Scotland in the news

19 09 2014

As an Englishman, Scotland has always been my neighbour, though the number of times I have visited could be counted on the fingers of one hand. This is a shame. There’s a huge expanse of unspoiled landscape, with castles dating back to medieval times. Real mountains and lochs. And a fiercely independent spirit embedded in the people of Scotland.

Japan has a Scotland Society, and once a year they hold a localised version of the Highland Games. I went along last year and found some strong men in kilts, throwing heavy weights into the air. Japanese afficionados would picnic on tartan blankets under cherry trees, and I even discovered what a ‘Japanese Scotsman’ wears under his kilt (and no, it’s not a pair of Union Jack y-fronts).

Japan Scotland Highland Games
Weight for Height Cpmpetition
Japan Scotland Highland Games 2013
Japan Scotland Highland Games
Highland Games 2013 in Japan


9 09 2014


she was the epitome of noir. lost in her own world. aloof and anonymous. a passenger in the same car, but very much a stranger. original on iPhone, processed in Snapseed

Gone racing

6 09 2014

The Mechanic.

The Mechanic. Without Kimura-san, the Lola Formula 3 car would never have gotten off the trailer.

‘Peter-san, please brake on’ – Kimura-san was about to put the jack under the front suspension, and just needed me to activate the brakes. Climbing over the wide body moulding, I levered myself into the driver’s ‘seat’ and stretched my legs down a seemingly endless tunnel. My size 11s found the pedals, but you need ballerina’s feet to touch only the brake. By turning myself kind of sideways, and pointing my toes, I managed it. Not a comfortable experience by any stretch of the imagination, and then there’s the wild howling crazed monster of an engine, inches behind the driver’s head. You really have to be a slave to cars, to even contemplate strapping yourself into one of these missiles.

I had come to Fuji International Speedway, location of the longest straight in the world, to shoot some portraits with a 10 year old Japanese karting champion. Unfortunately, he had gone to school. But Kimura-san, the mechanic for dentist Saito-san’s little F3 Lola, had an interesting face, and I told him so ‘not interesting, Peter. bad, maybe’. Saito-san owns and drives the Lola at closed meetings like this one, or historic racing events. But he seemed a little camera shy. So Kimura and I went to the pit lane, where you have these beautiful converging lines, and a heavy cloud covering the background. I shot with a 14mm lens, to include the dramatic architecture of the grandstand and circuit buildings. A flash in a soft box provided the light for Kimura’s face. It was a shame that the original subject had not made himself available, but still coming away with a great shot is compensation in itself.

An Extra 12″

29 08 2014

An Extra 12" (adjustable spanner)

An Extra 12″ (adjustable spanner)


Been doing a few product shots this week, mainly tools. The texture on some of these is absolutely stunning. Choosing a background that compliments the product is quite a big part of the process. In this shot I wanted something other than a plain background, but not with too bold a texture. I used my son’s balance disc, and lit it with a single gridded strobe, shooting at F2.8 on an 85mm lens at pretty much closest distance to the spanner, which was sitting on a piece of glass between two chairs, over the training ball.  Ambient light illuminated the upper side of the tool. I also used a 0.6 ND filter in the gel holder of my Pro Shade, just to allow the use of a wide aperture (throwing the rubber spikes on the balance disc out of sharp focus).

The camera was mounted on a Manfrotto 3021 tripod, with the centre column set parallel to the floor. This is a great tool and the only way I think it could be improved is perhaps a carbon version, with titanium fittings. Just waiting on that lottery ticket….

Firemen’s Convention outside my front door

25 08 2014



no fewer than 6 fire engines and 4 police cars packed into one tiny Tokyo street…nobody seemed to know where the fire was or even how to get back to the fire station. chaos redefined. if this is where my resident tax goes, please can I make a suggestion?

500px Global Photo Walk 6th September 2014

24 08 2014

In a couple of weeks’ time, 500px, the photo sharing site, are organising a global photo walk, and I’ve prepared a route for the Tokyo segment, passing through Sumida-ku and Koto-ku. 

We’ll be meeting at 2pm on Saturday 6th of September, in Asakusa. The assembly point will be just in front of the koban, which is on the junction of route 463 and Edo Dori (opposite Burger King).  Approximate finishing time should be around 5-5.30 pm, right in the middle of the Golden Hour, and by then we’ll be at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Shirakawa.

I went out yesterday to map the route, and provide some ideas for photos that we can make along the way:


details in the dust, at the start of the route, in Sumida Park

details in the dust, at the start of the route, in Sumida Park

Tohoku Expressway viewed through the frame of the railway bridge

Tohoku Expressway viewed through the frame of the railway bridge

Asahi Flame building

Asahi Flame building

Asahi Buildings. both are covered in reflective materials.

Asahi Buildings. both are covered in reflective materials.

Asahi Flame building. nothing very interesting inside, as is often the case. but the exterior is clad in these highly polished tiles, which are going to make life interesting

Asahi Flame building. nothing very interesting inside, as is often the case. but the exterior is clad in these highly polished tiles, which are going to make life interesting

here’s the Facebook page for the event. This will carry further updates on the event and more detail on the route, as we get closer to 6th September:


meeting point in Google Maps, here:,139.797673,3a,75y,107.1h,102.03t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sqIUIHj8FOQ03CcvUhaSWxA!2e0?hl=en


hope to see you all in a couple of weeks. cheers, Peter



The Union Jack Band

10 08 2014


went to see a friend’s band play an open-air show today, since the fireworks were cancelled. my m.o. for bands especially open air shows is, don’t bother with the photographers’ pit, get as far back as you can with a big lens, that still allows a fairly tight framing. main reason for this is the perspective is far more natural – you avoid that ‘up the nose’ look that shots made from the photo pit or front row, have. as usual the lights were fairly crap, not too bad with an exposure of 1/320 at F3.5 (wide open) on ISO 1600, but mostly the shadows would fall right over the performers’ eyes – the panda look, so shots like the one above were few and far between. the patterned background slightly defocused with a telephoto lens actually contributes to the feel of the shot. oh and the music was a good crack

a few more photos, by popular demand, as they say:


Aimee sporting a Great Britain-themed hair accessory. and some Dio style devil horns


A typical lighting problem – the rear half of the stage is lit, but step forward and you fall out of the light. Only a lot of dodging saved this shot from the delete key.


never forget the drummer. the flag really helps though


that stare. dealing with hecklers


Ben Dover gave it all from his little heart


the amazing Mr.Tommy Jaime – offstage he’ll be hobbling around with a walking cane but put a fat five string in his hands and you’ll see him dance


what are friends for after all?


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