Category Archives: Art

Surrealistic Photography

Kusoku ze shiki
Ku soku ze shiki

I re-invented a new photographing technique. The technique is new in the digital domain but, in fact, the phenomenon itself was known since the early era of digital photography.

I don’t remember the name of the camera but I heard that digital cameras could not capture colours before the Bayer filter was invented so you had to take three shots—one for red, one for green and one for blue—and then they were merged into one photograph. However, if there was moving elements such as clouds, waves, cars, pedestrians, cats in the picture, you get unnatural colours.

Although people tried to avoid this effect to capture natural photographs, I thought it would be interesting to create such colours on purpose as a new way of artistic expression, and so I devised this technique. Let me tell you how to do it in details.

To do this, obviously you need a tripod. Fix your camera on the tripod and take three shots. To get radical effects, the exposure time should be long and there should be some time gaps between each shot. But I use three shots taken in a row as example:

shot#1 shot#2 shot#3

As you see, they’re almost identical except for the clouds and water. I export them from Light Room to Photo Shop as layers.

Screen Shot open as layers

imported

Once they’ve been imported into Photo Shop, you open the Color Channel to use only R, G and B channel of each shot.

red

Specifically, for the first shot, set the Red to 100% and Green and Blue to 0%, for the second shot, set Green to 100% and Red and Blue to 0%, and for the third shot set Blue to 100% and Red and Green to 0%.

result

Then merge them by setting the opacity of the first shot to 33% and the second shot to 50%, Then, flatten the image and hit Command (CTRL) + S. The resulting image is imported back to Light Room.

The brightness of the image will be darker because only one of the three colour channels is used in each shot so I adjusted the image.

lr adjustment

The resulting image is like this. You see moving elements became iridescent colour.

_A056452-Edit

I created the following images using this technique. They’re currently exhibited at Island Gallery in Tokyo. The exhibition is going to end on Feb 26.

3-1L空即是色(パネル)

B1_3-2_予感(パネル)

A3_3-2 優しい荒波(黒額)tif

A3_3-2横 秘宝(黒額)

B1SQ_ASCENSION(パネル)

B1SQ ETERNITY(パネル)

A4_SQ 変幻自在(黒額)

Many friends advised me to not show how to do it but I’d rather want to see how other people use this technique. So I uploaded this post. Good luck with exploring your creativity.

P.S. After uploading this post,  someone kindly let me know that some people used a similar technique back in the days of film cameras. So I replaced the word “invent” with “re-invent.” They typically captured waterfalls with shorter exposure time using colour filters to get sparkling effects.

P.S. (2) I came back from Tokyo and now can access my photos in my HDD. So I upload some more examples that demonstrate the effects of this technique better.

ISO 1600, 4 sec at f/2.8
1st shot: ISO 1600, 4 sec at f/2.8
2nd shot: ISO 160, 300 sec at f/9.0
2nd shot: ISO 160, 300 sec at f/9.0
3rd shot: ISO 125, 600 sec at f/9.0
3rd shot: ISO 125, 600 sec at f/9.0
Adjustment on the resulting image in LightRoom
Adjustment on the resulting image in LightRoom
Result
Result

 

In Search of Lost Space (Photo Exhibition)

Yuga Kurita Photo Exhibition "In Search of Lost Space"
Yuga Kurita Photo Exhibition “In Search of Lost Space”

I’m having my third solo exhibition at Island Gallery in Tokyo. It is located near the Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit. Visit the gallery to see my works printed on the finest paper.  I’m at the gallery all the time during the period. See you at the gallery =)

Photo Exhibition “In Search of Lost Space”
Period: Feb 17, 2017 (FRI) – Feb 26 (SUN) 11:00AM–7:00PM
- No Admission Charge
- Open everyday during the period
Venue:  Island Gallery (MAP)
Address: Kyobashi 1-5-5 B1, Chuo-ward, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3517-2125

Supported by:
Maruman Co. LTD (Canson Infinity)
EIZO Corporation

Fireflies

Nikon D810A + AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR
Nikon D810A + AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR

On the 11th June, I visited the Pola Museum of Art. This museum was opened in 2002 but I hadn’t known its existence until a couple of months ago. Tsuneshi Suzuki had been the former president of the Pola Corporation, one of the Japanese cosmetics giants. He passed away in year 2000, and the museum inherited his collection of art and antiques.

