Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘tokyo

Beautiful (but cold!) Tokyo

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Spent this past weekend in Tokyo, and it was freezing! The cold weather made touring at night pretty difficult, but we and our very nice friends from Chiba went out and braved the cold anyway. On our last night in Tokyo, we went to the Tokyo tower, where I took this shot. Normally, the tower is lit orange from top to bottom, but my friends tell me that during Sakura season, they light the tower in the color pattern you see above.

I was hoping to blog about my trip often and chronologically, but I’m so busy enjoying Japan, that I decided the less time I spend at the computer the better. I’m in Kyoto now, and it’s beautiful. Much much warmer weather, which means tons of cherry blossoms to see and photograph!

Top: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 17mm f/2.8 ISO1000 1/10 Second (handheld)

Bottom: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 17mm f/2.8 ISO1600 1/8 Second (handheld)

Written by Jonathan

March 31, 2010 at 6:33 am

In Japan Again

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Canon S90 6mm f/2.0 ISO160 1/30 Second (JPEG)

Well, seems like we were just here, but we’re back in Japan. First stop is Tokyo. After a loooooong flight on JAL, we arrived at Narita airport late this evening. We are absolutely exhausted! So here are a quick couple of images I took coming right out of the Shinjuku station in Tokyo, where our hotel is located. I used my brand spanking new Canon S90, which within minutes of using, has completely stolen my heart. It provides a level of control unsurpassed by any other compact out there. In fact, some functions are easier to set using my S90 than my D300s, which I haven’t even taken out of its bag as of yet. Uh oh…


Canon S90 6mm f/2.0 ISO500 1/30 Second (JPEG)

Ok, so it’s not dethroning my D300s any day any how, but this is a killer compact and is incredibly fun to use. Quick access to fully customizable white balance?! Oh yes! I can’t really say much more about the camera than that right now. Gotta post and run. Actually, I’m posting and sleeping. I’m so jet lagged!

Written by Jonathan

March 26, 2010 at 4:52 am

More Memories of Japan

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Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 at 22mm f/4.5, ISO640 1/80 Sec

Yummmmmm. The dessert above is a mango sorbet, which was a perfect finish to the Sushi and Shabu Shabu dinner we had with friends at a restaurant in the Gion area of Kyoto, Japan.  I never saw the bill for this meal, or any meal for that matter during our stay with our hosts. My friends never let me pay for anything when I was with them! If they ever visited me in the States, you can bet I’d return the favor.  I can’t remember ever being treated so nicely by anyone…

You know what one of my favorite things about Japan is? Don’t laugh! The vending machines:

ホットコーヒー

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 at 17mm f5.6 ISO200 1/123 Sec

There are literally thousands upon thousands of vending machines like this one sprawled out all over Japan. You can’t hide from them! I even saw them standing alone, often on unpaved roads, in the more remote areas I stayed at, outside of any major city. When I first arrived in Japan on vacation this year, I didn’t pay much attention to them. I quickly discovered, however, that the machines serve up cans of cold AND hot drinks. Yeah!

It was an unusually cold spring in Japan during our visit, and so nearly every time I’d walk by these vending machines, I’d reach down in my pocket for my 120 yen and grab me a hot little can of coffee.  My Japanese friends found this to be pretty amusing, and every time they’d see a machine, they’d say “Hey Jonathan, time for coffee!”

Of course, all this coffee drinking meant more trips to the restroom. No problem! Seems like the restrooms in Japan are as easy to find as these vending machines. They’re everywhere! Very convenient.

What really amazed me though, were the lack of public garbage cans. We have them all over the place in San Francisco, and they apparently don’t help much because there’s a ton of litter on the streets here (and in most US cities for that matter).  When I was in Tokyo, however, every time I’d buy something and eat/drink it on the go, I’d have so much trouble finding a place to throw the trash away,  and would usually end up carrying whatever it was with me until I got back to my hotel room.  You’d think that the lack of public garbage cans would mean lots of trash on the street right? Wrong. At least in the places I visited, I saw little to no litter, especially compared to what I see on the streets where I live.

