Japanorama http://www.japanorama.co.uk For lovers of photography and Japan: photography in japan, photo tours in japan, photo agency in japan, learn photography in japan Thu, 24 Nov 2016 11:38:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/cropped-japanorama-www-icon-512x512-125x125.png Japanorama http://www.japanorama.co.uk 32 32 9868597 A little bit of nature, a little bit of urban: shooting Hibiya Park & Ginza on an autumn day http://www.japanorama.co.uk/a-little-bit-of-nature-a-little-bit-of-urban-shooting-hibiya-park-ginza-on-an-autumn-day/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/a-little-bit-of-nature-a-little-bit-of-urban-shooting-hibiya-park-ginza-on-an-autumn-day/#respond Thu, 24 Nov 2016 11:31:29 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1959

A few hours out shooting with a regular student from Germany gave us the opportunity to soak up some autumn colours in Hibiya Park and some urban density in Ginza.

It’s lovely to have regular students who, when they are in town from overseas, look me up so we can go out together again and shoot.

Wednesday this week was an opportunity to catch up with Silvia from Germany, whose been out with me once before. Last time we shot around the charming neighbourhood of Ningyocho. This week we mixed up a nice bit of nature with some urban madness, across Hibiya Park and nearby Ginza.

Anyone who has been following my work lately will be aware of my obsession with the new Tokyu Plaza building in Ginza, Silvia hadn’t been there before and another visit for me gave me the chance to focus on a few new things and re-look into a few scenes I’d shot already.

We caught Hibiya Park on a great day, with carpets of gingko leaves and some nice colour still on the trees. I love shooting the area at the south of the park, where the gingko trees are dense and where the leaves form a yellow coating on everything below. There are some specific stones and tree roots there that I always spend some time with. Yesterday they looked amazing.

And one day later…. snow, winter weather, rain and winds have changed the scene in town so quickly. Like last year and in some ways the year before, Tokyo seems to get a late autumn and then rain, wind and cold temperatures which basically make ‘autumn leaf season’ about one or two days long.

Still, good timing seems to be with me at the moment. We caught the park at its best, had some fun in Ginza with some amazing light. Great day.

A gallery of shots of mine, from Hibiya Park and Ginza: all were shot with in-camera styling, using my Ektachrome P and Monochrome 2 picture controls for Nikon.

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Asahi Beer Building in Asakusa, Tokyo http://www.japanorama.co.uk/asahi-beer-building-in-asakusa-tokyo/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/asahi-beer-building-in-asakusa-tokyo/#respond Tue, 01 Nov 2016 11:41:01 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1923

It’s been almost 17 years since I first visited this landmark building by the river in Asakusa. It’s one of two in Tokyo designed by Philippe Starck.

Always a good place to visit, I recently went there to scout for a fashion shooting lesson I was going to give for someone. Gave me an opportunity to look at the lines, patches of light and colour….

All of the pics you see below are straight out of camera, simply converted from the RAW files into JPEGs and uploaded here. They were shot either with my ‘Ektachrome P’ Picture Control or the ‘Monochrome 2’ Picture Control, both of which you can download here.

The light was just about perfect the day I visited. Late in the day, the last rays of sun were catching the gold and the chrome. Elements we used a lot on the lesson I subsequently gave, when we were shooting with a model.

I love the crushed blacks and the strong colours in these shots. Love shooting in this style. Really pulls me to certain subjects when I have this Ektachrome style on the go.

You can read a bit more about Starck’s building here.

Just in case you missed it, here’s a reminder of the ‘Photographers Map of Tokyo & Japan’ which I made last year. Click here to load it up. It has this spot marked and over 100 more great spots to shoot in Tokyo, each illustrated on the map with a photo.

