I have been spending most of my free time working on a personal project about the shrines and temples of Tokyo, which you might have already guessed if you follow me on Instagram. While I was on my way to the Yushima-Tenmangu shrine, I stopped by the Bunkyo Civic Center to capture this view of Mount Fuji (Fuji-san, 富士山). The observation deck of the Bunkyo Civic Center is one of the most well-known spots to capture breathtaking images of Mount Fuji from Tokyo, and has the advantage of being completely free.
Opening hours: 9:00 to 20:30 every day of the week (closed on the 3rd Sunday of May, and between the 29th of December 29 and the 3rd of January)
1-minute walk from the Korakuen Station (Marunouchi line and Namboku line)
1-minute walk from the Kasuga Station (Mita line and Oedo line)
9-minute walk from the Suidobashi Station (JR Chuo Line and Sobu Line)
Thanks 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?
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!)?
Basically, 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!
PS1: 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:
PS2: 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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