Modern Techno Life in Tokyo

Iceland News on Twitter

Since I only update the blog daily, if you want the absolute latest on the Iceland trip, along with surprise pics, be sure to follow me on Twitter.

New Print Unleashed!

Recently I mentioned the California PhotoWalk in San Clemente where I met David Arkenstone. I listened to his music all the way up the famous Pacific Coast Highway. Here, in Big Sur, I got up early one morning to grab this amazing scene just as the sun was coming over the mountains to the east.

This Limited Edition Numbered Print is accordingly called “Sunrise in Big Sur“.


Daily Photo – Modern Techno Life in Tokyo

What happens in hyper-techno places like Japan and Korea seem to be the techno-canaries in the coal mine for the future of technology and behavior in the west. Several years ago, almost everyone walked around their ultra modern-cities with their heads buried in their mobile phones.

I was asked by many English-speaking Japanese there several questions that amounted to, “What do you think of Japanese people?”

I always had a hard time answering that. I love Japan, obviously… I find the people interesting, different, and wonderfully unique. There is one overall thing about the “general” mannerisms of the average person… it would be “robotic”. I don’t know why this is always in my head, but I often get a robotic sense from strangers, as if they are going through the day, devoid of any outward-facing emotion, buried in technology.


All I Want for Father’s Day Is…

My family of course. But, after I have that, why not ask for a few more goodies? It’s good to have hobbies to keep us productive, after all…

So, here is a great list of…

Photo Toys and Gifts for Father’s Day

Some of this stuff I have… some of this stuff I want.  Either way, it’s a great list of goodies!  If you want more, see my full list of HDR Camera recommendations or Photography Gadgets.

  • The Awesome Green Cube – Approx $7
    • See Amazon’s current pricingThe Green Cube Everyone Asks Me About
    • Mini Review – This is a clear, greenish 3-D bubble level.  I use it almost all the time and people always ask me about it.  It’s useful and cool-lookin’.  Even better than a fish-tie.
  • HyperMac Portable Battery – $199 and up
    • See latest pricing HyperMac Battery Page
    • Mini Review – If dad has an iPhone, iPad, or Mac laptop, chances are one or all three are always running out of batteries!  This is a fantastic extra battery that powers all three.  I keep one in my bag all the time.  More than handy!


  • Entry Level Camera – The Cheapest Way Into HDR Shooting
    • Canon G11 – Approx $449-$479
    • Mini Review – This is the bare minimum camera I can just barely recommend! The only reason I have it in here is because of price — it is arguably half the price of the Nikon D90, which is really the direction you should be going.
  • A Very Good Camera for HDR Shooting (or any kind of photography, really)
    • The Nikon D90 – Approx $700-$900
    • The Nikon D90 with Excellent Starter Lens – 18-105mm – Approx $1,100
    • Mini Review – I recommend this wonderful camera because it does auto-bracketing, can hold a variety of lenses, and is an amazing camera now and for the future.  You’ll be able to have this be your main body as you slowly build up a collection of lenses in the future, as you get to better know your camera.
  • The Nikon Lens Coffee Cup – $40 and up, depending on auction price
    • See Latest Prices on EbayLens Coffee Cup – All
    • Mini Review – How could not this be the best thing ever? I can’t think of anything more ridiculous or wonderful!

Daily Photo – My Camera in Tokyo

As you saw in the video a few days ago, I did a lot of night photography in Tokyo. Since I now often carry around two cameras, I sometimes use my second to take a photo of the first! Sometimes, I’m doing timelapse stuff which can take a looooooong time… so I get bored and start taking pictures of taking pictures!

I also included this because it has that green cube thingy mentioned above!

D3X Out

The Awesome Green Cube Everyone Asks Me About

Stuck In Motion Video Now on YouTube

Video on YouTube – Japan: Heartbeats of Time

A little tweety birdy told me that smooth operator Frederick Van mentioned this video on This Week in Photography. So, I thought I would use the YouTube occasion to bump it back to the top!

