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 Taken2018-01-05 15:48:01
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/1.4
  • ISO2000
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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 Taken2018-01-05 15:48:01
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Focal Length
  • Flash
  • Exposure Program
  • Exposure Bias

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 Taken2018-01-05 01:14:29
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/1.4
  • ISO220
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

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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Home of the Tree Samurai

Burning Man PhotoWalk

See the Facebook event here!

You are all invited to join me at the Burning Man PhotoWalk! It’s free of course… Here are the details:

  • Friday, Sept 3 at 6 PM
  • Location: Center Camp: Look for all the people with the cameras, and me, possibly in Steampunk Goggles.

What we will do:

  • Walk around together to take cool photos of Burning Man (for personal use only)
  • Find cool art installations and activities
  • Be cool (and not bother people with our cameras…)
  • Learn more about our cameras
  • Take some HDRs
  • I’ll be there to answer questions whether you are a beginner or beyond!

More Resources:

See these cards below?  I’ll be handing them out around Burning Man…  It’s sort of a “gifting” place, where money is not allowed.  Since one of my only identifiable skills is photography, I am giving people the chance to learn more about their cameras.  I think we’ll have a good time and I hope to see you there.

HDR Photo

Below is a Google Earth photo of Burning Man in a previous year… I think it’s pretty awesome.

See you soon at OpenCa.mp

I hope to meet a lot of you soon at OpenCa.mp in Dallas! In just a few days, I’m headed up to Dallas to begin the adventure by jumping out of a plane with the US Army Golden Knights. It’s gonna be a bl

Daily Photo – Home of the Tree Samurai

This was my second trip to Kyoto, and I decided to return to this amazing treetop temple. At night, the delicate lights turn on and everything comes alive. It’s really brilliant… one of those scenes that makes you think the world is really a wonderful place.

This was right in the peak of the cherry blossom season. The soft pink of the blossoms grabs and reflects the light into an unbelievable prism. It’s all like something out of a dream, and I’ve done my best to bring it back to life here on the blog.

Home of the Tree Samurai

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-01-04 19:39:54
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length24mm (24mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

A Silent Evening in Kyoto under the Cherry Blossoms

Interview on PetaPixel

Good man Michael Zhang from PetaPixel interviewed me recently. Pop over there and check it out. Also, look around PetaPixel for a while… Michael has done an extraordinary job with that site.

We Computer Science majors need to stick together! So I’m happy to send traffic over his way!

Daily Photo – A Silent Evening in Kyoto Under the Cherry Blossoms

The beautiful white cherry blossoms were in full bloom and their gentle petals would fall down like snow, collecting on the ground.

To get here to Kyoto, I took the bus from Osaka — and this was not the most simple thing in the world. I’m used to traveling in strange places and getting around confusing transport systems, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy! The Japanese transportation system is particularly perplexing. The train system is the easiest to figure out. The bus system is second. The subway is last — dead last.

Many of these places I end up have no one that speaks English, so there’s a bit of guesswork involved. After I’m on a bus for 5-10 minutes, I start to have a sneaking suspicion that perhaps I am on the wrong one! With no one to ask or no one to call, it’s a bit more uncertain than I prefer it!

A Silent Evening in Kyoto Under the Cherry Blossoms

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-01-05 05:35:36
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/5.6
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length14mm (14mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

Japan: Heartbeats of Time – A New Video

New eBook – First goes on sale to Newsletter Subscribers!

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a new eBook. It’s very cool — a very detailed description of a best-of-breed digital workflow. Are you starting to feel like your digital photos are a little unorganized? I’ve put together a great system for you!

The first shot at it will go to Newsletter subscribers. It’s free to sign up, so just do it below!


5 Tips for Photographing People in Public

I’m working on an upcoming post that gives some practical and easy-to-follow-through-on advice on taking photos of people in public. I get a ton of questions about it in Twitter and whatnot, so I am happy to share these tips. You’ll notice a lot of this activity in the new video below…. and I know everyone enjoys and wants to take pictures of people in public, but are sometimes unsure of how to go about it.

Digital Workflow

New Video – Japan: Heartbeats of Time

I spend a lot of time thinking about the way memory and sight work together. I don’t think we remember in “pictures” or long videos… but something in between. Perhaps we also sense, at times, more than 30 fps, and unexpected parts of the brain fire when we are presented with certain objects and forms.