The gallery of shots I made at the Asahi Beer Hall in Asakusa:

asahi-bilu__dsc8022 asahi-bilu__dsc8024 asahi-bilu__dsc8034 asahi-bilu__dsc8066 asahi-bilu__dsc8061 asahi-bilu__dsc8029 asahi-bilu__dsc8056 asahi-bilu__dsc8048 asahi-bilu__dsc8039 asahi-bilu__dsc8037 asahi-bilu__dsc8054 asahi-bilu__dsc8055 asahi-bilu__dsc8046 asahi-bilu__dsc8032 asahi-bilu__dsc8052 asahi-bilu__dsc8060 asahi-bilu__dsc8063 asahi-bilu__dsc8068 asahi-bilu__dsc8045 asahi-bilu__dsc8038 asahi-bilu__dsc8040 asahi-bilu__dsc8041 asahi-bilu__dsc8070 asahi-bilu__dsc8033 asahi-bilu__dsc8027 asahi-bilu__dsc8053 asahi-bilu__dsc8023 asahi-bilu__dsc8062 asahi-bilu__dsc8036 asahi-bilu__dsc8047 asahi-bilu__dsc8042 asahi-bilu__dsc8059 ]]>
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Nikon Picture Controls: comparison between my Ektachrome P and Nikon’s Standard http://www.japanorama.co.uk/nikon-picture-controls-comparison-between-my-ektachrome-p-and-nikons-standard/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/nikon-picture-controls-comparison-between-my-ektachrome-p-and-nikons-standard/#comments Sat, 29 Oct 2016 00:52:17 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1917

Following on from my recent article about why and how I use the Nikon Picture Control system, here is a comparison between two of them.

You can read a full article here about why I use the Nikon Picture Control system [and download a few I have made] but I just wanted to write a quick post this morning which shows you a direct comparison between two of the styles.

I shot the following picture the other day, in Akihabara, whilst doing a photowalk and lesson for a lady in town from France.

We were shooting in fixed styles, her with her Canon and me with my Nikon. She was shooting in black and white. I was shooting in the Ektachrome P style I have set up in my Nikon.

I often do this myself and for students: have them shoot, just like the old film days, in a fixed aesthetic. It’s good exercise to pre-visualise the world in a specific colourspace or in monochrome. It helps you hunt for specific subjects that suit the style. It also helps you focus on specific parts of the process of picture taking.

Here’s a shot I took in the street in Akiba, shot with the Nikon D700 and Kerlee 35mm f/1.2 lens. I was shooting from the hip, on f/1.2 and fixed at 3m of focus.

You can quite clearly see how the pictures differ. My Ektachrome control creates lovely ‘crushed’ blacks, saturates the colours and is a little sharper. For the subject that was in front of me, it suited the scene perfectly to shoot it the way I did.

Yes, it’s all RAW, which has enabled me to create the Standard shot from mine and put both for you here. But, I hope that can see the attraction in shooting this way: less post-processing if you get the result you want in-camera, an approach of shooting to render the world in front of you in a specific aesthetic.

Nikon’s ‘Standard’ Picture Control:Akihabara, Tokyo, shot with Nikon's Standard Picture Control

My ‘Ektachrome P’ Picture Control

Akihabara, Tokyo, shot with my Ektachrome P Picture Control

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Tokyo Time Lapse: traffic and ants, from up high in Ginza http://www.japanorama.co.uk/tokyo-time-lapse-traffic-and-ants-from-up-high-in-ginza/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/tokyo-time-lapse-traffic-and-ants-from-up-high-in-ginza/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 05:16:35 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1914 ]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/tokyo-time-lapse-traffic-and-ants-from-up-high-in-ginza/feed/ 0 1914 Sitting above Ginza, making toys from the cars: Tokyu Plaza re-visited http://www.japanorama.co.uk/sitting-above-ginza-making-toys-from-the-cars-tokyo-plaza-re-visited/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/sitting-above-ginza-making-toys-from-the-cars-tokyo-plaza-re-visited/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2016 03:36:14 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1856

The new Tokyu Plaza building in Ginza, Tokyo, has me a little obsessed. So, I went back there earlier this week to shoot the cars passing below. 

Getting a high view in Tokyo is always a pretty good experience. One thing that really does it for me about the view from the new Tokyu Plaza building in Ginza is that is not just a great view out, it’s a great view straight down.

I recently wrote a post here about going there for the first time. Since then I’ve been back a few times with students our tourists, when I have been doing lessons or photowalks. I haven’t had chance on those occasions to shoot for myself. So I went back this week and shot some more, this time concentrating on the views straight down from two or three spots, not just the one directly over the big pedestrian crossing.

I shot a bit with the Nikon and the Hasselblad. The filenames of the pics in the gallery will let you know which is which. Had an 80-200mm on the Nikon and the 80mm on the Hassie.

Hung around for a bit because I was shooting a timelapse there too, so I managed to explore some cool angles and catch some great cars…. including a beautiful Ferrari Dino GT4.

