2017, a Year in Review

2107 for the blog

Let’s start with a 2017 retrospective for the blog. Not a great year in terms of number of articles. A question of priorities. My work left me little free time this year, when I was not spending my weekends trying to catch up with some sleep, so I had to prioritize and focused on growing my Instagram account rather than this blog. Not because of any sort of satanic social media grand strategy, but because you only need a few seconds to upload a picture on Instagram. Meanwhile you need to find long blocks of time to write blog articles from start to finish, and in fact I still have several unfinished draft articles that I thought I would have published in 2017 but will only come out next year (if even), once I can allocate the time and concentration they deserve.

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I also never got to write about my amazing trip to Tsuwano last summer, although there would be so much to say about the story of the Hidden Christians in Japan. It’s definitively the kind of topic that I keep in the back of my mind for when i can take the time to write about a more complex subject that requires a decent amount of research.

Similarly, on the gear side of things, I never got to edit all the video footages I took during this year’s CP+ camera and photo imaging show in Yokohama, because I am still so little proficient with the video editing tools that I require exponentially more time than what would normally be required.

I feel like video content is more and more expected by the internet audience, so while I am working on mastering the tools I have been shooting more video in the background, and hopefully this content will someday makes its way into more coherent projects.

What we did talk about

While it has been a slow year in terms of number of articles, we did get to talk about a few things.

On the Fujifilm side, we talked in particular about the Fujifilm GFX 50s after I went to Fujikina 2017 in Kyoto.

We also looked at how remote flash can be easy with the Nissin speedlight and remote.

Overall Fujifilm had an amazing year, in terms of products they released (GFX body and lenses, X-E3, 80mm macro) and financial results (Instax prints For The Win). The best part of it was that none of what they released this year was for me, so I did not have to buy anything and just enjoyed another round of free Kaizen firmware update for my X-T2. On the other hand, I found that they released the FUJIFILM X RAW STUDIO application in a buggy  state that should have been a public beta version rather than a final release.
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Beyond the gear talk, we had a look at an old tradition in Asakusa involving geishas and hina dolls: Edo Nagashibana. A must-read if you like the japanese culture but missed it.

I also finally got to finish and publish an article on which I had been working for a long time, giving tips about how to differentiate a shinto shrine from a buddhist temple in Japan.

2017, the year of the rooster Instagram

2017 was the year of the rooster in the japanese calendar. For me it was the year I focused on my Instagram account. Through the year, I posted more than 500 times on my Instagram account, and more than quadruple my number of followers compared to the start of the year. What I like about Instagram is that the community is much nicer and positive than on something like Twitter, where snarky comments and political trolls are the norm. Although my number of followers will look tiny to some of you, for me it’s the highest number I have reached on any platform, and the simplicity to upload a picture allow me to be consistent in posting even while not being immersed full-time in the social media sphere.2017 best nine on InstagramAs you can see from my “2017 best nine on Instagram” recap above, 2017 was also the year I fully delved into the Geiko and Maiko world. To some extent, it was a perfect storm, because it is also when I started to post more pictures from my trips to Kyoto that I started to gain more followers. I learned a lot about the lives of Geiko and Maiko this year, a lot of it at the complete opposite of Western pre-/misconceptions, and i was fortunate enough to meet a few of them. Hopefully I get to write about that in 2018.

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No doubt in my mind that 2018 will be filled with many trips to Kyoto again for me. Meanwhile, I am going to end 2017 by watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the theater tonight, after having successfully avoided most spoilers over the past couple of weeks. Have fun tonight and talk to you again in 2018 😉

2017, year of the rooster

A happy new year to all my readers. May 2017 bring you happiness and take you one step closer to your goals.


As per the tradition in Japan, I started the year with a visit to the shrine (Hatsumōde), in order to get blessed for the year of the rooster, and bring back my lucky charms from the year of the monkey 2016 so that they can be burnt by the shrine.


I will be in Kyoto on the 21st of January for Fujikina, with the opportunity to touch and try Fujifilm’s upcoming GFX 50s medium format mirrorless camera. But more importantly I’m just looking forward to the trip to Kyoto, even though unfortunately for me Kiyomizu Dera’s famous main hall will just have been covered for renovation works that are expected to take place until 2020.


Talk to you soon 😉

Kasai Rinkai Park

It took a full week, but I finally got my laptop back, and it is working fine again (on top of that it has also been completely cleaned). It is a big relief given the price of these things, but I have to say this week without computer has been a good and productive one. I suddenly had the time to go to places I would have otherwise never been. Like in the Kanda area last weekend, for example. Or like the Kasai Rinkai Park yesterday. 

  

This park is easily accessible from central Tokyo via the JR Keiyo line. Its main features are the Tokyo Sealife Aquarium, a huge Ferris Wheel and a Sea Bird Sanctuary.

  
There are several viewing spots located around the Sea Bird Sanctuary, where bird watchers and photographers can gather. The longest lens I had with me was the XF50-140mm F2.8, which is definitely a too short focal range in this situation. I will probably come back once the “super telephoto zoom” (XF100-400mm?) becomes available for rent (Q1 2016?).

   
  

The park is located near the beach, so you will also encounter loads of crabs while you walk around.

   


The huge Ferris Wheel is the main landmark of the park, and looks great at night when it is illuminated.

   
   

Heavy rain in Tokyo

It’s been raining really hard in Tokyo today, so that the Japan Meteorological Agency was forced to issue official warnings about heavy rain and potential floods, that were disseminated to the population via messages sent directly to everyone’s smartphones:  

When you think that 2 weeks ago we had a crazy blue sky but everyone was complaining that the summer was too hot and humid…

  
 
The situation is not as bad though as in some places in the Shizuoka prefecture that have been completely flooded due to the passage of Typhoon Etau

Star Wars BB-8™ Droid by Sphero

I am having some serious hardware problems with my computer, so I have a ton of pictures to edit piling up on memory cards. Unfortunately, it takes several days to have an appointment at the repair station of the Apple Store. 

Meanwhile, I’m having some fun at home with the Star Wars BB-8 Droid by Sphero to help the time go by faster 🙂

 
Shot taken with my Fuji X-T1, transferred to my iPhone via the Wifi app and slightly edited in Snapseed to add some vignette. This picture was actually taken on the floor of my living room, but, by setting the camera so that I get a pitch black exposure before adding one flash on camera left, I create the illusion that I am shooting against a black background 😉