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Photography has changed the way I see the world around me.

Through it I discover new things and rediscover old ones. Like my island, New Caledonia.

This blog is just me sharing my world through my photography.

Hope you enjoy.

Posts tagged blue hour
RAINBOW LIBERTY

Odaiba, Japan

Situated on the artificial island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, this replica of the Statue Of Liberty was originally a temporary fixture for The Year Of France In Japan in 1998-99, a celebration of the two countries relations. Her popularity though won her a permanent return in 2000. Standing at 11.5 metres hight (1/7th of the New York original) and weighing 9 tonnes, the statue is impressive and beautiful. Lady Liberty is not an only child though, she has a sister in Shimoda and another in Osaka but neither with such magnificent backdrops.

And talking about backdrops, the Rainbow Bridge is the best way onto the island. Opened in 1993, Shuto Expressway No. 11 Daiba Route is the official name of the bridge. Named Rainbow Bridge by the public, I’m guessing, because of the multi-coloured lights cast on it at night. We took the Yurikamome to get to Odaiba. It’s like a train but with rubber wheels and guide-rails. Completely controlled by computers and there are no drivers onboard. The ride was petty smooth and quite fast. Lots of fun.

We arrived at blue hour and only a green light was cast underneath the bridge with white on the towers. Though we took photos till dark, an hour after sunset, the bridge didn’t live up to it’s name. Well, I say that but maybe it did. We went elsewhere where the bridge wasn’t visible and came back over it around 11:30 pm so it may of lit up in the meantime. Where did we go? Find out on the next post.

Not the best framing but the best I could do while it was still blue hour. There were a lot of people around so I couldn’t pick the perfect spot and didn’t have much time to look around either. A single five second exposure with minor editing and a very subtle Orton Effect added. I think if the bridge was lit like a rainbow, it would’ve given a very different mood to the photo. A festive feel rather than the peaceful mood this image has. I like it.

75 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

SHINJUKU PARK TOWER

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo skyline from the Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. Amazing views, almost 360º. Even though there was a long queue and bag search before entering the elevator, we got up there fairly quickly and just in time for blue hour. The observation rooms huge and there a cafe in the middle. Worth going up if ever in Tokyo.

I’m not certain that all three of the buildings in this image are named the Shinjuku Park Tower because the Park Hyatt Tokyo is located in these towers too. What grabbed my eye to this scene was the roads that winds behind the towers which adda a colour contrast and helps lead the eye of the view into the image. It was a little challenging shooting this photo, actually all the photos, as there was a lot of reflection from inside the observation room. I set my tripod and camera as close as possible to the window, framed and set the exposure then used the 10 second self-timer to give me enough time to wrap my jacket around the camera and up to the window to avoid any reflection off the glass. It also gave the camera enough time to stop vibrating from the jacket being placed around it. The result, no reflection, sharp and a very happy me.

In regards to post-processing, I cooled the image quite a bit to represent what I saw at the time and added the Orton Effect to the three towers and the orange roads that wind around them. The Orton Effect adds a glow to an image or part of an image. It’s the first time I’ve actually used it and, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure if I like it or not. The towers seem slightly blurry even though they aren’t. I know it’s an effect primarily used on landscape photography to give a dreamy look and feel but I’ve seen it used in other genres too, like back-lit street photography, with great success. So there is a use case for it, I just have to figure out in which cases.

28 mm, 15 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE NAIHAIDEN

Kyoto, Japan

As I mentioned in my last post, we visited the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine just before sunset. This is one of, if not, the main shrine. Stunningly beautiful, like most of the large shrines here. Worshipers would make their way up the stairs to one of the bells and say a prayer before pulling on the rope to ringing it.

There were still a lot of people around, when we arrived, and to get a shot void of them, for this image, was very difficult. So we decided to wander around and visit the senbontorii (thousand torii) first. Check out a previous blog post for a peak inside the tunnel. It was blue hour when we came back and there were a lot less people. After setting up my gear, it was just a matter of patience and timing before I capture this photo. The 10 second exposure helped eliminate the occasional person walking through the frame. I love this photo. I did take another front on but I didn’t have a wide enough lens nor the distance to include the fox guardians in the frame. I guess I’ll have to invest in some more gear.

28 mm, 10 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

FUSHIMI INARI SHINTO SHRINE

Kyoto, Japan

After the Yamazaki Distillery visit, we headed back to Kyoto for two nights, one full day. We arrived late afternoon and once settled in our room, we made our way straight here, to the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine.

We arrived just as the sun was setting and there were still hundreds of visitors around. This shot was taken as we were leaving. To the eye, blue hour had gone but not to the camera sensor. I bracketed four different exposures and merged them in Lightroom. Very happy with the result. This is not a unique photo but it’s my photo.

