I usually wish I could blend into the background when I take this sort of photograph because, as you know, once the subject knows that it’s being observed it changes it’s behaviour. Unfortunately I’m a big, fat, ugly guy and the only way I could blend into the crowd would be to go back to Canada.
Burn on you, Canadians!
The problem with thinking like this… The wanting to vanish part, not the self-loathing… is that you are separating yourself from the crowd because you feel they are simply a thing placed there for your use and not people. I think that’s why a lot of street photography makes people uncomfortable. The photographer is basically treating the subject same way a sociopath would. Yes, there are a lot of street photographers with this attitude. Several of them are hanging in galleries right now.
I guess there’s a balance to be found between being courteous towards your subject and getting the so-called “moment”. I sure haven’t found it yet.
Nice of her to not glare at me like most people here do.
This was on the Yoyogi Park side of Harajuku Station in Tokyo.
The last time I had experienced a crowd that thick was in Seoul’s Dongdaemun shopping area when they had closed off half the sidewalks, forcing the massive crowd into a bottleneck between the department stores and the subway station. No such excuse here. Everyone was simply making the scene that day and we got caught up in it.
A fellow in a full cowboy outfit glared me. I can only assume that it was because my Australian cowboy hat looked a lot cooler than his American one.
One of my new students showing off her stylish umbrella before heading out. Pentax KX. Scan of a print.
I’m going to have to look in other parts of Gunsan, but film seems limited to Fujicolor C200 and the vastly over-priced Instax line. In limited amounts. Having to wait a week for my developing to be sent off to Seoul isn’t too bad given how much cheaper it is compared to Canada.
Not compared to Japan though. Japan is half of what it costs in Korea. A third of Canada. It’s almost like they want me to buy a new DSLR or something. Which, when I do so, will probably be a Pentax to go with my collection of lenses.
I don’t have a single karaoke photo that’s in focus. In-focus would mean that it wasn’t a very good time at karaoke so this is as it should be. Pentax MX?
This is an old friend from Japan showing me that she’d be the best model a photographer could have. I never thought to ask her to do so for many reasons. Not having the gear and assistants needed to make it worth everyone’s time being one of the main ones. Even simple glamour shots need a fair bit of work which is why I’m a documenter instead of an image constructor.
Not that I would have a model leaning on a car in a short skirt or something. I’d probably just have them hanging out in front of something like a shop or fishing boat in order to get a human aspect to the subject. It may seem like a waste of a model to some, but everyone tries to copy fashion magazines. Boring. But pointing into a crowd and hoping you capture strangers doing something interesting is more miss than hit. At least for me.
I like to think that having a willing model could help you get a nice balance between both approaches. Maybe one day.
I think this was at an event featuring some Tarento in Kagoshima. Shot with a Pentax MX.
You who care to click all the way through to the original image may notice that it’s slightly smaller than my usual 1400 pixel wide images. This is because I grabbed this photo from a folder called “Done Shots”. That’s where I dump images that have been uploaded to various blogs and sites like Flickr. It’s also where a lot of my images that were lost in The Great Crash of 2013 can be found. Just in reduced size.
While this one is big enough that I could probably get a decent print out of it, most of the others aren’t. And while those are big enough for blogging purposes, the small size means it’s impossible for me to work on them anymore. They are at the end of their use as images. I cannot crop them down or do some ‘shopping with them without rendering them an illegible mess. That is tragic to me. Like a friend that’s no longer alive.
Summer festival crowds in Miyakonojo. Shot with a Canon 550D or whatever it was marketed as in your area.
I’m probably weeks away from being able to post up interesting photos of Gunsan so it’s more of my Japanese images for you for the next while. It might even be closer a month or two since I’m on a pretty tight budget and I haven’t been able to find a place that does developing aside from a kiosk in the local Lottemart. Teach me to fly with the film camera instead of the digital because I felt my big chrome brick would be too expensive to have shipped later on.
I don’t look forward to having the “It’s a C-41 film, so it’s okay to feed into your machine even if you haven’t seen the brand before. Just develop it.”, conversation in Korean.
A (might be a) couple waiting for the bus in Miyazaki. Shot with an Olympus Pen EE2.
The folder says April, 2011. Given that it holds photos from earlier in the year (You get about 72 shots on a roll with a half frame camera) I think this image was taken around the same time as Shinmoedake was erupting all over me. A fairly minor inconvenience compared to what happened a few months later with the Tohoku Earthquake. It’s hard to believe that was three years ago.
This is another one of those photos that I can’t decide if I like it or not. Shot with an Olympus Pen EE2 in Kumamoto, Japan.
We’re at the foot of Kumamoto Castle. I was there for a work seminar and he was just someone I saw squatting in the middle of the road when I went out to return to my hotel. He wasn’t facing the castle. That would be to the right and up the hill. He was taking a photo of an elderly couple sitting under a tree in front of a local café. Friends or family, perhaps. Why he needed to risk life and limb to get the shot from so far away is beyond me, but who can argue with artistic motivation?
Preparing for a drumming concert in Miyakonojo. Well, I assume “concert” is the right word. Shot with a Pentax MX. Scan of print.
I’ve been going through some of the few prints my parents had put in storage for me long ago. Mostly photos I sent home in letters or with gifts from overseas. In many cases, these prints are the only versions of those images I have since their scans were part of that great hard drive corruption of last spring.
