Saturday, September 29, 2007


First in a series for a London based punk rock band Kismetic. Photographs based on songs for their CDs and 'My Space' profile. This one for the song 'Blackmail', which you can hear online if you visit their site.

Having taken this, and a horizontal version, I went back and listened to the song again. Not sure if it's.... hard enough. Still, I like the image and was happy to make use of todays rain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Advice without the wind

Following a post from 'A photo a day' , I spent 5 minuted reading through handy hints and tips for photogs on the go, published on 'Pop Photo' .

Tips range from the seemingly obvious (but nobody seems to do it):
"Which memory card is full and which is empty? Mark your memory cards in numerical order. Always start a shoot with card number 1, then 2, etc. It keeps you from having to plug them into the camera to see their status."

To the stuff born of experience, trial and errror:
"For shooting on the beach, I cut an X into three tennis balls, insert each leg of my tripod into them, and duct-tape them on. This prevents the legs from sinking into the sand and stabilizes the tripod."
(I'll remember that if I ever get another holiday)

A couple of hints from my cameraman's bag of tricks:
- when exchanging a memory card for a fresh one, put the used one back in the card holder upside down.
- When taking photos in someones house, use 100yen kids socks on the legs of your tripod to prevent getting the floor dirty (not much need for this outside Japan really).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Star Man

Go Street

It's that time of year again. The 'Osu Kannon Street Performers Festival' will turn the busy covered streets of Osu into busier covered streets as performers from all over Japan mime, dance, spit fire and joke their way into your digital sensor and your wallet.

The festival will last for two days, the 20th and 21st of October. It is really well worth it!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Sitting in the kitchen, rainy outside, browsing through some of the fascinating blogs and sites produced by people who have a passion for the work they do and the ideas and images (and ideas through images) they share with others, listening to 'Opus' by Ryuichi Sakamoto, drinking strong dark black slightly sugared coffee. Ah but you could get drunk on this! (Well, nauseatingly sentimental at least)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Best caption please...

The winner may do whatever they like within the bounds of their own conscience.
(terms and conditions always apply. That's life. No promises.)

(edit: Here's one.... "Yellow: The long and the short of it")

Quiz time

What am I? What am I in?

Off Kilter

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Start your engine

What was even more of a shock than the sudden resignation of Japan's P.M for under a year Shinzo Abe, was the realization that there are only three months left until the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in December.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Half truths

Photo © Japanzine / carter witt media

Re: Cover story from this months Japanzine (magazine for English speaking foreigners inJapan) entitled "Half?". Read it here. Article by Doug Breath (made up name?) discussing the use of the English word 'half' in Japanese to describe children of mixed nationality parents.

I read this article and remembered an incident from last year when Mitz and I were taking her niece Yuiko out on a day trip. Yuiko is a tall kid, almost topping 170cm at age 12. We always get stares when the three of us are out together. you can see people trying to work out if Mitz and I are the parents because she is so tall (I am 186cm), but then she looks so Japanese doesn't she?

On the train then, bound for Inuyama. Mitz and Yuiko seated, me standing, and the three of us talking about nothing in particular. Did we prompt this? Half way through the journey and one of the four 18 ~ 22 year old girls sitting next to us pipes up to her friend:

"I want to marry a foreigner"

"Why?", asks her friend in mock surprise.

"Because I want to see what a half looks like"

(..... slaps hand to forhead and gives a Simpsons like 'Doh'.)

Monday, September 10, 2007


I saw a rainbow for the first time in years today.

And I shall be visiting this building later tonight.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

On the job

This is Sakashita Chiriko, a Japanese talent.
Yesterday I was assisting my cameraman at a rented studio in Nagoya where she was making a t.v commercial promoting a sports leasure chain. We were in the smaller studio taking photographs for the poster/magazine campaign.
Nothing amazing to report, but I would like to share 4 thoughts I jotted down in my notebook during the day(I don't think much). Nothing poetic.
After the initial dash to get set up there is a lot of hanging about, waiting. The space you created becomes more familiar, and changing the scenes becomes like moving your front room around to suit a picky guest.
The stereotyped Japanese image of a foreigner is blonde (Chiriko san wearing a blond wig...), and has ever changing expressions of wonder that one seldom sees in Scunthorpe.
Another assistant roped in to give a hand from the t.v set crew knows the rental studio better than I, but not the cameraman's prefered method of set-up. I get blamed. As first assistant to the cameraman, the cameraman tells me, I am the senior assistant of three. Oh god... Management!
There is a story of boredom behind the making of fast moving, exciting comercials. The clients have been sat at the table munching snacks and staring at a monitor for 8 hours now.
On the stereo all day "Return of the bastard" by Tommy Guerrero. Very good!
Apologies, can't make spaces between paragraphs. Blogger has this problem sometimes I find.

