Thursday, July 31, 2014

San Francisco Traffic

Buildings - San Francisco  2014

Traffic on Battery - San Francisco  2014

Stuck in traffic on Battery St. (with an iPhone): commute time, everyone trying to access the Bay Bridge.

Really quite the worst conditions I've experienced recently, with intersections being blocked.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Buckeye, Blackberries, Thistles

Buckeye, Blackberries, Lichen - Marin County  2014

Thistles, Blackberries - Marin County  2014

OK, so these shots were taken with an Olympus E-PL5, using the same Panasonic 14-42mm lens mentioned yesterday.

Actually, there's no difference that I can see in image quality between the E-M1 and the E-PL5.

And, the E-PL5 is by far the lighter camera . . .


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fences, Hills

Fence, Redwoods - Marin County  2014

Fence, Hills - Marin County  2014

Taken using an Olympus E-M1 with a Panasonic 14-42mm lens. Pretty good!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Cat Blogging

Black Cat, Hay - Marin County  2014

The little black cat, once again.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Farewell to the East

Worker, Narita Airport - Japan  2014

Upon arrival at Narita Airport we spent some time in the United Lounge. Hm. Not quite what we had been thinking of: crowded and plasticky.

Our flight left at 6:00 PM, Thursday and arrived at SFO 11:00 AM, Thursday. Somehow I missed a morning in there.

And, I had jet lag off and on during the following week with wildly varying sleep times.

We're already compiling notes for the next trip! For example, "- Need to take weekend crowds etc. into consideration when planning locations to visit. - Need to establish a restaurant protocol: be able to recognize common kanji and ask about menus." And more.

Farewell to the East (George Wunder)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

. . . from the Narita Express

Rice Paddies - Japan  2014

Skytree - Japan  2014

Narita Airport is quite a distance from Tokyo, a matter of some hours even taking a high speed express train. Going there we were able to glimpse the Skytree and take in some agricultural sights.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jizo Statues

Jizo Statue (Nippori) - Japan  2014

Jizo Statues (Nippori) - Japan  2014

In the rain, seen on my Nippori excursion. Very touching . . . please see my 2008 entry.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Cemetery, Tree (Nippori) - Japan  2014
Street, Cemetery, Rain (Nippori) - Japan  2014

There's a very large cemetery in this section of Tokyo. I didn't do that much exploring, the rain was really starting to come down.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tennoji Temple (2)

Stone Lantern (Nippori) - Japan  2014

Leaves in Rain (Nippori) - Japan  2014

There was no one else there: no tourists or staff: the emptiness was oddly compelling.

I took off my shoes in order to walk on the wooden platform overlooking the stone lantern, somehow feeling obliged to do so.

Temple Detail, Rain (Nippori) - Japan  2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tennoji Temple (1)

Azaleas, Water Pots (Nippori) - Japan  2014

Nandina, Tennoji Temple (Nippori) - Japan  2014

. . . in the rain. I had crossed over the Nippori Station's tracks on a pedestrian bridge and almost immediately came upon the temple grounds. Amazingly atmospheric even though it's very close to the train station. Even nicer in the rain.

Buddha (Nippori) - Japan  2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Dog Blogging

Dog (Kyoto) - Japan  2014

Studiously avoiding our gaze.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nippori (Yanaka District)

Railroad Tracks (Nippori) - Japan  2014

Hotel Seeds (Nippori) - Japan  2014

Supposedly you can find scenes from "old Japan" in this district, although I didn't really see any. Lots of railroad tracks and love hotels, though!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tokyo Rain

Rain on Window (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Self Portrait (Nippori) - Japan  2014

It rained our last full day in Tokyo. Of course, that was the day I picked to venture forth on a solo excursion to Nippori.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Tokyo Night

Night View (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

. . . views from our window at the Shinjuku Hilton. Wow.

Bottom photo taken using the 14-150mm Olympus "superzoom" at 150mm (300 equiv.)

Looking Out (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Japan: Culinary Adventure (22): Ramen

Ramen (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Ramen Menu (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Supposed to be eaten quickly, I gather. We weren't all that quick, however! The restaurant was located inside a Tokyo department store in the Shinjuku Station labyrinth. Just opposite our ramen restaurant a group of young ladies were waiting for tables to open in what appeared to be a unique place featuring such specialities as "erotica paella."

Waiting (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tokyo Residential

Residential (iPhone Pano) (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Tokyo Government Towers (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

During one of our morning walks in Shinjuku we wandered down some narrow winding streets to find what appeared to be an upscale residential neighborhood.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Little Girls

Little Girl, Arashiyama (Kyoto) - Japan  2014

Taking Selfie (Kyoto) - Japan  2014

Top: In Arashiyama.

