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2011/01/30

JR Takedao

Here is another B/W image, perhaps my most abstract one. I could show you the original, but that remove something from the final result. Let your imagination run wild with this one and enjoy.

Classic Shot

As some of you know, I'm relatively new to photography. And while I wasn't so much into it as a teenager, there are some classic shots that have been etched in my mind for some time, such as the grim Eddie Adams' Vietnam capture (violent image, be warned) or, on a lighter note, Arthur Sasse's famous Einstein's picture.

But on a more personal note, one of my all-time favorite shot, certainly my favorite snowboarding picture, is Bud Fawcett's capture of Jeff Brushie popping an air during at the OP Pro GS race back in 1991. I used to own the magazine in which is was featured, and it probably ended up cut and glued on a binder of mine back in the days of secondary school. Once I get a bigger place and have some space to hang it, I will most likely buy a print. To me, this shot is legendary not only because of the fame of the rider, but because it epitomizes what snowboarding was like then: a counter culture trying to find its stance and place.

To me, great photography is not just a great image. It should contain a social message. Although most of my commercial work is just that, commercial, when I shoot for myself or for the purpose of exhibiting my art, I hope my work will resonate with humanity and somehow improve its condition. For instance, my Bicycle Diaries was aimed at encouraging a greener mode of transportation and, by the use of people shots, encourage viewers to question themselves about their neighbors. Who is that person? Who is she talking on the phone to? Why is he in a hurry? What would make her truly happy?

In other words, I'm not an esthete for beauty's sake. I don't really adhere to the 'art for art's sake' point of view. If art doesn't aim at improving humanity, I see little point in it; to it's navel-gazing and a waste of time. I may not change the world through my photography, but I do hope to improve it a little somehow, if only by making people feel happier or more positive about life. Some of my 'art' projects might have dark subjects, but I do so in the hope of raising awareness about certain situations.

Coming back to Bud Fawcett classic shot, it may at first glance to have nothing to do with what I've just said, but I would disagree. Beyond the fantastic technical aspects (composition, interplay between shade and light, etc.), the image conjures many aspects of life that are important to me. First, of course, there is playfulness and humor; being an optimist by choice, the picture captures this well. But also the picture expresses creativity, thinking outside the box, which is equally as important. Perhaps this picture will inspire others to go on path less well trodden, where true advancement is possible.

As a homage to the wonderful picture, here's my version of it, using my elliptical adventures of late. Of course the original is way better, but I did learn a few things doing it, which is a necessary step in any endeavor we undertake.

2011/01/28

Day One

On most mornings for the next month, this is the view I'll have from my place of work. Mind you, I won't take a shot everyday, and had to hurry to get this one.


After the lesson, I walked until a station later. I stopped by a bakery, met an acquaintance by coincidence, went to the Canon Gallery (the Nikon and Fujifilm ones look nicer, but the Canon one actually publicizes what the others will show in the future!), and got these shots along the way. Not necessarily the best shots, some are works in progress. Today is a grey day and I need to hurry back home to take care of Kaz, so don't expect shots of today.

Entrance of the office where I go

Entrance of the building next door

Famous sculpture on a bridge

I liked all the stickers, might get a few on my bicycle!

2011/01/27

Some Mornings

... are easier to get up to. I'm starting some month-long morning work, and woke up to a decent pre-sunrise scene. Stacked my ND and PL filters on my lens, and got this 30s. exposure. Why 30 seconds? To get some blurry effects in the clouds. Would have wished for more, but the wind wasn't too strong. Enjoy!

2011/01/26

Thank you Kaz & Momo

My picture of Kaz & my wife was selected as a finalist winner in the Sennichimae Dai-Hekimen Visual Project Photo Contest. With it comes a purse prize of ¥50,000! Cool!! Entitled 'Welcome to Life', it sits in nice company with the other winners. There'll be some sort of award ceremony on March 12, I plan to go, with my models if possible, although it's a little early to plan this much. Here's the shot again.

2011/01/23

Miaow (more B/W)

This time I took my concept a step further and tried to reproduce more accurately the original picture. I took a picture of a stray that I like, boosted the contrast to 100% and then converted to B/W by simply unsaturating it. Then, I played around with ellipses and fill. Here are different stages.






What do you think? Less impressionistic than some of my other creations, including the one below, but interesting result anyways. By the way, I haven't found the way to save a good jpeg without the pixelated lines, sorry.


2011/01/22

Hands

When photographing your kids, it's a good idea to vary your shots. One thing you can do is focus on one body part. (D)SLRs lenses, especially faster ones with a low F/stop allow you to throw out of focus other elements of the image. As the eye will naturally look at the in-focus part, the subject of your picture will become immediately clear, just like with this shot.

Sometimes it's the very pose that make the shot endearing, just like this one where Kaz is practicing his snake kung fu.

2011/01/19

MDTUs

Today I assembled and set my two MDTUs (Mobile Diaper Transport Units). The bigger one, which will allow me to jog while safely transporting my baby and his stuff is a kind and nice present from my brother. The smaller one that fits in nicely on my bicycle is a present from my lovely wife. I used it to carry other stuff today (camera stuff) and it felt really nice not to have to carry a backpack while zipping through town. A great thank you to both of them!

