In October 2015 I had the chance to go back to Japan, "my favorite place". I believe that everybody that has traveled a bit has found that place about which he/she becomes totally biased. Everything - also objectively doubtful ones - become a source of fascination, wonder and magic. Many have fallen in love with Italy, some would get on a plane today for the US, while others swear they would start a life in South America tomorrow. I got the Japan bug... I simply love it all: the stillness of hidden temples in Kyoto, the nerdy weirdness of Akihabara. The chaotic urban scenery of Shibuya, the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji's landscapes. Add the people and the food, and you have what I call a whole spectrum experience, meaning that you get experiences at both extremes of any spectrum you can name.
I might be biased, but the other person that joined me in this short trip was not - actually, she might have been fed up with it even before leaving Switzerland. I bugged my girlfriend about Japan for way too long, so she almost had to come and see for herself. Would she like it the same way I did the first time? But also, would I like visiting the exact same places twice? Well, it turned out that yes, we both loved it (again). Maybe for different reasons, but also for many similar ones.
As this is supposedly a photography blog, I'll get into it. I might pop some stories about the trip as we go... so, photography. I am a bit confused, to be honest. I don't really know what to think about them... I like some of them, but not many. I think the general problem is that I wanted to get very good pictures, because I have a new camera, I know the places already, and I knew what I wanted to capture. I was supposed to, right? I wanted to get everything in the frame - the people, the place, the atmosphere. Not easy, and often beyond what I can do. Many thus ended up being very "tourist-ish". They don't compare even slightly to the ones I shot during my world trip, where I had the time and the mind for it. The fact that we were a bit on a rush to show my girlfriend all I wanted to show her did not give me the proper time to figure out how to capture the scene. Oh well... I guess I'll have to go back once again!!! =P
Now, about the pictures themselves. The process many have gone through is the usual combo of Lightroom adjustments + Photoshop retouches (50% gray overlay & localized high-pass filter). Nothing much more, if not that while taking the pictures, similarly to what I had done in the "US trip" pictures, I took often dark pictures so that I would not lose details in the highlights (especially in the street signs in the night shots). It's then easy through Lightroom to bring out the shadows again... For example, let's take this picture at Akihabara right out of the camera:
Here below I post some other pictures of urban landscapes / moments that have been under a similar process:
A very similar process can be applied to people as well, as you can see in the example below. It's almost an extreme example, where "I lost control" and definitely went overboard with the Photoshop retouching, but... don't know, just felt like going a bit artificial ;) You definitely won't like the last one after seeing where it comes from, it's just "too much".
Here below a few other examples:
Last but not least, a couple of pictures from around Japan, more on the "quiet" side of things.
I'd like to conclude with a nice story, which is a fortunate encounter of "the" geisha I met 3 years ago in Kanazawa, and that we were fortunate enough to meet again. As I pre-planned our visit to Kaikaro's Teahouse in Kanazawa for a tourist performance, I knew I would meet the owner - a lovely lady that was so kind to invite me to watch a private performance behind rice-paper doors during my last trip - so I brought chocolate for them. I did not know I would have the pleasure to meet Suzuka herself again! I was lucky enough to have a visit card of my website with me, which pictures her! This is the result ;)