Tag Archives: photography

A Tail of Two Cetaceans

Just when you thought the NOVA implosion was history, along comes a new one, this time exploding right from the start. It’s a real blast from the past – perhaps a millenium ago – whose light was discovered less than a week ago by an astronomer in Yamagata.

Nominally visible to the naked eye, Nova Delphini, in the minor constellation Delphinus, the Dolphin, is the first such unaidedly eyeable cosmic event in six years. If you look toward the Summer Triangle, find the apex, the bright star Altair. Continue past the apex, and the Dolphin is basically swimming a short distance beyond (“above” the isosceles triangle vis-a-vis its short base between Vega and Deneb).

I harbor no illusions that the flecks in this iPhone photo are much of anything but “noise,” but the four-star diamond shape in the cloudy area does have a resemblance to the Dolphin. The nova itself probably isn’t visible here.


I used a delayed shutter release, long-exposure app called SlowShutter, mounting the phone on a stable surface before the shutter opened, then deliberately covering the lens before “releasing (not plunging) the plunger” (picking the phone up to tap the shutter closed; the longest automatic alternative to the open-ended “bulb” setting is only 15 seconds). This exposure was 102 seconds at ISO 3200 (also set in the app), edited again afterward in the iPhoto app for exposure, resulting in the purple hue.

This was a couple nights back. Now that the moon is rising later, Nova Delphini might be visible until midnight or beyond. If you’re really interested, getting out into the country where there’s less ambient light would be worthwhile.

Are We Having Fun?

Jumping from one dolphin dispatch to another, the caption/comment on this Facebook post resonated with me, though some subsequent commenters jumped to the conclusion it was anti-science in tone. It wasn’t necessarily. And though there is potentially great value in analyzing phenomena like fun and play, I think there is something to the comment. I don’t know about the actual porpoise of the writer, but there are a least two kinds of people who might say what the writer did: those who are indeed making a facile anthropomorphic assumption, and those, in all likelihood a little more educated, who with affected humbler-than-thou self-effacement tend to assume only humans are capable of whimsy, or for that matter, evil. And let’s face it: Fun is generally not so fun when you stop to over-analyze it, though the devil of “over-” may be in the d(olphins’) tails. For now, I do think one thing we can rest assured humans fortunately maintain a sovereign, inalienable right to is the bad pun. No other species would touch that.

Now Museum, Now You Don’t

Magritte, Chagall, et al.

Eyes for art whetted by the French masterpiece exhibition in May and June? You can get more of your fill of European paintings this month at the Menard Art Museum in Komaki.


Among artists whose works you can experience will be Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Van Gogh, Monet, Kandinsky, Magritte, and (from my experience) Japanese female favorites Miro and Chagall.


Regret, Chagrin, All In

In addition, just a regret to post – I was looking forward to this photo show at the Tajimi Culture Center, but confused the dates with those above. Guess the tiring toll of a busy week caught up with me.


Hope I have another chance to check out this local nature photographer sometime. He looks interesting.


Never Had a Chance

Update: On the subject of gone before you know it, I just learned of a cafe in Toki I must have gone by dozens of times without even knowing it was there, and now it’s gone, and been so nearly a year. From what I’ve heard, it would’ve been right at home in the blog, so I’ll cut it some belated bandwidth here, with my regrets and hopes for happier stories in the future. It went by the name of Iroha Shokudo, and was situated right beside Sun Mart supermarket between the Toki River and Route 421. They served curry and coffee, daring to bring a tad more cool to Toki. Business was too tepid to keep it going, unfortunately. Maybe someone else reading this can be inspired to carry on the gentrification journey, if you will.

Heat Sink


It’s been oppressively hot and humid, especially in the mornings this week, but today is giving us a bit of relief, some typical rainy season precipitation notwithstanding.

Moon Screen


Nighttime in my case has been pretty hard to bear, too, with a screen in need of repair keeping me from having a flow of fresh outside air. This was the moon a couple of evenings ago. About the best nighttime moonshot you could manage with a handheld iPhone 5 and no editing, only cropping.