An unforeseen advantage of having a kid are all the news toys you get. As a kid in his mid-thirties, it sure is welcomed, especially after a rough night, which was solved by literally scaring the crap (and gas) out of my kid!

2011/01/17

For my friend Antoine

I took these thinking about my friend 'Lone Ranger' Antoine, who gave my wife the Vancouver 2010 fleece we use with Kazuma. A little useful trick when taking pictures of backlit subjects (the light behind them): put a letter-size piece of white paper in front of your subject to reflect some light back into their faces. I have some pro reflectors at home, but in the sake of simplicity and efficiency, a large Costco photo envelope did the trick here. If you look closely into his eyes, you can actually see its reflection! This trick is also useful when shooting in the daytime, placing the paper below to face to fill in the shadows created by the eyebrows and nose. Obviously, this only works with headshots. But enough technical stuff, here are the shots.

See the reflection at the bottom of HIS right eye?

We can see the reflection in both eyes

2011/01/16

Latest Iteration

Don't worry, I'm not abandoning photography. This is just easier with a 3-week old son.

2011/01/15

While Shopping

I had to go to the local hardware store this morning and I decided to bring my camera along, as I don't have as many occasion to shoot as before. Although I'd passed many of these places many times before, today's shots are original, at least for now! If you're excuse for not shooting more often is that you think that your neighborhood is boring, it's because you're not looking hard enough!

By the river, with nice back lighting

Not #1 just yet

Colors, shape, texture, lines

Into the eye

I like those machines

Stairway to...

Nature grows anywhere it can

A collapsible parking fence

The day was pretty gray and even rainy at times, but around sunset time, the sun shone down on Umeda. I was quick enough to get this decent shot.

2011/01/14

Congratulations Yuma & Kame

Yesterday my friend Yuma, whom I took pregnancy pictures last month, gave birth to a healthy 3008g baby girl. Congratulations to the whole family. No news on the name, yet. My first impression is that her face is mostly like Yuma, but the eyelids are like her father's.

The Fable of the Porcupine

(not photo-related)



It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. 

So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive. 

The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person's good qualities. 

The moral of the story is: Just learn to live with the Pricks in your life!



2011/01/12

Images for My Child

I read in a new father's book that young children's brains get more stimulated by black and white images that by colour ones. I found this a little surprising, but apparently the high contrast is what catches their eyes and activates deeper perception. To this end, I've been looking at shooting geometrical shapes to then turn them into B&W. Using Nikon's 'Multiple Exposure' function (take more than one shot, and they're all stacked in-camera), I shot some blinds late this afternoon. But I must admit to prefer the colour version. I may print the B&W for my son, but I present you the colour versions.

Taken around 4:00pm

Taken around 4:35, which explains the gold colour

Then this evening, using graphic software, I played around with some shapes and colouring, inspired by an ad in the train for a graphic school if my memory serves me well. The original artist is much more talented than I am. Do you find this a little too psychedelic for a baby? I would definitely try to have friendly faces, as some of them do look perhaps a little creepy or scary. But as a first attempt, I'm pretty happy with it.

2011/01/11

Street photography in Osaka

Yesterday I went way down south in Osaka to bring a print for a photo contest I'm entering. The topic is "Parents and Children", and I'm submitting the picture of my wife and Kazuma 5 minutes after birth. With a grand prize of 200,000 yen, that'd be a nice contest to win!

After, as I was by bicycle and had my camera, I stopped a few times (and I really do mean a few times) to take some shots. Here are my 3 favorites, which could be better, but oh well. Enjoy!



2011/01/09

Kazuma Story of the Day

OOIIIII!!!
Who's calling? Oh, it's you. Whad'ya want?
I'm bored, let's make bubbles.
Uh... yea... I think I'll pass.

2011/01/05

Merci Patrick

I told you about the amazing Paris-Brest my friend Patrick made for my wife and I. Actually, we still have a little left. Here's the second to last one before they're all gone. The patisserie doesn't usually have them, but right now they have something similar, a choux praliné au caramel, with some orange flavor inside (second row in the middle). The next time I pass by either shop in Motomachi, Kobe or Kita Shinchi, Osaka, I'll have to try some!

Natural Light

Uh? What's going on?
Oh, it's you with the camera. OK, I'll give you a shot.
Here's my pensive look. Done? OK, back to sleep.

2011/01/04

Kansai Canadian Association Polar Bear Swim

On January 1st the Kansai Canadian Association held its annual Polar Bear Swim at Maiko beach, west of Kobe. The strong winds notwithstanding, 15 or 16 of us braved the cold and big waves to take the dip. In addition to Canadians and Japanese, some Americans and a Czech national joined us. I handed over my camera to a friend for the swim shots, and I made a stupid mistake (sync flash speed) and the lens protector fogged up, so the actual swim shots are overblown, which gives them a dreamy feel. All planned of course... Enjoy!

Yes, it was windy!

Gerard likes his cameras; forgiven for being a Canon man

Welcoming speech

I like this one quite a bit, good one Kanji-san

Everyone, remember sandals next year!

Still alive!

Post-swim snacks and drinks

Getting ready to hit the warm pool

Too hot! Hot tub!

Gerard's impression of Jaws


This is the life
A little idea of the waves