This shinto shrine is spectacular. This is the main entrance to many shrines, small to large, and to the senbontorii or thousand torii. Everything is beautiful here, from the architecture to the decorations and everything in-between. It’s one of the places you have to visit while in Kyoto. Give yourself some time though, there’s quite a large area to cover. Oh and talking about senbontorii, check out my blog post where I photographed my friend, Géraldine, inside the tunnel.

28 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

PORT OF KOBE

Kobe, Japan

We arrived in Kobe late afternoon and the last bus towards the hotel had already gone. Though we were tired, we decided to walk 20 minutes to get there. A nice walk through the city which made us realise there was a lot to see here. By the time we got to the Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, the sun was just about to disappear below the horizon. What a beautiful surprise when we opened up the curtains to the balcony of our room and saw this gorgeous view. You may have seen one of the photos in a previous blog post.

I quickly setup my gear and started shooting. Single exposures first then once blue hour was over I took a 180º panoramic view. We had arrived just in time to capture these images. So on the left we have Notre Dame Kobe hotel, Port Of Kobe tower, Kobe Maritime Museum, behind that the Hotel Okura Kobe and in front of all that the Meriken Park. You can also see the Bell Of Hortensia and Starbucks right next to it on the bottom right of the image. And not to forget, the cityscape of Kobe in the background.

28 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

O-TORII BLUES

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

I got up very early this morning with hopes of capturing the Grand Torii of Itsukushima Shrine at high tide and I wasn’t disappointed. Not quite a full high tide but enough for me to capture the image I wanted. Without a soul around, I had this whole area to myself for about an hour before I saw a local woman doing her morning walk. It was so quiet and peaceful. And beautiful.

I’ve posted a sunset photo of this torii if you want to check it out.

Blue hour is the only time of day where everything is equally exposed. So I didn’t need multiple exposures nor filters for this image. My objective was a long exposure with lots of breathing room around the subject. People who’ve seen this Grand Torii for themselves, will tell you this photo doesn’t show the grandeur of the gate. And they are right but it wasn’t my objective here.

I have photos with people at the base of the torii and if you’d like me to post the photo, head over to my Facebook or Instagram profile and let me know in the comments below this photo.

28 mm, 30 seconds @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 50

KYOTO BLUE HOUR

KYOTO, JAPAN

This is one of my favourite photos from Japan. Blue hour with warm colours for contrast, my friend in action with an icon in the background to show where she is, the blurred background, the lighting… definitely one of my favourite photos of the trip.

If you have read my last post, you’d know we were unable to go up Kyoto Tower because of a bomb scare. The men in black were still in position. So we took photos of the tower from the Kyoto Station side. We were also surprised by a small water, light and music display which is what Géraldine is photographing here. It was quite delightful.

1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 1600, 28 mm

KYOTO STATION TOWER

KYOTO, JAPAN

The tallest non steel-frame construction in the world, Kyoto Tower. Abosutely stunning at blue hour. My friend noticed the reflection on the glass facade of Kyoto Station. The contrasting colours, patterns and, of course, the reflection all came together for, what I think, a beautiful photo. Thank you Géraldine.

We, unfortunately, didn’t get the chance to go up the tower. Don’t get me wrong, we wanted to but were stopped by police from doing so. Let me explain. Late that afternoon I wanted to go up just to see the view and the kind of photos I could take later around blue hour. As we arrived at the tower, sirens were blasting and cops were coming from everywhere. We thought they were after someone and kept walking towards the entrance. We were stopped by a policewoman from entering and motioned to step back. So we did and waited in hopes it would end quickly. The policewoman came back to see us and showed a translation on her phone saying “There is a bomb alert. Please move away from this area.”. She didn’t have to tell us twice, we took off. We came back just at the beginning of blue hour, in hopes it was all over. But the police were moved to the other side of the road and replaced by men in black. No kidding. Black suits, black ties, black in-ear communications and black unmarked cars. They were positioned at all entrances. Very impressive, I must say. Still surprised they didn’t evacuate the whole area though hmmm…

Hence the photo from the station side. We took a few photos from here and even saw a small light and water show. I might post a photo of it otherwise you’ll see it in the video of our first day in Japan.

1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 800, 75 mm

PORT OF KOBE TOWER

 KOBE, JAPAN

photo of the day

The view from our room at the Meriken Park Oriental Hotel. A gorgeous hotel that kind of resembles a ship. We arrived just in time for blue hour and to capture this photo and a few others. The best view out of the hotel, in my opinion. The Meriken Park has everything you need in terms of food, drink and relaxation. The Mosaic just around the corner offers more food and drink options with views of the hotel and the city. All in all, a bit of luxury well worth the price.

