Archive for October 30, 2011

My FAE exhibit is set up

I’ve set up my display for the Nagoya Foreign Artists Exhibition today. The exhibition opens to the general public on Tuesday, and runs through to Sunday, 6th November. It is my first time in an exhibition and I felt a little nervous setting up. I had problems with my prints coming back not being the size I ordered, and so they were smaller than the frames I had, so I had to get new frames. Setting the pictures in the frames at the venue felt a lot like getting dressed in public, it felt weird.

I think I have a large library of images to choose from, and mostly digital. However, I guessed (correctly) that most of the photography exhibits would have been shot in digital, so I assumed that going olde school would set me apart a little. I met some great people with some great photos and had some great conversations. One interesting photographer has a medium format Bronica that he hasn’t used in years, and another has Minolta film cameras, too. They expressed some interest in dusting them off. It’d be a great feeling for me if I’ve inspired them to play with film again (at least a little).

So, please come and have a look at mine and the other wonderful works on display at the Nagoya International Centre, or check out my online gallery at PhotoShelter.

Andrew Blyth's works on display at the 26th annual Nagoya Foreign Artists Exhibition (FAE26).

Andrew Blyth's works on display at the 26th annual Nagoya Foreign Artists Exhibition (FAE26).

Foreign Artists Exhibition 2011

I’ll be entering some of the Poem of a Cacophonous City images in this year’s Foreign Artists Exhibition (FAE) to be held at the Nagoya International Centre, 1st to 6th November. Please come and see what I think embodies the poem. The images are available for purchase as prints and products (including mugs, mouse pads, and more) see the gallery here.

Information about the Poem of a Cacophonous City exhibition

Information about the Poem of a Cacophonous City exhibition

New film images: City Cacophany

Spent a bit of time in the city looking for interesting things to contrast, and this is what I’ve found. Basically, a theme became apparent, that the city is noisy, busy, and any adjective to use is somehow an active one. These images are also available as prints, mouse pads, mugs, and so forth.

Poem of a Cacophonous City – Images by Andrew Blyth

Photo of the week, 10 Oct

Wow, I never knew how addictive Google+ could be. I joined in the time when it was invite only (thanks to Adobe Express on Twitter for the invite), and since G+ went public… wow! Consequently I missed last weeks POTW.

This photo was taken in Shirakawa, a mountain village listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features old style large farm houses with thatched roofs. The village opens only a few times during winter where they set up flood lights to allow people to see the houses at night, making the whole place look like a Christmas card. More Shirakawa photos can be seen at my PhotoShelter portfolio.

A poem of the first hope for 2011

My New Year’s routine is to go to a local Buddhist Temple to see in the New Year and take my turn to toll the bell, and then to a Shrine to eat warm oudon and drink my first (and usually only) sake for the year, and in the morning to see the first sunrise. I went out really early in the morning on the 1st January 2011 to get sunrise pictures. It’s not my preferred subject, but it’s special to Japanese people, to send New Years cards that feature a sunrise, especially the first one of the year. We send Christmas cards, they send New Year cards to their friends. That day I took a friend out with me to take him to see one of my favourite sunrise pictures ever, which I happen to have taken. Unfortunately, we were about 500m too far to the left, and so we missed getting the sun rising through a local amusement park (see link for that picture). As a consequence and with some irony, I just photographed on anyway, shooting the rising sun with a smoke stack / cooling tower in view.

Every time I’m out there alone I wonder what the year will bring, what will happen in the coming year. Will it be exciting or uneventful? On the 1st January 2011, the first day of the new year there was hope, optimism, potential for everyone in Japan. Below is a video of the photographs I took to commemorate the day of a new and potentially exciting year, a year that many would rather forget, but will always be remembered. There was too much irony for me to ignore these photographs.

My best new year photos are on my agent’s website, Asian Photo Connection by Henry Westheim, and here is a search for “Japanese New Year“, and many of those photos (including the boats, dog, etc) were taken on 1st January, 2011.

