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Small Is Beautiful

Our brain are pattern recognizing machines. This allows us to function in environments where the amount of input is almost endless. Just think how you can focus on your friend's voice in the middle of a busy and noisy shopping center around Christmas time!

In a way, photography is about taking a step further and looking past the obvious to find something nice. Using a macro/micro lens, extension tubes or equivalent function on a point-and-shoot camera, this becomes very relevant, as you are looking for 'small things' that would look big. I seen 3x2m prints of small pebbles in art galleries, so blowing things up can be a lot of fun, firing your and your audience's perspective. Here are some shots I took one cloudy morning last week. They were all shot within 150m of my apartment.


Baby Shots

Preparing for some shots to send to the model agency this morning, I captured some feet shots. To me, they look like little Buddha praying feet, but it could just be me. They're followed by some of the shots I sent.


Random Shots

I should be posting more, but having just purchased my first house, studying for my driver's license, having my son registered at a model agency and other stuff has kept me busy. I still shoot every day, often Kaz, but I don't post as often as I should.

I've said many times that I'm not a big fan of post-production. But that doesn't mean that I'm against it, far from it. For example, I'm not a big fan of HDR, but it's simply an aesthetic choice, just like some people don't like cubism or bug-eye sunglasses. Post-processing is part of digital photography, just like choice of film, lighting, dodging and burning are part of film photography. In the end, the important part is does the image move both(/either?) the creator and spectator. Art for art's sake (even if in my own personal approach, it isn't enough).

Two of the shots below had some post-processing than the others. Why? Because it reinforced the message I wanted to convey. Do realize that all photography has had some alteration done, whether before the shutter clicked or after. In most cases, the photographers knew what they were doing in advance.

Post production for vintage look

Cheap kid placement shot!


Soho Gallery Art Salad

To celebrate their 4-year anniversary, the Soho Art Gallery are holding their annual group Art Salad exhibition until today, Sunday. Most of the pieces exhibited are painting and illustration, with a few exceptions. Yesterday they held a reception and most of the guests were artists. Some real talent there, and it was nice to meet new people and talk with friends. Congratulations, Soho!

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A-Picture-Anywhere Challenge

A good challenge for photographers who think they still can improve (never met one serious one who didn't) is to stop anywhere and challenge yourself to take a good picture within 10 meters of your location. Even better, ask a friend to tell you when. This serves two purposes.

First, it will affect your ability to spot things that 99.99% of the people will pass without even batting an eye. Often great photographs are just that, something that everyone had overlooked. Presented as the main subject and in a coherent way, it takes on new meanings.

Second, it will force you to think a lot more about composition since often the subjects will not be the most photogenic. As a parallel, taking the picture of the most beautiful in a way is not so challenging since she is the most beautiful woman in the world (although of course conveying her Venusian beauty in a photograph  might present its own challenges).

I challenged myself before some class, and found some stacks of chairs. Somehow, the image, even if very metallic, looks organic to me. I see the lines as rock strata on mountains. To each his own, I suppose.

Tohoku Cleanup Mission: Ze Vidéo

It took me some time, but here's the photo-montage of the work we did up in Tohoku during Golden Week.


TED Talk: Taryn Simon

I don't know if you are familiar with TED Talks, but they are highly informational and entertaining talks on a variety subjects aimed at sharing information related to human experience enrichment. From the exponential rate of progress to the critical period timing in babies learning their native language phonemes, humans innate ability for run to state-of-the-art, and scary, cyber attacks, almost every topic conceivable is addressed in a talk or another.

Tonight, I came across this one by Taryn Simon, who photographs things and people that usually remain unseen. If you 17:32 minutes to spare, I recommend it.


Renovated JR Osaka

While I was away volunteering in Miyagi prefecture, the renovated JR Osaka was inaugurated. With an opening in my schedule this afternoon, I took a little tour, and here are my first impressions.

