April 17, a date to look for if ever you are planning a trip to Japan next year. There is a Festival in Nikko which celebrate the arrival of Springs. It is a 1200-year-old event called Yayoisai, and it is one of those events you don't want to miss if ever you are in the area. This year was my second time attending the matsuri, and I thought I could share some tricks to photograph the event! Enjoy!
It is a popular event, so expect a lot of people and a lot of photography enthusiast! Try to find yourself a right spot early enough to capture the ascension to Futarasan Jinja.
Most of the participant will not mind if you take their portrait. Just be kind to them!
Everyone who's visited Nikko in Japan knows that it is a fantastic destination. Of course, the World Heritage Area is one of those places you can't miss, but the fact that most of the travelers do not know about Senjogahara, Hangetsuyama, Suginamiki, Kirifuri, Kinugawa, etc., is fascinating me.
When we decided to move to Japan, I knew from the beginning that I would be offering photo excursion in Nikko. It was clear in my mind that I would have to share my knowledge of the area and help travelers to get the best out of their trip. I needed to show them those other places outside Toshogu!
I've been guiding photography excursion for about a year now, and today I am sharing six things I have learned since it all started.
When I started printing my photographs on fine art paper, one of my friend, which is also a photographer, introduced me to Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, a paper that I've been using exclusively since then. But recently, I started looking for a high-quality semi-gloss paper to print a series of small 8x10 matted prints. After reading users comments, I decided to try the Canson Baryta Photographique. I have to say that the baryta photographique is also a fantastic paper, and I found that its semi-gloss finish is a little more suited for small fine art prints made for selling at an art fair or a photo exhibition than the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag. Though, I would still choose the Hahnemuhle matte paper for larger prints.
Fujifilm XF10 - Point and Shoot Camera
I have already talked about it, my beloved and no more trusty Fujifilm X100t is heading towards the end of its life, and I've been looking for a replacement for a couple of months. I still absolutely love the X100 series, but since I feel that it isn't the right timing (a new model might come out soon) to get the newer X100F, I decided to look for a smaller camera. I also wanted to see how it would challenge my photography to work with a point and shoot. So for me, there were only two options available on the market, either the XF10 or the older and much rare X70. I am not a Ricoh fan at all, the prices and the dust problem turn me off completely, but that's only my opinion. I know the GR2, and GR3 are both great cameras, but they're not for me. Just like this beautiful girl you never had the chance to talk to when you were in high school, the X70 has always interested me, but I never managed to buy one when it was time. It has now become super rare and pricey, so I looked the other way and went for the cheaper and less loved XF10.
Best decision ever. So far!
What follows isn't a technical review of the Fujifilm XF10, there is already plenty of them on Youtube, it is more like a friendly personal opinion article which covers in some ways, details and critical points (sensor, build quality, price) of the Fujifilm XF10. I will close the post by giving you my pros and cons. Note that I've only had the camera for a few days, but I have managed to go to Tokyo and shoot with it in different situations. Keep reading, and you'll understand why I think this is indeed a pro Fujifilm compact camera, perfect for street photography, everyday capture, travel and also as a back-up for any pro shooters.
Ok, first important point with this camera is the price. Getting a 24-megapixel APS-C size sensor in such a small body is ridiculous. I got mine brand new for 38 400 Japanese yen tax included, and it is less than 500 Canadian dollars! At this price it hard to justify not having one next to my bigger X-H1.
Build quality is good, but not impressive. It is not a plastic camera, but I will try my best not to smash it on a metal corner or drop it on the floor. I am quite rough with my gear, and for that reason, I decided to give it an extra layer of protection by putting gaffer tape on the top, bottom and its left side. It will help against it getting scratch, and it also feels a little more robust (kind of).
I love the snapshot mode! It's ON all the time. Of course, I wish Fuji added a few more distance option to it, just like the Ricoh, but it will suit my need for most of my street photography and family pictures. The snapshot mode is also an excellent way to deal with the AF problem that some people have. In my case, I find the auto-focus pretty awesome. It IS NOT SLOW, and it is accurate. Those people complaining about the AF from this camera have probably never used a digital camera from 8-9-10 years ago. This camera auto-focus is not as good as an X-T3 or an X-H1, but in my opinion, it is fantastic. And please, don't forget it only cost less than 500$...
Just like the X100 series the flash is excellent. I use it quite often, so I am using the top plate function button to get quick access to it. When using the flash on my X100t I found that the waiting time needed between each shot was sometimes problematic, but with this little boy, it is much faster, and this is something I like about the camera.
There is no perfect camera. Here are a few points I hope Fujifilm will work on if ever they decide to release another version of the xf10.
The lens cap sucks ass. But this could easily be fixed if Fuji eventually changes the front of the lens so we can screw a filter on it. I like to carry a camera which is ready to shoot, with a clear filter instead of a lens cap. Fujifilm, please look at the XF27 mm lens and put a 39mm thread on it. Merci :)
Just like any other Fujifilm, you can customize different buttons to suits your need, but I wish there were two more actual FN button on the camera. No touch screen wipe FN option, real button!
