Friday, December 26, 2008

Late autumn in Okusawa, Tokyo

Tokyo has more houses and building covered in vines than I have seen in any other city.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some of the most relatively "tame" gulls I've seen are near Yokohama Bay

Landmark Tower, Yokohama

The tallest building in Japan, I believe.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Yokohama Bay 2

Friday evening just before sunset. "Sunset" tends to come relatively early in spots as the buildings block the sun as it get lower. D300 Tmaron 200-500mm @ 500

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yokohama Bay

Friday afternoon at Yokohama Bay in the Minatomirai area. One of the most beautiful locations in Tokyo/Yokohama.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The end of the day

Tamagawa river between Tamagawadaikoen and Shinmaruko, Tokyo/Kanagawa, Japan. Taken with the D300 and Tamron 200-500mm@500mm.

So far, the latest firmware update has made the camera a different beast concerning autofocus. It isn't perfect, but finally I can feel confident using any autofocus mode under certain conditions. It also focuses much more quickly, even with the Tamron 200-500. Birds in flight are now much, much easier to get. It's almost like having a new camera. Knock on wood.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shopping for camera equipment in Japan

I (and many others here) am often asked by people coming to Japan for a visit where to buy camera equipment.

Camera shops are not as widespread as some seem to believe, especially once you get out of the cities. BIC Camera and Yodobashi Camera are often mentioned as good places and they can be. However, not all are. Some branches have a very poor selection or horrid service or both. If I have to go to one of them, my favorite is the Yodobashi Camera at Yokohama Nishiguchi. It has a wide choice of lenses, cameras, and accessories. The one in Akihabara is also good. I avoid the BIC Camera at Yurakucho near Ginza like the plague as it is poorly stocked and the service--at least in my experience--is near nonexistent.

Another problem with these two chains is that their prices are not especially low. Smaller shops can often beat them for no other reason than the fact that they don't have the "point" system that the big chains use. (Buy something and get 10% of the price in points so you can use it toward future purchases. They often have add about 10% or more to the price to give a discount.)

If you are looking for cameras or lens and not tripods or other accessories, I'd try MAP Camera in Shinjuku. They have a huge selection of used lenses, especially older manual focus lenses. They also have used cameras as well as new. The only problem I have had with them is that they seem to run out of stock on new, popular items frequently.

I went there today to look for a Tokina 10-17 fisheye. They had a used one for ¥47000 and a new one for ¥52000. Unfortunately, the new one was not in stock and I could not see buying a used one for a mere ¥5000 discount.

The same lens is selling at Yodobashi and BIC Camera for over ¥67000, a huge difference which the 10% in points would never make up for.

I finally found one in stock at Amazon Japan for ¥53000. There were others on the site (Marketplace) for as low as ¥49000, but I don't trust Amazon Marketplace all that much.

Anyway, there are a lot of smaller shops in the Tokyo area which are a better choice that the big chains in many cases. They may not speak English at them, but if you know what you want, I don't think that would be a huge problem. It would certainly be easier to deal with that than the extra cost at the chains where most don't speak English either. (I believe some staff does at places like Akihabara and Shinjuku).

By the way, you are not likely to get a better price on new equipment here than you can get in the US.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Downpour in Okusawa

Very heavy thunderstorm (kaminari in Japanese) on Sunday, Sept 7. Since I was hiding under an apartment entrance, I had plenty of time to play with the camera.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

From Japan's "Digital Photo" Magazine

Something that I have not seen mentioned anywhere on North American websites: Kenko has introduced a 800mm f8 DX mirror lens (supposedly in May). They are also introducing a 500mm f8 DX lens. From the July issue of Digital Photo (デジタルフォト) page 142 D.P. News. List price will be about ¥40,000 for either. Somehow, I doubt that the quality will be very good.

A similar-looking Kenko 500mm mirror lens is on auction here---while it lasts. Not sure if the 800mm is of similar in quality.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 07, 2008

This spring has been the rainiest in 120 years. Things are becoming even more moss covered than usual. Rainy season has started 20 days early in Kanto.

This photo is from Kyoto, in Kansai. Still plenty rainy there too.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

After the rain

Another trip to Kyoto in what must be the coolest, rainiest year in the last 5 or 6. In the woods near Ohara temple about an hour by bus from the center of Kyoto.

