Yokohama: the Lights

Yokohama, Japan

I probably have mentioned this quite a few times, but let me say it again; Yokohama is one of my most favorite places in Japan to hangout. There’s a lively buzz around any time of the day and night lights are simply breathtaking. So I hardly ever miss an opportunity to go there, with or without a camera. This is a photo from sometime back, a day I braved the cold and spent a good few hours circling more or less the entire harbor area shooting to my heart’s content, and as you will probably agree, it was totally worth it!

PINK!

A Sea of Pink

When retouching photos, it is very rarely that you have to decrease color saturation to make it believable. This is one such instance!

Last weekend I went to a Shibazakura (芝桜/Phlox) garden in Hitsujiyama, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Luckily the weather was excellent and the flowers were in full bloom. And when those two were combined, it was an endless sea of pink! I spent the whole day there, circling the whole garden first with the zoom lens, then with the wide angle, and then a third time with the zoom lens again but this time going all paparazzi on people taking selfies (that’s for a different post later) which turned out to be quite fun.

Processing this photo, I merged 3 bracketed shots in Photomatix to bring up the mountains and clouds in the background, then masked back one of the originals to get rid of ghosting caused by moving people. But even then, the pink in the foreground was still too much; so I actually decrease the saturation of the flowers a bit because it was a little too much to believe true.

Calm after the Storm

Serenity

During the cherry peak of the spring cherry blossoms, this place comes to live; people gather round to see Sakura, to picnic under the trees on the floorboards to the left of the picture, and there are continuous festivals. There’s just continuous buzz around. After living here for 7 years you kind of get used to it, although you never get tired of it.

After the peak it’s a different story. People leave leaving us permanent residents to get on with our lives, the flowers fall (except for this lonely outcast) and everything turns to a lively green. I grabbed the camera and headed out the other day, and fittingly for a gloomy day there was a general peace and serenity of which I hope I at least captured a little bit of.

It’s a true calm after the storm.

The Four Seasons

This was a photo almost a year in the making; when I took the first of the four photos back in August, it occurred to me that I could in fact not take one, but four, depicting each of the four seasons.

The fall went without a problem and a cool looking picture in the bag. Winter was what was tricky, for even though it does get cold in Tokyo it hardly snows and even if it does it would at most be a day or two. There are years without no snowfall at all, too. And a picture depicting the winter is never complete without snow in it. So I was eagerly waiting for some snowfall, even a bit, and then… I was greeted with the heaviest snowfall in Tokyo in years! Not bad at all. However, the plans might have almost gotten ruined, for I fell ill during the exact days where the cherry blossoms peaked. However as soon as I was a little better I headed out with the camera and grabbed a decent shot, although past the peak, and thus complete the picture of my dreams.

Seasons in the Sun

Dreamland

The Perfect Spring Day

Believe it or not, this is more or less right in front of my apartment; yes I’m that lucky. This small stream and the road alongside it runs for more than a kilometer long and there are Sakura trees (cherry blossoms ) just like this the whole length.

Unfortunately because of work I couldn’t take a day off during the weekdays, and then it rained to add to that so by yesterday they were past their peak which kind of ruins the photo. You can see small brown/green ish budding leaves at the end of twigs. Otherwise there would have been even more flowers, but no matter, it still is an awesome sight. Since I knew better I went there early, around 8.00 a.m., before people gathered so I could take a few decent shots without all the moving folk in them.

Dream On

Dreamy Night

Few months ago I took out a friend to dinner for her birthday. All that’s fine, but there’s got to be something in it for me as well, right? So, two birds with one stone and all, I picked Yokohama, close to the Minatomirai station which is without fail an excellent place for photography.

After a wonderful dinner we were walking around aimlessly and while my friend was admiring these colorful LEDs I managed to take 3 quick shots of her and she was kind enough to stay still…ish.

Processed these today, after about four or five months, which is something I like to do instead of processing them all at once. That way it helps me to take a different approach on someone similar themed photos and invariably that ends up in a better finished product. I merged the 3 images (EV0 +/- 3) in Photomatix and generated two outputs; one concentrating on lights and the other on the rest of the photo. Then after a lot of masking to clean up messy areas, imported them to LR and applied this cool filter. Finally, as always, Noiseware.