The museum’s collection was impressive. I mean, it couldn’t be compared to the collections of the Metropolitan or the Louvre. But it was a very impressive collection for a private art museum in Japan. The museum had a good number of Western modern paintings such as Renoir and Monet and French Art Nouveau glassworks and oriental ceramics. I really liked the works by Emile Gallé and Daum Brothers.

I visited the museum on Saturday. Surprisingly enough, the place wasn’t too crowded. The most famous piece of art work housed in this museum is probably Girl in a Lace Hat by Renoir. Thankfully, I could ‘monopolise’ it for several minutes without being bothered or interfered by anyone. I personally prefer to keep some distance from a painting to see it as a whole but that simply wasn’t possible in crowded museums because someone would surely get in the way.

Jakuchu Ito is my favourite traditional Japanese painter. A big exhibition had been held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Ueno to commemorate his 300th birthday. It began on 22nd April, which happened to be my mum’s death anniversary.  After visiting my parents’ grave in Kawaguchi in the afternoon, I called at the museum on my way back to the foothill of Mt. Fuji. It was Friday and, when I got there, it was still 4:00 p.m.: office clerks were supposed to to be still working. But the museum was ridiculously crowded. It was simply impossible to appreciate art works under such circumstances. And later I came to know that it was the least crowded day in the exhibition period – people had had to wait for hours to enter the museum after that day. I had a similar experience in Kyoto when I visited the Kyoto National Museum to see their special exhibition for traditional paintings by the Kano-School painters in the early Edo period.  From those experiences, I came to a conclusion that, in Japan, you should avoid special exhibitions held in big cities because they are always extensively advertised and, as an inevitable result, are terribly crowded. Instead, look up the collections of each museum on their websites in advance and visit them for their regular displays.

Nikon D800E + AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
Nikon D800E + AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

On my way home from the Pola Museum in Hakone, I stopped by at Gotenba to shoot fireflies with Mt. Fuji. We were in the midst of the rainy season. As it had been raining or overcast for a week, I had wondered if I wouldn’t have any chance to take photos of Fuji with fireflies this year. Luckily, I could capture this image before the clouds blocked out the summit.

This place had been known only by a small number of people. I came to know it through a local photographer a couple of years ago. When I arrived there, there had already been four photographers waiting for the sunset, and I thought it was rather crowded. But, to my surprise, more and more photographers came along as time went by and the place was swarming with a couple of dozens of photographers at the end of the day.

This is why I’m reluctant to tell you the exact locations for my photographs when I’m asked. There are simply too many people in Japan, and it is part of the Japanese mentality that everyone wants to take the same photos. Nowadays, some websites provide users with locations for uploaded landscape photographs in the form of GPS data and everyone uploads photos on social media such as Twitter and Instagram: even a place like this can attract too many photographers.

There was a novice photographer who tried to capture fireflies by firing the flash, which was a rather typical mishap under such conditions and was of course utterly nonsensical – you cannot capture their lights using the strobe. He devastated photographs taken by the rest of us. So I had to yell out before anyone else got furious:  ‘Could you please stop firing the flash? You are messing up our photos.’ My voice was loud but I tried to keep the tone calm. In my opinion, it is important to use polite language in such a case.  If you cry out something like ‘What the fuck are you doing?  Stop firing the flash you idiot!’ it will very likely to end up in a furious row. I’ve witnessed some photographers (often old male photographers) uttering something like that and causing commotions.

