Monthly Archives: July 2013

Endless Skyscrapers in Osaka

Osaka is such a great city for night photography! There are lots of futuristic buildings and interesting cityscapes to enjoy, especially from above. This shot of skyscrapers surging into the night sky was from the Umeda Sky Building, which has some great 360 degree views, plus they allow tripods! The exposure was five seconds long and there’s no way I could hold the camera steady for that long without a tripod, I can’t even hold it steady for one second!


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The Crystal Tower in Osaka Business Park

I went for a casual stroll around the Osaka Business Park one evening and came to the conclusion that they’ve made very liberal use of the word ‘park’. Sure there are some trees sprinkled about but it feels very much like your typical business district, maybe it makes workers feel better about going to work, knowing they work in a ‘park’. Just an observation anyway, I did find some cool stuff down there, including the monolithic Crystal Tower. I would normally flip the camera to get the whole building in shot but I really like the imposing look it had in landscape.


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A Storm of Colour over Osaka

When I book hotels in cities these days I try to remember to ask for a high room with a nice view, hotels can be great for epic cityscapes! It doesn’t always work out but sometimes they really make an effort, especially if you’re polite about it. They helped me out when I stayed at the Hotel Monterey Grasmere in Osaka and I got some great views of the city. The sky was amazing that evening so I was twice as thankful for having the sweet view!


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Tenjin Matsuri Fireworks in Osaka

I was excited for the Tenjin Matsuri fireworks display in Osaka and it definitely delivered! The only problem was deciding where to watch, you must have to get there super early to lock in a good viewing spot. I didn’t really know where the fireworks would specifically go off along the river so I kept walking until I found a bridge that would at least give me a nice reflection on the water.

We were crammed in like sardines on that bridge but I slowly snaked my way to the front as people came and went, you’ve really got to be right there at the front if you want a decent view. I ended up taking hundreds of photos at all kinds of different settings, there’s not much time to review things as you go so I tend to take a whole bunch at different exposure lengths in such a situation and hope that a few of them turn out ok. I went with this one in the end and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, it makes me laugh looking at the photo when I know how crazy it was directly behind me at the time, I wish I’d turned around and taken a photo of that epic scene too!


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A Lake in the Hills above Kobe

I like getting some perspective when I arrive in a new city so I walked up into the hills above Kobe soon after arriving in an effort to do so. There’s a whole bunch of walking tracks up there and they’re pretty good too. Some lead to lookouts, others to waterfalls, while this one took me to a mysterious lake that looked gorgeous in the early evening.


Posted in Japan, Kobe Tagged |

A Fish out of Water in Kobe

I bet a lot of people visit Kyoto and Osaka without realizing how close Kobe is. You can get there in as little as 30 minutes from those two cities so why not check it out, it’s definitely worth a day or two if you’ve got the time. I stumbled upon this randomly awesome fish sculpture while I was walking around the port area and it made my day, it’s probably the best fish sculpture I’ve ever seen. There was also a group of kids doing BMX tricks nearby, Kobe baby!


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In Search of a Kyoto Sunset

In search of a nice  sunset in Kyoto I found a trail that took me high above the tree line with a great view of the setting sun. It peeked out from under the clouds right at the last moment and made all the effort of getting up there worthwhile. The only problem was getting back down, the forest trail was pretty dark and even led me through a spooky cemetery at one point!


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Fushimi Inari Shrine

Wow, I can’t believe how awesome this place is! It’s my third visit to Kyoto and somehow the first time I’ve made it to the famous Shinto shrine, Fushimi Inari. Inari is the Shinto god of rice, and yeah, he’s kind of a big deal. There are some wonderful buildings at the base of the mountain and behind them you’ll find a series of paths leading up Mt Inari through spectacular tunnels of torii gates. There’s literally thousands of these gates and they’re amazing! There was something interesting hidden around every corner and I could have spent days exploring all the little side paths. Highly recommended if you like a bit of hiking and exploration with your shrines!


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Exploring the Bamboo Groves of Arashiyama, Kyoto

I love walking through the bamboo forests in Arashiyama, Kyoto, they’re so moody and mysterious! It’s a playground for photographers and if you come early in the morning you pretty much get the whole place to yourself (it can be a little busy in the middle of the day). As you might imagine I went a little crazy here, walking back and forth along the path trying to decide which spot I liked best. In the end I couldn’t really decide but the area below is definitely one of my favourites.


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Kiyomizu-dera – A Temple in the Trees

However good you think your tree house is, this is better, so so much better. Kiyomizu-dera is an amazing temple in Kyoto which sits among the trees and offers some amazing photo opportunities! I’d love to come back and see it in different seasons, I hear it’s open at night during certain times of the year too.


