I Once Knew This Place

A remake of an older photo using textures, and a video about how to use textures with your own photos.

Continue Reading →


How to Apply Textures to Photos

If you’ve ever wondered how I apply textures to my photos, here you go.

Some notes before we get started:

The photo you see in the video is from a few years ago so you may not remember it. I posted it here.

The first texture is from Anna Lenabem. You can get it here.

And the second texture is from Jerry jones. You can get it here.



Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.

Impressive Traditional Gate

Nice clouds, a nice, traditional gate. What’s not to like in this photo?

Continue Reading →

A New Day

I’ve been intending to write this post for over a month, but something keeps coming up just as I sit down to write it. So at this point this is a little behind, but better late than never, eh?

Perhaps one of the reasons something keeps coming up is nervousness — or more precisely a mixture of fear and excitement. This is a huge step for me.

As of this summer, my photography is my full-time gig. That is to say, all of the money to support my family is coming from my photography.

Now, as photography Godfather Rick Sammon says, “It takes a lot of peanuts to feed an elephant”, meaning that to survive independently, it’s best to have many sources of income. I take this to heart and have a number of different areas to provide for me, including stock photography, direct licensing, prints, and workshops I teach locally.

I hope writing for this site will be one of those peanuts from here forward.

I started writing in late 2006. I wanted to introduce this wonderful place called Japan to people in other countries. For two years I wrote various pieces introducing things like tatami flooring, school uniforms, and matcha. In 2008 I altered the focus of this site to better align with my passion for photography and started posting a photo every day in addition to continuing to post the occasional written piece. In the past couple of years my output has slowed, but my passion to introduce Japan through both writing and photos remains.

What is Next

On the surface, nothing will change. Everything I write and post here will continue to be free for all users. I will continue to post beautiful photos of Japan as often as time allows — ideally everyday[1]—and will continue to post occasional longer-form written pieces about various aspects of Japan.

With your support, however, I hope to devote more time to everything I do on, increasing both the quality of posts and frequency of them, raising them to a new level of excellence.

Your Support

If you enjoy my art, if you enjoy my writing, if you want to help me create more of both, then I am asking you to please help me by becoming a member.

I am offering many perks to membership. Among them are:

  • A single page to access high resolution versions of all my photos
  • A members newsletter/podcast
  • Better access to me (via a special email address)
  • Discounts off prints, other things in my store
  • Other giveaways
  • Possibility of more perks in the future

I hope these things are secondary — a bonus, if you will — and that the main reason to subscribe will be simply to help support my work. Either way, I hope you will consider becoming a member.

So, everyone, if you enjoy my writing, if you enjoy my photos, I urge you to please consider supporting me by becoming a subscribing member. I am asking for $4 a month, payable in 3 month chunks [2]. To use the popular coffee analogy, this is less than many of the drinks at Starbucks [3].

Thank you for being awesome

You guys rock. Seriously, one of the reasons is still going strong 8 years later is your support. Because of you guys I have been motivated to always continue.

Whichever choice you make, I thank you for being a fan. And now I’m asking, will you please help me take things to the next level?

  1. Despite not being able to meet this goal for at least two years, I keep it as my stated goal and and always aiming to meet it.  ↩

  2. This is simply to limit the fee Paypal charges per transaction  ↩

  3. Even basic black coffee is getting up there in price. Here in Japan you’ll pay nearly ¥350 for a grande black coffee  ↩


Notes: An Update

It’s been a while since I posted, so I wanted to take a few minutes to give a small update.

First, as you can see with the previous post, I am starting a new interview series called The Photogs in which I shoot a few questions to a photographer about a wide range of stuff. These won’t be long interviews; they are intended simply to introduce you to other good photographers who you may not be aware of.

Next, there is a reason for my slowed output with photo posts. Unfortunately I can’t quite say what that is yet, but I will share the reason soon enough. In the meantime, I will do my best to post more.

Finally, I have a big announcement coming next[1]… Stay tuned.

Edit: He’s up, and there goes my writing time. But I’m almost finished with the post. I’ll try to find time to finish it tonight (Japan time), so look for it in a few hours.

