Kabukicho HDR Photos

Kabukicho HDR photoset

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography is a process of taking a set of underexposed, properly exposed, and overexposed images and blending them together into one incredibly detailed photo.

I took these last night, and frankly, I’m not as wowed as I expected to be. One thing for sure though is they show Kabukicho exactly as I picture it in my mind. My self-assignment was to take ordinary scenes and compose them in a way that makes people want to stop and look at them like artwork in a gallery, but at the same time make them feel as though they’re experiencing the location itself, not just a photo of it. I haven’t found what I was looking for yet, but I’m still going through the shots, and I intend to go back there and try again and again until I’m satisfied. I also want to do the same thing in Ginza.

Come to think of it, I should really go to Yoshiwara. Only thing is, I wonder if I’d be as left alone as I was in Kabukicho. Yoshiwara seems like a more close-knit place, and they might not appreciate an outsider who doesn’t follow the rules. The clientele there expects privacy and anonymity, not some foreigner with a camera and tripod tromping around like he owns the place.

If you like the photos in the set, keep checking back. I’ll be posting more. My new header image is also HDR. I like it!

To learn more about HDR photography, this tutorial is a good place to start.

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Rich Pav

Richard has been living in Japan since 1990 with his wife and two teenage sons, Tony and Andy.

8 thoughts to “Kabukicho HDR Photos”

  1. I like your HDR images more so than most. Even Yongfook’s photos seem too fake. I thought the purpose of HDR was to imitate the eye with a camera. To be able to see ranges of highs and lows that conventional cameras cannot. In my opinion, your pictures do that better. They do not look over processed. However, I am not saying that Yongfook’s pictures are worthless many of them are beautiful…they just aren’t “real” looking.

    What camera and what software did you use to make these? I bought a Canon Digital Rebel XT about a month ago and I can’t wait to go to Japan.

  2. @Kyle: I used the company’s PowerShot G3 and Photomatix Pro. I wasn’t trying to glamorize the neighborhood, just wanted to stop and look at places in a different way. I didn’t get the shot I was looking for. I want one where you look at it and say, “Oh, OK, now I understand what it’s like to be there.”

    I don’t like when people take a boring shot and enhance it to make it look artsy. It’s like an ugly girl who wears a lot of makeup–she’s still ugly.

    @Darren: The size of things in Japan is normal for me now. When I go back to the US I feel like everything is huge and there’s too much open space. In a way it’s inconvenient; sometimes you walk and walk and feel like you’re still not getting closer to the place you want to be. Or if you’re lost it takes a long time to get back on the right track.

  3. Very beautiful photo’s, this makes me wanna buy a camera and try it myself. But I don’t know anything about photography..

  4. Your photos are great. I enjoyed the Flickr slideshow. I prefer them even to the group linked to above – Yongfook’s set are more tonemapping than HDR, so there’s a lot of artificial halo-ing, which you’re either into or you’re not (I’m not), while your HDR shots are closer to what the human eye can see but a camera’s single shot can’t, which I personally think is the point of HDR photography.
    I’ve tried night-time HDR but, unlike yours, they were all resounding failures. Won’t give up though. I find daytime ones in good light are quite rewarding…
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/overoften/374381997/in/set-72157594476127712/

  5. @Overoften: Thank you for the compliment. It’s hard for me to call my own photos “great,” I’ve only taken a few in my lifetime I think are great. Some people are using HDR to make amazing images, others are using it to enhance what are essentially shapshots. On Flickr I think the two best HDR photographers are Stuck in Customs and Kris Kros.

    Me, I just want to show things the way they really are. Japan is too often romanticised, futurized, and sanitized. If I manage to take a pretty picture, I want it to be because the thing in the picture is actually pretty, or because I pushed the button at exactly the right moment.

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