荒井沙織 with Umbrella in Asakusa

The Neighborhoods of Tokyo

Tokyo has many different neighborhoods, and each one is honestly a city in itself. They are all crammed together, and each one is worth a visit. If you ever go to Tokyo, I think it’s worth staying at least a week and then hitting a different sub-city every day. Here’s a good listing of all the various neighborhoods!

Daily Photo – 荒井沙織 with Umbrella in Asakusa

Here's a fun photo from my recent photowalk in Tokyo. I went there to give a speech at Google for the new “Cool Japan” marketing launch. Just beforehand, we all went on this photowalk in Asakusa.

Asakusa is a district in Taitō, Tokyo, Japan, most famous for the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. I want you to know that I copied that previous sentence straight from Wikipedia! Haha I never do that, but I decided to this time because it felt strange just to re-arrange the sentence and pass it off as my own. That's just lazy, you know. I guess what I did was pretty lazy too.

Anyway, Asakusa is a really awesome part of Tokyo, and I had never been there before. I have to go back!

荒井沙織 with Umbrella in Asakusa

荒井沙織 with Umbrella in Asakusa

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO2500
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Girl alone in the Tokyo Subway

Black and White Photography

I don’t do it often, but when I do, I use Nik Silver Efex Pro — it’s really a great tool! They have a free demo if you’d like to download it and play with it some…

Daily Photo – Girl alone in the Tokyo Subway

On one of the many subway stops from Tokyo to Yokohama, I saw this young girl standing alone. Some stations are super-busy, and some are like ghost towns. This was a huge station, and it was totally empty except for this little girl, standing alone, playing her gameboy. She was standing so still, she almost looked like a painting on the column. I took this photo just before the doors on my train slid shut.

Girl alone in the Tokyo Subway

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO2000
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Ginza from High Above

Vertical Signs

When you see all these vertical signs stacked up there in the photo below, you might realize something that took me many trips to figure out! Since each of the buildings is quite tall, there are often different retail stores on each floor. So, each little square that is stacked up is actually a different sign for what is on the next subsequent floor.

Daily Photo – Ginza from High Above

This place was a bit tricky to reach!

I love going to Ginza at night (one of those many-neighborhoods in Tokyo I mentioned a few days ago). It's bright, colorful, and extremely clean. Well, all of Tokyo is clean, but especially this part. As I went down one of the little streets, I saw this high bridge up seven or eight stories. I climbed up through one of the nearby stores and tried to work my way back around to the right spot and eventually found it. When I got up there, I noticed the bridge had that diagonal thatchwork of metal wires embedded in the glass. But I opened up this lens all the way to f/1.4 and was able to see right through it!

Ginza from High Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/250
  • Aperture
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length0.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Little Girl in Tokyo

More about the Sony A7r and the move towards Mirrorless

Here’s a special video I made for Frederick Van Johnson that debuted at one of his live events at a conference. I talk a bit about my switch from the Nikon to the Sony Mirrorless system. I also say a bit about that Leica 50mm that I used to take the photo below.

Daily Photo – Little Girl in Tokyo

This was taken near that giant Gundam robot in Tokyo just a few weeks ago. It's not only a great spot to take photos of the robot, but also a great place to people watch. A lot of cute Japanese kids come here and I enjoy taking photos of them just as much! Some people ask me if it's weird to take photos of the kids or whatever. I don't think so, especially not in Japan. All the parents are totally cool with it, and there is nothing wrong with it. I think there is some kind of a Western fear-based hangup that there must be something inherently strange about it… but I certainly don't feel that way — cute kids are awesome and fun to photograph!

Little Girl in Tokyo

Little Girl in Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO50
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Get The Bamboo Forest print for a great cause!

A special print offering

Get the print here.

100% of the money is going to a special charity set up for Eliza O’Neill. If you’re not familiar with the story about her, check out this link. It’s a great effort by the wonderful photographer Benjamin Von Wong.

Daily Photo – The Bamboo Forest

This is one my favorite photos, still, after all these years. I'm happy to offer this special print for the cause above! If you don't know the story of it, here it is. :)

While exploring Kyoto, I eventually found my way to this fanciful bamboo forest. There had been a light rain most of the morning and everything was quite lovely. The rain does strange things as it moves its way through these sorts of trees. I waited and waited, and that was nice too. In the early afternoon, the rain stopped while the sun peeked through the top. It shone down while the earlier rain misted down from the tops of the trees.

Bamboo Forest in Kyoto Japan

The Bamboo Forest

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D3X
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time4
  • Aperture11
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length14.0 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Two Traditional Japanese Women in the Rain

Umbrella Man

If you want to find out more about this photo below, and all the photos from this particular day, go read this blog entry from Matthias Lambrecht. He was my assistant for the day after winning a contest! :) We had great fun together.

Picking the Best

Typically, for a shot like this one below, I will shamelessly rattle off 5-10 photos in a row. I really enjoy the process of going back into Lightroom to pick out the best one. Only on a vary rare occasion will I just take one shot and have that one be a keeper! For this one below, there were many interesting versions, but I liked this one the best because of the expression of the woman on the right.

Daily Photo – Two Traditional Japanese Women in the Rain

It was just about the perfect kind of rain in Tokyo this day. It wasn't a total downpour, but there was just enough so that almost everyone had an umbrella. This is the kind of rain I prefer to shoot in because I'm not constantly getting soaked myself. But since I had a manual-focus lens on, I really needed both hands. I was thankful for Matthias to hold an umbrella over my while I did my thing! :)

Two Traditional Japanese Women in the Rain

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/1500
  • Aperture
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Facemasks of Tokyo

Why the facemasks?