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Kinkakuji Minus the Gold

I was at Ginkakuji yesterday so it’s only natural that I went to Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) today for another dose of zen. It’s a beautiful golden temple but for some reason I ended up with a black and white shot! I have no idea what I was thinking with regards to the processing but I do like the inky, traditional feel to it.

While we’re here would you like to know something embarassing? Of course you would! I made the mistake of getting on a bus to Ginkakuji when I was supposed to be going to Kinkakuji, the names are similar but it’s still pretty bad, only here’s the real kicker, I did the exact same thing last time I was in Kyoto!! SERENITY NOW!!! 🙂


Posted in Japan, Kyoto Tagged |

A Moment of Zen at Ginkakuji

After all the crazy festival shenanigans of the Gion Matsuri it’s been nice to chill out a bit. I don’t really like big crowds so I was more in my element strolling around the winding paths at Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), serenity now.


Posted in Japan, Kyoto Tagged |

Gion Matsuri Geisha

The Gion Matsuri is in full swing here in Kyoto and I managed to get a nice shot the other day of a Japanese woman dressed as a geisha, at least I think that’s what she’s dressed as, I am frequently wrong with this kind of thing! 🙂 Anyway how amazing is her hair! Just incredible.


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Yamaboko Junko Parade in Kyoto

My first stop in Japan over the next month is Kyoto! Such a fun place to visit and it’s in full on festival mode right now with the Gion Matsuri. I watched the Yamaboko Junko parade yesterday and it was a great chance to get some festival type shots of performances, people in traditional dress and just everyone having a great time! It blows my mind how they squeeze those giant floats down the narrow side streets, crazy!


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A Morning Walk Along the Cairns Esplanade

I got up early this morning and went for a walk along the Cairns esplanade, it’s really gorgeous and has a different feel to it than the parts of Australia I’m used to, very tropical. As a word of advice don’t get greedy and walk too far out towards the water as you may end up with mud halfway up your leg and a very sheepish look on your face….

Why am I actually here in Cairns? Good question! I’m on my way to Japan for a month and decided to stop here for a few days to break up the flights and have a look around.


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A Giant LOTR Dwarf at Auckland Aiport

A quick stopover in Auckland gave me time to take another Lord of the Rings airport photo (last time was Gollum in Wellington). I think this is some kind of dwarf warrior, although the statue is pretty huge which doesn’t seem to fit well with the whole dwarf thing. As you can probably tell I’m no LOTR expert! Not even close, although I did enjoy the movies. 🙂


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The View from Mt Otemanu, Bora Bora

It was my last full day on Bora Bora so I decided to relax and climb another mountain! Haha ok so it wasn’t exactly relaxing but it was definitely a memorable way to finish my trip! Mt Otemanu is impossible to miss but finding the track is actually quite difficult (it’s one of those climb it at your own risk experiences). I eventually found it with the help of a few online guides and off I went. It seemed to go on forever and there weren’t many breaks in the tree line to get a good view. It was getting late so in my desperation to get a decent photo I got a little ‘agricultural’, climbing up a bank and balancing precariously with just one free hand to take the photo (not easy with a giant Canon 5D Mark III). Anyway this was the final result, not bad all things considered.


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Bora Bora Jet Skiing

Before coming to French Polynesia I’d never tried jet skiing, I’ve since been twice so I’m pretty much an expert now! 🙂 My first experience was on Huahine and it was a blast! We had perfect conditions and the instructor was great, making sure we knew what we were doing while giving us the freedom to go at our own pace. I had such a great time I tried it again at Bora Bora. The conditions were rough and our instructor was a bit boring but I still had fun. They must get some absolute idiots on these things so I can understand them being safety conscious. I took this photo after we’d finished up for the day, you can see from the palms trees swaying in the background that it was a bit windy.


Posted in Bora Bora, French Polynesia Tagged |

A View of Bora Bora

I asked a number of staff at my hotel where I could get a good view of Bora Bora (from a lookout or something like that) and they responded with a total of zero ideas haha. I guess it’s not a common question around here, if I asked for advice related to snorkeling or sun bathing I’m sure it would have been a different story! Anyway I decided to rent a bicycle and take matters into my own hands, eventually finding a promising lead where I ditched the bike and took things off road! I battled through rugged bush until I could see Mt Otemanu and the other side of the island, sweet!


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Sunset on Matira Beach, Bora Bora

The last few days of my trip are here on the island of Bora Bora. It’s been fun so far and I enjoyed watching the sunset last night on Matira Beach, Bora Bora’s only publicly accessible beach. I thought it would be much busier but I guess everyone else is enjoying cocktails from the comfort of their hotel pool!


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