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Kyoto always satisfies.

Family was in town, so we went to Kyoto for a number of days and that's a perfect time to "think differently behind the lens" as I like to say. With so many temples and shrines surrounding the area, I wanted to focus on other things. The zen gardens were perfect for this type of composition "test". Instead of shooting the whole area, I just shot parts of the gardens. Same goes with other things like branches from trees, gardeners' tools, etc. I had a good time.

#TOKYOBOKEH

A lot has been happening lately, so I figured I'd get a jump on things and get the word out.

First, some of my work has been printed on aluminum and is currently being shipped to Japan. I'm looking forward to receiving these works and I hope that you can see everything in person. Thank you to a good friend, Alvin, who is driving ideas, inspiration, and possible space for this.

Second, I'm going to be the first person to use the hashtag #TokyoBokeh and I'll be using it for a new series to be featured on various social media channels. FRAMED ARTWORK WILL BE AVAILABLE, so hang tight.

Third, thank you for your support. I appreciate the comments, and patronage. Some of you have purchased printed images from me and I'm glad to hear that you are satisfied.

Dark forest. f3.5 lens - It'll work.

I recently took a vacation to the States to see family and soak up some nature. When I'm out & about, I like to take as little with me as possible. Often times, I'll only take one lens, and that lens is the Lumix 14–140 f3.5. I love this combo with my camera a lot. This lens does what I want it to, but sometimes in low light, it doesn't deliver what I need. What this means is, many photos will be underexposed. Fine. Underexpose the shots. Edit in post. I use Camera Raw to bring up the exposure just a tad. And for this shot, just a bit. +0.50 — that's not a lot, but enough to make a difference. f3.5 - 1/80 - ISO400 — I could have used a tripod so I could use a much slower shutter speed (the water would look super blurry and creamy) but alas, no tripod.

Action shots at night... mmmmnot my favorite thing.

I have no problem shooting at night, and as you can see from some of the shots from previous posts, I actually love it. Action shots at night on the other hand, I'm not really in to. Why? Well, mostly because I haven't taken the time to actually DO IT.

ISO for these (and many others) was at 3200. That's pretty good for the setting. The light was OK and I figured I could shoot at 1/200 and f1.4 so I could capture some decent action shots. I would have preferred to shoot at 1/500 of a second, but I would have needed to increase ISO, and that would mean more noise from my processor. I don't like noise. SO, my settings stayed as described.

I used "Autofocus Continuous" for these shots and the camera did pretty well. I'm satisfied. If you're wondering, I use the Panasonic G85 (G8 here in Japan).

Post-process edits weren't too complicated. I reduced the noise a bit and cooled the image temperature down just a tad. Red lights everywhere.

If you'd like to know a bit more about this evening, check out the YouTube video.

Todoroki Ravine Park

My wife and a friend have told me a few times to check out Todoroki Ravine Park here in Tokyo. It took me about 20 minutes to get there from my house and, more than once, I asked myself why I haven't been there before. It's so close to where I live, and people who are visiting Tokyo need to see this place.

I shot a quick video about it: https://youtu.be/qvCunT0IcUc 

Descriptions of where it's located can be found in the video's description. I hope you can make it to this wonderful getaway.

So what's the point?

I love YouTube and I see so many people there, creating super cool content. You can find instructional videos on how to create better video edits (which I'm trying hard to do), info on the latest camera that sparks interest, and folks who are telling others to keep on doing what they love to do. For me, that thing is inspiring people to craft a better photo.

Right now, I'm kind of infatuated with double exposures. These aren't crazy edits to several photos, they're just two images, one on top of the other. Two layers in Photoshop. One shot is crisp and has a particular focal point (well, most of the time), and the other image is completely blurry. I try to get that nice bokeh going on. Here are some examples.

I've just adjusted the layer styles and created a mask which I then use to "erase" parts of the top image. Ah yes, the blurry one is the top image. Sometimes I will adjust the opacity, too.

crisp and in focus
intensionally blurry

Right. I wanted to challenge myself to something new. I was inspired by a friend to shoot more at night, but I didn't want to steal his style, so I thought about something else I could do and I came up with this. I'm still using my knowledge of composition and how things should be laid out in the viewfinder, but I'm taking it another step and shooting while not knowing what the final image will be. That's fun. That's interesting to me. That's something new. I guess that's what it means to be a "creative". I've been shooting for 30 years and never thought of anything like this before. 

I hope you get the point.

Photowalk - Kanda River and Surrounding Areas

I set out with some friends to find some interesting things to shoot, and we ended up shopping for electronics. I'm definitely OK with that, but our cameras were calling out to us! We discussed "image overload" or how there are so many things to see that it makes it hard to find those compelling images in our viewfinders. Of course we found great shapes, shadows and contrasts, and lots of textures.