I think most people assume that the facemasks are because they are afraid of getting sick or SARS or something like this. But it is actually the opposite, I suppose! They wear the masks because they are being considerate and worried about getting their germs on other people. I’d guess that anywhere from 25-50% of the people in subways and public areas of Japan wear these facemasks. I think they are actually kind of cool. It makes people very mysterious and you can just look at the eyes.

By the way, all of these were taken last week with the Sony A7r and the Leica 50mm f/1.4. This is a manual focus lens, so I got a lot of practice with being fast with the manual focus with all these moving subjects! :)

Daily Photo – Girl with Facemask in Shibuya Station

I walked up to her and she could tell I was a photographer. I asked her in my best international-speak if I could take her picture and she said yes. Most people are super-cool with photos in Japan, which is awesome. Anyway, she smiled and was laughing while I took this photo. I thought her eyes had a really pretty color and luminance to them…

Girl with Facemask in Shibuya Station

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture
  • ISO800
  • Focal Length
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring Shibuya Station, from the Subway and Beyond

Goat Simulator on a Mac running Parallels

I spent about two hours with my son getting this Goat Simulator to work. This is not the normal thing I talk about around here, but we figured out some stuff, so some of this may help. First, if you are installing Parallels, be sure to also use the menu and go to “Virtual Machines” and “Install Parallel Tools”, which will get all the drivers running for the video card. I’m all Mac now, but I am reminded of the issues back in the day when I had to deal with drivers! After that, when you are in, make sure you shut everything else down. Also, and this doesn’t make any sense, but if you shut down Adobe Creative Cloud, it seems to make things way faster. Adobe, why do you hate Goat Simulator? Why oh why? Last, you may have to go into the video settings then “Advanced” and turn off things like Light Shafts and this sort of extra stuff. Now we get a decent frame rate. Okay, Goat Simulator update, out.

What is it like?

Warning: This video may be very boring!!

This is what it looks like (wearing Google Glass) when taking the subway to Shibuya, then getting off and exploring the busiest intersection in the world. There’s no commentary or anything… but you’ll actually see me make the photo below. And let me know if you like videos like this… I’m really afraid it’s a bit boring haha! :)

Daily Photo – Bike Crossing at Shibuya

Shibuya is an amazing place, and I go every time I am in Tokyo. The people are really incredible… the energy, the lights, the music, the everything! Maybe I'm even more drawn to it because I live in a small town now, you know? Anyway, maybe the video above will give you a sense of the place. One other thing — this is so safe that it is ridiculous! Maybe it makes you think of New York, which can be a little sketchy… but it is nothing like that. Unbelievable! :)

Shibuya

Bike Crossing at Shibuya

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraILCE-7R
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1
  • Aperture13
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length12.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

Exploring Roppongi in Tokyo

The Best kept Neighborhood Secret in Tokyo?

I have a feeling there are some secret areas of Tokyo I haven’t visited yet. If you have any ideas, please let me know! :)

Daily Photo – Exploring Roppongi in Tokyo

It's so interesting and fun to explore all parts of Tokyo, but this is the first area that I really got to know quite well. Almost every time I go to Tokyo, I stay here in the Roppongi area. It's one of the busier and more modern areas of the city with a bunch of cool architecture. You can basically walk around there all night and see places like this around every corner!

Exploring Roppongi in Tokyo

Exploring Roppongi in Tokyo

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNEX-7
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length10.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias+2

Benjamin Von Wong for the Arcanum?

Should we fast-track him in? Leave a comment!

So we were looking through the applications for The Arcanum, and we saw Benjamin Von Wong signed up to be a Master. I thought, wait, this must be a mistake! That can’t be The Same BVW that is like that super-awesome-talented-crazy-photographer-dude, is it? It is! We’ve had hundreds of applications in there where people sign up to be Masters, and there is some really incredible talent in there. I hate to pull him out as an example, but with this new video below, I thought it was apropos.

If you want us to Fast-Track him into a special list as the next beta-list of Masters, let me know in the comments! If there is enough public outcry, well then I know a guy that can make it happen!

We’re currently in a beta phase with the first group of Masters, and it’s going well. We’re learning a lot, doing a few iterations, and having a lot of fun! Our plan is to launch with a very small group of Masters, each of whom will select 20 Apprentices to guide through their the first two spheres of Levels. I know it’s all enshrouded in a wonderful mystery, but all will be revealed as soon as a Master selects you. Even spinning up the next set of Masters will take a while, so don’t get too excited just yet!

And so here you can see this amazing video Benjamin Von Wong did with SmugMug. If you don’t know what that is, see my shiny SmugMug Review!

Daily Photo – Looking forward to more Tokyo photography

Last trip to Tokyo, I finally hit this neighborhood below. I'm looking forward to going back here and taking more photos! Mostly I think I am excited just because I have a new camera, and I know things are gonna be even crazier. This time, I'm gonna spend a bit more time doing street photography with the A7r and some Leica lenses. It's a great place to practice because most people there don't seem to mind when you take their photo!

Looking forward to more Tokyo photography

Looking forward to more Tokyo photography

Photo Information

  • Date Taken
  • CameraNIKON D800
  • Camera MakeNikon
  • Exposure Time1/13
  • Aperture7.1
  • ISO400
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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