Japanese Halloween

Japan is a truly amazing place. There’s a little bit of everything there; ancient heritage sits side-by-side with the high tech lives, there’s culture, there’s fashion, there excellent food, people are super nice and so damn reserved at the same time, and lots more. And even though these western festivities are recent imports they celebrate them all from the heart. There are Christmas parties and Octoberfests starting from May, they celebrate the Valentine’s Day (where girls are supposed to treat guys – imagine that!) and sort of a return Valentine’s Day on March 14th where you’re expected to out-do the girls (cunning, aren’t they) and of course, Halloween! And Halloween in particular is a time for all of them to let their hair down a bit and have fun.

Roppongi area is particularly famous for night life here, and during Halloween it really, and I mean really, comes to life. There are lots of bars and pubs around and people gather in numbers with all sorts of costumes and you can’t literally walk the streets without bumping into few people every few feet. And for a change, if you’re with a camera, they want you to take their pictures. I headed there with a bunch of friends yesterday – most of them photographers – and we had a really great time. Here’s some highlights from the nights.

Dying Happily

Scooby Gang. Without Scooby.

Superwomen

Caged

Navajo

A Fox and a Cat

Wolvarine

The Batwoman

Zombie Attack

Walking Cupcake

Sandra Bullock Lookalike

Winding Escalator

Ground Floor

All Floors

Japan is famous for notoriously long escalators, and now you know why. This is an escalator found in a mall next to Minatomirai Station, and as you can see it runs three floors with each section at least 30-40m long! So, obviously, I had to take a picture of this.

I processed these two photos again and again, and I’m kind of proud how they – particularly the first one – turned out. At first I went for a glowing look, but felt that was too much so saved my work and left it sit there for a day. Then I picked it up again, got rid of the glow and made it sharp, focused on the escalator area more and increased saturation + brightness there and finished up with Noiseware. This time around it was better, but the walls were too grainy. So I dug in again, increased the glow and the saturation again so that the walls looked just right and then merged with the earlier version so I had the non-glowing clear escalator with smooth looking walls. I thought I was done, but looking at the whole thing in the small iPhone screen made me realize that now the walls were too yellow and bright, and hence the contrast with the bottom half was just not right. So I duplicated the layer again, got rid of some of the brightness and color and phew… finally I was done.

The Mall

The Mall

Last Saturday evening I headed for the Yokohama harbor intending to take a few nighttime pictures of the Yokohama skyline around the harbor. However I made a mistake and went to the Yokohama station when in fact I should have headed to the next station to get to the best location for my intended shots.

But I didn’t want to get on another train and travel just one more station, so I exited the Yokohama station and walked around to find the best spot.

This mall was on my way, and it kind of looked cool, so I stopped to take a few photos there. Inside the red-ish part to the right of the building there was a Japanese wedding ceremony going on as well, but I didn’t want to barge in and disrupt their lovely time even though I would have killed for a few photos of the wedding.

This is again 3 bracketed shots merged in Photomatix, then added a few touches with Perfect Photo Suite and cleaned up noise in Noiseware at the end.

Yokohama City Lights

Serenity

Again the photography bug caught me last night, so I duly grabbed the camera and headed for Yokohama which is one of my favorite places in Japan. It’s got a little bit of everything; city lights, the sea, the harbor, a whole lot of people with your fair share of foreigners and in general there’s a certain lively buzz there. And especially at night everything comes to life.

So I walked around the harbor area for a quite a while but the huge camera and the tripod were a pain to carry around, and add to that the fact that I had forgotten to bring a sweater so with the speedy wind I was freezing to death. But it was all worth it; I could capture some pretty darn good shots, of which this is one.

This is 3 bracketed shots (EV0 +/- 2) merged in Photomatix, then some I made the sky a bit lighter in Lightroom and merged it with the Photomatix file again before finishing up in Noiseware.

Journey

Towards… Something

Destination could be obscure, but the journey can make it worth it. That’s what this photo is trying to tell me, or at least that’s what I feel.

I was at the Tokyo station the other day and was attempting to take three bracketed shots for an HDR here, but accidentally pushed the shutter button and ended up with an out of focus shot.

However I still kept it, and after a little bit of Lightroom touches, it kind of looks cool. I think.

Tokyo Lights

The Old and The New

Last weekend was boring; it was raining throughout Saturday and the skies cleared only during the Sunday afternoon. And me being me, spending two days in a row indoors isn’t something I can endure, so in the evening I picked up the camera and headed for the Tokyo station in order to capture some city lights. Guess what, Tokyo never disappoints.

This is the North Exit of the Tokyo station (if I remember correctly), and this classic looking building was renovated very recently to resemble its pre-WWII status, not more than two or three years ago.

There were too many people walking in front of it admiring and taking a lot of pictures so it was not very easy to take a picture without ghosts, and this was the best I could do after 10 or 15 minutes of waiting.

Three shots (EV0 +/- 2) merged in Photomatix, then further processed in Lightroom and Perfect Photo Suite with the final touches from Noiseware.

A Song of Ice and Fire

Ice

Fire

These are two more photos from the last week’s “Drink & Click” event in the neighborhood of Harajuku Station, Tokyo.

The first one was a pleasant surprise. As mentioned in the previous post, Google had brought some models and we (well, the others) were photographing them while walking along the streets with them. Practically, they were taking us wherever they pleased, and at one point there was a rather dark alleyway to which they ventured into. I was thinking to myself “there’s nothing here!” when we turned a corner and the lovely building in the first picture greeted us!

The second picture has an even better story behind it. Like I mentioned before Trey Ratcliff was attending the party, and when I was getting ready to shoot the second picture I noticed he had only just finished taking more or less the same one. I made a mental note to keep and eye for that photo, whether it’ll turn up in his portfolio, and he didn’t disappoint. A couple of days later he had it up in his Google+ stream which was pretty damn well processed. So I attempted to emulate what he had done, and predictably fell short of the mark, but still I like the way it turned out.

If you’re interested, his photo can be found here.