All of the Nikon shots are largely straight out of the camera, shot using my Ektachrome P picture control and with just tiny adjustments to the RAW files [exposure, shadows and highlight recovery]. The colour styling is SOOC. The Hassie shots have had RAW tweaking in Phocus and some were cropped in Photoshop.

The weather was very grey, flat and boring… so contrast had to be bumped in-camera and a little in post.

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Flash photography portraits: testing out some strobes with Joe http://www.japanorama.co.uk/flash-photography-portraits-testing-out-some-strobes-with-joe/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/flash-photography-portraits-testing-out-some-strobes-with-joe/#respond Sun, 23 Oct 2016 04:21:27 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1839

My eldest son and I took an hour out of yesterday to go test out some strobes, shooting around the neighbourhood.

I recently picked up a couple of older Bowens flash heads. I’d used Bowens in the past and had a few accessories with their S-fit [reflector dishes, a snoot, some grids] so Joe and I headed around the corner to shoot a few test shots. The flashes are fired by Photix Ares triggers.

Here’s a few shots made using the reflector dish, a couple of different grids [10 and 30 degree] and a snoot. All were shot on the Nikon with a 28-85mm zoom.

joe-www-alf_4428a joe-www-alf_4426a joe-www-alf_4424a joe-www-alf_4423a

We then dropped the Bowens back at the house and headed back out with an Elinchrom A-Head run off of the Quadra Ranger battery pack, which I currently have from a friend who is asking me to sell the two-head kit for him. I’ll post something shortly, with pics of the kit, but it has two A-Heads, the Quadra Ranger pack, two batteries and I will have the ring-flash and a couple of soft-boxes for it soon. The whole kit is for sale. Very nice lights. Drop me a line if you are interested in buying them.

The A-Head is tiny and fits on top of my monopod easily, giving one a rig that can very easily be carried for making superb location portraits. The heads, although tiny, are 600WS each. Very powerful for such small gear.

We made the following shots using the Nikon, 28-85mm lens and just one A-Head fitted on top of the monopod… giving me a light that I can get up to about 9-10ft high and nicely angled down. We tried a few with and without a grid which I’d jerry-rigged to go on the light head.

These were shot monochrome in-camera and are straight out of the Nikon. Here you see with and without grid…..

joe-www-grid-no-gridHere’s a few more, shot with the same lighting setup: one Elinchrom A-Head, on monopod, with and without grid.

joe-www-alf_4445 joe-www-alf_4444 joe-www-alf_4443 joe-www-alf_4485a joe-www-alf_4473a joe-www-alf_4453a

The Elinchrom kit for sale includes:

  • 2x A-Heads
  • Quadra Ranger Control Unit
  • 2x Lead Gel Batteries
  • Cables and connectors
  • EL-Skyport Wireless Trigger
  • Elinchrom RQ Ringflash
  • 2x Softboxes for the A-Heads

If you are interested in finding out more about the Elinchrom, price etc… drop me a line.


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Some of my recent Instagrams http://www.japanorama.co.uk/some-of-my-recent-instagrams/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/some-of-my-recent-instagrams/#respond Sat, 22 Oct 2016 04:56:52 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1781

Just in case you haven’t found me on Instagram yet, here are few of my recent posts and a link to my Insta stream.

Despite having lots of lovely cameras, I do like shooting with the iPhone. Sometimes it’s just about the fact that the iPhone is the widest lens camera in my pocket. Sometimes it’s because I want to shoot square. Sometimes… well sometimes I’m just lazy and the phone is easier.

Here are a few of my recent posts to Instagram.

You can find my Insta here.

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Location-scouting day down near Mount Fuji: shooting with the Kerlee 35mm f/1.2 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/location-scouting-day-down-near-mount-fuji-shooting-with-the-kerlee-35mm-f1-2/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/location-scouting-day-down-near-mount-fuji-shooting-with-the-kerlee-35mm-f1-2/#respond Mon, 10 Oct 2016 01:48:20 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1722

An opportunity to get out of Tokyo for the day and scout locations for an upcoming shoot with a trucking company. 

On some location-scouting days, I shoot a lot of test shots with the ‘real’ cameras, to get a feel for what the place will look like when I get back there for the proper shoot. Last Friday was more about going back to places I know very well and just looking at them with the specifics of the shoot in mind. Mainly how the locations would work to swallow the 10-tonne truck I need to shoot there soon.

