Marc Riboud Show

September 24th, 2005

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to see Marc Riboud’s brief appearance at the Kyoto Kahitsukan. He said virtually nothing and spent his visit slowly firing off one signature after another. Every so often he would stop what he was doing and lift a small Canon camera to his eye and photograph some face in the crowd. It was a tremendously special moment for me to see one of the greatest living photojournalists do what I have only previously been able to admire from afar. The exhibition will be going on until October 23, so I again have to encourage anyone with even a passing interest to attend. To pique interest, I would suggest reading a very insightful interview with Marc Riboud conducted by Frank Horvat, another photographer I have a great deal of respect for.

Marc Riboud

My New Project

September 18th, 2005

I have been spending a considerable amount of time recently on a new project of mine. What I hope to accomplish is to create a new web site featuring the traditional Japanese architecture in Kyoto along with explanations of the significance of the style. The final work is intended to be the web site, so unlike my geisha project, this will be a resource open for all to see. I have a first draft of the web page, and will put it online within the coming week. It is being coded to be XHTML/CSS standards compliant, and I am finding that I am a poor CSS coder, otherwise it would be up at present.

So far I have managed to secure the help of a good friend of mine who has been involved in preserving traditional Kyoto houses (machiya), along with the loan of his large format camera. The camera will let me take geometrically correct photographs with proper vertical lines due to the ability to shift the lens up and down, so the results should be quite interesting. I went back to Yodobashi Camera yesterday to buy a pack of Fuji Provia 100 color transparency film in 4×5 sheet form, and apparently it is going to $3 per shot just for the unprocessed film. I may be mixing many of my shots with black and white, as that is less than $2 per shot and I have access to a darkroom. I am really looking forward to seeing what those huge slides will look like once they come back from the lab.

Today I went out with my newly repaired Nikon to do some location scouting in the North of the city. I rode my bike over to Imamiya-jinja, a shrine that features a spectacular main hall (honden) in the Hie style. Unfortunately it currently is undergoing massive repairs and has every appearance of remaining in that state for some time. The location won’t be of much use for my project unless I can make the type of photo I wish from it, which is unfortunate as it is one of the most lovely shrines I have visited. From there I rode over to the Daitokuji temple complex to see what is supposed to be a superb teahouse in the Shinjuan subtemple. It is either not open to the public or was closed on the day I visited, since there was a bamboo gate barring entrance. The day was not a total loss, as I photographed a fair number of architectural details on the various other temples.

Tomorrow I will probably go scout another pair of sites, and I hope that they will be more promising than what happened today.

The Inevitable D2H Meter Failure

September 12th, 2005

Several weeks ago I experienced the dreaded meter failure on my Nikon D2H, which seems to be more or less ineveatable from what I’ve read. I have been using it in manual mode and verifiying my exposures through the histogram with little problem, but a trip to Osaka yesterday gave me an excuse to drop it off with Nikon’s service center in Umeda. They were incredibly polite and helpful, and the man behind the counter confirmed the problem in about ten seconds. From what I have heard about Nikon USA’s repair practices, what I experienced would not have been repeated had I been in the US. They estimated a six-day turnaround, so I am left with just my film SLR and a couple of rolls of leftover slide film to fill my photographic void.

The trip to Osaka also let me play with all the photo toys I have wanted to see thanks to the magic of Yodobashi Camera, which seems like the largest camera store in the world. I handled the Nikon F6, which is the most perfect 35mm camera I have ever used, a variety of rangefinders like the Hasselblad XPAN II and Voightlander Bessa R3 (felt cheaper than I expected it to), and medium format cameras from each of the major manufacturers. One of the clerks took a Hasselblad H1 out from behind a display case to let me use, and it was everything I expected it to be. Keeping in mind that my expectations were quite high, I found it to be even a level above. For my shooting style, it seemed to be the equivalent in the medium format world of the Nikon D2-series bodies in the digital world. It fit my hand like a glove, the controls were intuitive, it had the best viewfinder I have ever looked through, and everything about it felt of a very high quality. The only disadvantage I can see, apart from only being a 645, is the price. For what an H1 with a couple of lenses costs with the Hasselblad student discount, I could purchase a pair of Mamiya 645 bodies and a full set of lenses at full retail price. I was not a fan of the Mamiya, unfortunately, and it looks like I will be placing an order for an H1 (or H2 if they revise their HERO program options) with four lenses in January.

Now that I have engaged in a bit of self indulgance, here is a shot from Saturday. I am trying to get less self-conscious about asking to take people’s photograph out in public, and here is the first result:

Waiting for the Elevator

The next post will have all the details about my new project focusing on a different aspect of traditional Kyoto culture.

New Site

September 10th, 2005

Welcome to the new site. This should be a more permanent home, though I do have thoughts of some day moving the blog exclusively to my own domain. For now, the price is right and the server and software are much better. Please excuse the bland look while I work on making things a little more personalized. I am innundated by projects at the moment and wish I could devote more hours than there are in a day to working on all of them.

This is going to begin focusing less on geisha and more on Kyoto culture and photography in general. Photography is becoming an all-consuming passion, and I just got back from spending a good chunk of the day photographing out in Kyoto’s awful humidity, enjoying every second. In terms of photography, I have gotten a trickle of responses to the copies of my portfolio I sent out, and I am extremely surprised at how positive the response has been. I went into this with thoughts of jaded photo editors tearing into my work with harsh criticism, but such has not been the case. Things are going well, and I know that photography as a job and as a lifestyle is what I want to devote myself to.

As a side note, I would suggest that anyone in Kyoto should come to the Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art Collections on the 23rd to see Marc Riboud in person. It should partially make up for my missing the Agency VII seminar earlier this year due to being in Japan.

Anyhow, enjoy the new site and expect frequent updates now that things are progressing nicely on a variety of fronts.

Here’s a shot from today:

Shrine Procession