Friday, May 02, 2008

From April Showers

Along the Tamagawa. Most of the herons and egrets have made themselves scarce to care for their young I suppose. Anyway, they aren't hanging around the river near my place. Perhaps some rain tomorrow which is good, because I plan to be out in it to try to get a photograph of tree in the rain. Maybe it will even work out like I hope. Or not.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Horai Park karugamo/D300 focus

The herons and egrets on the Tamagawa River have become a bit more difficult to find and approach over the last month---caring for young ones perhaps. Horai Park in Denenchofu does have a resident population of spot-billed ducks, lots of turtles and an occasional out-of-place grey heron. Only the karugamo---spot-bills were there last Sunday, but the light was good and I could get close enough to spend an hour or more taking photos. My wife complained, "They're just ducks."

My D300 still has occasional focusing hiccups. When I switch focus to auto area focus, it will hang and refuse to focus for 2-3 attempts. I have had to switch it back to dynamic or single point, focus it, and then switch back and it works. I don't know if this is a problem with the camera, or if it is with the subject. It doesn't happen all the time and I have not been able to determine any patterns. It most often occurs with the Tamron 200-500 lens. Otherwise, I have had no further failures to focus like I did a few months ago.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Horai Park Denenchofu

I have actually seen grey herons in this park. After three solid days of rain, it was nice to get outside.
This is a male karugamo. Complete with redeye.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

300,000 years old

The island that this heron (called a blue heron in Japanese, but looks like a grey heron) is said to be about 300,000 years old. Formed of lava, it is often underwater. According to an old guy I spoke to, it is believed to "have been the basis of the Tamagawa."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Daiya River at sunset

Saturday, 22 March. Nikko, Japan.

I could spend hours here near sunset. This one was not spectacular, but it was enjoyable, nonetheless.

Friday, March 21, 2008

D300 problems

As noted below, I had one instance of the D300 temporarily refusing to autofocus. At the time I was using the Tamron 200-500mm. I have not had a recurrence of the problem as of yet. SInce that time, I have taken well over 120 photos.

I did clean the areas contacts on all lenses as well as the camera. We shall see...

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Spring is near

And the plumage on egrets is nearing its most attractive for mating season. This one is hunting fish on the Tamagawa in Tokyo. They especially like to kick around the rocks in order to stir up something to eat.

This is directly from jpeg and is much grainier than it would have been from NEF. Tokina 200-500mm Nikon D300.

Monday, March 10, 2008

D300 problems start to appear?

Sunday evening after an afternoon of waterfowl photography on the Tama River. As you may notice in the upper photo, the birds were leaving at this time and so was I.

Unfortunately, I experienced an auto-focus failure with the D300. It stopped focusing with my Tamron 200-500mm while I was taking photos of an egret. First I noticed that the AE/L button suddenly started focusing my camera when I pushed it to lock exposure. I had turned off the auto-focus lock feature for this button in the menu. (It is possible that I accidentally hit the AF lock button)

Then the lens would try to focus---I could hear the motor---but nothing happened. I put in a fresh battery. Nothing. I removed and reattached the lens. Nothing. I put a Nikkor 18-70mm on and after failing for a few minutes it began to focus again. I tried with my Tokina 12-24 and it worked. I put the Tamron back on and it was working again.

There have been occasional reports on the internet of this problem. It doesn't seem to be widespread but it exists. I am hoping mine was just a one time fluke, but since I have been having a few other problems with it too, I wonder.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Early Saturday Morning

Kosagi in Japanese, Saturday morning on the Tamagawa bordering Tokyo. I see plenty of Little Egrets, Cormorants, Herons, and assorted ducks there, but I would like to see a wider variety of waterfowl---and wildlife---without traveling 5 hours to do so.

It is very tough to get close enough to any of these birds fo a decent photograph because I have to stalk close and set up and get photos before some noisy person or people and their dogs come by and scare everything away.

I especially enjoy it when some person sees me taking photos and throws a ball or something between my camera and the birds for his/her dogs to fetch. Afterward, the dog comes out of the river and shakes all over me. It has happened several times. Someday I may get an apology, but I won't hold my breathe. Nor will I hold my tongue much more.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Michael Reichmann in Tokyo

On February 27, Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape gave a seminar in Tokyo. This kind of thing is a rare opportunity in Japan---one can go to photography classes or seminars in Japanese which, unless you are a native speaker or very, very fluent, tends to be tough to follow for long periods of time---so I was very glad to attend even though it was in the middle of a workday.