In many cases, these prints are not worth looking at to begin with and I wish other images had survived instead of the ones that did. You know the type: “Dear mother, here is the front of my apartment. Note the use of not-English.” A lot of them are also too personal to share which cuts down on the usable ones even more. Either due to being the source of old regrets, or me knowing they wouldn’t want to be plastered across the web to begin with.
What saddens me, however, is that most of them are damaged or faded to the point that the scanner scans more scratches than photo and I can’t use them at all. You can’t fix in Photoshop what isn’t there to begin with.
This is why everything I still have is now on two hard drives.
One of my few remaining photos of Korea. Typical Seoul street scene outside of Suyu Station. Scan of a print.
Scan of a pretty beaten up print at that. I don’t know what got into my head that I simply had to make it web-presentable. I spent far more time trying to clean it up than I usually spend on an image. I see myself as a documentarian and light thief. I don’t make images, I just take them. Not that there’s anything wrong with the other approach… unless you’re really insane about it like most fashion and celebrity photography. But what that means is that I tend to very minimum Photoshopping and if it doesn’t work after that, I don’t use it.
I learned a few things during my time in that part of Seoul. First is that the grubby forgotten parts of a city are usually the most interesting to look at. Second is that expat social circles are vicious and toxic. It really brought home to me how much I prefer to work in smaller companies with fewer odds of your coworkers also being the people you see every day outside of the office.
Some people also start office romances and then don’t get a new job so they’re not in each other’s face 24/7.
Passengers, shoppers, diners, and various others at the east entrance of Hakata Station. Shot with an Olympus Pen EE2.
When I think of Hakata, I think of travel. Makes sense given that all of the major train and bus routes through Kyushu use it as their terminus. Just up the road is the Ferry Terminal that will take you to Busan and back again if you’re inclined to enjoy the sea for a few hours. Business hotels surround the station. Taxis as far as the eye can see up top, Fukuoka subway system just under your feet.
When I left Miyakonojo last year, I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever return to Japan. (I’m still not since I’m not a Y.A.B.: Young, American, Blonde.) So I decided to book a bit of a tour through some of my favourite Kyushu haunts before heading to Tokyo for my final five days. I had to leave my apartment and get on the train quickly because otherwise I would have had to have been forced out. Leaving a line of fingernail marks in the tatami as they dragged me away. Took my last view of Kagoshima, my last view of Fukuoka the following day, and then I got to enjoy Tokyo and all of the places I missed the last few times I was there.
I regret not having the time to poke around Kumamoto one last time. I never got a decent photo of that castle…
Candid street type photography is almost impossible in Japan due to everyone seemingly conditioned to throw up a victory sign the second they see a camera pointed at them. I guess it beats the scowling and threats they do here.
I’ve been suffering with what I assume is the plague from The Stand and not just some simple cold, because otherwise I’m just a big wimp. I think I’m also suffering from a depletion of my photos of the last half decade. Well, a depletion of the interesting to look at ones. I do have a lot of photos of things I thought would make for good reference images should I ever make that comic about being an expat… that I can quit halfway through due to it not being Pulitzer-worthy.
I’m pretty sure this was taken with an Olympus Pen D if that’s something you care about. I’m gonna go lay down some more.
Fellow sightseer making her way along the Oni no Sentakuita that surrounds the island shrine of Aoshima and down the Nichinan coast in Miyazaki-Ken.
The Oni no Sentakuita, commonly translated into English as “Devil’s Washboard”, is a beautiful addition to the already lovely sub-tropical landscapes you see when you take the train or highway down the Miyazaki coast to Nichinan and Shibushi. Picture it: Palms, Pacific, sun, birds, waves, tourist hotels and spas. If it wasn’t a two hour trip each way for me, I would have visited more often.
As the bird flies, Miyakonojo was pretty close to Nichinan to the south east. As the car flies, you were looking at a half hour trip. But all the public transportation was geared to sending you to Miyazaki to the north east. One hour up to Miyazaki where you would catch your transfer after roughly a twenty minute wait. Aoshima wasn’t too far away. Nichinan, and the famous beaches and monkeys that surround it, were an hour and more. There were no buses to take either.
Miyazaki is often viewed as the forgotten prefecture due to the volcanic landscape leaving it relatively isolated from the major cities, and thus the major transportation and trade routes, in Kyushu. Aside from Kagoshima, most of southern and eastern Kyushu is the same sort of largely rural area that make a lot of money on summer tourism. On one hand, if you’re a nature lover, the area would be a paradise for you. On the other hand, your nature-loving ass better have a car.
This site has a pretty comprehensive look at Aoshima and the shrine.
This was taken the first summer I was in Miyakonojo. I came across it in the parking lot of the local Co-op while I was out enjoying the evening instead of being broiled alive in my oven-like apartment. Maybe someone with better eyes and Japanese skills than me can read the sign and tell everyone what it was all about.
I always found stuff like this to be like me stumbling across some sort of fairy tale party. I sit and observe the goings on and when I return later, there’s no trace of the happy people and the party they had. At least I never woke up two hundred years later* as a punishment for watching them. I sometimes wonder why that sort of myth was so common in a lot of cultures. Maybe as a reminder that no one likes a gatecrasher.
This was taken with the Pentax MX using one of those color monochrome films. Usually they give you a purple or greenish tinge that most people convert to pure greyscale when they get it scanned. I usually do the same but sometimes I feel the natural color adds to the image. This makes it seem warm.
*Though I would like to wake up two hundred years from now on the condition that I’m waking up in Star Trek, and not, say, Mad Max.