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The Westin on Awaji Island
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
Room 602 at the Westin Awaji Hotel Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/125 sec, f/14, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Room 602 at the Westin Awaji Hotel
Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

I've mentioned that we made a short trip to Awaji Island at the end of last month. It's a short two-and-a-half hours by car south of Kyoto; after passing over the longest suspension bridge in the world and getting off at the exit near the rest-stop Ferris wheel, a few kilometers further along the coast and we arrived at The Westin Awaji Island hotel.

Because Anthony's school gets off a few days earlier than most prior to the start of the Golden Week holidays, we were actually traveling opposite of peak time, so we had almost no traffic. Yet, despite the non-peak time, the hotel was completely sold out, but Fumie had been vigilantly watching the reservations page and was able to snag an amazing deal at the last minute.

The photo above, which I took before we let Anthony loose in the room, looks vaguely HDR-ish because I had to pretty much abuse the controls in Lightroom to make both the inside and outside visible (both recovery and fill light were slammed over to the right). But it illustrates the room and the view.

The View Entrance to the Akashi Straights National Park -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/400 sec, f/9, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
The View
Entrance to the Akashi Straights National Park

The Akashi Straights National Park is like a city park on steroids... lots of hills of well-manicured flowers, places for kids to play, scenic trails, etc. (It's huge; the pictures here show only a small slice). It costs about $6 to get in, but customers of the hotel (I don't use “guest” for someone made to pay!) get half price, and are allowed to enter the park an hour and a half before it opens to the general public, a benefit of which we were happy to have availed ourselves.

Swan Boats in the Park -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 340 mm — 1/1600 sec, f/8, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Swan Boats in the Park
Looking Left from Our Balcony a complex maze of paths, buildings, and “stuff” -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28 mm — 1/500 sec, f/9, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Left from Our Balcony
a complex maze of paths, buildings, and “stuff”

The entire area around the hotel is an amazing place to explore. A guide told us that it was explicitly designed to get people lost, so they'd discover the many interesting views, near and far, on their own.

Guys don't care much about the vanity, toilet, and bath, but Fumie was happy that they were bright and large, that the vanity was fully carpeted, and that all three were separate.

Vanity Spacious bath is in a room at left; toilet is in a room at right -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Vanity
Spacious bath is in a room at left; toilet is in a room at right

It's certainly no “Deluxe Executive Suite” at the Whistler Four Seasons, or Okinawa's Atta Terrace Hotel but then, neither was the price!

The dinner buffet was amazing in every respect, with quality and price both very high. We had been at the other end of the island for the sunset, so arrived for dinner fairly late, and it wasn't crowded at all, though Anthony was apparently chilly.

Dinner Choices -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Dinner Choices
the breadth and depth of The Dessert Spread was worthy of considered study -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
the breadth and depth of
The Dessert Spread
was worthy of considered study
Let's Just Try a Chocolate Cake starting with this slice -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/3.5, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Let's Just Try a Chocolate Cake
starting with this slice
Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos

If you were up early enough, you could catch the sunrise, as I posted the other day.

Morning View from the Balcony -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 170 mm — 1/8000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Morning View from the Balcony

If you looked down from the balcony, you could see the top of one of the lower floors...

Below Our Balcony -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 50 mm — 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Below Our Balcony

This picture is of no interest except to illustrate the answer to the Egg-Slicer “What am I?” Quiz that I posted a few days ago. The tops of the walls were covered with wires, I'm sure to keep birds off. The pins holding the wires made long shadows that quickly grew shorter as the sun rose, and I thought they were pretty in an abstract way, at least when composing out all the other stuff and viewing them in isolation. I was impressed with the variety of answers to the quiz, from a string instrument to queue lines at a beach! :-)

Breakfast on the Second-Floor Terrace -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 28 mm — 1/3200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Breakfast on the Second-Floor Terrace

The breakfast buffet was also an impressive spread, though we certainly didn't get our money's worth with Anthony, who had exactly one bowl of cereal, one and a half croissants, and a glass of juice. And it looks like George may have helped with that glass of juice.

It was still a bit chilly in the mornings, so the terrace was mostly empty, providing Anthony ample room to throw some paper airplanes.

