Charity Print Auction for Japan

For Japan!

Bid on this print of The Bamboo Forest now. It is numbered 9 out of 50 in the Limited Edition series on high-white gloss aluminum. This print is 36″ across and, well, it’s impossible to describe how incredible this new printing technique is. These come out looking literally like giant high-def monitor displays.

Even better, shipping is free, and they arrive ready to hang on the wall.

We will have the auction run for a week, and I’ll take all the proceeds and donate them to Red Cross for Japan. Stay tuned for the latest price on the eBay page!

The Print – The Bamboo Forest

I took this photo on one of my many trips to Japan. Regular readers know how much I love that country and the people inside. I’ve spent time all over, taking trains far and wide, and there is something universal and timeless about bamboo across the land. On this particular day in Kyoto, there had been a morning rain. The sun came out, but the tops of the bamboo forest still held the water. It misted down through the forest as the sunlight shone through.

HDR Image

Signed / Numbered

Down in the lower right hand corner, everything is signed and numbered in the series

High Dynamic Range Photo

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Is my new Japanese Video racist?

Is my new Japanese Video racist?

I love YouTube commenters. You see a little bit of everything on there. And it’s wide open for every idiot to spout their nonsense. I had not checked the comments on my latest video for a while, so you can imagine my laughing reaction to some of the flotsam that has collected. See the comments here.

How to make these videos

If you want to see more of these sorts of videos, how I do it, more from Japan, and this sort of thing, come visit the Stuck In Motion page here on the site for a full how-to.

Daily Photo – Kimono Under the Cherry Trees

It was my second time to Kyoto, but my fourth time to Japan. I started to become more accustomed to the times of day and the comings and goings of the ladies in kimonos. You can see them most any time of the day or not, but they flood out of every crevice around this time of night.

The pink cherry blossoms made everything seem like it was right out the days of the shogun. I shot this with my second camera – the D3S that I had across my chest. My main camera is always the D3X on a tripod, and I was getting a lot of night photography shots. But I had my D3S with a 50 prime ready to capture things like this. Another nice advantage is that it seems to make the trees feel a bit more soft. There is another soft aspect to the colors – these prime lenses capture the tones in a very soft way.

Kimono Under the Cherry Trees

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/1.4
  • ISO2000
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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The Creepy Green Stairs

LA Times Article on HDR Photography

Thanks to Robert Lachman over at the LA Times who wrote this article on HDR Photography. As you can see, Robert is also a photographer that has the HDR bug! You can see that first image in there is his… not too shabby eh?

Daily Photo – The Creepy Green Stairs

Why are the stairs green in this? Anyone, Anyone? Bueller? Voodoo economics is the answer.

Instead of answering directly, I’ll let you clever readers figure out the answer and put it down in the comments… I have faith in you guys to figure it out!

This was taken in Kyoto, Japan on a rainy evening. This is one of the main temples that stay open late into the night. It’s one of my favorite times to come, because the crowds are gone and everything is extra-eerie. It makes it even more special while I’m listening to my special playlists on my iPod. It really gets me in the mood to make these sorts of shots.

The Creepy Green Stairs

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length16mm (16mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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Pretty Girl in Cherry Blossoms

Charity Update

Team Stuck In Customs has put just over $8,000 into Kiva… thanks everyone! To see more and join in the fun, visit our Charity page. Here’s a snippit from the page…. some of the stuff I have personally put money into:

I have lent money to a small potato farm in Peru started by a 25-year-old mom named Elizabeth, a bicycle repair shop in Vietnam managed by a gal named Nguyen Thi Huong, a car mechanic’s shop in Lebanon run by a gentleman named Ali, an 18-year-old girl named Iris in El Salvador that sells pretty flowers, a small livestock operation in Tajikistan run by a 47 year old gentleman named Tochidin, a family of 7 in Cambodia that does wooden house construction, a 39-year-old photographer in Mongolia named Batnairamdal who took a bad photo of himself, a small meat market in Ghana run by a 70 year old woman named Ama, a mom named Essi in Togo who sells dried fish, a 24-year-old gal in Ecuador named Cristina who sells rice, sugar, and tuna, and last, a 41-year-old woman in Nicaragua named Gladis who sells cosmetics and jewelry so her children can have a better quality of life.

Daily Photo – Pretty Girl in Cherry Blossoms

I started riding the wave of the cherry blossom bloom in Osaka before ending up here in Kyoto. All the news stations in Japan have a long nightly report that shows a fluttering line of pink cherry blossoms that flow across the map from the west to the east.

It’s a huge national celebration — and it’s really fun to be part of the sensation. There are hundreds of tiny and large parks all over the country that have cultivated gardens of these special trees. I visited a few dozen, and I enjoyed wandering around taking photos while the blossoms fell down like gentle pink snow. Millions of Japanese people also go out to enjoy the event. This girl was standing alone under a tree, taking photos and just sort of smiling, enjoying everything. I gave her the international sign for “mind if I take a photo???” She gave me a little bow along with a mouth-covering giggle before relaxing into a smile.

