Today I decided to keep things simple. Looking forward to a day out in the city taking photos with Ken, I wondered what to take, not wanting it to be a kitchen sink-type operation, where I’d take things just in case I’d want them. I don’t really like using zoom lenses, as despite the convenience and in some cases their great quality, there are just too many options. So I left my trusty Tamron at home. I’m not even sure, when it’s uncalled for, if I really need colour. Getting the colours to match just introduces too much complexity and distracts me from the essence of the scene. Since it would be a day of photography, I wanted to capture people’s expressions, the meaning of their lives in the vast city and experience the phenomena of life myself. I didn’t want to water the experience down with gimmicky lenses or digital trickery. Back to basics, photo-style.
After starting out being (severely) disappointed with the camera on my 3G iPhone, which had about the resolution of a melted blob and a similar inability to autofocus, I ended up loving it despite the limitations, or even because of them. The haziness gave the photos a toy camera effect and being freed from the tension of ‘perfect capture’ helped me to focus on the essence of the scene rather than on the camera capturing it. I loved the ability to take a photo and upload it straight to Facebook and often get a response from my friends within minutes. I liked the angle of view.
Fast forward to the iPhone 4 and now I have the same connectivity, but a sharp, 5mp image, that you can keep for editing later, print, or blog knowing it will look good, or even play around with it on various apps, but still with the delicious limitation of no zoom. Who needs zoom when you have legs? I also found that the angle it offers me, at 35mm in full frame terms, suits me just fine. So, I stepped out into the world with it’s DX equivalent, a little gem known as Nikon’s 24mm f/2.8 prime (see the article for how I hit on that strange length) and boy did I love it!
We decided that Ueno would be a good spot, not too far, not too near. So we headed out into the park, for some park life and the shade of trees. Seeing as Ken was shooting some B&W film, I decided to switch over to monochrome digital, with a simulated yellow filter for a bit more contrast. But I’m a cheat, as it was all going on in RAW, so I could also view the photos in colour if I so desired. Still, just composing in B&W is refreshing and relaxing, freeing me from the complexity of an unnecessarily complex world.
Now for the photos…
Next stop, Ameyayokocho Street.
I was sweltering, it was probably one of the hottest days of the year and even with hat and thermos was glad to make it to the camera shop we were looking for.
Luckily for us, there was a festival in Ueno that same day! One of the market sellers was good enough to tell us about it. It featured various groups and troupes from Tohoku. I was impressed and moved to see them celebrate the summer months and the wonder of life despite all the hardships up there. I hope things get better there and was happy to support even in this small way.
A Summer Festival
Then dinner- yakitori, salads and drinks out in the open. We met a nice guy and his friend, who is a Leica enthusiast. One day I have to get a lens for mine, hopefully without taking out a small mortgage first! It was good to connect and it all reminded me of my main theme for the day- keep it human, keep it simple and the beauty will reveal itself every day.