Ueno Park, that’s where I’ve been

what did you do there? I took photos

km400_tokyo_uenopark1
Kaneiji Temple, Ueno Park

Ueno Park is a large green space in central Tokyo and a great place for a walk around the city with the camera. There’s temples, museum, a zoo, entertainment – including Taiko drumming blogged here, flea markets and plenty of people. It’s also beside a large shopping area, the Ameyoko Shopping Street so you can easily fill a day here. And like Tokyo there’s any number of JR and metro stations in the area to get here.

km400_tokyo_kimono_park2
Another Kimono photo
ktx_ameyaykocho
Ameyoko shopping
ktx_tokyo oul lads
Oul lads, Ameyoko
km400_tokyo_uenopark_plantgirl
Blind among the flowers
km400_tokyo_uenopark2
Oul lad in the park
km400_tokyo_uenopark5
Strange cabbage-like plants, Ueno Park
km400_tokyo_uenopark3
Flea Market bargains
km400_tokyo_uenopark4
Seller of weird shit, Ueno Park

All shot on the Nikon F60 and Kentmere 400 or Kodak Tri-X

Osaka

Osaka is a nice city to visit and works well as a base for trips elsewhere (Kyoto, Hiroshima etc) albeit without an overwhelming must-see identity of its own.  It is however clean, safe, friendly  – and has a Universal Studios park.  I’d only a few days in the city armed with the Nikon F60 and Huawei P9 and got some shots.

A good place to start is downtown at the Shinsaibashi shopping street, 600 metres of covered shopping.

km100_osaka_shinsabaishi
Shinsaibashi shopping street, Osaka

There’s also every conceivable eating place, including a bit of crab.

IMG_20170712_172550
Downtown Osaka, seafood restaurant.  Crab on the menu.
IMG_20170712_220021
Downtown Osaka, Dotobori Canal

One of the main sites for a visit is the Osaka Castle in its large gardens. It focusses on local history and art as well as some viewpoints of the city.

km100_osakacastle2
Osaka Castle
km100_osaka_skyline
View of the city from Osaka castle
km100_osaka_owkawa river2
Osaka Castle gardens
km100_osakacastle_park_shrine1
Osaka Castle gardens

Osaka is also the site for Japan’s Universal Studios theme park. Cue lots of Minions but I was particularly taken with Hogsmeade, Asian style.

IMG_20170713_151925
Hogsmeade, Japan (snow not real)
IMG_20170713_153953
Hogsmeade staff (Owl not real)

Practicalities – we stayed in the suburbs at the wonderful Rainbow Hostel near Imazato train station about 20 minutes from downtown.  The area was nice and quiet and you’ll not go hungry

 

35739900483_491a192ab6_k
Out in the suburbs

And of course in  Shinsaibashi there are plenty of camera stores.  Nice that film is still widely used in Japan.

acrpsss
just over a tenner for a three-pack of Acros

Kit:  Nikon F60 / Kentmere 100 and the Huawei P9

 

Tokyo: Shibuya

acrso waiting shibuya
The Crossing:  Nikon F60, Acros100

There aren’t many places you visit just to cross a road.  We’ve loads of crossings in Northern Ireland  – press a button, wait until a green man appears then dander across the road.  Occasionally this will involve a car or two stopping and perhaps a few other pedestrians.  Certainly nothing for tourists.

The Shibuya district in Tokyo has one of the biggest crossings in the world.  Roads from all directions get a red light and then it’s a pedestrian free for all.

acros crossing shibuya
Crossing the crossing.  Nikon F60, Acros 100

It is of course best seen from above  – there is a ridiculously packed Starbucks overlooking the crossing  – the phone is best to record this this.

