Archive for 28 January, 2013

POTW: 28 Jan 2013

Soon, on the 11th of February, it will be the 2,673rd anniversary of Japan. It’s a public holiday in winter, where lots of flags are flown on department store buildings, and young couples shiver as they attempt to hang out in the trendy, or ‘cool’, shopping districts. Incidentally, it’s also Kagami Biraki day (“breaking of mochi“), where after a successful battle, the ruler of Japan, Tokugawa 300 years ago gathered his generals and broke open a barrel of sake to celebrate. Since then sake and breaking of mochi is done on this day.

The image below is one of my rare film-street photography images, which includes natural film colourisation, dust, grain, and other film-charisma.

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Apple censorship of art

Chase Jarvis, a famous photographer in the social networking sites, reported that Apple has removed the 500px application from it’s iTunes Store because the app allows nude art to be found. In fact, the precise words were “nude photos”, not pornographic, but nudity was apparently the problem. What is the problem? Well, of course in some cultures viewing nude photos can result in quite adverse repercussions. However, a computer company has taken it upon itself to decide what is art and what isn’t, and so an entire business (the 500px website) and artistic community lost its access to Apple users. Even if the 500px application was only available in the US, why should this be removed? Should art like Michelangelo’s David be removed from public viewing? Should Botticelli’s Birth of Venus be removed, too? Why am I upset? I guess because there’s too many cat photos being shared on social networking sites, and too many flower photos shown off by beginning photographers (though I’m guilty of that, too). I’d much rather preserve and protect variety, rather than support the narrowing of acceptability.

Screenshot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia profile on the 500px.com website.

Screenshot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia profile on the 500px.com website.

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787s grounded in Japan

Both Japanese Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) ground their fleet of 787s because yet another electrical problem, this time a battery fire (BBC, Japan Today). According to NHK, evacuation caused some passengers injuries whilst using the deployed inflatable chutes. Since most aircraft use hydraulics, but the 787 uses electrics and manufactured by a multitude of companies, the compatibility of the electrical system may be the underlying cause of on-going problems. One Japanese industry analyst, on NHK news, described the 787 as an “electrical monster”, because of its heavy reliance on electricity.

File photo:

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Fall of Nature

Fall of Nature is an art and an awareness raising project. Of course the viewer is free to interpret the images as he or she wishes, but the intention is to highlight how nature is being replaced by commercialism, consumerism, and suffers from urban encroachment. The collection is currently available on my PhotoShelter portfolio at Fall of Nature. You can order prints and products of the digitally scanned versions of the images at my PhotoShelter portfolio, but at extra cost of money and time, you can order organic, analogue prints direct from the film (unframed). That is to say, none of the images have had any digital manipulation, and may contain dust specks, grain, scratches, and other charisma. The images you see are about exactly as they print from the 35mm negative. These images were shot on Kodak Ekta 100, with a Minolta Alpha 7, on two different days at Tado mountains in Mie prefecture, and Meieki & Sakae wards in Nagoya city of Aichi prefecture.

Fall of Nature – Images by Andrew Blyth

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Senkaku Islands dispute

As you may know, the Senkaku Islands dispute is being ratcheted up by newly installed politicians who are eager to prove their worth; that is, it’s an ego contest, a test of wits, or a game of chicken (who will blink first). In any case, Japan has been using the Coast Guard to patrol the disputed islands, and since China has been sending surveillance aircraft, F-15 jets (pictured below) have been scrambled (thanks to a Google+ user for sharing this source, Global Post). Talk on Google+ by some has turned pessimistic, as if some sort of armed skirmish is inevitable. Let’s hope “cool heads will prevail”. More photos of the Japanese Self-defence Air Force are available on my PhotoShelter portfolio.

Update (15 Jan 2013): The Chinese government now plans to ‘survey’ the Senkaku Islands (BBC)

Update (21 Jan 2013): Chinese fighter jets now involved, and Prime Minister Abe calls for ‘rules of engagement’ to prevent a military escalation (Japan Today).

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POTW: 14th Jan 2013

About POTWs in 2013

I think this is the first post of 2013. As you know, Photo of the Week (POTW) blog posts aren’t exactly weekly, as I am a busy person. I do apologise for not being able to be so frequent, but blogging is just the fun side of what I do, and it takes time to think of something worthwhile to say, and ensuring it is worth your time to read. POTWs are usually published each Monday at about 6pm (Tokyo time), though it may have to be adjusted later this year as my schedule may change. Please use the RSS button in your browser to obtain a list of updates, and bookmark this site in your browser, too.

Other Website news

You may have noticed the new version of the JapanesePhotos.Asia webpage looks a little different. The main two differences are the drop-down menu, and the multi-screen functionality. That means, the homepage should work well on smartphones, tablet computers, desktop computers (Mac, Windows, & Linux). However, there is unfortunately a caveat. The homepage is designed for the most up-to-date web 2.0, HTML5 systems. Which means the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) browser (regardless of age) may have functionality problems. Many websites, companies, and web designers have been complaining for years about the out-of-datedness of IE, and very recently Google explicitly stated it cannot provide any more support for IE. However, I do maintain a simple text menu at the bottom of the page, above the footer for IE fans. On that point, currently, WordPress (the volunteer group that created and maintains this blogging software) still produces IE compatible software, though I don’t know how much longer their resolve will last.

POTW

This Photo of the Week (POTW) is for an upcoming annual event, the Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri). It is held in coldest, most miserable part of winter in Kounomiya, just outside of Nagoya, in central Japan. The next event will apparently be held on the 16th February 2013 (according to WhatonWhen.Com). Here is some info from my 2009 blog post:

It began over 1,200 years ago, in the year 767, when Nara was the capital of Japan. At that time, there were plagues affecting the Japanese people, so Emperor Shotoku ordered special prayers to be said nation wide. The governor of Owari Province (now Aichi Prefecture) asked the shrine at Kounomiya to do something about this, and to remove the bad luck. So, the Naked Man Festival, held in the coldest time in winter was formulated.

If you’re planning on being one of the 120,000 plus members of the crowd, I suggest that you prepare well. That meaning warm clothes and avoiding both dehydration & over-hydration. Because of the cold, possible snow and ice on the ground, you’ll need to wear two pairs of socks, thermal leggings, warm trousers, thermal shirts, warm shirt, jumper (sweater), warm jacket, gloves, and scarf. Drink plenty the day before, so your body is at peak hydration that morning. Take a good hydrating drink (eg: Pocari Sweat or Aquarius). Don’t drink too much in the morning. There are toilets there, though I don’t recall ever seeing them, and the toilets at the station will require a ticket for entry.

The event usually starts at about 1pm. Be there before 12pm to get to know the lie of the land, where everything is, have some snacks to warm you up and ensure you have enough energy to withstand the next few hours. Importantly, find a good standing spot, and try to make guesses as to what parts of the public access will be closed off from 1pm, and so you can get a good standing space. Usually, the inside of the temple area will be overcrowded, and you’ll need to sit on someone’s shoulders, and you may be told to get out of the way once the event begins. Don’t worry, as you can work out how to plan things better next year. Also, there’s plenty of space along the boulevard leading up to the temple (shown below), though crowded with the other 100,000 people. Welcome to ‘contemporary zen’ [/sarcasm].

It is a great cultural event, simply because it is such a rare kind of event for North Americans, Europeans, and other Western people. More photos like this POTW can be found on my agent’s website, Asia Photo Connection, by Henry Westheim, and my own portfolio on PhotoShelter.

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