Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/4.5, ISO 6400 — map & image data — nearby photos
I came across these fork-like tools on a craftman's workbench, and thought they'd make a good “What am I?” Quiz. What, exactly, are these fork-like tools used for?
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 at an effective 25mm — 1/50 sec, f/4, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
at Yakiniku Nanzan (焼肉南山), Otsu Japan
For the first time in ages, this evening we had a grill-at-your-table dinner at Yakiniku Nanzan (Hieidaira location).
I didn't have my camera with me, so I'm putting some photos from 2007 (seven years ago!) that I found in my image library.
We go in fits and spurts, but I think this might be the first time this year. It didn't disappoint.
I always order karubi (marinated short-rib beef), and today had six portions, which are described as for a single person but they're pretty small. It wasn't quite the gluttons affair of the now-closed all-you-can-eat beer/BBQ buffet that I wrote about in years past, and since I was driving there's no beer, but we ate well.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 at an effective 82mm — 1/350 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
I took these photos almost a year before my first post on polarization filters, so perhaps I didn't really know about them yet. Now, one glance at the photo above and I know it would have benefited greatly from one.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 at an effective 25mm — 1/180 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
If you find yourself in Kyoto or Otsu and can get up to Hieidaira, Nanzan is highly recommended.
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
at the Heian Shrine (平安神宮)
Kyoto Japan, Nov 2013
I'm finally getting around to photos from last November, when old Yahoo co-worker Sergey Kolychev paid me a visit. (He's not old, our co-worker status is).
In the intervening three years since his prior visit he'd become fluent in Japanese to the point that he can read novels, which just blows my mind. Japanese is at least his fourth language (after Ukrainian, Russian, and English), so maybe they get easier as they stack up.
We packed quite a bit into one day. We started out with a visit to the Heian Shrine...
We then popped over to the Nanzen Temple...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 560 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nanzen Temple (南禅寺)
We somehow found a little hiking trail back beyond the Eikando Temple, which provided a nice view of the city through the trees...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/2000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 100 — image data
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/2, ISO 125 — image data
and a three-legged crow
People often put up little wooden plaques as a memorial of their hiking trip, such as the bigger board above placed by a group of 13 people ranging from 79 years old down to five months old. I wouldn't have paid the crow a second thought, but Sergey noticed that it was a three-legged crow, which is apparently a thing. You learn something new every day.
The thin depth of field in this next shot makes it looks a bit unreal...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 360 — map & image data — nearby photos
Hounen-in Temple (法然院)
This next shot, of Sergey standing under the gate, looks a bit unreal because I made a mistake and severely underexposed it, so had to employ HDR-like post processing to recover a usable image...
I sort of tried to replicate this old point-n-shoot shot that has for some reason always stuck in my mind...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/1.6, ISO 1000 — map & image data — nearby photos
We moved north to the Silver Pavilion and its famous sand sculptures, which I posted about the other day. Here's one more shot of the lush moss there...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 250 — map & image data — nearby photos
at the Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺)
Growing boys must be nourished, so we repaired over to a tea cafe for choux à la crème...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1600 — map & image data — nearby photos
at Kitayama Kouchakan (北山紅茶館)
(The Japanese word for this kind of cream puff is 「シュークリーム」 which sounds like the English “shoe cream”)
I opted for coffee, but Sergey is a connoisseur of fine tea, as Fumie can be sometimes, so I've been to this shop many times.
Sergey mentioned some knee pain that had been bothering him for a long time, so I brought him to the best masseur in Kyoto, Kentaro Kataoka. Sergey had never had a real massage before, so it was quite an experience.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/1.4, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos
I've had many massages in America, but after having had massages in Japan, I'd never classify what I had in America as a real massage. They're more like “shove some skin around a bit and hope it relaxes you” sessions. These in Japan are closer to physical therapy. In a blog post about Japanese massage a couple of years ago, I described this masseur's technique as “a ferocious pinpoint attack like his fingertips are tactical weapons trying to massage the muscle from the inside out”. It can be very effective, but painful at the time.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 — map & image data — nearby photos
first acupuncture experience
(I describe my hit-n-miss experiences with acupuncture here.)
Sergey thought the whole experience was great, so I'm glad that Kataoka-sensei was able to work us in at short notice. He'd been out for his daily jog when I called, and kindly cut it short just for us.
Newly refreshed, we popped over to the Chion'in Temple (知恩院) to see its big main gate...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/6.3, ISO 4000 — map & image data — nearby photos
Chion'in Temple (知恩院)
A shot from this visit appeared in a post half a year ago, on “Huge Main Gate of Kyoto’s Chion’in Temple”.
We then moved to the famous Kiyomizu Temple (清水寺)....
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/6.3, ISO 720 — map & image data — nearby photos
Kiyomizu Temple (清水寺)
The late-afternoon light was rich.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/50 sec, f/8, ISO 320 — map & image data — nearby photos
of the Kiyomizu Temple (清水寺)
This World Heritage Site temple is perhaps most well known for its big balcony...