There is of course more to the Shibuya district than a pelican crossing no matter how big assed and busy it is.  It’s a vibrant shopping, eating and socialising area making it great for street shots.

tokyo marlboro men shibuya
Marlboro Men of Shibuya. Nikon F60, Acros 100
Acros_tokyo queuing at Wendys
Queueing for a traditional Japanese Wendy burger. Nikon F60, Acros 100
acros bariki
Signage. Nikon F60, Acros 100
aCROS TOKYO SHIBUYA BUNTING
Bunting. Nikon F60, Acros 100
tokyo scenwe
Shibuya street scene and a Barcelona FC fan shop…    Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
tokyo taxi
Tokyo Taxi . Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
acros windows
Shopping Nikon F60, Acros 100
acros shibuya night1
Night shopping Nikon F60, Acros 100
acros shibuya evening
Struggling handheld at night on 100 ISO.  Nikon F60, Acros 100
no music
True.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

O Fortuna. Part 1

Fortuna Dusseldorf
Toni Turek.  Fortuna’s most famous player – and goalkeeper in the 1954 Miracle of Bern West Germany world cup winning team

When travelling it’s always a pleasure to check out a local football club.  On a visit to Düsseldorf, the grandly named Fortuna Düsseldorf were playing the lowly 1. FC Heidenheim 1846.  Or  Düsseldorfer Turn- und Sportverein Fortuna 1895 to give the home side their full unedited title.  (The book Tor! by Uli Hesse explains the background to the glorious naming conventions of German football).

As to the match itself, it was a cracking 2-2 draw ending up with a mass brawl between both teams,  coaches and substitutes –  and a referee who clearly lost control and the general ability to referee a football match.

From a photographic point of view however, armed with a 1970’s Ricoh KR-5 and a few prime lenses, it was going to be some documentary shots to give a flavour of the matchday experience.

Fortuna Dusseldorf
Industrial estate setting

The Espirit Arena is a big multi-function trade fair venue (Messe) and sports arena in an anonymous looking industrial estate.  It does however hold over 54,000 and the Rolling Stones have played here.  For a 2nd tier yoyo club, it’s an impressive home stadium.

And with typical German efficiency, getting to the ground and around the stadium couldn’t be easier.

Fortuna Dusseldorf
Fortuna Station (ESPIRIT Arena / Messe Nord)

The regular train service connects the city centre and the stadium with a loop to get the train heading back out again while the next train comes in.

Fortuna Dusseldorf
End of the line – train heads straight back out again

Unlike many city centre stadia, there’s plenty of space when crowds start to arrive – ticketing and queing is all very efficient.

Fortuna Dusseldorf
Pick your seat
Fortuna Dusseldorf
Then buy the ticket

Of course, being in Germany the onsite food and drink is top quality and decently priced.

Fortuna Dusseldorf
My Club, My Stadium, My Sausage.

The last pre-match task – the Club Shop. For a hat.

Fortuna Dusseldorf
Fortuna Fan Shop

Kit:   The robust and utilitarian Ricoh KR5, 50mm f2 lens and a roll of Kentmere 400

Indiana Wants Me

I’ve had the good fortune to visit the US on 3 separate occasions in recent years – and most of that time has been spent in Indiana.
These were working visits – it’s one of the more unlikely holiday destinations if you’re heading across the Atlantic but it has a quiet charm and warm feeling that makes me want to return.

Indy

The city of Indianapolis is a smart place with an accessible downtown area, the speedway and is home to my weekly dose of NFL.

P6273270View from Monument Circle
P6273274
Capitol Building
P6243150
Monument Circle

Upstate (Downstate..?)

I spent quite a while at two of the state’s Universities – Ball State and Taylor – and travelled around some unheralded places.

P6212837
Headin down south. Upland, IN
P6202536
A poor man’s Stephen Shore. Muncie, IN
P6192423
The Middle. Surrounded by corn
P6232992
another photogenic gas station (petrol as we call it..)
P6232993
The big sky around Matthews Restaurant, Matthews, IN
P6232998
Welcome to Matthews
P6232979
Old trucks and primary colours. OK, ‘colors…’
P6233010
Grain Truck, Matthews

Gas City – the smallest ‘city’ I’ve ever been to, but home to Friday speedway. Noise, fumes and fried food.

P6263183
The home of motor racing
P6222894
Gas city Speedway
P6263199
Gas City bunting

One of the most striking visual features I noticed was the signage. Sometimes grander than the actual place, sometimes unintentionaly funny but something we’ve lost over here.

P6263262
The King of Pizza
P6263256
It was closed, but I would’ve had a good time here
P6253179
Free panties on Friday night, Fort Wayne, IN

Baseball. If ever a sport is more enjoyable watching live rather than on TV, it’s baseball. This was my first experience at Fort Wayne.