In his Sunday best

"Do you mind if I take your photo?"
"Sure" (assumes pose)

Not his first time to be asked I suppose.

At first glance...

At first glance, this looks like the outside of any sports gym, but if we look closer we can see...

...that it is a perfect example of why you should consult with a native speaker before using a foreign language in your commercial. Or maybe this is a message they want to put accross?

(Click on the photo to enlarge the blunder even more)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Shooting Mango

Back from England friday evening and straight down the bar, bags and all. Truthfully I wanted to go home but work, even low paid for the experience and folio work, is work.

I was asked to take some photos of a local bar by my friend, Atsuko, a freelance designer. Each time she goes to a new place for a drink she gets asked to re-design their name cards, their posters or their signs. Everybody wants something doing if they think about it, but most seem not to think about it unless there is a designer in front of them.

Because of the Obon holiday we weren't able to do the photos before I left for the U.K. We arranged to take them the day after I arrived back, before I started school. Friday's meeting was to arrange what and in what way the photos were to be taken. Very simply, 3 drinks and a bar shot, with an 'evening' feel. Sounds easy. Wasn't.

I asked my friend Alex to come and help. My experience in the studio gave us some advantages and Alex came with experience of his tools and a lot of reading behind it. Between us we almost did a great job. Below is the rough version of the poster from Saturday's shoot, forwarded to me by Atsuko.
The beer, which we thought would be difficult because the head settles quickly, was the easiest of the lot. Just kept topping the head until we got the creamy texture we wanted. We used Japanese barley tea as a substitute for the bourbon because it was cheaper to re-fill, but the final shot used real bourbon, which kept its colour better even when the ice melted a little. The wine, which we thought would be the easiest was the the most difficult. We had to dilute it to get the colour of wine and still keep the the glass at the correct exposure. The wine reflected everything infront of it. We wanted to keep the rosey red highlight at the bottom right of the glass but had to balance it with the reflection.

Anybody who does the same style of work might remember their first time trying to take appealing photos of drinks and food and smile. It isn't easy, but we did o.k and kept to the agreed time limit (something that my cameraman is fanatical about). I will show the photos from Saturday to my cameraman and on the basis of those, he may (or may not) feel confident in giving me more freelance work. Fingers crossed.

Back to the future(land)

Two or three years ago I met some friends of friends who had come for a whirlwind tour of Japan. Within 10 days they visited every major city, tried almost all the foods and saw almost all the major sights that each place had to offer, and nicknamed Japan 'Future land'. Robots, neon, high speed trains, high speed lives...

Today is the first day back at school after the summer hols. On my desk, a statistical sketch of Nagoya, a leaflet from the statistics division of the city of Nagoya planning department, with a reminder that October the 18th is 'Statistics Day'. It's a timely kick back into the reality of the country I live in after my 2 week (not enough time) visit to the U.K. Here are some of the salient points:

Nagoya City:

City officially established - October 1st 1889

Current population - 2,231,727 (male 1,108,515 female 1,123,212)

Birthrate 8.6 every 28 mins.
Deathrate 7.9 every 30 mins.
Marriages 6.4 every 37 mins
Divorces 2.2 every 1 hour 50 mins.

Percentage of households possessing durable goods:
Microwave oven 98.4%
Air Conditioner 98.7%
Cell Phones 93.5% (that low?)
VCR 91.1%
P.C 83.4%

Places of amusement:
Restaurants 2,318
Mahjong Parlors 456
Pachinko Parlors 217
Bowling Alleys 12
Game Centers etc 200

Average 15.9
Max. 37.5
Min. -3.7

Average Humidity 65%

(Many stats date from end of 2006, some before)