Camera strap attach point
It is a small and light camera, but I wish there were two attach point. I used a neck strap and with only one attach point the camera is continuously flying left to right.
Here's what I like about the camera
The 24mpx sensor is excellent, and the color you get from it are great too. It remembers me my old X100 black limited edition, before they change for X-Trans sensor.
It is small and pocketable. Yes, it seriously fits into one's pocket. It is hard to justify not carrying a camera with you all the time when you can get such a small and powerful pro quality point and shoot.
I already mentioned it, but it is a cheap and affordable camera. Getting better than that is hard. I am not going to say that you should buy one, it is not a camera for everyone, but if you are thinking about getting a small camera with great features, think about it. Go to your local camera store and give it a try first, and see by yourself. I love mine!
I participated in a Japanese photo contest and got selected as the winner of a category. I felt like I was in 1996 and I loved it.
My experience in Japan dates back to 2006, and over time, my observations often make me think of certain sections of a novel written by Amélie Nothomb. It makes me laugh.
Here, photography is serious and official. It's well known, in Japan everything has to be done the right way. Stupidity and jokes are only good for the television show, the rest needs to be nice and clean, but also well done and within the rule.
If you've been following me on any social media, you know that I live in a small town called Nikko. A fantastic and beautiful area of Japan where millions of tourist come every year to visit a unique and spiritual area registered as a World Heritage but also for its outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, skiing and more. All this together makes Nikko a remarkable destination for photo enthusiast and for that reason, the city created an annual photo contest.
The first thing I found cool, was the method used to send your subscription; A4 prints. I drove to the local photo lab in Imaichi and got five different prints. I am one of those who thinks we don't print enough pictures, so I was ok with that. Everyone is carrying thousands of photo in their cell phone neglecting that if they drop their device in the toilet, everything will disappear. I also found that submitting a printed picture to a photo contest was straight forward and logic. I'd rather have the judge look at a print of my artwork instead of looking at the photo from a screen.
A few weeks passed when I received an email announcing I was the winner of a category. Great! Then they asked me to send the digital file in full resolution, on a CD-R! Lol! I thought they were kidding when they said CD-R...
It was not a joke; we're not on TV here...
Honestly, I do not remember the last computer I had who reads CD (I'm a MAC guy). In 2019, asking for a CD-R is almost like buying the latest Bruno Mars album on tape. The only thing I could do was using my "gaijin card" (a non-written rule that stipulates you can do what you want when you are a foreigner living in Japan) and send the picture on a USB key without asking if it was right or not. The reason why they wanted a CD-R was for their archives. Of course, they gave me a call once they realize I didn't send a CD-R, but I offered them to keep the USB key, and they accepted the deal.
Gary Vee would have been proud of me!
Yes, there was a ceremony where every winning photographer received something which looked like a diploma, an official piece of paper confirming who won in which category. This contest is true as f*ck! I appreciated this part the most, even more than the 30 000¥ I got for my picture. Just so you know, for this Japanese Photo Contest I had to send a printed subscription in person to the City Hall, then send a CD-R for their archive, but my 300$ price was deposit directly in my bank account... Giving us a cheque instead would have been more appropriate right?
All the winning pictures will be exhibited in Nikko next July. I am pleased with my first experience in a Japanese photo contest. I felt like it was very official, a lot more serious than most of the contest you find online right now.
I'll write another post once I have more information about the photo exhibition in Nikko.
Thanks for reading.
Here's how I sign my prints...
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Nikko is an Ice Hockey town and this weekend was the Great Skate Tournament at the Hosoo skate rink. One of my son's friend plays in a team which was playing at the tournament, so we decided to have a look at the event.
I found this car/pick-up last week in Imaichi. I have no clue what model it is, but I want one. Yeah, I want one.
In Japan, if you own a restaurant and somehow manage to get on TV or get excellent comments on blogs by a reviewer, there is a lot of chances that your business explode. That's what happened to my favorite restaurant in Chuzenji. A six places counter restaurant which serves the best "sauce katsu" in the world at a ridiculous price. Today I went there and decided to drive further to get some shot of the last snow in Oku-Nikko. Here are the pictures.
* If you want to know more about the restaurant, drop me a line in the comment...
Today was a cold rainy Monday with absolutely nothing special. I didn't take any picture even though I carried my camera pretty much everywhere I went. So let's talk about the camera.
My Fujifilm X100T is seriously dying. After 4 years of hardcore use, many rainy and wet session and a Japanese sake flood, it doesn't work as smooth as it uses to anymore. Most of the control on the top plate are sticky and get stuck, the manual focus ring doesn't work anymore and there are a few screws missing on the base plate. Well...
Of course, I have a back-up, a brand new X-H1 with the amazing 18-55mm kit lens, but that camera does not and will never replace my X100T. Right now, I am seriously thinking about getting an XF10 until they release the fifth generation of the X100 series camera... I mean, for 500$, you can't go wrong!
If you guys own an XF10, please let me know what you think about it.