But it's best of all with a friendly face...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/1.6, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
at the Kiyomizu Temple
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
and its “moon-viewing platform” conical sand sculpture
Kyoto Japan, November 2013
Last fall I visited the Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺， the “silver pavilion”) in north-east Kyoto. It's named for a building that was intended to be coated in silver leaf (comparable to how the golden pavilion is coated in gold leaf). Apparently they never got around to actually applying the silver, but the name stuck.
As it is today, the temple is noted for its sculptured sand, including a huge Mt. Fuji shaped cone.
The minor entrance stone garden is not particularly special, with similar features easily found at other temples. But the main garden raises the level considerably...
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/500 sec, f/1.6, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
There's also a curvy/wavy raised sand feature that's better seen from above...
I suppose it's supposed to evoke the sea or water or something, but I'm not sure.
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220 — map & image data — nearby photos
a couple of feet tall
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
I'd love to know how they construct these, and how often. I imagine that the sand is quite hard packed, but we've had some monumentally torrential rains of late that dump a month's worth of rain in an hour, so I wonder how these sculptures hold up. I looked around on YouTube and found these three videos, which give some insight.
A path leads through a more-traditional garden and up the mountain a bit, to give the nice from-above view we saw before.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
The focal point in this photo is unrelated to the focus point, which may be really annoying to some. Compare to these shots of similar trees at the Heian Shrine.
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/80 sec, f/1.4, ISO 100 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 1250 — image data
a cheap watch, but serviceable
As I mentioned in the comments on last month's post about horrid watch-marketing copy, I've been looking for a nice watch with a combination of features and simplicity and size that no one seems to make. So after years of keeping my eye out, I finally decided that “perfect is the enemy of good enough” and went ahead and bought some cheap watches just to try.
I'm glad I did because I found out some new ways in which what you see in advertisements is not necessarily what you get, and I also found that what I though was important in theory wasn't always important in practice.
The first watch I tried:
This was a huge compromise from what I wanted in that it's casual and has stopwatch fluff, but I liked the deep blue face, and with the bright hands it seems to be eminently readable. So many watches these days, whether cheap crap or an $85,000 Patek Philippe, don't seem to have basic look-at-a-glance legibility. If you can't read it, what's the point? (I guess the point of wearing an $85,000 Patek Philippe that you can't read is to advertise that you can afford to wear an $85,000 Patek Philippe that you can't read.)
Unfortunately, this Fossil Townsman was horrible.
The hands, which look bright in the photo, are actually dark metal with a mirror finish. If they reflect something bright then you see them as bright. Otherwise, they disappear into the black of the face (which indeed looked black, even in direct sun, and not the dark navy blue described by Amazon's prose and photos). So I couldn't read the time on the thing except in good circumstances. It was frustrating, so I returned it.
I did the same with the $125 light-cream colored version of the same watch that I'd bought at the same time, for the same reasons.
Running out of time to enjoy Amazon-US prices and selection before returning to Kyoto, I tried two more watches, and ended up keeping them.
The first is a $165 Stührling Original Symphony Eternity GMT...
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 4500 — image data
This too is a great compromise over what I sort of think I want in a watch, but for $165 I can give it a try.
The “GMT box” is supposed to show the hour in some other timezone, which could indeed be quite useful for me living in Japan, but I knew before I bought it that the box would be too small to read without glasses, so I'd not be able to rely on it. Indeed, I can't read it even with glasses unless the lighting is really good.
I can read it in this photo I took for this post, though:
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 5000 — image data
The face looks a bit busy with the wavy pattern, but in practice it just seems like a mild background texture.
It's advertised as water resistant to 50m (165 feet), which makes me feel I should be able to wear while swimming as deep as I could ever swim, but the manual says “shallow water”. This is apparently a well-established racket of inflated ratings used across the watch industry. Water resistant to “10 meters” makes you think it's okay to shower or swim? Nope. The manual says such a rating means "withstand splashes of water while washing the hand, but should not be worn while swimming".
Once you learn the code you can understand what you're getting, but until then it seems wildly deceptive to me. But it seems to be a standard in the watch industry.
The other watch that I kept is the casual Citizen Eco Drive Black:
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 6400 — image data
This cost $130 at Amazon. Its primary attraction for me is that despite being a quartz it doesn't ever need a battery change because it gets charged via light through the face. The manual says that two minutes in direct sun will keep it running for half a year.
It's quite readable, but again, the luminescent features are worthless. When I was a kid you could literally read a book by the brightness from the luminescent hands of a kid's watch, but these days it's all worthless. Geez, a little radioactivity never hurt anyone.
This Citizen is the same size (42mm) as the Stührling, so I wish it were a bit bigger, but this one is less of a fashion statement. Not that I have much to do with fashion statements anyway. I can't read the date (so didn't bother setting it), but hey, 19~this one is water resistant to 100m!