At then end of the seminar, he asked the Japanese audience a question: "What's wrong with Japanese photography? " He went on to explain that he never saw or heard much about it. (The seminar was being translated into Japanese.) As one could expect, there was no reply.

I have wondered about that myself. Of course people see photographs by Japanese photographers all the time and most likely don't notice it, but it seems that there are few well-known Japanese photographers outside of Japan. I couldn't guess why this is, except that they don't get a lot of exposure outside the country because publishers and others don't really try to promote them overseas. There is also the idea that Japan is exotic and photographs should reflect that mythical exoticness. (The idea that Japan is just another country and is not all neon and weirdness disappoints many.)

I also notice that there are NOT many Japanese nature/wildlife photographers who do most of their photography in Japan as opposed to in Africa, Alaska, or other areas outside of Japan. There are fewer who publish those types of photos of Japan for some reason.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Daiya River, Nikko

I cannot get this photo right. I liked the sky, but rest just seems a bit off to me no matter what. (The tree on the lower right doesn't help, but I don't particularly mean that.)

It doesn't help that my RAW software--Capture One 4 is not as good as its predecessor. Taken 17 February on one of my monthly trips to Nikko. The memory is nice even if the photos weren't.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Nakimushiyama, Nikko Japan

Close to Nikko station---about a 10 minute walk to the trailhead. The "mountain" itself is only 1104 meters high, but is a very steep climb for the last 1/3.

Nikko Japan

In the mountains about 2 hours from Tokyo. Nakimushiyama Trail. (What happened to the color in this? I guess my monitor calibration has gone off again?)

February "Blizzard" in Tokyo

Or as close to one as we get in Tokyo. It was quite cold for the area that morning. I actually got numbed fingers even though I was wearing mittens. I have not been that cold in the Tokyo area in years.

A Rare Tokyo Snow

It may only snow once or twice a year in Tokyo---or not at all. On February 3, we had the first of two snowfalls this year. This was taken in Okusawa Tokyo.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Seminar with Michael Reichmann in Tokyo

Michael, a well-known landscape photographer now based in Toronto Canada will be in Tokyo on 27 February 2008 to give a seminar entitled: Landscape – Nature – Documentary Photography: Inspiration and Technical Insight.

Pre-registration is required, but the price is right and I am sure it will be very interesting.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Northern Shoveler on a winter afternoon

On the Tama River. Incidentally, this was taken at ISO 1600 with normal noise reduction with the Nikon D300. Nikon makes good cameras, but terrible software, and as noted below, less than helpful support. (Nikon would claim otherwise though which shows you what they consider good customer support on the software side.)
Nikon D300, Tamron 200-500mm@500mm. 1/200@f8. Tripod used.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thinking of buying Nikon software in Japan?

If you want English support from Nikon USA, you might think again. Of course you could use Nikon Japan support in Japanese or very limited English. I received this from Nikon USA concerning problems I have with Nikon's Capture NX which was included with my new D300:

It appears that you are located outside of the North American market. Nikon USA supports products imported and sold in the USA and Canada only. For support for your product please contact the dealer you purchased it from or consult the Nikon distributor in your area. If you feel we are in error, please try again with the web form.

Please visit to find contact information for your region.

You are encouraged to browse and subscribe to Nikon USA's Knowledge Database articles, but Nikon USA can not provide direct feedback for users from other markets.


Thank you too Nikon. I bet you'd even refuse $$$$ from other markets...

This appears to be a new policy. Two years ago, they provided support when I could not get other Nikon software to install. Olympus certainly has no problems with support for its customers. I believe Canon provides support to all customers. Nikon, does not. Well, no more Nikon software for me, and had I not invested so much in lens for Nikon, I would not bother with any more Nikon gear. I don't worship at the altar of any specific manufacturer of electronic/plastic goods.

(The problem with NX is, after I finally got it to install ---thanks to guys on the Nikonian website---I have been unable to open a D300 NEF with it. It crashes and burns as soon as I try. It works with D70 files. I guess Nikon should pay guys on forums who do its support for it at no charge.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Lake Chuzenji

About 2 hours from Tokyo. We spent 2 days there this time, but by the evening of the first day, the snow was melting and mosquitoes were coming out. Then it started raining hard. It always happens when I go somewhere. That is one of the biggest reasons that I am considering buying a Nikon D300---it is "weather proofed." Well, at least weather resistant. Lens aren't though.