Composing the Shot

Osaka_ShinSaibashiComposition is one of the fastest ways to ruin a shot – and one of the fastest ways to fix it. The good news is that most people have an eye for composition, it’s just a matter of learning a few quick fixes to turn “There is something off about this” to “I can’t put my finger on it, but this is stunning.”

It’s not formulaic in any sense, so two plus two doesn’t necessarily equal four, but it is a sensory science. Learn to feel out the picture and complement its natural attributes. If the natural attributes are competing, do something about it.

Hunting around on the web, you can find a dozen “Rules for Composition.” But as far as I am concerned, the below are the ones that make or break and image. Once you’ve got these down, you level up even the simplest Instagram photo. Continue reading

Sapporo’s Famous Snow Festival (雪祭)

Side viewEvery February, Sapporo holds it’s biggest event: the Snow Festival. Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost prefecture, and is famous for two things: snow and open space. It’s no wonder artists from around the world spend a whole month working on these massive masterpieces of snow. The main stretch of the park had huge snow carvings, one of them was even a life-size replication of a Thai building. Every year the festival attracts millions from around the world to see the amazing creations, then go skiing and enjoy famous Hokkaido food.  Continue reading

Shooting Shashes

The milky way at the Tanabata festival near Nijojo Castle in Kyoto

The milky way at the Tanabata festival near Nijojo Castle in Kyoto

Let me preface this with an explanation for the title. The Japanese word for picture is shashin. As respectable English speakers living in Japan, we’ve developed slang for some of our favorite Japanglish. Naturally shashin becomes shash. Daijoubu (“it’s OK”) becomes daijoubs. And so on. It always amuses our fellow English-speaking Japanese friends.

I digress.

I like to do this thing where I take pictures on my adventures. And, by “take pictures” I mean that I bring this not-so-cheap piece of equipment and actually put some thought into it. As it is now, photography is mostly a hobby for me, but I’d like to think I’m OK at it. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of my stuff, check out the photography section in my portfolio! I swear, this isn’t a shameless ploy (well, not completely), I just finally got around to creating a place to view the pictures I’ve taken on my travels.

But yea, please stop by if you can!

Lone Explorer

In an effort for a change of pace and lone exploring, I decided to hop in my car on Sunday and head up to Gunma prefecture to see what’s up. My original goal was to explore Oze National Park, which spans 4 prefectures and is famous for sporting some fantastic fall colors. Earlier in the week, I checked to see what was going on in Oze and there were already reports of snowfall. But, never deterred, I decided to go anyways. Needless to say, both roads up into the mountains were already closed for the season. Not to mention, it seemed a winter storm was on the horizon, bringing in little snow flurries.  Continue reading

Nagano’s Snow Monkey Park

Despite the apparent lack of snow, I decided the Snow Monkey Park in Nagano might be worth a visit. You know those pictures of monkeys bathing in hot springs with snow in their fur? Yea, those are taken at this place. We drove up some pretty windy, random roads in an effort to find this place. As we pulled up to the gates, Kris and I noticed that there was a 500yen fee to even get into the parking area. We debated turning around for about one minute, when, right on cue, a monkey strolls up and sits in the drive. Sold. We pulled our coins out faster than you can say “Nagano Monkey Snow Park.”  Continue reading

Conquering Tsukuba-san

Another weekend has come and gone, with more adventures to report.

It was very, very rainy on Saturday. Right now, the weather is known as 梅雨 (tsuyu): the rainy season. Our original plan was to climb Mt. Tsukuba that day, but the weather had other plans. So, instead, I hoped in my car and drove to Moriya to meet up with Becky. I would call Moriya the rich suburbs of Tokyo. It’s a city with tons of new and beautiful homes, with quick access to nearly anything you could want. Their Aeon is a full-fledged mall. Complete with a Subway sandwich shop. Lovely!

What do you do on a rainy day? You go shopping, of course. Continue reading