The Real Azalea Stands Up


What I’ve been incorrectly identifying a series of flowers as, is this: azalea. Impossible to miss hedges and bushes have been adorning streets for a couple of weeks now, with many fully wilted and shed.


Above, a bumblebee carries out what has to be one of the sweetest jobs around. Below, what has to be one of the sweetest evacuation shelters around, on the campus of Chubu University.


A few minutes ago, the moon was a nice orange crescent near the horizon. I knew the photo would come out unsatisfactory like this, not least because it was too late, but I wasn’t outside when the conditions were better (the sky would have appeared a beautiful blue, and the iPhone would have chosen an exposure a little better suited to the relatively bright moon). Alas, I haven’t quite perfected that iTime Machine yet.


Coming Into View


The milder weather has had buds very pregnant with color, as seen in a photo from a walk in Kyomachi, Tajimi, a few days ago.


These others are from a walk yesterday, when things really began a-bursting. Above, another rare Kasukabe plate on a March into spring. Today is the vernal equinox, also a national holiday. Traffic should be heavier than a normal Wednesday.

Grow in the Dark


Life even sprouts in a ceramic sculpture on Heiwabashi Bridge.

A Shot in the Light


This flower was so high up, short of ending up with a silhouette from beneath, I had to shoot it from above blind. Selective focus/white balance and shutter-releasing blind with one steady hand that’s also holding the iPhone camera itself facing you, is no barrel of monkeys (does it sound like one?). Have to say I’m pleased with the results, even if that’s what I look like.

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

They Might Be Giants

Having been laid up for a bit, I decided to take a walk during the mild afternoon today in Toki. With the sun at my back, I sauntered eastward, hoping to find a bit to blog about as well.


By the time I reached the midpoint of my loop and turned back in the direction I came, the clouds had covered the sun, which was a relief since it would’ve been blinding. I snapped the shutter on this VW Bug that, like another I saw last year, still has a rare old Gifu license plate with only one kanji.


The Bug was a giant compared to what was down the road a bit. This Daihatsu Midget has been here ever since I can remember. It has its own little parking space under a corrugated roof in front of the owner’s house. It’s always spotless. And I don’t think it’s ever driven. A little research revealed it’s likely a first-year (1957) model. Subsequent models had such modern luxuries as steering wheels, doors and four wheels. This is in fact the well-known tuk-tuk that’s chugged and beeped through the traffic throngs of Southeast Asia for over half a century. It’s actually classified as an autorickshaw.


After I got back home, the clouds had floated to the eastern sky, bringing a cool rain, and with the sun back out in the west, this double rainbow.


That might be a heavy-duty ham’s antenna. I guess it’s still a relatively common hobby among older men here. Me, I’m just an amateur ham…


This is the building that used to house Sabbat Sabbat Jazz Bar. I hadn’t realized until now that it closed last summer until further notice, apparently. Not being Spiderman, and having to carefully use my left arm as a rain roof for the arm/hand/thumb-capturing lens-at-the-edge wide-angle iPhone, this was the best angle I could get to match the building’s distinctive arced roofline with the rainbow.


None of these rainbow images are enhanced. Only cropped. If I could get idyllic scenes with rolling hills and stately oaks and little lambs to adorn the lightshow, or even graphic urban blight, trust me, I would. The horizon-al reality of where I live is wires, antennas, corrugated tin and cramped, often uninspired architecture, not new enough to be a statement, not old enough to be antique, not Dickensian enough to be a player in its own right. For every borderline workable angle like this pair of rooves, there are a thousand useless ones. I just make what I can of it.

And the Moon Jumped Over the Cow


Finally, a little while ago, this. Behind those dark clouds and the rainbow had been this mooing mingling of multicolored light. In the constellation of Taurus, the Moon is right in the head of the bull, with Jupiter right in the, uh, bull’s eye. And I think, by Jove, to the lower right of the moon faintly in this picture, the other eye, the red giant Aldebaran.