Airplanes After Breakfast our room is fifth from the left, fourth from the top -- Westin Awaji Hotel -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/500 sec, f/11, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Airplanes After Breakfast
our room is fifth from the left, fourth from the top

And speaking of paper airplanes, one evening we took advantage of the open space in a little-used area of the ground floors to try some indoor flying.

Launch -- Awaji, Hyogo, Japan -- Copyright 2010 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 42 mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Launch

We'd not brought much paper, but the bellboy came to our rescue.

Anthony had fun, but I was disappointed that our planes didn't go very far. When I was in grad school at the University of New Hampshire oh so many years ago, Ram Kulkarni and I used to fly paper airplanes across the long multistory central atrium of Morse Hall. We could get all the way across without even dropping one floor. I guess I should have paid more attention to Ram's designs, rather than just copying them.


Comments so far....

Great pictures, Jeffrey. I like the one of Anthony launching his plane the best.

I was at that hotel right after the 2002 World Cup, when the Westin was the training base for the England team and Beckham mania was in full swing in Japan (remember that haircut?). Throughout the hotel and adjoining shopping and dining facilities, there were signs hanging on chairs, “Beckham sat here.” Notes on menus, “Beckham ordered this.” Placards showing the approximate standing position of Beckham when he took in such-and-such view, and helpful signs showing which souvenirs he bought in the gift shops. Pretty wacky.

The thing I remember most, though, and this is probably why I haven’t been back to Awaji, is the crazy fast current that was sweeping past the island when I was near the shore. I don’t know if it’s only that fast at Naruto whirlpool peak times when the Seto Inland Sea is filling up or emptying out, or if it’s always that fast, but there was no way you could go swimming there without being swept away.

On the backside of Awaji there are some famous beach towns like the 5-color beach I heard about, so I guess it must be OK to swim, but as a person who grew up near the ocean, I always want to be able to dive in without checking the speed charts.

I’d like to go back on bicycle and do the Awaji “isshu” metric century ride.

— comment by nils on May 12th, 2010 at 12:05am JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Very well done with the first (says the guy who always tries to shoot the hotel room before the tidiness gets destroyed). I was wondering what method of “HDR” you used. I’d be interested to see the original as shot to see just how much you were able to recover.

I’ve been playing with the new HDR Pro in CS5 for a bit, with some decent results. I have several years worth of bracketed exposures that have never been processed because I’ve never been happy with the output of Photomatix (seems geared toward “The HDR Look” instead of realistic exposure blending) or the pre-CS5 HDR (terrible for tone mapping) so they’ve all been languishing in my LR database.

Lots of catching up to do!

As I mentioned in the post, mostly I just slammed fill light and recovery to the right in Lightroom. —Jeffrey

— comment by JasonP on May 12th, 2010 at 7:12am JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Hi,

I was pondering what about the vanity image was not quite right…how are you able to take an image of a mirror with out being in the reflection? Given the face on angle I would have thought it a removal job?
Please put my curiosity to sleep.

Marcel – Melbourne Australia

I was wondering when someone would notice. :-) Yes, when I took the shot, I made sure I was easily Photoshopable out (that is, that I would be easy to retouch away using Adobe™ Photoshop® CS5™®©). —Jeffrey

— comment by Marcel on May 12th, 2010 at 7:37pm JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Marcel said just what I was thinking….how did he do that without his, or at least the camera’s, reflection? The effect was O.K., yet somehow not as realistic or believable as it would have been with a reflection. Photoshopping here really not necessary, possibly not preferable, but definitely allowable as “artistic fooling around”. (This opinion from a mother who knows little digital photography)

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on May 12th, 2010 at 11:46pm JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

I DID catch the mirror… then checked the EXIF…. then assumed you’d had help from one of my new favorite people, “C.A. Phil” from Adobe ;)

I’d given content-aware fill a try, but it didn’t seem to do well in this case. It was the first time I’d tried it (I use Photoshop so little these days), so maybe it was a mistake on my part. —Jeffrey

— comment by JasonP on May 13th, 2010 at 2:49am JST (3 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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