During the Kyoto 2017 Workshop we jumped on the bullet train to visit Himeji City and the finest example of a Japanese castle. I didn’t get any new shots of the castle itself, but did get a few snaps of the guards. A short BTS video taken by Tech Ninja Patrick. And here are few shots of the castle from 2016 in case you were wondering which one is Himeji. For movie fans, it’s the castle used to train the elite fighting force in James Bond’s. “You Only Live Twice.”
During the 2017 Kyoto Workshop it was great that I could introduce new pieces of equipment and techniques to others in the group. One of these was the Profoto B2 Off Camera Flash System. This strobe allows me to add light to my images to make the subject pop a little more and add catchlights to the eyes. I also use it to fill in shadows. In the featured image taken at Fushimi Inari Shrine I used the Profoto B2 with no modifier, while the image taken at the Philosopher’s walk below (right) was with a shoot-through umbrella. The system works really well. Dividing the head and the battery pack makes life for the assistant easier as holding a B1 light on the end of a pole can be top heavy. The option to use the pack with two lights is useful, and also gives you redundancy if a flash bulb stops working. I used the Profoto Air Remote triggers with my Pentax cameras, as there is still no Pentax TTL/HSS trigger (unlike Canon, Nikon …
One of the highlights of the Kyoto Photography Workshop was tea with a maiko in Gion. The maiko we met was Kanohiro-san who is just 18 years old. After her years of training she will become a geiko (Kyoto geisha). We took photos and asked her many questions with Yuki interpreting for the group. Kanohiro san was very happy that we were so excited to met her. She gave us tea, performed a traditional dance, then posed for individual and group photographs. A really memorable experience with a lovely young lady.
Another fun themed studio workshop. After covering the basics we used a multi strobe setup to produce clean medical images on a pure white background. Images shot with Pentax 645Z with 90mm. 4 light strobe setup with two background lights, a 3×4′ softbox, and a softlight reflector white. Profoto D2, Profoto compact, and Profoto 7a generator system. A big thank you to Keith, Tyson and Allison for joining the workshop and being willing to dress for the part!
The rock garden at Ryoan-ji is one of the finest examples of a hire-niwa. 15 rocks are positioned in a large flat area of small stones without hills or ponds. I wanted an image that tried to show it as a place of quiet reflection, which is a little tricky at most times of day. However, if you’re the first person to arrive you may get a few moments of tranquility. Pentax 645Z with 25mm (top image) and 55mm (bottom image).
I’ve visited Kyoto’s famous Golden Pavilion several times over the last 15 years. Usually it’s been overcast, but on my latest visit there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This was the perfect opportunity to get a wide establishing shot with plenty of room for text (thinking about the needs of clients). Shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 25mm lens held high above my head to get the correct angle. A shutter speed of 1/800 second and several bursts allowed me a sharp image without a tripod.
It’s raining, but you’ve still got to go to work. So you grab your umbrella and book a cab for yourself and a couple of workmates. The taxi arrives. The driver helps to keep your clothes dry as you get in the vehicle. Cherry blossom covers the trees. Ready to go, the evening awaits.
It’s been a while since I updated the blog. Many busy weeks, the last couple of which were spent in Kyoto prepping for, then teaching the 2017 Kyoto Workshop. Before the students arrived I spent about a week revisiting various locations thinking about possible images we could shoot, but also general planning including access, the amount of walking involved, the time required, bathrooms, and restaurants. Fushimi Inari Shrine with its tunnels of orange torii gates is one of Kyoto’s most famous locations. In 2004, I shot this post’s featured image with the Pentax 67 medium format film camera. At Inari shrines, foxes are revered as messengers. Fox statues and symbols can be found at the shrine and beside the various mountain trails. The orange torii gates are donated by individuals or business to the shrines. There are signs at various points on the route giving pricing for different sizes of gates. While scouting the trail, I came across Takeda-san who was finishing the painting of a new torii gate. I spent a few minutes chatting …
A fun day at the medieval studio workshop. Charles brought his armor with surcoats of the Knights Hospitaller, a crusader and his family crest. Charles competes in the “Armored Combat League” where you wear historically accurate armor, and then fight with blunted weapons. Images were shot using variations of natural light, a single Profoto B1 strobe outdoors, and multiple studio strobes indoors. I used the Pentax 645Z with either the 90mm or 55mm lens. Charles also brought another one of his military uniforms, this one from a galaxy far far away. Huge thanks to Charles for bringing all his gear, I learned a huge amount about medieval and scout trooper armor! Good luck in your next armored combat league battle.
A fun Off Camera Flash Workshop last Saturday. Pete Leong and I taught fellow photographers Ashley, Kali, Jessa, Ray, Corey, and Takashi a few new tips and tricks for using flash while on location. A huge thank you to Cactus and Profoto for providing some extra gear for demonstrating to the group. Thank you to Okinawan musician Nayuta for modeling and wearing the traditional ryuso kimono, and to Yuki for assisting and interpreting throughout the day. Thanks again everyone for another successful workshop!