Mt. Fuji with the Chureito pagoda in spring
Mt. Fuji with the Chureito pagoda in spring

As Japan is rapidly ageing, there’re a way too many pensioners who are not working any more. In the good old days, I had been able to exercise my privilege as a freelance and enjoy beautiful landscapes without being bothered by other people. Not anymore. But as I said, everyone wants to shoot at the same place at the same time such as Diamond Fuji from Lake Tanuki or Mt. Fuji with cherry blossoms and the Chureito five-story pagoda in spring. Many of my acquaintances take photos of Mt. Fuji and my stream on Facebook is flooded with the same scenes taken by different people. To put it the other way round, it is still possible to take beautiful photos of Mt. Fuji without being jostled about, if you avoid such popular places at the most attractive time. Alternatively, you can go to remote places that require hours of hiking to access such as the Southern Alps.

Mt. Fuji over the Kofu basin taken from Mt. Houou in the Southern Alps.
Mt. Fuji over the Kofu basin taken from Mt. Houou in the Southern Alps.

The ageing population of Japan, combined with the declining birth rate, is supposed to be a fatal issue. But do we really need more people in this small archipelago? 127 million people are living in a country smaller than California. The population of Japan exceeded 100 million in 1966—50 years ago. Until then, it had never exceeded 100 million. In fact it hadn’t exceeded 35 million until the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century. The country is overpopulated, and too much population is destroying the country’s nature. Many people assume continuous economical growth is necessary. But what will be waiting for the entire human race after more years of continuous growth? Destruction of nature, famine, expanded economic discrepancy leading to aristocracy or fascism. To me, it does look like a balloon being inflated until it bursts. I can only imagine dystopian futures as long as the human race continues this.

Apart from the declining population, of course, the unbalanced demographics are also an issue. One thing I don’t understand is the policy regarding Euthanasia or ‘death with dignity’. Both my parents died of pancreas cancer and both came to know the fact that they had the cancer at stage four, which meant too late to cure. My mum pleaded the doctor to kill her when the pain became unbearable. She knew it was incurable from her experience with my father’s death, and thought it was pointless to just prolong her life in agony knowing that she would never restore acceptable QoL. But, of course, the doctor could not kill her since he would get arrested. The patient wanted to die. Her family also wished peaceful, painless death. The doctor also wished to assist if he could. But we could do nothing. As a result, she lived for a month since she had started to plead for death. What’s the point to add an extra month of agony to the end of her life? The great part of the cost needed for that agonising extra month was paid by the National Health Insurance, for which financially-challenged younger generations have to pay their insurance fees every month. Shortage of physicians is another social issue in Japan in addition to the overwork of nurses, and they’re working hard to extend the life of patients who don’t want to live any longer.

Death is inevitable. It will surely come to me one day. When I’m unable to do anything creative, I’d like to die quietly and calmly.  If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. You don’t have to. But how can you impose your belief on others who don’t share the same belief with you and want to control how their own lives end? Our lives are not yours.

By the way, the day I took those photos was my 45th birthday. Many thanks to those who congratulated me.

Ganesha from Pushkar

My second solo photo exhibition “Tales of Fuji | Voice of Nature” had ended on June 21, and I came back to the Fujisan area. I do exhibitions in summer every year. It feels like the summer solstice is the New Year’s day for me. I’m in the midst of the New Year holidays now. I briefly stop shooting Fujisan and am going to travel Hokkaido from tomorrow.

DSC03307Sony Alpha 7 + Canon New FD 50mm f/1.4 via a mount adapter

When I came back home from Tokyo, I received an order-made frame that I ordered before I went to Tokyo. I bought this frame to put in the handcraft painting of Ganesha, which I bought in Pushkar, India back in 1996. Since I was a backpacker and travelling for a long period of time, I usually didn’t buy anything that was absolutely necessary. But I ordered a team of Indian craftsmen in the town to create this for 4000 rupees.

All tourists are badly cheated in India. The Japanese are doubly so. For people coming from developed nations, everything looks so cheap in India that everyone can’t tell whether or not the prices are reasonable. After travelling in India for a certain period of time, everyone realises that they were badly ripped off and stop trusting Indian vendors. I practiced ancient meditation techniques called Vipasana at an ashram before coming to this town. This experience purified my mind and made me unable to distrust anyone.  As a result, I bought a lot of things that weren’t necessary and this painting of Ganesha is one of such.

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