Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ah, London!


Well, not just London.

Follow this link to the Ah-London homepage. I met the creator Miyasato san after a sunday training session at the studio. He and a few other friends and business relations came over to see the new studio.

Miyasato san is an interior designer by training, but now lectures in design at two Nagoya colleges. He fell in love with hotel interiors in the U.K. The above photo is from his trip to the cotswalds.

I was impressed that he had taught himself to use Dreamweaver and Flash to create this website, and that he did it for the love of it and not the money.... but he is now looking at ways to use and develop it! (- o - ) V

I particularly like the map, and the 3-D tour!

More T-Shirt English

- No pain, no rainbows
- Never judge a day by the waether
- The best things in life aren't things
- Tell the truth - there's less to remember
- Goals are deceptive - the unaimed throw never misses
- He who dies with the most toys still dies

Domestic words is simple
But beautiful sound
It's deep secrets and pure spiritual

Of course

Friday, July 27, 2007

What am I?

Bit too easy perhaps. Ten points for a correct guess, 20 for a lewd joke and 10,000 for pointing out any focus issues.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It's an educashun!

5 things learned/remembered/re-hashed from the last week and a bit of commercial location and studio work:

1 - I can assemble lighting but don't know how to use it.

2 - Pre-photography Uchiawase (meetings) figure out the why, what and how before it comes to the when and where.

3 - There is no correct lighting, only lighting that serves a photographers needs.

4 - The reason for photographing an object is not always evident (see no. 2).

5 - Commercial photography is commerce.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nagoya Sumo Basho II

Today was the final day of the summer basho in Nagoya. The good news is that the wrestler 'Kotomitsuki', a local boy from the Aichi prefecture, has likely attained a promotion to Ozeki due to his near faultless performance of 13 wins and only 2 losses. His defeat in todays final bout cost him a chance at the tournament championship, which was claimed by top ranking Mongolian wrestler 'Asa-Shouryu' with 14 wins and one loss.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nigata Earthquake

This morning a quake hit the Nigata prefecture on the north west coast of Japan. Reports are coming in now of a lesser quake that has just struck in the northern island of Hokkaido.

The Nigata quake has so far claimed 7 lives and there are over 800 injured. In the worst hit areas many houses on the same street have collapsed.

The youtube video shows reports from the T.V with amateur translations. There was a fire at one of the nuclear power stations in the area which current news reports as being an electricity conversion building on the site, and which also reports no risk of radiation contamination. The fire was put out about 2 hours and 45 mins after it was reported.

The video also shows the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who is now campaigning for re-election. Abe visited many of the emergency shelters in the area.


17/07 am This report (in English) claims that water containing radioactive material did leak from the nuclear plant. Related reports on the site give updates.

Monday, July 16, 2007


This is a scan of the flyer for the new studio. Please excuse quality as I have only just used the scanner for the first time.

The first floor is a concrete floor with white walls and silver painted girders. The second floor is wooden floored and panelled. Looking forward to working there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

After the storm

Snippets from the past 24 hours:
This morning after the storm, blue skies like I haven't seen in a couple of weeks and a strong wind all day. The typhoon is heading away from Tokyo over chiba. 70 people were injured in some way during its passage up the mainland.

I arrived back late last night after a night out with studio clients and my cameraman. The main guest was president of a printing company. Over 30 years in the commercial printing business in Tokyo and Nagoya. He said he'd like to see some of my photographs. ”まだまだだねって” (not quite there yet), he said after leafing very expertly few the prints I had on me at the time. Not enough impact for a commercial audience. The prints were from the light and dark series, and I have to agree they might not sell you a house or make you want to buy insurance.

We talked of this and that. His memories from the economic bubble era when the printing firm could charge outrageous mark-ups, and push the client to order more, and of the older techniques for printing photographs and laying out pages that is all done on computer now. He told me a joke to illustrate one point of the Japanese character:

Three men, one from America, one from Germany and one from Japan are standing outside of a burning building. There is a young child on the second floor, screaming for help.

The American says "I'll go, because it's heroic".

The German says "I'll go because it's my duty".

The Japanese man says "Let's all go together".

The point here being that in Japan, people prefer to follow the crowd/do things together.
I had one more person to add to the joke.

The Englishman says "After you, old chap".

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lovely weather we're having

Photo from my veranda.

And here comes the typhoon!

This typhoon seems to be sweeping up from the southern islands towards Tokyo over the mainland. Last year, the typhoons threatened this many times, but always skirted around the mainland. This year looks to be different.
12:41 am. The typhoon is set to hit the Nagoya area tomorrow morning. It is raining like I have not seen in years.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A final place in the light?

I have been very, very ruthless.

In a previous post here, I asked you to have a look at what I thought might be a final selection from the many photos in the 'Place in the light' series. The responses were all great, and one in particular pushed me to work harder at making a set of pictures that might hold together both in picture quality and mood. Wonder if they do?

I think I have done well to reduce the set to only 6. I did not want to, but this has been a necessary exercise in structure as well as will power. The final (?) set can be seen in the mini series gallery at the bottom of this page.

I hope that by being ruthless I will provide a good solid base for continuing this series. Building blocks for the future. With thanks to J.S Hibbert for telling it how it is.

