, we walked across the street to the Kyoto National Museum, where we learned that no photography was allowed, and their collections were currently closed to the public. But we could go see a wonderful exhibition of historical priest garb [!].

We didn't take them up on that, for some reason.


After having gone out of our way to avoid the crowds, we decided we were in the area, so we might as well visit Kiyomizu-dera, despite the fact that it would probably be one of the most crowded attractions.

I had already been, twice, during cherry blossom time.

It was a little crowded.


It was also pretty.

This manju machine caught my eye. We bought some, hot; they were tasty.

And the way back was crowded, too. But a fun walk.


My father didn't really enjoy this, at all. It remains one of my favorite memories of the trip so far.

We took a taxi up to Manshu-in Temple after dark... fairly far from the hotel, up winding mountain roads, heading far from the city lights.

When we arrived, the taxi driver offered to wait for us, for a small per-minute fee. We declined, noting that there were other taxis there; we'd take one of them, instead.

This was another one of those "please take your shoes off and come inside" places; we weren't actually allowed into the garden, but would be allowed to take photos of the garden from inside the temple.

There weren't a lot of colorful leaves on display... but what I loved about the place was it seemed so wonderfully creepy and spooky to me.


Afterwards, we went to get a taxi, but it turns out they were all waiting for other people. So we ended up walking a fairly long distance down the dark mountain road, til we eventually found civilization.

I thought that was all a great adventure, seeing parts of Kyoto I would have never seen before otherwise. Plus, if we had gotten one of those taxis, I would never have captured these, which I think are among my best photos so far:


outside manshu-in temple

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[jet lag, or lack thereof]

I intentionally didn't sleep very much on the flight; I knew if I arrived around 6pm local time and stayed up a few more hours, I could adjust seamlessly into Japanese time.

Then again, 8:30am here is 2:30pm California time, which is pushing the limits of how late even I can sleep in. Maybe I'm still on relatively the same sleep schedule.

[nanzen-ji, eikando, konkai komyo-ji]

It was overcast and sprinkling, and a number of the recommended locations for viewing autumn leaves were relatively close to the hotel.

These gave me a chance to get back in the swing of taking pictures; I haven't had the time or energy to do so back home. (Plus I'm a little bit jaded, walking the same photowalks in SF over and over.)

Though I'm drawn to the exteriors of Japanese buildings and gardens, I've been generally uninterested in their interiors. I think the strict rules against indoor photography, plus being forced to remove your shoes (and often carry them around with you in a plastic bag), and the whole crowds-in-cramped-spaces thing, combine to form an interior-of-most-famous-japanese-buildings-aversion.

The outsides and gardens are still beautiful, though.

During the walk to Konkai Komyo-ji, it began to rain fairly hard, so we took shelter by a street food vendor with nearby covered seating. There we had some oden, which I had never seen before, and which surprised me with its very bland appearance but hearty and warm taste. We ate as the monks in the temple chanted their prayers.




I love visiting the various locations in Kyoto that are lit up for viewing. We did that during cherry blossom time; Shoren-in was the first during autumn leaves.

They forced us to wind through the entirety of the temple, while holding our shoes, to get to the garden, evidently to guide us past their gift shop and tea shop.

However, the garden was worth it.


We didn't have to go inside, here, which was nice. They said the rain, while inconvenient, should make things even more beautiful, which was true.

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A first attempt at video that I'm not completely ashamed of.

Hm, definitely looks better on Vimeo.


Apr. 5th, 2009 10:34 pm
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For those of you who haven't been following along, I headed out to Monterey this weekend.

Full sets are here and here.

[EDIT] ... Just looked at all the EXIF data and I'm pretty surprised at how many shots were in that 70-200mm range.


Mar. 16th, 2009 10:54 pm
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After taking a look at Dan Chung's new Vimeo videos, I decided to look for other users' 5DmkII videos. Which led to the 5dmkII Vimeo group. Which led to a whole lot of wow.

Even now I don't really see myself making proper films. No screenplay, no character development, probably no dialogue. My discomfort with getting up close and personal with people extends from my photography (and life) into my ideas about film. My potential films, that is; I love other people's films over a wide spectrum. But I'd probably just film landscapes, moods, or abstracts and use them as a video backdrop to music. Whether music video or stage projection.

This idea certainly flavored the clips I chose to view:

  • Another car rig drive reminiscent of Lost Highway, especially with the Rammstein soundtrack. Great feel. Love this but I'd be nervous about my camera.

  • NIN - Burn from onstage in Melbourne. Outside of poor reactions to strobes that could just as likely be attributed to the fps translation, it's beautiful.

  • A shot up at the clouds and moon that definitely evokes a mood, especially full screen.

  • A macro video in the tidepools that makes me happy.

  • A time lapse in Antarctica that could have been taken with a still camera, but is beautiful.

  • A "filmish" look of someone playing guitar -- in which grain is not all bad, and is in fact very stylistically MTV-esque.

  • A more indie film drive, down the PCH.

  • Some great shots of Tokyo intercut with some inexplicable reoccuring clips of food conveyor belts.

  • The station -- film it, slow it down (no overcranking here).

  • The end of the world, an actual place in Norway, which starts beautifully.

  • Köln at night. Hm, this is the third video of his I like.

  • Orlando, practically a hotel commercial =)

  • Sledding, with speed variations and Portishead. I get so caught up in the song I almost don't notice when the imagery feel changes.

  • Seattle in the snow, where the song is just so right.

Hm, maybe I just want to travel ;-)

I haven't even seen half of the videos there! ... I don't expect to be good at this immediately, or ever, necessarily. I just think it'll be fun.


February 2017



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