It’s been a while since I showcased some of the shots from the Japanorama Flickr group, so here goes…
The image above, entitled ‘Dr.M’ is by Asiattic. Reasons for choosing this to head up this week’s selection? Well, it was shot on an Olympus OM-1 film camera and that was the first SLR that I ever used, back in around 1981. Plus I just like the subject, the composition and the toning that Asiattic has done on the print. Sounds from the description on the pic that he’s shot it on Lith film [film that gives you just blacks and whites, no greys] and then printed on a warmtone paper – which has put some tones other than black and white back into the shot.
Click here to see Asiattic’s stream. He has some great work.
This one’s called ‘Honesty‘ by Ahatingape. I like it because of the viewpoint that’s been chosen; low and in the eyeline of the kids. We are in their world, not looking down on them from an adult’s head height. The tone is nice although that pervasive green caste from the sodium or fluorescent lights leaves a nasty colour to the skin… but there are ways of dealing with that. For those of you with Photoshop and Nik’s plugins, try using the ‘Remove Color Caste’ filter. Dial the colour slider to the troublesome green and that should get rid of it nicely.
Next up we have a shot from Strong_Zero, called ‘What’s the reason for her?‘ From the names of the groups he’s added this shot to, it would seem that it was shot with an iPhone. Nice work. Best camera is the one you have with you. Love the composition on this, with the two camera-facing ladies on the windows framing the real lady who is walking away from the camera. Monochrome works well. I can imagine that there were plenty of colours going on here but by using black and white, the photographer keeps us concentrated on the lines, the shadow and light. The pumpkin lantern, laughing – seemingly – at the woman walking into the store is a nice touch.
The fourth photo chosen this week was taken by Charles Lacz and I actually sat down with Charles a few weeks ago and went through a bunch of his prints from this trip to Chiba. This one jumped out at me then and I still love it now. Central placement of a strong element in the rectangular frame doesn’t always work but this one, for me, does. Love the strong base of the concrete watchtower and the way it transitions into the thin lines of the wire ‘roof’. The sky is beautiful and the clouds swirl nicely to fill the top half of the frame with shape, breaking up the expanse of flat sky. The little curve of water in the left of the frame is enough of the sea to provide context and with the huts on the right gives us a view of both the land and seaward sides of the beach.
This untitled photo was shot by Ole Ole Cafe Ole and has me wondering whether this lady has an intruiging hat or if the shot is just a clever crop of an umbrella. Love the tone, the light and the specular highlights of the bokehed-out raindrops. Love the way those drops frame across the top of her eyeline. Good moment, interesting expression. My only niggle about this shot is the sharp, white line in the background behind her cigarette. It draws my eye in a bad way. But these sorts of shots are often taken in places where controlling the background perfectly is not always possible. It’s a minor niggle.
Here we have ‘Into the Vortex’ by LP Labranche. Great slow exposure at the exact point of this tunnel I would have taken a shot myself, because of the lovely lines and the way they curl around to camera left. I am guessing this is on the Rainbow Bridge as I don’t know too many other places [if this is Tokyo] in the city where you have trains and cars mixing like this. Plus, the shooting position is right at the front of the train and only the Yurikamome Line really allows you this viewpoint: these are driverless trains and you can sit right at the very front. Tone is great and I love the crop. I like to either crop in proportion, to retain the original geometry of the camera’s frame, or to go way off of that geometry and frame in another clearly discernible aspect-ratio – like a square or in this case widescreen. The cinematic feel of this shot in the first place means it survives the widescreen crop and is made all the more powerful for it. The spread of the headlights of the train and the warm tones they have are a wonderful colour counterpoint to the otherwise green flavour of this shot. The light trails of the city outside, creeping in through the top and sides of the image… lovely irregular touch to compliment all the straight, smooth lines in the bottom of the frame.
This photo titled ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ was taken by denwend1972 and reminds me of days, mornings I have had near Fuji: the waiting, the anticipation that the mountain might treat me to a glimpse of itself through the clouds. Atmospheric image that works well with the sepia tone, which adds to the dreamlike quality that the title sets up for the viewer.
Here’s a shot from Kinta Go Go from the Kichijoji Autumn festival which I really love for the elevated viewpoint which is so necessary at festivals here in Japan if you want to get a broader view of the crowd. I often do this by putting my camera on top of a monopod, firing it with a 2m cable release. This way I can get about 6ft above my normal eye-point. The energy in this shot is lovely and the plane of focus allows us to wander around the image, resting on each sharp, picked-out face. Great black and white tone. Contrasty really suits this subject, with all those patterns on the clothes. The framing here, with the pair of upheld hands in the bottom right corner, really works to throw us into the rest of the composition and explore its details.
Last but not least is ‘Les Pages Mortes’ by SandoCap. After the image above, with all its energy, this has a silence and ‘something that has passed’ feeling it to it. I may not have chosen to crop the image just like this, as I feel the book sits a little too central in the height of the frame. Keeping more of the proportions of the rectangular frame this would have been in the camera would have been my choice. But the focus, the tones and richness of all the brown, yellow and warm tines is very nicely controlled. Maybe our photographer has other shots of this… and one I’d definitely have taken [if the background had worked well enough] would have been a slightly lower down perspective, looking across the top of the book to include some of the deep background. What we have in this shot are details… the bigger picture, placing the book a little more in its wider environment, is what would sit very well alongside this shot. Every picture is part of a storytelling process. It’s hard, impossible really, to tell one story with one shot. But that’s nice sometimes… I like this shot and it has me wondering about where this book is and how it got there.