Bottom: just outside one of Kyoto's many Buddhist temples

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Jungle Crow Blogging

Crows (Kyoto) - Japan  2014

Very large crows in Kyoto, also common in Tokyo. At first I assumed they were ravens, but apparently not.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tokyo Azaleas

Azaleas (Shinjuku, Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Azaleas (Shinjuku Residential, Tokyo) - Japan  2014

We spent a short time in Tokyo just prior to our return. I noticed these still-blooming azaleas brightening up the urban landscape.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


PuPuRu (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Our tech connection. A "MiFi" device that converted cell signals into a WiFi signal to be utilized by our iPhones. Hali rented one in advance of our arrival for pickup at our hotel, which transaction went off without a hitch. I must say it worked like a charm! Once charged throughout the night it lasted for the next day, enabling me to check the latest New York Times updates and to make sure that my blog was updating.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji - Japan  2014

This was my third visit to Japan, but the first time I was able to see Mt. Fuji. I hadn't realized that the Kyoto-Tokyo shinkansen line afforded such a close view! Once we noticed the mountain's bulk filling up the opposite side windows Dan and I jumped up and headed for the larger window in the vestibule.

Since I had been trying for pix out the window I had already set the shutter speed on the Olympus E-PL5 to 1/2000th second which seemed to do the trick. Composition is totally random, of course.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Japan: Culinary Adventure (21): Bento Boxes

Bento on Train - Japan  2014

We knew we wanted bento box lunches for our return train to Tokyo, so we scheduled plenty of time at Kyoto Station to shop. We all picked the same assortment! Yum.

Choosing Bentos - Japan  2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cameras in Japan (2014)

Olympus Cameras (Kyoto): E-PL5 (left) and OMD EM-1 (right) - Japan  2014

For our 2014 Japan trip I took two Olympus cameras, an E-PL5 and an OMD EM-1. (Last trip, in 2008, I used an Olympus E-510 DSLR.)

The E-PL5 doesn't have as many controls as the larger (and heavier) EM-1; I used it mainly in family situations and at restaurants with a 14-42mm (28-84 equiv.) Panasonic kit lens attached (as in these okonomiyaki photos.) Also attached: an auxiliary eye-level viewfinder that really didn't get used that often. At one point I was going to sell (or give away) the E-PL5, but now I'm glad I didn't.

I brought the EM-1 and an Olympus 14-150mm (28-300 equiv.) zoom lens along when I was mainly interested in photo possibilities, as for example on our Karuizawa hike. Rounding out the m43 equipment was a 20mm Panasonic prime (non-zoom) lens, which was something else that really didn't see any action.

Final piece of photo equipment: an Apple iPhone 5s which I used for the above picture and the occasional video.

By the way, Olympus had a high advertising profile at Tokyo's Shinjuku Station (below).

[UPDATE: (As of March, 2015) I finally ended up selling the E-M1 back to B&H and keeping the E-PL5! The E-M1 was larger and heavier and certainly didn't take better pictures, its main advantage was the ability to more directly control exposure. But it was way "overteched" in my view. Right now I'm using the "beginner" OMD camera, the E-M10 which I've been liking so far: it seems to suit my minimalist style much better. And yes, I still have the E-PL5.]

Olympus Ads (Tokyo) - Japan  2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Japan: Culinary Adventure (20): Ushi no Hone

Ushi No Hone Anaza Restaurant (Kyoto) - Japan  2014

First Course (Kyoto) - Japan  2014

We ate there simply because it looked intriguing. (Hali's discovery.) Very nice experience!

Takomaki, bamboo shoots. Mackerel. Beef salad. Fried chicken. Chicken meatballs. Rape with yuzu. Duck with scallion and sesame oil. And beer, of course. Even Hali had a beer!

The lady next to us spoke English, had spent some time in Orange County (Huntington Beach.) So we were able to have a back and forth culinary conversation. For next time: Kamamishi rice w/ squid  and bread with beef.

Daily Specials (Kyoto) - Japan  2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Monkey Blogging

Monkey (Arashiyama) - Japan  2014

During our last trip to Japan, in 2008, Hali and I devoted some effort to visit the famous mountain realm of the snow monkeys.

As it turns out, there is also a similar monkey venue outside Kyoto, in Arashiyama up a steep winding trail. A very worthwhile visit, I thought, with the monkeys being as photogenic as always.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Arashiyama #2

Bamboo Grove (Arashiyama) - Japan  2014

It was getting increasingly crowded as we walked towards the famous Arashiyama bamboo grove. Motorcycles and rickshas occupied the main street and teeming throngs packed the sidewalks; luckily we were able to find temporary refuge in a small tea house.

Once inside the grove I pointed the camera up and away from the packed pathway, got my bamboo shot, then we all agreed to make a quick tactical withdrawal.

Next time we'll go on a weekday.

Motorcycles (Arashiyama) - Japan  2014

Crowd (Arashiyama) - Japan  2014