PhoTophe

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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 tower
EDO TOWN

Odaiba, Japan

In a little corner of Odaiba, near the docks, you’ll find the Oodeo-Onsen Monogatari. This is an onsen city, literally. With an indoor replica of a Edo Town (photo below), indoor and outdoor baths and spas, multiple rooms to meditate, sleep, relax, a food court and restaurants, boutiques, stores, stalls, games and a watch tower. Open from 11 am to 9 am the next day, you can immerse yourself in this absolutely amazing and gorgeous onsen theme park. So much to see, do and experience here.

This is where we came after our blue hour photography from the last post. There’s a little ritual entering this place. As soon as you walk into the main front doors, you must remove your shoes and store them in a small locker located nearby. You walk pass a small stand where they give you a pass and make your way to the front desk. There they explain how things work. They give you a bracelet with a key and a tag with a code bar on it (I’ll explain that later). From the front desk you make your way to the Yukata Shop where you get to choose your Yukata. Once chosen, you go into the change room (separate change rooms for men and women) where you strip down and put on your Yukata. Your clothes and anything else you don’t need, like your wallet, go into the locker (the key you received at the front desk). From the change room you enter Edo Town (photo below). Here you use the code bar tag for all your purchases. Whether it be food, souvenir, a massage, whatever you have to pay for is done with that tag. Leaving is the same but in reverse, with one exception, the Yukata is placed in a clothes bin in the change room. At the front desk they scan your code bar tag for all your purchases and add the admission fee. Once you’ve paid, they give you a pass that you hand over on your way out at the same stand you entered through. Oh and don’t forget to put your shoes back on. You kind of get used to walking around barefoot.

We only spent an evening in Odaiba and were very impressed by it but you really need a whole day, if not two, to visit everything. You can easily spend half a day in Oodeo-onsen Monogatari alone. This place and Odaiba in general should be on your bucket list when visiting Japan. A must visit.

28 mm, 1/30th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 3200

STARBUCKS COFFEE KOBE MERIKEN PARK

Kobe, Japan

We don’t eat a huge amount in the morning so paying for a buffet breakfast at the hotel wasn’t worth our while. The problem though, most places open around 8 am. No matter, we went for a stroll around Meriken Park and Kobe Harborland and checked out a huge shop that opened at 7:30 before coming back here, to Starbucks, for a simple breakfast.

This shot was taken a couple of hour beforehand though. Just before I headed back to the room. I liked the reflection of the sun in the front glass panels and having the Port Of Kobe Tower in the frame, gives the viewer a location. A destination.

28 mm, 1/25th second @ 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

FROM ARRIVAL TO KYOTO

Japan

day one

Ohayo my friends and welcome to our first day in Japan. I’m travelling with one of my best friends, Géraldine. If you follow my blog or Instagram, you would’ve seen a couple of photos she’s in. This is just a small video of our arrival, train trip to Kyoto and afternoon visit of the city.

Because of the language barrier, I thought we were going to have problems getting around. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the moment you land to the time you leave the airport, you are guided and helped. We exchanged our JR Passes with no difficulty and they even reserved seats for the Narita Express train to Tokyo and also for our bullet train (Shinkansen) onward to Kyoto. I highly recommend the JR Pass if your trip to Japan involves a lot of train travels between cities. We bought the 14 day pass for our 10 day trip and calculated we saved between 40-50% on tickets. It’s even valid on some local trains, ferries and buses. 

Not only did we get to see Mount Fuji from the plan on our approach to Narita Airport but also from the Shinkansen to Kyoto. We were pleasantly surprise on our first day in. Another surprise was how delicious the food on the Shinkansen was. My best mate, Marcin, told me to try it out if we ever got the chance to. Not all Shinkansen have the food carts onboard but this one did and it was lunchtime. The bento boxes were fresh and oh so delicious. They even sell beer. What more can a man ask for? 

I was amazed at how huge Kyoto Station was. The number of tracks, the boutiques, cafes, restaurants… didn’t think it was so big nor that Kyoto was such a large city either. As soon as you walk out of the station, you see Kyoto Tower. I was looking forward to get up there.

We made our way through little alleyways to get to our hotel, the Karasuma Rokujo Hotel. We did have the help of an extremely nice lady, who went out of her way to walk us to the front door of the hotel. She was actually heading in the opposite direction. We were a little bothered but greatly appreciated her act of kindness. We found the hotel very well placed in Kyoto. Only a ten minute walk from Kyoto Station and Kyoto Tower. And not even five minutes from the grand Higashi Honganji Temple. Yet located in a very quiet area. We were very pleased with the Karasuma Rokujo Hotel.

We literally dropped our baggages and headed back out. We visited the wonderful Higashi Honganji Temple. I thought I was amazed at the entrance to the temple but when I saw the interiors of the founder’s and Amida Halls, I was literally in awe. These halls are stunning from the ground up. The structures, the tatamis, the decorations, the amount of gold… the beauty and wonder of it all really struck me. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to photograph nor film the interior of the halls but you can see some photos on their website.

