Kawasaki Factory Night bus tour

We went on the Kawasaki Factory Night bus tour as operated by Hato Bus from Tokyo Station, recommended as it clearly is something off the beaten tourist-track for things to do in Tokyo! But you need to reserve in good time as it is a really popular bus tour. The bus tour only operates from autumn till spring, when it is dark enough in the evenings to enjoy the sights. Fun detail: the bus tour starts with a stop at a yakiniku restaurant which is included in the trip and ends with the tourist guide singing a bit of karaoke while the bus drives back through the night over the motorways around Tokyo. 🙂
The section on the way back over the motorway to Tokyo Station along the petrochemical factories is dreamy!

Treat it as a unique photo-walk and you cannot go wrong, but bring a tripod! See here for details about the tour.

Circular walks in Luxembourg

One of the things we like to do in our weekends is to walk one of the many circular walks that the Luxembourg tourist organisation has laid out around Luxembourg. Just a matter of following the blue arrows to get to the most beautiful areas of Luxembourg and safely back to your car.

It has happened to us once or twice that logging had cut down trees with the blue markers causing us a bit of a head-ache. 🙂 Recently we load our smart phone’s offline map with the GPX file from the trail from Waymarked Trails and that solved all problems.

Michael Kenna & the copse

If you are a fan of the work of Michael Kenna, like I am, you recognize the scene in the photo below from his photo books or from the very inspiring video that he put up on his website. If you haven’t watched it yet, take a few minutes and watch it now and you’ll love it. This photo is taken around Biei in Hokkaido and this is an amazing area, especially in the snow, and a very popular area for photographers these days.

Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.
Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

For me the most remarkable thing in the video is that Michael and his assistant enter the field and plough through the snow to find the right spot to take the photo. When I visited in January, the fields at several of the famous locations around Biei were roped off and large signs in Japanese, Chinese and English every 20 meters indicated that it was forbidden to enter the fields, including the area around this copse. But as you can see in my photo, people do enter the field nevertheless; damaging the seedlings, spoiling the shots with their tracks for us who decide the follow the rules and triggering investigations by the forestry ministry. We ran into a car of the ministry and a guy was taking eyewitness reports about the people who had entered the field that morning.
I’m not saying that Michael Kenna behaved incorrectly, it is clear from the video that the field was not roped off and no signs were visible at the time. But I’m saying that if it is roped off and if signs are indicating that it would hurt crops to enter the field, people should follow the rules. You might have your shots, but what if the farmer is fed up with the constant damage and decides to level the copse and end this great location for everybody forever? You probably don’t care about that, as I said, you have your shots… 🙁
Normally I never hesitate to shoot first and ask questions later, but the reason for the ban was explained and I would hate to leave tracks that would impact all the other photographers that would come after me as is obvious from my photo. Thanks for nothing!

Aoi-ike and flash photography

Aoi-ike or Blue pond is a relatively new tourist attraction around Biei, Hokkaido; very beautiful with dead trees in a blue pond. Of course the pond wasn’t blue frozen over, so the choice for black & white film was no issue.

131 seconds exposure om Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.
131 seconds exposure om Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

The scenery was lit up at night making it a magnet for photographers who, probably because they wanted to catch snowflakes in the foreground, couldn’t stop using their flashes resulting in images of walls of white in the heavy snowfall with no trees visible. I guess you need to know what you’re doing to get the effect right and probably using your flash in automatic mode wasn’t the correct way as it was pretty much pitch dark even with the lights so the flashes were bright like nuclear explosions. (A “feature” of a DSLR on a tripod is that everybody standing behind you gets to see the result on the tiny screen and I checked out the results of quite a few of my fellow photographers — it didn’t look like any of them had any “keepers.”) 🙂
Anyway, a lot of my long exposures were ruined by the flashes and I tried to out-wait them for an hour or so, but in the end I gave up and returned at another night which turned out to be exactly the same. In the end I returned during the day time as the pond was just a couple of kilometers from our hotel at Shirogane Onsen on the way to Biei.

Ameyoko Street market

Ameyoko Street market in Ueno just next to the Ueno JR station (Shinobazu Exit) is always a good idea to visit when in Tokyo, but just before New Year it is very crowded when fish and other food things required for the New Year celebrations are sold there cheaply and lots of people want to profit.
A perfect chance for a spot of street photography! Everybody was very accommodating, I guess I wasn’t the first one to put a camera in their faces.

The market is a constant drone of  “sen en, sen en (1000 yen, 1000 yen)” with which the vendors promote their wares and I suppose it doesn’t really matter that we bought a same-sized chunk of the same fatty tuna for 500 yen a week later. 🙂
And it was crowded, so very crowded. The police was present in drones and had even constructed a platform to keep an eye on the crowds from above. Surprisingly people had led children and even carried babies into the crowds.

Daiba Park, Tokyo

For a unique view of the Tokyo skyline and the Rainbow Bridge, make your way to Daiba Koen, preferably after dark for some great night photography. And if you visit on a Saturday, wait for the fireworks at 7PM. The location as pointed out on the map below is pretty popular, as you can imagine, and I met several other photographers, we’re a great and friendly bunch no matter where we’re from. 🙂

Fujichrome Provia 100F
The Rainbow Bridge on Fujichrome Provia 100F

Easy access from central Tokyo via the JR Saikyo/Rinkai Line in the direction of Shin-Kiba, alight at the JR Tokyo Teleport station.

Dancers in the fog

This year we visited the same area in the Vosges as last year. I like doing that, being able to visit the same places again under different circumstances. The old mirabelle trees that I photographed last year were still there and this year I visited the location in a thick fog.

ROLLEI PAN 25 @ EI 25; developed in HC-110 dilution G for 22 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds ROLLEI PAN 25 @ EI 25; developed in HC-110 dilution G for 22 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds

The fog isolated the trees completely from the background and made the trees appear like ballet dancers.

I shot this on Rollei PAN 25 film, I have no idea if this film is identical to ADOX PAN 25 film. I always assumed so but the Rollei film curled a lot more than the ADOX film so I have my doubts now.

I did get a better exposure now that I’m using my Seconic L-758D meter (spotmetered) instead of the Seconic L-308S Flashmate that I used last time. The TTL meter was suggesting all kinds of under- or overexposures so using that would have been useless in this situation.