Integra

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 at 50mm f/10, ISO200 1/400 Sec

Kinda random, but I spotted the image above in my archives and wanted to post it. I love Japanese sports cars! This one was parked outside my friend’s house in Osaka.  Honda sells a similar car in the US, but with a different front end design that, in my opinion, is not nearly as cool as this one. Do you see any trash in the gutter to the right? Me neither!

Written by Jonathan

November 4, 2009 at 7:39 pm

My First Model Shoot

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Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 Micro at f5.6, ISO200 1/60 Second, CLS triggered SB-800

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 Micro at f5.6, ISO200 1/60 Second, CLS triggered SB-800

Man, I scored a gig with an awesome and beautiful model yesterday by the name of Barbie. Have you heard of her? Ok, what really happened was that the weather was terrible for the city and landscape photography I planned for last night. But the photography bug bites in all weather conditions, so I had to shoot something!

The wife recently got into collecting vintage Barbies, and in fact, I bought her a vintage reproduction of the wedding Barbie and Ken from 1959 recently. Working with Barbie and Ken was actually a quite interesting experiment in portrait lighting. Due to their small size, I had to use my 60mm 2.8 Micro lens to get the portraits looking more human and less toy-like.

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 micro at f/8, ISO200 1/60 Second

Nikon D300s + Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8 micro at f/8, ISO200 1/60 Second

Adding directional light to the shot was the fun part. I used a single SB-800, diffused with a small light modifier and triggered wirelessly via the pop off flash on the D300s. A small, rather harsh light source for a real human being, but a huge and flattering source of light for a Barbie.

Since Barbie doesn’t move or get tired of standing completely still in the same exact pose for as long as I see fit, I really got to play with the size and direction of the light source, and it turned out being a ton of fun for me. Plus, look at her! Isn’t she absolutely incredibly gorgeous? The camera loves her!

At the end of this month, I’ll actually be shooting a real wedding. I’ll being doing it for free as a gift to the groom, a close friend of the family. Well, free for him anyway. Getting a few things to get me ready to take good photographs at the event will actually cost ME money, but hey, what I lose in money I’ll gain in experience! My father was a professional wedding photographer for nearly two decades back in the film days, but for some reason, photographing weddings hasn’t ever really been a desire of mine.

Agreeing to photograph this upcoming wedding, however, has sort of forced me into an interest in wedding photography, and now I’m actually really excited about it (I freaked out when I was first asked last week). Part of the excitement, I think, comes from an increase of confidence that has come from a tireless study of wedding photography technique over the last week. Yes, I’m cramming, because even though this will be a freebie for the bride and groom, I want to do the best job I can possibly do, for ME.

So for the next three weeks, I’ll be reading reading reading and shooting shooting shooting. My goal for this wedding will be to work creatively with directional light to make some pretty photos of the new couple.

Who knows? If it goes well, perhaps my next gig will be paid ;)

Click below for a couple more shots of my little “model shoot”

Written by Jonathan

October 12, 2009 at 5:30 am

Kamikaze Girls at Peace Plaza, New People Mall Grand Opening

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Nikon D90 + Tokina 12-24 f/2.8

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 at 11mm f/11, ISO200 0.8 Seconds, New People Building at Japantown SF

ニコン D90 + トキナ 11-16 f/2.8 at 11mm f/11, ISO200 0.6 Seconds

ニコン D90 + トキナ 11-16 f/2.8 at 11mm f/11, ISO200 0.6 Seconds, New People Building @ Japantown SF

This weekend, a new mall will be opening in Japantown, San Francisco. It’s called “New People” and located at 1746 Post street. The building will feature artwork, films, and fashion straight from Japanese pop culture, and will also house a few places to eat. I encountered the three story glass-faced building during a stroll through Japantown this evening. The grand opening event for New People will take place tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited about this new complex. Since coming back from Tokyo, I’ve been feeling like Japantown SF could use a little something more to make me feel like I’m in, well, Japan! Perhaps this infusion of pop culture through this new mall will be just what this area needed. The pictures above show that there’s still plenty of work to do to get things ready for the grand opening, which from the time of this writing, will happen in only a matter of hours. Looking through the first floor windows, I saw workers scrambling to set up foodservice equipment, many of which hadn’t even been unboxed yet. Hope they finish on time!

