Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Classic Japan Photo Tour: Shimbashi, Tokyo

Day one of my 2014 Photo Tour of Japan.
Never stayed in this part of Tokyo before - Shimbashi is a triangle of high tech buildings housing TV, newspaper and other media companies plus of course, multi-level shopping malls and hotels in the heart of the city. Unlike any other country, Japan layers its cities with freeways, concrete, train lines and shopping.  Always the shopping...

No matter how you try to shoot a 45 storey building from the ground up, you are going to get serious perspective distortion (in this case using a 24mm lens on a full frame camera). To correct this in Photoshop would mean I'd lose the buildings to the left and right of the centre piece - and then that building would look a bit lonely - so I left it untouched
HDR shot a bit too late in the evening for a good night shot. In a city the size of Tokyo, the sky never really goes 100% black at night but it is still always better to shoot while there's some ambient light present otherwise you have to extend the exposures for so long you get a lot of digital noise and contrast problems with the highlights.  Note that even with all the hotel room lights off, I still get reflections from the thick double-glazing. Sometimes you just never win!
Amid the concrete and steel sits a small florist selling flowers to any passers by that have the time to look. 
A flower shop struck me as being a bit of a contrast with the buildings overshadowing the rest of the neighbourhood.
Christmas is here! Outside Shimbashi station, this was a multi-light extravaganza showing off a few million Chrissy lights - in fact there were so many it hurt the eyes to look for any length of time.  This is an HDR shot taken from a walkway three stories above the pedestrian mall. (Canon 14mm fisheye lens). The guy making all the noise can just be seen in front of the white electric teepee, lower left of the frame. (Canon 14mm lens).
Here I moved the tripod during the 2.5 second exposure to make the lights bleed across the frame to give a sense of energy and movement - I think this is a better result than the previous three-exposure HDR (above).
I sometimes like to photograph the empty parts of cities to emphasise the loneliness that is often created in the mass of a big development. Some areas of Shimbashi lie apparently neglected - maybe in expectation of future population growth? No shops, no offices, merely a way to get from one place to another, a giant's arcade that becomes deserted after the workers have gone home...
Commuters scurry past impossibly-retouched models advertising what appears to be the elixir of life: immortality. Oh well!  Canon EOS 5D MkIII, 14mm lens, 1/3s @ f8, ISO 400, hand held.

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