The weather was pretty blah today, but it did give us this nice atmospheric phenomenon at one point.


This seems to be what’s called a 22° circle (the rainbowy arc above, left). Below, the tail end of an associated sun dog toward the right. I didn’t stop to take pictures until it was all fading. I admit I used a lot of editing to bring up the colors here.


And I have to say, since getting the iPhone 5 and better photo apps, I’ve edited photos (subtly) much more often than before, which used to be hardly ever.

Worth Waiting On the Weather

The illumination at Ikuta Park was scheduled to begin tonight. If the rain there has stopped, it may be okay. Last year they at least served hot drinks, if not hot food.


Hard to say what effect this nasty weather, including such conditions that it snowed the other day in Takayama, will have on the momiji, besides prematurely bringing some of them to the ground.


These images are from another daytime visit this past week.


Little Ikuta was the only place I got to this week, so for variety sometimes I have to just use what’s there – random patches of leaves, branches, bark, moss, earth, sky – in abstract though ultimately wallpapery designs, as opposed to finding scenes with more traditional narrative elements like foreground, horizon, paths, people and structures. Fine in moderation, oatmeal in overuse.


Maybe a few more day shots tomorrow (with actual objects!), and then I’ll try to get some night views.


Not a Player

Fate led me to pachinko last weekend. Nothing else was going to, that’s for sure.

Parlor Games

I was asked to appear Sunday on FM Pipi’s (76.3 mHz) weekly live broadcast from Zent pachinko center, to talk a bit about the business I work for. It’s a segment of the Sunday show that introduces local businesses to listeners.

Driving into the sprawling new complex at the corner of routes 19 and 248, I was struck, though I was already well aware of it, by what I have to say is the questionable use of human potential and money represented by the vast tonnage of cars parked and stacked outside.

On entering the building, the indescribable (like all sounds ever made blasted at once, or maybe something Mephistopheles would have on his mp3 player?) arcade cacophony followed me into the multi-purpose studio, though apparently not across the airwaves.

Regarding another reason I’ve avoided the parlors since trying one at someone’s insistence decades ago, I actually noticed a “smoking area,” which makes me think, goodness forbid, smoking may actually be banned?

After the show, the boss and I (it was a joint appearance) had lunch at the Nagoya-based Sugakiya ramen outlet in the building (smoking allowed there), which also has its own Circle K convenience store and (how convenient) ATMs. Sugakiya also has branches at Valor supermarkets. This bowl was ¥580 and not as burdensomely filling as a lot of ramen. I thought the photo deserved its own memery (my word, “memery,” as far as I know, though I wouldn’t be surpised if someone else long ere planted a flag there).


Something From Nothing

And another excuse to slap block letters on an otherwise inferior foodie photo and call it macaroni: These “tofu donuts” sold at Sun Mall supermarket in Toki were pretty darn good. The words basically refer to leaving only the center of an image in focus to draw attention there.


Red Roof


Yesterday evening gave us a nice sunset.


The top one is a little more exposed for the textures in the billowing dark cloud. These are with the iPhone 5, though reduced in size and quality by two apps: PhotoShop Express, and as usual WordPress. No editing other than rotating slightly and cropping. I did decide to change the (uploading) resize setting in the WordPress app to “large,” to take advantage of the new camera, and because I think we’re getting to a point where anyone (in Japan, anyway) who browses the web on mobile (yes, this is a mobile-oriented site) has a reasonably fast connection and an unlimited data plan. Desktop readers should get a better view, too. Thank you, SoftBank, for getting on board with 4G LTE.


I Cloud

Fittingly, these photos were the first ones I shared across my devices using iCloud. They do take some time to move through the cloud, mainly on the upload side. That may have been because it was the first time and an atypical amount of other things, like apps, was also going up in a ground to cloud surge.

I forgot to try out the panorama camera feature – it would’ve been a good chance as the red extended about 180 degrees across downtown Tajimi’s skyline. Below is the opposite side of the sky, with the library on the left and our good old Himalayan Cedar at work on the right.