If you want to know more about how I did this, visit the “Stuck In Motion” section of the website. Good news – the best bits now only require a $200 camera!

Also, you may enjoy seeing my free HDR Tutorial, which describes how I accomplish some of the other favorite photos below, which were also shot around Japan.

A Few of my Favorite Photos from Japan

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

HDR-Photo

The Lamps and the Sakura

Newsletter Goodies – Sign up now

These newsletters (sign up for free!) take a long time to put together! But, here are some goodies that are coming for you in the next few days… really, we have beautiful newsletters and send them out about every 4-5 weeks or so. You are missing out!

In the next one, some first looks to subscribers:

  • Two New Videos – behind the scenes on the North and South Island of New Zealand
  • Two New Unreleased photos of the Snow Monkeys…. (scroll down in case you missed the first!)
  • A 20% discount on the Textures Tutorial that will only last one week.
  • And the usual other goodies that regular subscribers are used to!


Updated Nikon D3S Review

I’ve updated the Nikon D3S Review with the new video from japan as well as the new photo below. I occasionally pop into previous reviews to update them with new information so they stay fresh. In a way, they are sort of “living documents”, especially as my experience and opinions grow and change over time.

Daily Photo – The Lamps and the Sakura

Sakura is the Japanese word for the Cherry Blossom. I don’t know if I can explain how crazy the Japanese people are about this yearly bloom! For one thing, every local newscast has a big “Cherry Blossom” report that has in-depth descriptions of exactly where the trees are blooming in the country and upcoming predictions. The wave sweeps across the island of Japan and rich graphics cover the screen like a cold front, assaulting the countryside.

I took this photo with the Nikon D3S. I’ve recently taken to carrying two cameras with me. I take the Nikon D3X with me, and it’s usually attached to the tripod. This is the one that I use for 90% of my landscapes. While I carry that, slung around my neck and shoulder, Chewbacca-style, is the Nikon D3S, which I use for people shots, DOF shots, and videos.

This was taken at F/1.4 with a 50mm prime lens. The shutter was 1/8000 and the ISO 200. As always, this “EXIF” information is available on the SmugMug site if you click through and do a tiny bit of investigative clicking!

The Lamps and the Sakura

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-01-04 15:15:53
  • Camera
  • Camera Make
  • Exposure Time
  • Aperturef/1.4
  • ISO200
  • Focal Length50mm (50mm in 35mm)
  • Flashflash did not fire
  • Exposure Programaperture priority
  • Exposure Bias

The Endless Tunnel

Working on New Videos

I captured a lot of video while in Japan. And I mean a lot! I’m really looking forward to editing together some beautiful things for everyone. There is footage of the snow monkeys, Nikko, Tokyo, Kyoto, and more! In fact, I have so much stuff, I’ll probably release several videos.

You can see existing ones here in the Videos section.

Daily Photo – The Endless Tunnel

There is a long walk in Kyoto called “The Philosophers’ Path”. I’ve now walked on it five times. It’s incredibly peaceful and there are countless opportunities for photography. The path has everything from gentle streams to temples to cherry blossoms to interesting architecture. Near one of the temples, I found this series of arches, which seemed to be all lined up for something just like this!

Under the Cherry Blossoms

iPad Wallpapers on MacBreak Weekly

I heard via email and some tweets that Leo Laporte mentioned that my iPad Wallpapers on his show – that is cool! Thanks Leo! The only problem is that every time he does that, my servers crash for a little bit… We are working on a new server setup solution around here that should be a lot reliable (and help the page load faster!).

Daily Photo – Under the Cherry Blossoms

I spent a while one evening in the older Gion district of Kyoto. Everything was in full bloom and there were all kinds of interesting people and things to see. It was a bit like a perfect little Japanese fairy-land. When the breeze came along, the blossoms would fall loose and flutter down like pink soft snow. I saw this couple sitting on a small stone wall beside a little stream under some cherry trees…

I did my best to blend into the background as I slyly slid inwards with my D3S. This was shot at ISO 3200, and you can see how little noise/grain there is in the exposure.

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