Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Night Shooting in Kurashiki

Kurashiki is a small town on the main Osaka to Hakata rail line in Japan. Most would pass through the region, stopping briefly at Okayama before thundering off to Hiroshima and Hakata in Kyushu. The reason for stopping at Kurashiki, 20 mins by local train from Okayama is twofold. It's an almost perfectly preserved mill town, famous for its cotton production, plus it has one of the best art museums in the country featuring works from both Japan and Western cultures. The factory owners clearly spent their wealth well. Now it is a pleasant little town full of old wooden houses, brick warehouses (now converted into shops and a hotel) and several hundred metres of willow flanked canals that form the nucleus of this tourist town.

It's a very pretty location and makes for some great pictures in good weather. I had overcast skies so ended up shooting mostly in the early evening so I  could ignore the bland skies and create something a little more interesting with very long exposures.
Most of the shots here are HDR images, multiple exposures combined using Photomatix Pro to give a wide dynamic range look to the shots - vital when shooting in the light and dark extremes of night.

Yurinoso Villa, Kurashiki
This was my favourite image - mostly because there were no hotspots (created by artificial lighting) which produced a more even tonality in the scene. The HDR effect produces an image that looks more like a film set than a night scene at a tourist spot.

Canal, Kurashiki town.
Extremely long shutter speeds are great for producing a mirror-like sheen on the surface of water.

Gateway to old wooden residence, Kurashiki
Tourist information centre lit up at night in Kurashiki's historical Bikan quarter
A classic Japanese bridge built over the canal - originally used to ship goods and spun cotton to other parts of Japan in the Meiji period, it's now a big tourist attraction. HDR, five frames processed using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop.

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