P6253153
Parkview Field, Home of the Tin Caps
P6253171
Uncontroversial kneeling

I hope to go back to Indiana next time I visit the US. It’s an unassuming place with warm, friendly people, incredibly photogenic and seems to exude a laid back form of conservatism. Sometimes, though you have to be immodest, especially if you are the best damn sports bar.

P6263205
Simply the best. Blu 49

 

It Happened at the County Fair

Summer in Indiana and I got to experience that colourful cultural experience – the County Fair. We have, of course, fairs in Ireland – it’s usually cold and wet, they’re often like outdoor shopping malls, and they’re a bit… two dimensional. Now whether it’s the novelty of travelling or enjoying a trip to somewhere like parts of Indiana that are well off the tourist trail, there are things you just don’t get at home.

Forget Healthy Eating
There was a serious diet and a gym membership organised after this trip. It wasn’t just the grilled/fried everything – it was the sheer size and volume of portions.  All delicious, of course.

P6273339
Corn Dogs.  Wrong on every level.. I ate loads
P6273346
Make sure you have an up to date dental plan
P6212634
Porky’s.  Ate here as well….
P6212642
Satisfied customers from the Big Dog Diner
P6273341
Something for the little ones..
P6212650
Are we in Scotland???

We The People
With the fine weather and good food, everyone seemed chilled.

P6212708
The Fire Department – ready for action
P6212629
I think it’s a Nikon
P6273322
Competition time
P6212688
Love it when a Bass Player Smiles.  And nice Gretsch.
P6212737
Hangin’

Bit of Politics
I have to say that these guys had considerably less attention than the food, agricultural shows, sports and entertainment. The Tea Party strangely had no tea.

P6273349
Democrat casual.
P6212663
Down with this sort of thing. Careful now.
P6212660
A military presence

Sports
Tractors we have at home. Horses at agricultural shows, ditto.
Demolition derbies and pig wrestling, not so much.

P6283503
John Cougar….   …. John 3:16
P6283473
They actually did play ZZ Top for this
P6283449
Driving without lights.  and windows
P6283405
One careful owner
P7214873
a fine display of horses and hats
P6212799
ZZ Top tribute band and pig wrestlers
P6212821
Ladies and Gentlemen., we have a winner

And finally..
Sorry about this Dave, but we were on the lookout for you the whole time.

most wanted
Lock up your daughters.. Dave’s skipped bail

Hancock, Grant and Delaware County Fairs, I salute you. Every conceivable type of food and entertainment, everyone enjoying themselves and so, so much to photograph.

Tech note:
ColorEfex Pro was used to punch the Raw files taken off the Olympus E450.  It’s a great free tool.

CaptureolroEFEX
the Fuji 160 film emulation

 

 

Fairmount, IN.

P6233035
Understated James-Dean-free welcome

It was while watching a recent documentary about Magnum Photos,  a segment on Dennis Stock’s photos of James Dean reminded me I’d been to his home town of Fairmount on a trip to Indiana.  Due to lack of time, I ended up in Fairmount early on a Sunday morning, had a walk, took some shots of the town and some James Dean related sights with the Olympus E450, and in the absence of any other souls or open cafes, headed on to my next stop.

I then forgot about Fairmount and the photos sat on a hard drive for a few years.  Looking at them now and running them through a quick Color Efex filter, Fairmount looks to these European eyes exactly like how a mid west US town should look.  with added James Dean.

P6233053
An ornate 19th Century bank and stop sign.  Main Street, Fairmount

 

P6233030
Fairmount Post Office.  Closed on Sundays
P6233025
Wall based nostalgia
P6233024
no MP3s
P6233031
I’m sure a Beth Grant lookalike librarian works here

It doesn’t take long to find visual sightings related to Fairmount’s most famous son, and it’s all reasonably tasteful.

P6233048
The Giant Bar and Grill.  
P6233065
Fairmount Record Store
P6233044
Rebel wall art

I never got to the James Dean gallery, museum or his grave site – it was a fleeting visit at an early unsociable hour  – but I’d love to go back.  I’d orginally had a look at these shots in black and white but a town like Fairmount deserves colour – and Kodachrome would have been wonderful.  Sadly like Fairmount’s most famous resident it’s another much missed Amercian cultural icon.