Saturday, December 27, 2008


These are some shots of Osaka that I took at nightfall.

From the apartment's balcony.

The rest of the series were shot at Osaka Station. Specifically, a pedestrian bridge over the intersection, between JR Osaka, Hankyuu Umeda, and Hanshin Umeda stations, and over top of the Umeda subway station. You can also walk to each one of those stations and many more without ever coming up to the surface world. However, above ground is only place you can see skies like this:

The cars moved a bit, I think I will have fun perfecting this technique. Long exposure, and small aperture. In this case, not quite small enough.

How do they build those tall buildings? Cranes.

And lots of them.

Reaching for the sky:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Macro Studio

I have interest in macro photography.
I had looked at some of the macro studios that are available in the camera stores. The cheap ones running about 6000円. Not really what I wanted to spend on something I might only rarely use.
After a bit of stumbling around various lighting sites. I found an interesting tutorial on making one of these macro studios at Strobist: DIY Macro studio.
That article says you can make it for about $10 (or less).
I re-used some materials and made mine for free.
To make it, I used exactly what you see, and old paper box that originally had recycled A4 paper, some tracing paper and tape.

The orange was free too, it sits on some A4 sized paper.
Lit by the sun coming from the right side, the tracing paper reflects and diffuses the light, throwing a nice soft even light over the subject and almost entirely eliminating shadows.

It's a mikan!

I also found this wonderful maple leaf on the street, after the second time passing it I thought I would take a few shots as it was really quite a beautiful leaf.

Here is the same leaf shot on top of the macro studio at the same angle, without the softening effect of the paper, receiving direct light from the sun.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cardboard Camera

Inspired by a contest on the site Farktography I decided to build a camera after researching just what a 'pin hole' camera was. Basically a light tight container with a sheet of photographic film and a small hole as the lens. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to develop my own film or even access to a dark room.

I did have access to cardboard, tape and my own digital camera.

The best picture so far with the Cardboard Cam 2

Cardboard Cam 1

The first of the card board cameras was made by guess work. I made a light tight box about 12cm high using an old box. The hole in the centre is the lens and the larger square hole is for my cell phone's camera. Rather than taking photographic film and using that, I decided to use another camera to take a picture of the image appearing on the inside of back of the box.

This is the best picture from Cardboard Cam 1. It is actually a flourescent light, right above the table where I built CC1. It is rather blurry and dark. Two problems with CC1 were the lens being much too wide (roughly 4x the diameter that would have been optimal) and the 'film' the cell phone's exposure being much too fast.

After some research, I found the formula to calculate the size of the hole for the lens.


Got a bigger box and created Cardboard Cam 2.

The small hole in the centre is the lens just like the first camera. However, now it is about half a millimeter in diameter. The larger hole is for the lens of my DSLR camera. The other tabs of paper with holes are additional pinhole lens for the CC2.

A pinhole camera has an extremely small aperature, letting in very little light. Experimenting with the length of time resulted in this interesting series of pictures.
I have left the images unedited and uncropped here. The round, white areas sometimes on the corners are parts of the outside of the cardboard box.

8 second exposure.

4 seconds

2 seconds

1 second

0.5 seconds

1/10 second

By the last of the photos in this series everything is looking quite dark despite it
being about 2pm. I think with if I refined the lens a bit more and used even shorter exposure time with increased magnification it might be possible to see details such as sunspots on the sun.
1/15 second
It might be the corona of the sun or blurring caused by the edges of the hole being used for the lens.

Another interesting effect using a pinhole camera is to use two holes at the same time.

Same as above, just cropped for effect.

Same shot as the first in the post, here uncropped. The pinhole lens casts the image not just on the back of the box but on all of the inside surfaces where a straight line of light can pass through the lens and hit the inside of the box.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


As summer is well and truly over: my favourite picture from this summer.

I took this shot just before the 2008 Yodogawa Fireworks Festival got underway. It was a 3 second exposure, and was quite overexposed. However, thanks to photoshop I was able to bring the colours back. Shot in .jpg I can't help but wonder how the additional detail in a .raw file would have helped.

I didn't manage to get any shots of the fireworks as this storm rolled over and proceeded to rain for all but 5 minutes of the fireworks show, which nevertheless was quite beautiful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gyaru (Gal) Photoshoot

This is the first organized photo shoot that I have been involved in. It was organized by Zach, whos' blog has a link on this one.
(just look to the right -->).
The theme for this photo shoot was Gyaru, a transliteration of the word Gal from English. One of the more extreme forms that Japanese fashion has taken. The styles here have become a bit dated by about 2-5 years or so though it is still possible to see people dressed this way, everyday in Osaka. Zach and Miku, at the entrance of a UFO catcher arcade. Serious concentration.

Serious business.

Posing before the D & G store.
From left: Miku, Kate, Allison, Zach

Shooting: at the former Canadian Consulate

Climbing the walls.

Miku should be on a travel guide.

Miku at the Dotombori bridge.

Miku, Kate and Allison blending in.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bugs II

Japan is also home to a large number of truly enourmous insects, these are some that I photographed near and at the school where I work.
A male stag beetle, prized as pets, can live for 3-4 years. Wild ones such as this can fetch a price of a few thousand yen. Very rare ones go for over 10,000 yen, sometimes even more!

This is a female Rhinocerous Beetle, it lacks the Rhino-like horn of the males but is almost as large. She was particularly hefty and quite strong. This beetle is about 5cm long.

A large Praying Mantis. Well camoflaged, they wait, wait and wait then when something tasty comes along...BAM! Lunch is served stabbed by and stuck to the forearms, eaten alive to preserve 'freshness'. As is a particularly nasty 'sashimi' dish that I will not partake in, I prefer my fish dead. Raw or cooked, it must be dead.

Sometimes they like to take a walk across the parking lot, and strike a pose for the camera.

Cleanliness is next to godliness I have heard.
Which god might this be?

It spotted me spotting it as it was stalking prey.

Antheraea yamamai. A bit like a flying plush toy.

It's 'The Hungry Catepillar'!

Dragonflies have the most jewel-like eyes. All 5 eyes.

Apiphobics may want to skip the next picture.
Vespa Mandarinia, the Asian Giant Hornet! Each is 5cm long, they kill people every year in Japan. Japanese people also eat them. This appears to be a group that has left the main nest and will escort a Queen, presumably in the centre of this mass of hornets. In this picture we can see 11 hornets, I don't know how many are on the other side of the leaf. None of them challenged me as I took the picture, sans flash, and quickly got out of there.

Leucauge subblanda: A rather beatiful little spider.

Dolomedes sulfureus. A large golden spider, I was most surprized by its colour.