Bokeh workshop in Ningyocho

Shots from our walking workshop last Saturday, exploring the backstreets of this charming part of Tokyo.

Bokeh: everybody has a different way of saying it but for those of us living in Japan there shouldn’t be any excuse to get the pronunciation right as, after all, it’s a Japanese word. It also seems to be a word on the lips of so many more people these days and websites like Flickr have done their fair share to increase the popularity of ‘out of focusness’ in photographs. However, if I see one more shot on Flickr where someone has  gone for the cheap bokeh hit of simply de-focusing their lens and pointing it at some pretty lights… I will scream. Nothing wrong with defocused pretty lights but for god’s sake but something in the foreground that bears some relevance to the background.

So, armed with a collection of great bokeh lenses my son and I headed out to the beautiful backstreets of Ningyocho to meet up with Sarah, Simon, Francis, Justin, John and P-Jay to do some shooting and to explore a little of the modus operandii I use when out with my big aperture beauties.

Owning lenses with apertures like f/2, f/1.4 and f/1.2 becomes something of a drug and shooting them wide-open a fix I just can’t get enough of. Every one has a different character and it doesn’t stop at f/2; the 300mm f/4 also came out on Saturday and Simon grabbed a few lovely shots with it too.

We all explored the notion of spotting background potential, then seeing what subjects we could put on our de-focused canvas… just as much as we looked for the subjects first.

Everyone found something different and along the way we had some fun mutually messing with some of the same subjects; examining the different viewpoints, playing with manual focus and Live View, even introducing a little light onto the subjects after dark with the help of a couple of mobile phones. Helping people see stuff and once they’ve seen it, helping them play with different ways of shooting it; that’s what these workshops are all about and Saturday’s was a great example.

Thanks for the great company, I hope everyone picked up a few tips and tricks. My boy – Joe – had a great time too. Twas a long day for him but he’s great company and armed with a D300 and manual-focus 20mm lens, he managed to get some great shots too….

The first gallery below is of student’s shots. The second is mine, pretty much all of which are straight out of the camera. I’m gonna make Joe a page all of his own tomorrow, as his exploits with the D300 and two manual lenses – the 50mm f/1.8 and the 20mm f/3.5 – deserve special mention. He’s only eight after all!

My shots were made with the Nikon D700 and the 50mm f/1.2 lens, plus the Mamiya 645AFD II with 80mm f/1.9 and Hasselblad 110mm f/2 Planar lenses. Also in the bag for people to use on Saturday were: Nikon 85mm f/2 AiS, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AF-D, Nikkor 300mm f/4 ED, Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 ED, Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 AiS, Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 AiS, Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 AF-D.

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About Japanorama

Japanorama is run by British professional photographer, Alfie Goodrich, and provides practical photography teaching in Tokyo. Weekly workshops, group and one-to-one lessons bring together photographers of all ages and abilities.

We also welcome submissions of photos and articles for this site, so please get in touch via our contact page. Thanks.

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