So, yes, I took some cameras but actually did most of the location research snaps with the panorama function on my iPhone.

In between looking at spots that myself and my client knew we’d be coming back to try with the truck, we had some time just to walk around a couple of spots.

Between one of the first locations we wanted to check out, on the shores of Lake Sai, and another spot we wanted to check out on Lake Kawaguchi, we passed a place I always like to stop and take a look around. Often in the autumn and winter it’s a great place to stand by the lake, get a great view of Mount Fuji and wander through the very tall ‘susuki’ grass by the water’s edge. At this time of year, though, you can often find lots of cosmos flowers there and the display of flowers this year is stunning.

So we spent a little time there.

After a spot of lunch, we headed to a shrine I know near Kawaguchiko. The area around the shrine will almost certainly feature in our forthcoming shoot.

It’s a beautiful shrine, out in the forest on the way to Lake Yamanaka. I’ve been there a few times and it was a nice place, this time, to shoot a little with the Kerlee lens.

Here are the shots…. a few from the cosmos flowers, some from the shrine.

All are straight out of the camera and all shot using either my Ektachrome P, Monochrome 2 or Portra picture controls, which you can read about and download here.

Nice day out, ‘job-done’ on the location hunting front and it was just so nice to get some fresh air and see the mountains again.

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Photographing the outgoing Canadian ambassador to Japan http://www.japanorama.co.uk/photographing-the-outgoing-canadian-ambassador-to-japan/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/photographing-the-outgoing-canadian-ambassador-to-japan/#respond Tue, 04 Oct 2016 12:20:15 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1705

An opportunity to shoot with the super-friendly outgoing Canadian ambassador to Japan in his residence.

I’ve shot for a few publications owned by the same publishing stable as The Canadian but had never had chance to shoot for the magazine, voice of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

It was also an opportunity to get inside an embassy I hadn’t yet been to in Tokyo. I’ve been to quite a few over the years and had always heard tell of how beautiful the Canadian embassy was, especially the ambassador’s residence. The rumours weren’t wrong.

Mackenzie Clugston served as ambassador to Japan for four years. His outgoing duties were to welcome Prime Minister Trudeau to the recent G8 conference in Mie. The day I shot with him, the ambassador was preparing for the trip. He seemed pretty excited about it.

When I do shoots like this, I usually go with a writer and this was like that. The writer and I turned up a little early which gave me chance to have a look around and check out some locations for shooting.

The residence is a beautiful old house that sits in the greater embassy compound, just off the main road in Aoyama-itchome. It has a lovely garden, too.

The ambassador liked the garden, so we made sure to shoot a couple of shots there; one in a favourite spot of his and one up on the steps that lead up to the side of the residence.

Inside was awesome, to be honest. A long corridor runs the length of the building and this allowed me to shoot with a longer lens as well, the 80-200mm. I like getting close to my subjects but using the long throw of an ornate hallway is super cool and I loved the background compression we got using the long lens.

For all the shots I used three Nikon speed-lights in a softbox, triggered by radio. Why not one big light? It’s heavy to carry. I’d just had a very long day the day before and I was feeling tired and a little lazy. Speedlights are convenient, light and they don’t take me very long to set up. I have a triple flash bracket for the top of my stand, which holds three speedlights on cold shoes. The softbox is an umbrella type, which folds up very small and expands to 1.5metres by 60cms. Perfectly big enough for anything shot indoors.

I did shoot some shots with the the Hasselblad H4D outside, too.

Everything you see here below was shot with the Nikon though. That’s what the magazine chose and the indoor shots were the ones I liked the most and I did all of those on the Nikon.

Great opportunity to meet a really genuinely lovely guy before he left Japan.

The shots: a few of my favourites and the ones the mag used……

thecanadian-01 thecanadian-02 thecanadian-03 canadian-ambassador-alf_3537 The Canadian Ambassador to Japan, Mackenzie Clugston canadian-ambassador-alf_3552 canadian-ambassador-alf_3556 canadian-ambassador-alf_3563 canadian-ambassador-alf_3570 canadian-ambassador-alf_3571 canadian-ambassador-alf_3572-2 ]]>
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Nikon Custom Picture Controls: a couple of mine. http://www.japanorama.co.uk/nikon-custom-picture-controls-a-couple-of-mine/ http://www.japanorama.co.uk/nikon-custom-picture-controls-a-couple-of-mine/#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2016 08:10:49 +0000 http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1701

Nikon’s Picture Control software and system isn’t perfect but it offers a nice way to custom style your shots in-camera. First in a series of posts where I talk about using Picture Controls and give you a few of mine to download.