Sunrise over the popular Nagashima Spa Land, 2009

Sunrises are often used on New Year cards in Japan

JASDF Grounds its F15 jets

It was announced tonight that the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) has grounded its fleet of 202 F-15 Eagle fighter jets. This follows an incident today where the external tank under the port wing of one appeared to have disintegrated or exploded and fell near Nomi City as the jet was approaching the Komatsu City air base for landing. The NHK report also says that even though the jets are grounded, they will still be on stand by ready to respond to any airspace incursions. This comes at a time when the Chinese military is attempting to extend its reach into Asia and make maritime claims including Okinawa’s Sengoku Islands, and the Spratley Islands of Vietnman, Malaysia, Philippines, and Taiwan. The incident with the F15 today, follows several other incidents where parts have fallen from the planes mid-flight.


A Buddhist Temple: Jodo Shinshu sect

A special thanks to the wife of the current monk of the Jokoji Temple for letting me in to spend an hour photographing there. It turned out not to be long enough, but there’ll be more opportunities in the future.

The Jokoji Temple is a part of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism. The name is in Japanese, and the translation is “True Pure Land School”. The school was formed after the founder, Shinran, was concerned about the direction his Buddhism was going, and wanted to maintain Buddhism in Japan, as it was meant to be.

My collection of images from the temple interior are very rare, and this was a very unique opportunity, so please be very respectful with the use of these images. The collection includes an image of Shinran, statue of Buddha, religious objects, and sutra books. The red sutra books (pictured below) are special. In the early days of Jodo Shinshu, there was a temple fire and the sutra books are very precious items. So a monk ran back into the fire to retrieve some, unfortunately he could not get out. The monk cut open his belly and put the books inside himself so that they could be protected from the fire. In memory of the monk the books are now coloured red, and cannot be placed directly onto the floor.

The images should soon be available on my Asian Photo Connection portfolio.

The statue of Buddha in Jokoji Temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism.

A statue of Buddha leaning forward ready to help someone in need, inside the Jokoji Temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism.

Religious objects in Jokoji Temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism.

Sutra books, prayer beads, sashes, and bell infront of the statue of Buddha inside the Jokoji Temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism.

Radiation in Tokyo

It’s the last 25 minutes of September for 2011, and the only thing on my mind is radiation in Japan. The last week on the newly opened Google+ has been amazing. On it I’ve come across people who’ve posted bilingually articles about the on-going radiation crisis happening in Tohoku (special thanks to sai, ありがとう). Here in central Japan the nuclear accident feels like a distant memory, something that happened far, far away, and whilst concerning, isn’t going to drive us nuts. The opposite should be true. Articles posted by people on Google+ suggest that the Japanese government is doing everything possible to avoid hysteria in Tokyo and other places (ABC). The British nuclear expert, Professor Christopher Busby, describes the Fukushima situation as, “…probably the greatest catastrophe in the whole of human history” (ZDF). Within weeks of the crisis beginning, mustard spinach grown in Tokyo was found to have been contaminated with radiation (Apr 2011). There are areas outside of the 30km exclusion zone that have been contaminated with plutonium (NHK 29 Sep 2011). Apparently, after Chernobyl, the north sea saw a radiation contamination peak at 1,000 Becquerels, but off Fukushima was over 100,000 (NYTimes). In addition to this, at the height of the crisis, a lot of people were ready and waiting to be told to take iodine pills to protect us against radiated iodine exposure. These pills saturate the thyroid so that any ingestion of radioactive iodine cannot accumulate and is immediately flushed out of the body. However, despite the advice, the national government never ordered the administration of these (Wall Street Journal), which also would have triggered embassies in Tokyo to distribute them to their nationals, too. Furthermore, local governments did not have the nous to act in the absence of direction. The oceans have been massively contaminated (ScienceBlogs.Com), affecting fish, a staple of Japanese diet.

Finally, still in Tokyo, there were elevated levels of radiation in Tokyo itself as late as July. The map below comes from SafeCast.Org. Also see the government map dated 29th Sept, 2011 (METI). The government announced the thirty kilometre exclusion zone, and declared everywhere else safe. The map plainly shows that this is not the case. Foreign governments have advised their residents within 80kms to move away, and this seems to be why. The final morbid fact I’ll pass on is that there are residents who believe they can return to their homes within a year or so, and there are politicians who say they are working towards that goal. The reality is that even after 30 years, there are no plans to re-populate the Chernobyl township.

Areas with radiation from Fukushima

Fukushima and Tokyo affected by the nuclear crisis.