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 at 11.5mm f/10, ISO200 1.6 Seconds, Peace Plaza Kamikaze Girls Screening, San Francisco

After I grabbed a couple shots of the new building, walked through Peace Plaza on my way back to the car, and noticed that there was an outdoor screening of “Kamikaze Girls” taking place, a Japanese film that features quirky fashion straight out of Harajuku. I stood for a while as the sun dipped below the horizon, enjoyed the warm weather, and got a few good laughs from the movie. I snapped a few shots of the event, and called it an evening.

Japanese Rail

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Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0, 50mm, ISO400, 1/60 Sec

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0, 50mm, ISO400, 1/60 Sec

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Tokyo Japan

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Tokyo Japan

Tokyo Japan, Nikon 90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0 50mm, ISO 500, 1/50 Sec

Tokyo Japan, Nikon 90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8.0 50mm, ISO 500, 1/50 Sec

From my archives, a couple photos that sparked memories of riding the rail system in Japan. I live in a city where you’re not sure if your bus will come at all let alone be on time. Japan Rail trains run with ridiculous reliability and timeliness. If the train is supposed to get there at a certain time, it’ll get there AT THAT TIME. Missed a couple trains during my trip this year thinking that perhaps they’d be late!

I also love how snacks/drinks are so accessible in the station. The photo to the left was taken at a train station in Tokyo. A green tea flavored kit kat or hot can of coffee is always near =)

Tokyo Japan, Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 @ f/8.0, 50mm, ISO250, 125 Sec

Tokyo Japan, Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 @ f/8.0, 50mm, ISO250, 125 Sec

We had a lot of fun riding the Shinkansen (bullet trains) at blazing speeds between Osaka and Tokyo while we were there. These things have dedicated tracks that don’t cross other roads or railways, so they’re free to rip through the country side at high speed, getting us from Tokyo to Osaka in a little over 2 hours.

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8

Nikon D90 + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8

___________

Both times we rode the Shinkansen, I ate on the train. They have little stores at the station where you can pick up various snacks and even bento! They also have someone wheel a cart through the train every so often with snacks, sandwiches, and drinks. I was particularly impressed by the coffee surprisingly enough. I mean coffee on a train couldn’t be any good right? The coffee I had on the plane tasted like dirty water after all. But this coffee was good, and sure beat the 300 Yen (over $3.00 US) I spent on the smallest cup of Starbucks brew in Tokyo (yes, SMALLER than a tall, which is about $1.40 US where I live). In all, I was so impressed by the public transit system in Japan, and I look forward to spending lots of time on these trains when I return next spring!

Mmmmm, eating a Bento on the Shinkansen

Mmmmm, eating a Bento on the Shinkansen

This coffee was actually good!

This coffee was actually good!

Written by Jonathan

August 6, 2009 at 6:43 am

My photography

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Matsuya Ginza, Tokyo Japan

Matsuya Ginza, Tokyo Japan

I’ve been wanting to create blog just for my photography for some time now.  While I have enjoyed sharing photos on sites like flickr, I’ve created this blog mainly for myself; to track my progress and give the fruits of my hobby a home.  I randomly chose this shot I took with my Lumix Lx3 as an opening post, not sure why =).

My Current Gear:

Cameras:

  • Nikon D300s
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Lenses:

  • Nikkor AFS 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
  • Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4D
  • Nikkor AFS 35mm f/1.8G
  • Nikkor AFS 60mm f/2.8G Micro
  • Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
  • Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ATX PRO

Accessories:

  • Nikon SB800 Speedlight
  • Nikon SB900 Speedlight
  • Gorilla Pod SLR Zoom
  • Nikon GP-1
  • Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod with QR4 Ballhead
  • Neutral Density and Circular Polarizing filters

Written by Jonathan

July 31, 2009 at 8:24 pm