Aloha Summer

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Algorithm March

This is another version of the Algorithm March from the T.V show 'Pitagora Switch'.
After a practice march, out come the Ninja.

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Nagoya Basho

Yesterday was the first day of the 50th anniversary Nagoya Sumo tournament. I was there from about 1:30, watching the lower ranks compete before the main event. Sadly I forgot to take my spare battery or charger (and me a studio assistant!) so my snapping was cut short, but the tournament lasts for 14 days and my summer hols begin on Friday!

I was fascinated this time as always with the shapes that you can see in the ring as the wrestlers go through the ritual motions of preparing, facing off and finaly fighting. This is a selection of some of the photos from yesterdays tournament.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Going out?

Yesterday was Tanabata day. The drinking party was already arranged but in order to mark the once a year meeting of two lovers Mitz and friend Takako decided to wear Yukata. This involved a lot of wrapping and tying. You can see from this page the potential number of items used. You can buy ready to wear Yukata kits (ゆかた三点セット) with the ribbons already tied and the material shortened for easy wearing, but Mitz's yukata is a Shibori ( this page cracks me up) yukata, hand made by her dear old mum.

15th July - my mistake. the yukata was one bought by mitz's mum. She made her another.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Escher in Chikusa

Big Issue

The front cover of the latest Big Issue Japan, featuring Kitaro and Medama Oyaji (uncle eyeball) from the famous manga series 'Ge-ge ge no Kitaro', against a backdrop of the blue tarp of homelessness (which quite unintentionally sounds like some magic device in a Harry Potter book).
Sad to say that just like the U.K there is a need for the big issue. One of the most enduring images I have from first arriving in Japan was of walking through the park next to the govenment building in Tokyo and seeing the same blue tarps. Homelessness isn't an image I had associated with Japan before I came here, but in parks, under highways and by rivers in Japan is the undeniable evidence of the collapse of Japan's economic bubble. Most of the homeless I have seen in Japan have been pensioners.
The above photo was taken in the park just outside my house this morning. The park is L shaped, with the shorter end running north to south next to the local shrine.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Old shots, still hot

This is a selection of just a few of the negatives I saved from being thrown away before my cameraman moved studios. I wish I had taken more!

The new studio is what you imagine when you hear the word 'studio'. It has two floors, both are very large open spaces. The first has a concrete floor, white walls and silver painted steel girders, the second floor is wooden floored wood paneled walls, giving more of a homely feel.
All very exciting!

I hope to have time to take some photos of the studio next time I am there but with a series of location shoots on the cards I doubt I'll get it.

What a find!

Whilst sorting through the light series, being a bit more ruthless, I found something unexpected. The picture below contains a highlight between the two peoples faces that at first I thought was just the person on the left's glasses.

... those glasses actualy show a reflection of the main subject's face. What a find! Difficult to take even if you wanted to, and ten times more special because it just happened!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Uchiyama 3-Chome

Under the weather

Unlike the sounthern island of kyushu that has been hit by floods and landslides caused by torrential rain, we have been fairly lucky in Nagoya, Aichi, with only a few days of solid rain, constant cloud cover and humidity that turns your legs to jelly.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Taking stock: Under the tracks

Taking stock: Matsuri folk

The second years are away on camp, the first years have a day on work experience, the third years have interviews with their teachers and it's raining cats and dogs outside so....

...I have been very fortunate in having lots of free time to do much needed file sorting and throwing away. Whilst going throught the file from the Arimatsu festival (a tie dye festival), I was enjoying looking at some of the faces of the people who were either working or helping there.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Days Japan

The Japan based "Days Japan" is not a magazine I have ever seen on the bookshelves at Maruzen. I don't read as much as perhaps I should, but you would think I wouldn't miss a cover like this. But then perhaps every magazine with even a slight leaning towards international reportage carries front pages like this and I'm desensitized?
According to their wesite news section here, the magazine aims to showcase photojournalists work without bias, and to remove the commercialism from journalism (the link to a 2004 interview with the editor in chief Ryuichi Hirokawa in the Japan Times online is no longer current). Days Japan is an NPO that provides a platform for photogs to show their work.
Between the 11th and the 22nd of this month, Days Japan will hold an exhibition of journalistic photographs from around the world at the Nagoya International Center. Their slogan for this exhibition is "小さな写真1枚1枚の中に、確かに「世界」が存在している" - "The world exists within each individual photograph" (apaologies if translation a bit off). It will be showcasing the work of 6 foriegn photojournalists.
The Days Japan exhibition will be held on the 4th floor of the international center. Tickets 400 yen in advance and 500 yen on the door.
(This post has been edited since posting. I woke up this morning with the uneasy feeling that something I had written just wasn't right. Sad to say it wasn't. The Days Japan exhibition will feature photo stories from abroad only. Well worth seeing I imagine, but I would love to see some good work by a Japanese photographer taken in Japan that is not only about the festivals or natural scenes. It is easier to focus attention to the problems of other countries but more difficult to look at your own. Nick)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

O tsukare sama

Please take a look at the mini-series gallery at the bottom of the page. I have chosen the best from the bunch. There are some that have appeared on the blog before but also some new photos as well.