What to do when tripods are not allowed, but the available light is too low?

Impressionism-7Thanks to the holiday break, I was finally able to go to the Observatory deck on the 40th floor of the World Trade Center tower in Tokyo (closest stations: Daimon and Hamamatsucho). With the clear sky that you can usually only found in Tokyo during winter, I was hoping on getting a nice view on the city with a colorful sunset. Unfortunately, part of my cunning plan fell over when I saw the “no tripod” sign at the entrance of the deck. So here was the question: what to do when shooting a cityscape at dusk, without a tripod?

Impressionism-2Sure, you can give a try to handholding: open your aperture, raise your ISO and/or hold your breath, lean against a wall and focus on your handholding technique… and still get very acceptable/sharp results as long as the light is not too low.

But then, what to do once the scene becomes too dark and there is no trick you can use to replace a good old tripod (like using your bag as a stand and putting your camera on it while your bag keep on falling over and over… yeah, we’ve all been there!)?

Impressionism-8Basically, you are on location, and realize you can’t get the shot you had in mind… But that does not mean you cannot get another shot, completely different from what you were thinking in the first place: use the long shutter speed at your advantage and experiment with panning techniques for example. Or, like I did, try your luck with some abstract/impressionism type of shots: set your shutter speed anywhere slower than 1s, and move your camera in every more or less random directions during the exposure. You know you are doing it right when the people next to you start to look at in a suspicious way, wondering how come you seem to be having so much fun!

Impressionism-9Even completely blurred, landmarks of the city will remain easily recognizable, but seen in an unusual and unique way. Here the Tokyo Tower was turned into the red and white rocket Tintin is using to go to the Moon!

Impressionism-11PS1: if you have a small camera like the Fuji X-E1 I was using that day, you can discreetly use a small tripod by hiding it between the window and your body, and get your shot without anybody noticing anything:

Tokyo by NightPS2: as far as the World Trade Center in Tokyo is concerned, there were actually a lot of people using big tripods without getting any kind of complaint from the Tower staff, despite of the “no tripod” sign

PS3: even in places where the usage of tripods is usually forbidden, you might be granted the permission exceptionally, if you ask for it in advance and in a polite way 😉

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Merry Christmas From Tokyo!

Tokyo Sky Tree Christmas Illuminations

Merry Christmas everyone

Just took the shot above with the Fuji X-E1 and the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R OIS LM (Mr Fuji please make the name of your lenses shorter!!) kit lens (and first zoom in the XF lens family). The big tower on the left that looks like a reversed lightsaber is the Tokyo Skytree that opened in May this year… the tallest building in Japan and currently tallest “free-standing broadcasting tower” in the world according to the Guiness book of records. The tower is being illuminated in red and white especially for Christmas.

This is the view you get from just below Azumabashi (the red bridge in Asakusa, Asakusa station on the Ginza and Asakusa subway lines). This is a very popular spot and a lot of people were there taking pictures as well. You can also see the Asahi Beer Tower (the building that looks like a giant pint of beer) and the Asahi Super Dry Hall designed by Philippe Starck, with its characteristic “Flamme d’Or”. By the way, The Sensōji temple is a must-see if you visit Tokyo.

On another topic, I have currently sorted out somewhere around 2/3 of the pictures I took during a recent week-end trip to Kyoto, and will be able to share about this pretty soon. If you want to see some of the pictures I took with the X-E1, I have posted some of them on Flickr.

With all that said, let me thank you warmfully for passing by on my blog, and wish you once again a merry Christmas!

Talk to you soon…

Many things to come…

Kyoto Tofukuji Koyo Autumn colorsAfter taking the X-E1 with me for a 2-day temple-marathon in Kyoto, and then for a quick jump to Jakarta, I am basically drowning below the images to sort out and edit… I also need to put my thoughts about how the X-E1 fared in the field during those peregrinations in order, so that I can share them with you here. More on that to come pretty soon… But while this is definitely in the pipeline, the light is great in Tokyo these days, so, rather than staying in front of my computer to do all that, I just could not resist to going to Odaiba for some long exposure shots of the Rainbow Bridge. Since the X-E1 does not have a real ultra-wide angle lens yet, I took the D800 with me. See the result below:

Tokyo Odaiba Rainbow Bridge at NightLet me know what you think, and if you want me to test something specific on the X-E1, just leave a comment under this post.

Talk to you soon…