Pretty Girl in Cherry Blossoms

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/1.4
  • ISO220
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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Five Tips for Photographing People

Five Tips for Photographing People

I’ve been talking about this for a long time, so I wanted to go ahead and give you some free tips for on-the-street people photography.

From various conversations, I think that photographers are REALLY interested in taking photos of people they see on the street. We can’t help it, right? Our eyes are drawn to interesting “things” — not just landscapes. And if we see an interesting person, we really want to take their photo, yes? But then, often times, we don’t even pull the camera up to our eye because we are shy, embarrassed, or think about all the horrible things that could go wrong. So, maybe these tips will help!

Look, honestly, I don’t know if these will do you any good or not. But these are some things that I personally think about. So, insofar as some of my insights are useful to me, maybe they will be useful to you too!

Even though I’m known for “landscape photography”, I actually enjoy all kinds of photography! I take hundreds of people photos, object photos, food photos, model photos, B&W photos, etc. I assume that you take many types of photography too.

1) If you prefer to take photos of people as they are acting naturally, go ahead and take the photo before they notice you. You are a photographer, and this is you. You capture life… if you see something interesting whether it is a landscape, a pile of peaches, or a person that strikes your fancy, go ahead and do it. If you like and it is convenient, you can always go show them the photo after you are done. I do this whenever it makes sense, and I have a nice little interchange with the person.

2) Keep an extra camera ready for people shots. When walking the streets, I normally have my “big” camera ready to go for city landscape shots. My tripod is on. My wide-angle is on. It’s in that “mode.” If I am going to have to switch lenses, it will take forever, and the moment will be lost. So, I carry a second camera on a sling around my shoulder for people shots. On that camera, I have an 85mm or 50mm prime lens. Now, you don’t have to have this exact setup by any means, but having ANY kind of second camera for people shots is recommended.

2b) I find that the 85mm prime keeps me outside something I call the radius of intimacy. That is, when you use a 50mm, you are so close that people often stop acting naturally, unless they are a professional model or a natural thespian.

3) If they ARE likely to notice you, be confident and deliberate, softly asking permission with your eyes. This is a very subtle and hard thing to explain. I usually raise my eyebrows while I raise my camera, clearly indicating, “I’m about to take a photo. Everything is okay.” If they don’t want you to, they will make it clear. Usually, they say it’s just fine. People like to be thought of as interesting.

4) If they are very close, I ask permission out loud. Often times, I don’t want them to pose… so I say something (smiling!) like, “You look very interesting — can I take a photo?” Once they say yes (98% of the time they do), I usually ask them not to pose and carry on about their business. Then I start taking a bunch of photos and enjoy the pressure of capturing the moment.

5) Don’t be shy! If you feel overly shy, it may be a larger indication that you are letting fear motivate you rather than the opportunities that life provides. So, if you feel doubt or fear, just try to channel me and be brave and forthright.

Regarding that last one, seriously, folks, just be cool and confident with it. If you want to do it, and it feels right, just do it. Do not worry so much about rejection. Yes, you WILL get rejected 2-10% of the time depending upon how likable you are. Out of 500 people photos, I’ve been rejected maybe 10-13 times. It doesn’t bother me a bit. So what? People say no… big deal. The fact is that MOST people LOVE to have photos taken of them. To be interesting in a world of same-ness is a tremendous thing. Chances are that no one has ever taken a photo of them before, and they will feel special that you thought they were special.

Most of the time, after I take a photo and people look over at me, wondering, “Why did you just take a photo of me?” I usually say, “You look cool!” Or, “You look awesome!” Or, if they don’t speak English, I give them a thumbs up and a facial indication that I think they look cool. 99% of the time, they smile and carry on.

If you’re taking a photo of a kid, just get a steady nod from the parents before. Bend down to take the photo, look up at the parent, saying, “is it okay?” with your eyes. They’ll say yes or no… There is a significant number of moms out there that watch too much sensational news and assume that 50% of the population are pedophiles… but, maybe you’ll hit that other 50%! Again, we’re all just photographers, and if we see a cute or interesting kid, of course we want to take a photo! It’s what we do! There is no need to apologize for it! :)

Daily Photo – Salaryman in Tokyo

While I was in the middle of making a time-lapse sequence (see the video below the photo), I was using my D3S on a sling to take quick photos of interesting people. They were everywhere!

Behind me, waiting for the light to change, was this young salaryman. Salaryman is the Japanese word for “businessman”. That word salaryman always cracks me up for some reason. Anyway, he was this young kid, standing there in a most unassuming way in this nice suit. I spun around and grabbed a quick shot.

He looked a little confused at me after I took it. I gave him a nod of thanks, and he smiled in a surprised way then went merrily on his way.

HDR Photo

Videos – Life in Japan

While I am busy shooting landscapes and people in Japan, I also take time to make some videos.  Below are a few of them from recent past.  The music from both is by the great Patrick O’Hearn (buy his stuff!).  Enjoy!

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