Our next stop was Kyoto Tower to checkout the view for potential photos at blue hour. Unfortunately, as we approached the tower, police arrived and stopped everyone from entering. The policewoman that stopped us, later approached us with a translation on her phone saying there was a bomb scare and to move away of the area. So we went for a walk around Kyoto. Saw the torii (gateway) of the Fushimi Inari Taisha Otabisho and a couple of Geisha or Maiko, or just a couple of women dressed in Kimonos, I don’t know. We did head back to the tower in hopes it was all over but it got a little more serious. The police had moved across the road from the tower and men in black were now positioned at all entrances. We ended up taking photos from the Kyoto Station side and was pleasantly surprised by a small water, light and music display.

After blue hour we looked around little for a place to eat and stopped at Saikatei restaurant. We ordered sashimi, dumplings and a few other things, and a couple of Japanese beers. Service was quick, food was delicious and quite cheap for the quality of the food and service.

Well that’s it my friends. Thank you for joining me on our first day in Japan and I hope you will join me for day 2. In the meantime, head over to my website or Instagram to see photos of the trip. Oyasuminasai.

MUSIC : Zen Garden from Adrikm (YouTube)

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

A TEMPLE'S VIEW

KYOTO, JAPAN

Kyoto Tower is very visible from inside Higashi Honganji Temple. You may of seen my first post from Japan that shows a different perspective. I didn’t know this but Kyoto Tower is the world’s tallest non steel-frame construction. Interesting huh ?!

So one of the reasons I took this shot was because the side exit of the temple made me think of an underground tunnel leading to the tower. Wish it was true.

I went with black and white here, simply because of the high contrast and the coloured version was boring. Love the trees too. Oh and I also added a slight split-tone to the shadows to cool the image just a touch.

1/200th seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100, 60 mm

KERIKERI - BAY OF ISLANDS - NEW ZEALAND

THE CLOUD & THE TOWER, THE STORE & THE FALLS

I thought I’d share the photos that were in the video of my last post. I’ve wanted to share them for a while but wanted to get the video out first.

You might have noticed that the first two photos are not from Kerikeri but Auckland (New Zealand). This was on our first full day in New Zealand, I got up early, before my friends, to check out the Piers at the end of Queen Street, where we’d eaten at the night before.

Later that morning we were picking up our camper-van and heading up to Kerikeri. We lost three hours at the camper-van company because of a problem with their system, which made us arrived in Kerikeri mid afternoon instead midday.

We headed straight for The Stone Store and Kiroripo Pa. A beautiful area along the Kerikeri River. We spent a couple hours there then visited the Rainbow Falls (Waianiwaniwa) a little farther upstream.

Unfortunately that’s all we had the time to visit. The next day we were off to Paihia. Kerikeri is a large town with plenty to visit and do, and absolutely beautiful. Well worth a visit.

SOUTHERN TIME

I’d like to share one more photo of the Southern Cross Station before I move on to other street photos. The Water Tower Clock has a lot of history that I won’t go into but isn’t it beautiful. As soon as I saw it, I had to snap a photo. Before I did though, I did a quick Google search for images of the clock. Not many out there and none that I could see from this angle. Simple. Love the colours. And I absolutely wanted to avoid including the base of the tower. Big advertising screens, yuk!

For those interested, it’s a straight forward hand-held shot with the aperture wide open and ISO bumped up a bit.

1/60 sec @ ƒ/5.6, 42 mm, ISO 800

LEAD PIPE & SHOT FACTORY

On the other side of Swanston Street opposite the State Library of Victoria there’s this. The Lead Pipe & Shot Factory tower is situated in the Melbourne Central Shopping Mall (Melbourne, Australia). I think anyone who’s been to Melbourne has seen this tower. A magnificent brick structure and the dome enclosure is just as impressive. We were just wandering around and I wasn’t going to photograph it but how can you not? Very difficult to get a unique perspective though. If you’d like to know more about the tower, check out this link https://www.melbournecentral.com.au/our-heritage

I went with black and white because there wasn’t any other colours apart from the red/orange bricks. There’s not a huge amount of light in the mall and I didn’t have my tripod with me so I had to bump up the ISO but I didn’t want to go too high. So I stopped down to ƒ/4.5 to let a little more light in. Depth of field didn’t matter as everything was far away from me. I took about half a dozen shots of this tower but I liked this one the most. It shows the height of the tower and the how giant this glass dome is. Yeah, I like it.

1/200 sec @ ƒ/4.5, 18 mm, ISO 400

LAST RAYS OF VITAMIN D

Copying one of my favoutire photographers here, Paul Zizka. He often posts landscape photos with himself in them to show the scale of things. That's not me in the photos though but a friend that I invited to tag along. I may do more of these kind of photos with someone in them to show thw scale of things. What do you think?

LOOKING OUT FOR SUN RAYS

I went up to a lookout tower in Mont Koghi (Dumbea, New Caledonia). I think it used to be a bush fires observation tower for fire brigades. It's just before you arrive at the Auberge du Mont Koghi. At this time of the year, the sun sets at the end of the valley of Dumbea. To the left is a gorgeous view of Noumea and the lagoon in the distance. You get a great view as well from the Auberge. A must for a sunset drink and a meal aftewards.