Whenever I mention that I shoot with Custom Picture Controls, I always get a few of the same reactions. These vary from casual and polite questioning to angry, loud people questioning my sanity. So, let’s get a few things straight…

  1. Yes, I am shooting in a custom style in-camera but I am shooting RAW.
  2. Yes, I know that by shooting RAW I am giving myself unlimited and non-destructive editing possibilities afterwards, via software outside of the camera.
  3. No, I am not stupid.
  4. No, I am not shooting JPEGs.
  5. No, it’s not a waste of time for me to style the shot in-camera. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
  6. Yes, I do realise that Lightroom will turn all my RAW files back into a standard colour, thus negating the styling I have applied in-camera.

So, now that’s all out of the way, let me tell you why I use these Picture Controls and a little about my workflow:

I have Lightroom. I have Photoshop. But, typically, I don’t use them as the first part of my digital workflow. I use the software that my camera manufacturers provide. In the case of Nikon, that used to be ViewNX – until Nikon failed to update their installer and app and when Mac OS El Capitan killed ViewNX. Even un-installing and re-installing didn’t work. So, for Nikon I know use Capture NX-D. It’s not as good as ViewNX used to be. But, I am stuck with it. For the Hasselblad, I use their Phocus software.

If I am doing a big shoot with a tight deadline, with both the Nikons and my Hasselblad, I tend to not necessarily use Picture Control styling in the Nikons because I need to turn the shots around quickly and with two cameras’ RAW formats, that’s best done with LR.

But, if I have the time and I need the flexibility, then with the Nikons I am typically doing most of the photo’s styling in-camera.


Well, it’s very simple: I used to love using the darkroom. It was a quiet and contemplative space that was only used for photography. I love digital and don’t really miss film but the computer is used for so many things not just photography, that I don’t really want to sit in front of the damn screen all day doing editing. It’s just not as relaxing for me as the darkroom used to be.

Plus, in film days I used to learn what all the different films did and I used to choose my aesthetic based on the base response of the film and the things I knew I could push and pull and play with afterwards.

So when I went out shooting, I was very much reacting to my subject based on the pre-defined aesthetic parameters of the film I was shooting at the time. If that was monochrome, I was looking at the world IN monochrome. Not shooting the world in colour and turning it into monochrome afterwards. This helped me find subjects that worked in mono. It helped me think in mono.

Same goes for colour; different films created different results. These days I like to get as much of that final aesthetic result on-location, for myself or to show the client. For clients the Picture Control approach is nice; they get to see far more of the finished shot right there and then.

All of this saves time on editing and it puts my head in a better place when I am out shooting.

I’ll be posting a few more articles about m picture controls over the coming weeks. I’ll also post something about how I make them.

But, for now, I just wanted to give you a little intro as to why I am using them and give you the chance to download a couple.

One of my buddies on Google Plus he asked me specifically about the ‘Ektachrome P’ picture control that I had used on a few fashion shots that I had just uploaded. It basically simulates a kind of ‘crushed blacks, slightly over-saturated’ look that I used to get when I pushed Ektachrome film. Hence the ‘P’.

The zip file you can download here has my Ektachrome P, Kodachrome 2 and Portra picture controls on it.

You’ll need to unzip the file, upload the whole ‘NIKON’ file to your memory card and then you can use the ‘Manage Picture Control > Edit/Save > Copy to Camera’ dialogue in your Nikon.

This doesn’t work for all Nikon cameras. My files are made on D700 and work in the D700, D800, D800e, D3S and a few other models. My picture controls are .NCP files.

For further questions about the system, you may want to refer to this page at Nikon’s website.

For questions about the difference between NCP and NP2 Picture Controls, this is a helpful article. 

A few photos recently taken with my Ektachrome P picture control. Some have had a little bit of processing beyond just the picture control being applied. But in all cases, that extra post-pro doesn’t really extend to more than 15% of the style of the final shot. The core flavour of what you see here is achieved with the picture control.

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