If you want to know how I did this, visit the Stuck In Motion page.

So, I have a dumb question for all you video-smarties out there! I first put this video on Vimeo. By default, it has HD and seems to produce a smooth, HD signal. YouTube, on the other hand, has a more tricky HD Embed option. When I choose it, YouTube tries to force it to 1300 pixels wide, which is wider than this page. I’d be happy with 900 across. Any ideas?

Daily Photo – Traditional Japanese Woman in Tokyo

A few weeks ago I said I was working on some tips and tricks for taking photos of people. I haven’t forgotten about that promise! I’ve just been super-busy. And now I will be in Iceland for about two weeks… but it is still on my to-do list!

Japan is of course a great place to take photos of people… and, if you are like me (I suspect you are, since you are a regular), you like watching people. It’s especially nice to watch people when they look a little different and their mannerisms vary slightly from what we expect. Making that whole experience even more intense is the pure fun of trying to capture a whole person with a single photo.

Tokyo was full of all sorts of pedestrians. Most of them are modern — or, rather, neo-modern. They sport the latest fashions and are as flamboyant as any nation that is comfortable with itself. But, on occasion, you see a traditional Japanese woman gliding through the streets. These sorts of anachronisms are wonderful subjects.

You may also notice her traditional two-toed shoes.  I wore these a lot inside ryokan — the big toe goes into the first slot and the rest of your nonsense toes go into the other part.  They’re a bit like mittens… strange but quite comfy.  How she kept hers dry and clean in the wet streets remains a mystery!



Free Breakout Session at Vanelli’s Workshop!

I’m giving away a few goodies at Vanelli’s Workshop.

To sign up and see if you are winner, visit Vanelli’s Workshop page!  Now, that session will be in St. Augustine, Florida… so I suggest that you only register if you are in that immediate area.

Daily Photo – Mikimoto

It wasn’t until my third trip to Tokyo that I finally got to explore more of Ginza. It’s a pretty high-toned area that is filled with the best of the best. Every elite store you can think of is fully represented, and the designers have pulled out all the stops to make sure they get noticed.

Although not on the main street, this amazing Mikimoto store grabbed my eye. I walked around the building a few times to find an interesting angle and shot away!


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





In the Rain in Tokyo & Big Release on May 21

Big Video Event on May 21

I posted a new photo from the streets of Tokyo tonight in celebration of the completion of a new video work (which is Japan-centric).  The video will be released on May 21.  Stay tuned here and we’ll all have a good time together!

Daily Photo – In the Rain in Tokyo

Most of my walks around the city streets had me carrying two cameras.  I keep the D3X on my tripod, and have that ready to go for serious HDR work.  But over my right shoulder, I carry the D3S with a fast lens.  In this case, I was using the 50mm prime (see my Nikon 50mm Review) to capture quick scenes in the streets.

I carry two cameras because it takes much too long to change lenses.  Also, it’s a real pain to do that sort of thing in the rain.

There are often questions about how I go about taking photos of strangers.  I have a post coming up in the future with five great tips for this sort of thing… I’ll try to get everything into one spot for you, since I know we all want to be able to better capture interesting people here and there as they pass through our worlds.


Akihabara Street – Geek Heaven

Technical Problems

Some of you have mentioned on Twitter that the site is slow and is having some memory errors. I’ve got a few people looking at it and I hope to get it fixed up soon!

Daily Photo – Akihabara Street

It took me many days in Tokyo before I finally made it over to one of my favorite areas – Ahikabara. This district is famous for its pure technology insanity! If you are a geek, then this is geek heaven!

Every street is filled with huge towers, each one flowing over with all sorts of technology, gadgets, games, robotics, toys, and scantily-clad-women. The streets are filled with girls that dress in… hmmm… how do I explain it? Imagine a grown woman wearing little-girl clothes, with puffy-laced mini-skirts, giant bows, and comely dispositions. They stand around, handing out little flyers, trying to get you to come into a shop, a cafe, or something in between.

