Monday, 22 December 2014

Japanese Cult of the Cute (kawaii) Pooch

In Japan you'll find a curious fascination towards small dogs.  I guess it's because there's simply never enough room to accommodate larger animals in the overcrowded city streets.  Add to this the fact that most people live small apartments and there are very few green spaces that you can take a dog into. So small breeds are definitely "kawaii" (cute) but being cute is never enough. The locals also dress their dogs - some because they feel the dog has to wear diapers (the Japanese are very sensitive about their pooches pooping in the right place.  Most owners carry a staggering range of cleaning products plus bag to collect and clean up after their mutts).  But clearly some treat their mini-mutts like their own children (nothing wrong with that...) attending to their every desire.

According to a piece published in the Guardian newspaper (in 2012), "...while the birthrate has been falling dramatically and the average age of Japan's population has been steadily climbing, Japan has become a pet superpower.  Official estimates put the pet population at 22 million, or more, but there are only 16.6 million children under 15.

The pet industry is estimated to be worth more than ¥1tn a year (around $15.8bn) and has expanded into gourmet dog food stores, hot spring resorts, yoga classes and restaurants where dogs sit on chairs to eat organic meals.

For dogs in need of exercise after a lifetime being pushed or carried around, there are spas and onsens (hot springs), which look identical to the ones for humans. For $100 ($130) a session, an attendant in a wetsuit will give the dog one-to-one swimming lessons, relaxing bubble baths, body massages using aromatherapy oils, deep-pore cleansing and mud packs, and even flossing or manicure services. Many dogs are "regulars" who come at least once a week – running up annual bills of $6,000 or more. Canine daycare can cost as much as $120 a night in a dog hotel.

When the unthinkable happens, there are even temples where dead dogs are laid to rest with full Buddhist rites: a deluxe funeral and cremation ceremony can cost $9,700 or more. "I find these days people grieve more for their pets than for parents or grandparents," says a monk at a 1,000-year-old temple in a Tokyo suburb. "It is because pets are just like their child, so it is like losing a child."

While in Japan recently I noticed more dog prams than I have ever seen before, so many in fact that after a few days you just don't notice them until you get up close and become aware of something fluffy standing up for a pat. 
The fact that the dog is dressed up as a lamb wearing diapers and a tiny backpack shouldn't escape comment, but for most Japanese, this is normal.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Awesome Photoshop Cloud deal for 500px Subscribers

Here's a great looking deal for potential 500px users - Photoshop and Lightroom plus the benefits of 500px's Awesome deal. See the screen grab below for details or go to for more information...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

November Photo Essentials Assignment Results at CCE

Here are two of the best submissions from student submissions from November's great Photography Essentials class - the shoot was primarily from the Sydney Heritage Shipyards in Rozelle. The assignment was basically to find a theme - not that hard in a place full of decay, rust, corrosion, repair not to mention great characters...

My next two-day photo class at CCE begins in the New Year (Sunday Feb 01)

Through the portholePic by Danielle S.
Old ropes and hawsers
Pic by Jebb B
 Pic by Jebb B

Hanging tools
by Johnny B

Instrument panel on the tug Waratah
Pic by Danielle S
Door knob detail
HDR image by Johnny B
Colourful pallets
Pic by Jonathon B
Waratah close up
Pic by Vanessa McD
Refurbished steering gear
Pic by Vanessa McD
Hull markings, extreme shallow depth of field EFX
Pic by Jonathon B

Monday, 8 December 2014

Slater and Gordon [In-house] Photo Competition Results

It was a longish-term photo competition organised by an ex-student of mine for his colleagues.  It started early on in the year and progressed, slowly at first,  but finished off with some truly great shots from the group.

Here are some of the best selected from a range of different categories, including Abstract, Animals, Landscapes, Cityscapes, Portraits and Quirky. 

Note that when judging I had no idea whose picture was whose - which is why I have not added any names. Images are loaded in no particular order of significance.  Note also: The feedback comments are recorded in 'category' videos at the bottom of the page.
Click each one to go through my feedback on each category entrant.

Runner-up in the Abstract category
Winner of the Abstract category
Third place in the animals/wildlife category.
Birds are especially  hard to capture framed and sharp.
Excellent work!
Second place in the animals category
Winning picture in the Animals category.
An excellent, eye-catching poochie portrait.
Animals category: Honorable Mention
Animals category: Honorable Mention
Second place in the cityscapes category
Winner of the cityscape category
Third place in the cityscapes category
Third place
Landscapes category
Landscape category
Second place
Landscape category: First place
First place
Portrait category:
Honourable mention
Portrait category:
Third place
Portrait category:
Honourable mention
Portrait category:
Honourable mention
Portraits: second place
Third place in the
Quirky Category
Winner in the
Quirky category
Runner up
Quirky category

Rod ABSTRACTS from Robin Nichols on Vimeo.

Competition ANIMALS from Robin Nichols on Vimeo.

Competition Cityscapes from Robin Nichols on Vimeo.

Competition LANDSCAPES from Robin Nichols on Vimeo.

Competition PORTRAITS from Robin Nichols on Vimeo.

Competition Quirky from Robin Nichols on Vimeo.