With the new roof, the platforms are now better covered

But otherwise not much has changed

Labyrinth escalators provide opportunities for  time lapses

With the right lights, the roof will be spectacular

So the clock is ticking to be the first...

All in all, good job, although I haven't been in the shops


Faucet Fun

With my family sound asleep, I decided to have fun with my faucet, something I'd been meaning to do for a few weeks now. Of course it took me longer than I expected, especially since most of the exposure were in the 8-30 second range. Enjoy.




Children's Day

Today in Japan is Children's day. Funny, because my mom told me every day was children's day when I was a kid, and although I didn't believe her then, it starting to make sense now.

Well, I woke up early this morning, the volunteering schedule having stayed with me. So with both my wife and baby asleep, I went for a jog, which proved to be very easy; I guess the hard efforts of the last few days have had a positive outcome for my physical condition. After doing some computer work, showering and cleaning, I took my son out for a walk, stopping by Costco for some shopping. As today was a national holiday, it was obviously packed, but not unusually so considering the circumstances.

But when I got back, sleep go the best of me and I went for a nap. When I woke up, my wife was leaving with my boy, so I hit the streets for the shot below, and then the computer to create a first version of the video I'm preparing relating the work we did in Higashi Matsushima. Here is the first version, which is aimed at people who will follow in our footsteps. It's an informational video if you like.

Families with sons in particular fly these carp
streamers up until May 5th; the black one is the
father, the red one the mother, and the blue one is
the son. As the family gets bigger, more are added


Day 5: Mission Almost Finished

Well, our worked in Higashi Matsushima is done. The day went by as the others, with yakitori and homemade tempura as added bonuses. I'll write more once I'm home, and we leave with the feeling of an unfinished work (because it's gonna take years) well done.

On this last day, it was reassuring to see many new groups of volunteers come out to help the people other than the 35+ families we assisted. While we can't fix the whole situation, I know that we had a clear impact in the lives of the 10+ families we personally helped.

It's 6:30 on the day of our return, time to get breakfast.


Day 4: Generous People

Day four saw my team being split in many occasions, which allowed me to work and talk with different people. The work for me was essentially the same, and as everyone is getting used to work needed, new solutions are discovered and efficiency improves.

Of course the families we help vary alot, some with kids, others way past retirement age. But one thing that doesn't change is their gratitude and generosity. Even if they've lost so much, they always offer us refreshments

We were told not to accept presents, but we believe that refusing them would hurt their feelings. From a Japanese point of view, most of them are probably feeling guilty for having complete strangers, foreigners on top of it, come and work for free.

Today a woman brought us cola, energy drinks and hot tea during the day. In this case it was almost too much, but if you accept it once, it's impossible to decline later.

Tomorrow is already our last day. Of course I look forward to seeing my family very much, but I will be sad to leave. Even if the work is a little hard and not particularly intellectually challenging, it's never difficult to pick up my shovel or gloves and dig some sludge up. I mean, what do I have to complain, really?


Day 3: My Name Is Sludge

Day three continued as it had ended yesterday, although I was quite more refreshed after buying some kid puzzle foam mats to sleep on. We left camp earlier, hit less traffic, and since we already had a list of houses to go, we could get around to work quicker.
My half of the team started up at the house that we couldn't finish yesterday, while the other half cleared, as best as they could, a shed in which the sludge hadn't dried at all. As Marty suggested, the authorities should tell the residents to open their doors and windows to facilitate the dry-up.
We finished those in the morning, broke for lunch, and then attacked another house where we had to tear the floorboards and remove the mudcake under. As we gained efficiency with experience, and because we didn't have to bag it, we finished that house in 2 1/2hrs, just in time for the 15:30 official cut-off time. The owner let me take pictures, which I'll use to make a time-lapse video.
Much to the surprise of the relief organisers, we've basically finishedthe original list they gave our group. But I'm sure they'll find more stuff for us to do.
Well, as the picture shows, time to get clean.