The other side of the coin…..the grass is just the same colour

8 11 2014

DSC_2393 - Version 2

For 5 months I have been culturing a beard. The moustache and chops are optional but depend on my propensity to approach the razor. I’ve had beards before; they come and go. The first when I was about 28, the second aged perhaps 35.

Of my own volition, I live in a society which discriminates against many things: tattoos, skin colour, ethnicity, gender, and beards. Of course there are also many positive points about Japan which in my opinion outweigh the negatives quite considerably but nonetheless…..I can see the grass on the other side of the fence and it is exactly the same shade of shit brown that it was when I lived in England.

I consider myself privileged to have had the experience of living in a society whose values are far removed from those I experienced in my formative years. I think it’s an extremely humbling and valuable life lesson, that absolutely everyone should aspire to. It seems that there are so many people whose outlooks might change when they’ve had the experience of being treated as an inferior commodity; with no hope in sight of being able to truly change that society mindset.

So this morning, armed with a sharp blade, foam, and a vision of purity, I set about the cancerous growth that had so clearly afflicted my face for the last 5 months. A labour of love (and hate, and itching, and the most negative reactions you could ever imagine from my sons and the wife – I suppose everyone else being too polite to say?) destroyed in a few deft minutes. Oh so that’s what my skin looks like? Yuk! Should have left it alone. One cold sore and a few unidentified bumps have been discovered. Should we inform the National Geographic Survey?

Visually I thought a beard added significantly to any guy’s appearance. It’s a balance implement for the hair on his scalp, even if he doesn’t have any? Well I have to think about that one. Maybe add some bristles in Magic Marker to a few campaign posters that are stuck up around my neighbourhood, just to get a vague idea. The hair on the chin adds a frame to the ‘eyes/nose/mouth’ that seem to be the fixation of portrait viewers. Or perhaps that’s just me.





it’s all done with mirrors

17 10 2014

late afternoon in Harajuku, and the October sun is blasting down on the streets. with no clouds to diffuse the sun, the shadows are strong and dark but sometimes there’s a tiny ray of hope. mirrored glass in office buildings all over Tokyo catches those rays and returns them to sender. and coincidentally  spotlights a few points of the street. catching those spotlights is half the fun.

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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
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Highland Games 2013 in Japan





Alone?

9 09 2014

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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

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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?








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