10 second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100, 37 mm

NEWQUAY CENTRAL WHEEL

As I walked up to Spiky, I saw the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel between the buildings. All lit up. Beautiful! I tried to photograph the wheel once before but I was too late to capture it lit. This composition is much better too. Especially with the contrasting red light against blue hour makes it stand out. It was green at my first attempt. And I like the entrance as a leading line.

Though not all the lights on the wheel were working, I still tried to time my exposure to capture them all lit. It took a few trials and errors but I finally came away with this one. I could’ve close my aperture to ƒ/11 to gain an extra second of exposure but I find the images too soft at that opening. A one second exposure was enough.

1 sec @ ƒ/8, 36 mm, ISO 100

SILENCE

More Sculptures to be found farther down Newquay Promenade (Melbourne, Australia). Actually, this is one sculpture titled Silence by Adrian Mauriks. It’s quite nice being able to walk around and in-between sculptures. You get a different perspective on the art and can interact with it. And your imagination just goes wild. I quite like this sculpture. I took a few photos with different compositions, this is the one I liked best.

This sculpture is huge and to show how prominent it is, I got down low with my tripod and used a wide focal length to take the shot (I’ve only got a kit lens anyway). Set to the lowest ISO to get the cleanest shot. Ten second timer (two seconds isn’t enough for this camera) to stabilise the shot. And closed down the aperture to get everything in focus.

0.4 sec @ ƒ/8, 18 mm, ISO 100

YARRA'S BOLTE

I got up early on my first morning in Melbourne (Australia). I was eager to get some sunrise photos of Docklands. There are two areas where you find these pillars. They’re divided by the Central Pier. Unfortunately, on the left side of the pier, the water is quite dirty with rubbish. Such a shame. I was surprised to see this side was so clean. Might have something to do with the currents. My composition was pretty obvious or so I thought. I wanted these poles in the shot as well as the bridge.

My original shot was a 3:2 which included some of the Central Pier on the left side of the image. It didn’t look right to me though so I decided to get rid of it and ended up with a square crop. I like it better but it still looks unbalanced with the buildings on the right. But I like the buildings… Long exposure to smooth out the Yarra River, as there was a little breeze, and to capture a better reflection of the posts and the lights from the bridge. No drama in the sky but I think I like it that way as it reflects the calmness of the water.

Talking about a little breeze. It was freezing! I didn’t have any gloves and anyway, I thought my jacket pockets would be enough to warm them up. Nooo! Not at all. It got so cold that it was painful to manipulate the camera buttons. I’ve never experienced anything like it. And I don’t think I ever will again. I bought gloves that morning. Not before the sun came out though. I got blue hour, I had get golden hour.

6 sec @ ƒ/8, 25 mm, ISO 100

THE OLD GREEN TRAM

I almost got the shot I wanted. So close. I was trying to capture light trails of a tram passing by and I did but most of the trails were either white or yellow. I was about to leave and had actually picked up the camera, when I saw an old green tram dropping people off. I set the camera back down on the edge of the fence, focused and as it took off I pressed the shutter button. The two second timer was still on and I ended up capturing the middle and end of the tram. So close. The green light trail really makes a difference. It’s a nice contrast with the warm coloured road but also matches the colour tones of the trees. Though it’s not exactly the shot I envisioned, I still like this photo very much.

The shot was taken from the Etihad Stadium in Docklands (Melbourne, Australia). I used the fence as a tripod, focused to infinity, two second timer and… captured everything a little too late.

4 sec @ ƒ/8, 28 mm, ISO 100

CROWN

I had decided to capture the Crown Melbourne casino from this side of the Yarra River where you’d find the Crowne Plaza Melbourne hotel. It took me a long time to find a composition I liked though. I found these cleats (I think that’s what they’re called) to use for the foreground but I was having trouble with the focal length. So I tried a number of them and found this perspective more appealing. I was hoping for a nice, colourful sunset but it was too cloudy. Didn’t even get a golden hour. Once the sun set though, the clouds cleared a little and blue hour was just magic. So happy I got this photo.

As I mentioned before, I tried multiple focal length, trying to bring the background closer and keeping the same perspective. Starting from 18 mm to 24 mm, 35 mm and 55 mm. I only have a kit lens so it’s all I had to play with. I chose the 24 mm focal length in the end as the image was better balanced and more pleasing to the eye. A long exposure was perfect to capture all the flickering lights on the Crown panel and it smoothed out the water too. After all the trouble and frustration, I’m very happy with this photo.

2.5 sec @ ƒ/8, 24 mm, ISO 100