There is even a cafe there with monitors built into the table. When you order a drink, your waitress goes over to the soda fountain, where a camera lies in the floor pointing upward. Upon pressing a special button, an extra blast of air is strategically blasted to increase your viewing cone.

Ginza, Tokyo in the Rain & “The World Highest Resolution Tiled Display Wall” event!

See me Thursday Night!

There is a cool and unique event here in Austin that should be fun for all art-lovers! You are invited to stop by and say hello!

My work is being displayed on “The World Highest Resolution Tiled Display Wall” at a special event put on by the UT Department of Art & Art History Graduate School, and the Austin Museum of Digital Art (AMODA). It sounds fun!

Here are the details:

Facebook Event Click Here
Thursday April 29
5:30 to 7:30 PM
in the TACC Visualization Laboratory
— The ACES building is at 24th & Speedway.
— Parking is available in the San Jacinto garage, at 24th & San Jacinto.
at The University of Texas at Austin
ACE 2.404a

Featuring Lawrence McFarland, Trey Ratcliff, Robert Melton,
Ricardo Meleschi and Morgan Gaither

Gizmodo HDR Contest

I entered the photo below in the big Gizmodo HDR contest! I found out about it when I got back from Japan. What is strange (and a small world!) is that the photo featured at the top of that contest is from /\ltus, who is the friend I stayed with for three days while in Tokyo! And, even more small-worldish, the photo I submitted was also from Tokyo! It had to be a photo taken in the last week, so I thought it fit the bill in many ways.

Daily Photo – Ginza, Tokyo in the Rain

It had been raining all afternoon and it continued right through dusk. Luckily, the D3X seems impervious to rain, ice, sleet, and snow (deep experience in all four), so I just ignored all the elements in this case too.

Ginza is a really cool, upscale area of Tokyo. The buildings are huge and gleaming with every possible color. It comes alive right at dusk. I ran out into the middle of the street to do my best to capture all the action of the scene.

Parking in Tokyo

Tokyo HDR Workshop and upcoming HDR DVD

Thanks again to my new friends from the HDR Workshop here in Tokyo over the weekend.  I had a great time and enjoyed getting to know everyone!

I hope you all are enjoying your new secret access to the special part of the site!  Hmmm what could that be?

All of the inside scoop that I shared with them will be available on the upcoming HDR DVD.  Be sure to pop over to that link and sign up so you can get the latest info.  I’ll be sure to include special bonus info on this secret part of the website as well…

Daily Photo – Parking in Tokyo

During the workshop, Alfie found a cool spot for us all to visit. They had a bunch of beautiful cars parked under a bridge, and these were prime suspects for a bit of HDR treatment!

Look at the license plate on that car! Cool – Number 7. I wonder how you get car number 7 in all of Tokyo. There was some discussion that these beautiful low-number cars were often mafia vehicles. I don’t know if I believe that, but it certainly sounds cool!

Super Happy Hoppy Fun Beer

New Release – The Opera House

I’ve always loved this photo. It’s so strange and different. This was shot in Ukraine, and you can see that old Soviet-era car parked in front on the snowy driveway. That blue light is all real and wonderful.

This next print, The Opera House, is the latest to be added to our Limited Edition Numbered Series. It’s available on paper or canvas. Each one is unique. They start at around $99 and go up if you want something more grand for your home.

If you want to stay abreast of the latest releases, follow Really Big Canvas on Twitter.

Daily Post – Super Happy Hoppy Fun Beer

Tokyo is awesome! It’s like someone went and built the perfect Japanese place in Disneyworld and then made it real! I know that sounds kinda stupid — but maybe you know what I mean! 🙂

I love how they use cute animals to sell everything in Japan. If you don’t like cute animals and beer, then what kind of person are you, anyway? What kind of twisted, sick, aberrant member of a proper society doesn’t like fuzzy animals chugging beer? I wonder if there are an Japanese people that are into furries. I learned all I know about furries from CSI. That glowing-blue light was workin’ overtime that evening! 🙂

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