Landscapes

Photos of landscapes help us to see how beautiful our planet actually is. There are many great landscape photographers here in Japan. And you can’t mention landscape photography in Japan without mentioning Habu..

Photographer is like a painter who seeks to capture the beauty on this planet.

It makes me think of many things.. How to be more aware of my surroundings, and how to look at the scenery in some new way..

Sky is the limit..

Shooting Planes

I have never really done any serious plane spotting. But since I’ve always been interested in aviation, shooting planes fascinates me.

Some years back when I was still living in Finland, I went to the Helsinki Vantaa airport for plane spotting. What an adventure it was!

Since I only had EOS350D and cheap Canon zoom lens I didn’t have any serious gear. But I was surprised that even with such equipment I was able to get some usable shots. The lens was only 200mm but with crop sensor that was reasonable magnification.

I took a path which lead into the forest that surrounds the airport, and walked about an hour crossing small river and a bigger one, and all the time I could watch passenger jets landing, KLM, Finnair, Air France.. The forest was pretty thick and there was barbed wire and all kinds of things.. I decided to take my route so that I would end up somewhere in the end of the runway where the planes fly over.

I finally was able to find the famous plane spotting location Lemminkäisen kallio, on which I climbed. There were couple of people with DSLRs and binoculars, observing the air traffic.

I had enough courage to try my luck and went through the human-sized hole in the surrounding fence to get a better shot of the Finnair passenger jet on final. It didn’t take long until a suspicious looking vehicle started to approach by the runway, so I soon retreated to the allowed location.. But I was able to catch this shot though (which was purchased by Ilmailumuseo, thanks Cartina Finland!)

I would love to do plane spotting here in Japan. Anyone know some good locations?

Peeling the Onion

by Jaakko

A dear friend of mine once said that meeting other people is like peeling our onion, giving away layers of ours. The surrounding people help us to see inside, into the inner chambers of ourselves. We keep on peeling, mirroring ourselves on the others, and every time it hurts.

What if there was nothing inside? Just emptiness. Empty, spherical hollow filled with nothing.

Imagine a man who goes through a great trouble, perhaps the greatest trouble of all, in order to see his inside. He takes the peeling seriously. He suffers unimaginable spiritual and physical pain in order to reach the core. At some point, he finally finishes his task. He is in his core. And what does he find? Empty space.

I and my friend had numerous conversations about this, sometimes the onion becoming a cabbage, but ok, more or less the same thing. We came into the conclusion that it is necessary to hold some cover to be able to live in this world. We can’t go running around naked (not in this society anyway) and it is natural to hide some aspects of your personality. And vice versa: we don’t want to be covered in a thick layer of clammy cabbage.

If we sauté an onion, it becomes transparent. So maybe we could, somehow, gently fry ourselves slightly so that others could see through us. But in order to live happy lives, we must not overdo it.

My conclusion at this point is that perhaps human psyche is the layers of the onion. The whole structure. It’s not what is inside but it’s the various levels and layers. And even if that something inside could be brought to daylight, our perception could not detect it.

Take sorrow, for example. We can’t measure it. Science can only deal with the layers, and that’s what cognitive psychology is all about; our thoughts are the layers. The thoughts that are brought to us by our parents, teachers, friends and great novelists of the world.

After all, the point about peeling the onion is that we can choose which layers to keep and which to discard. Tears might come, but it’s natural.

When to bring DSLR?

There’s no question that the mirror-less cameras are getting better and better. Since these digital cameras of the modern age are much easier to carry around and make such high quality photos, is there still place for DSLRs?

Definably yes. Here are five reasons why I think so:

  1. There is wide variety of lenses available for DSLRs. Although micro-four-thirds cameras are getting more high quality optics nowadays, the selection of lenses is just different range in DSLR cameras.
  2. Micro four thirds cameras simply don’t have as big sensor as DSLRs, and this usually result in lesser low-light performance. (Fujifilm X100 is a different animal in this sense because it has full APS-C size sensor) and..
  3. ..crop factor. Due to smaller sensor, mirror-less cameras have higher crop factor which means less control over depth of field.
  4. Optical viewfinder. Optical viewfinder. Optical viewfinder. Looking at that LCD screen on the back of the mirror-less camera just isn’t the same as peering through high quality optical viewfinder of DSLR and seeing the real optical image in front of you. Some cameras have a small thing you can put on the hot shoe, but then you get the parallax error.
  5. Continuous shooting speed. DSLRs usually have more robust processing system which allows images to be processed and written to memory cards much faster. (Usually. Some mirror less cameras are now shooting faster, however usually not continuously in RAW)

If I’m to shoot fast moving objects or people, or things in distance, I am probably bringing my 5D Mark II or 50D.  Moreover, if I’m shooting some “serious” work in predetermined location or in a low light, I’m likely choosing DSLR because of above reasons. Full frame sensor is essentially same as it once was when shooting 35mm film. Can’t beat that.

However, I have seen people using mirror-less cameras even in studio environment (still life and still models!) and I can’t guess a good reason why it wouldn’t work just as well, especially if you shoot in RAW. Also many of the mirror less cameras have also hot shoe nowadays for flash units so..

Ultimately as Chase Jarvis would say, the best camera is the one you have with you. 

Time Warp

No post processing except monochrome conversion. Shot with Fujifilm Finepix X100.

Kawashima Kotori: Miraichan

I recently bought Kawashima Kotori’s photo book Miraichan. I first time saw it with my wife when we were visiting Triennale in Yokohama last summer. “Oh this is so beautiful!”, I cried to my wife. The image of the girl in red was permanently left in my heart.

Photos of Kawashima are genuine and natural. Miraichan is like a symbol of life herself. She laughs, cries and grows up in middle of wonderfully picturesque Showa era landscape. The photos are stinking of life. Here and there are photos of the surrounding nature that make a good balance for the emotional impact delivered by Miraichan.

It would be easy to call Kawashima’s photos cute, but doing so wouldn’t do justice to his work. It would be like like calling Picasso “artistic”. “Cute” just isn’t enough.

What makes these photos so emotionally moving might be because of Kawashima’s intension of capturing something greater than cute girl in red.

Kawashima wants to capture humanity that he sees in surrounding world, and he does it in very approachable way. Although my wife shows zero interest for Nobuyoshi Araki’s photos, she totally loves Miraichan. It is not small achievement to take genuinely artistic photo and make ordinary people interested of it.

Miraichan is a also a very coherent piece of work; there’s not a single unnecessary photo in the book. The pages of the book are very vibrant and print quality is excellent. The bind is also very unique. 2000円 is a bargain for this quality of print.

I want to keep this book with me always.

Kotori Kawashima 川島小鳥 (写真家) (1980) is a Tokyo born photographer, graduated from Waseda university. The photos in Miraichan are shot in Sado Island, Niigata prefecture. See Kawashima Kotori’s Official Site at: kawashimakotori.com

Minato Mirai 21 Night

Shot without tripod (holding camera against handrail) with Fujifilm X100. Slight processing in Aperture.

High Contrast

I have always loved the high and rich contrast photos with cinema like salmiakki-crushed-blacks. I took this photo with X100 in Minato Mirai.