  1. Next being hopefully within the hour, assuming my son doesn’t wake up from his nap screaming before I’m finished… Fingers crossed ^^  ↩

The Photogs: Jim Denham

The Photogs is an interview series were we meet some of the best photographers on the internet and learn a little about what makes them tick, how they make their photos, and pick their brains on a few topics.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jim Denham. I’m a husband, a father and have a regular day job. My passion, however, is taking and making pictures, sharing them with the world and interacting with those folks who share the same love of photography.

I love taking pictures. People, landscapes, sports — all of the above!

What is your current camera kit? (camera, lenses, etc)

My main kit is a Canon EOS 60D DSLR with four lenses: Canon 50mm f1.8, Tamron 17 – 50mm f2.8, Sigma 70 – 200mm f2.8 and a Rokinon 8mm fisheye. I also have a Canon Elan II 35mm film camera that uses the same lenses as the DSLR. My latest gear purchase is a Holga 120 TLR medium format plastic camera, which I adore!

Accessories include a MeFoto Globetrotter tripod, a Pixel Pro wireless remote shutter and a wicked cool NitzStrap.

I also enjoy using my iPhone, mainly for social networking through Instagram and Facebook. Pretty powerful tool in that small case!

What software do you use for processing your photos and how do you use it? (iOS apps included)

I’ve become a Creative Cloud fanboy since they came out with the Photographer bundle. As a result, Lightroom houses my library and is my primary editing software. Love the lens and color correction capability, as well as the power in the Basic editing module. If more stylization is needed, there are two paths:

  1. Go to the NIK Collection directly from Lightroom, or
  2. Go to Photoshop from Lightroom and access the NIK filters there along with masking and texturing tools.

I’ve become pretty much addicted to Color Efex Pro from NIK for my color landscape images. I love the control points, but also love that the use of the presets has virtually eliminated my need of tone mapping software. It’s not that I dislike tone mapping software, but it is an additional step and typically takes more masking work than the presets in CEP. The end result tends to look more natural than tone mapping as well. Silver Efex Pro 2 is the black and white conversion software. Nothing better out there in my opinion!

Finishing touches are applied back in Lightroom, usually consisting of sharpening, noise reduction, vignettes and exporting.

What is your favorite camera and why? Favorite lens?

I love my 60D — it’s been a great camera for me and it’s my only digital option outside of my iPhone. I love the Rokinon fisheye — it opens up some serious creative juices in me, but it’s not a walk around, every shot lens. I’ve also been terribly happy with the 70 – 200 f2.8 Sigma for taking portraits and action images. To be honest though, all four lenses have their purpose and work really well — they don’t have a red ring around them, but they get the job done.

Digital or Film?

Both. Film is beautiful but expensive. I love portraits with my Elan II paired with my 50mm f1.8 and good black and white film — the look just can’t be created any other way. I love the editing capabilities of digital and artistic nature of it as well. You can take a normal image and turn it into art — that is way cool!

What is your current favorite photo (of yours) and why?

Wow, what a tough question! My son is my muse, so it would have to be one of him, but there are so many to choose from! I guess the one below ranks near the top. It’s a shot of him looking at something on the ground while resting his chin on his bike. He had just learned to ride without training wheels and you can see his intimate connection with the bike and a hint of the joy he was experiencing in it.

What photography advice do you have for beginners?

Don’t get so caught up in the gear. This is hard to do, but focusing on taking pictures that matter to you is much more important. Experiment — learn what works best for you, not what some forum troll says is best for you. Share your work, other people’s work that you like and what you know. Use photography to help others as well as forming new, fun relationships with other people. Above all, have fun with it!

If money were no object, but you could only choose one photography-related thing, what would it be?

Travel to all of my bucket list locations. No matter what gear you have, the pictures would be awesome simply because of the environment! I could also take my family with me!

What is it about Photography that motivates you to keep taking photos?

For most of my life, I’ve lived in a very analytical world. Rules, barriers, facts and outcomes. It wasn’t until I started pressing the shutter button about 5 years ago that some of those rules and barriers started coming down and allowing the imaginative side of my brain to expose itself. It also makes me see things differently, exposing beauty that I likely would have ignored in the past. The grit of a back alley. Golden late evening light warming the tops of wheat plants in a field. Even when the camera is not in my hand, these types of things have become visible to me.

In the end, photography doesn’t motivate me to take pictures, the beauty that photography has exposed me to does.

Where can people find you online?

To view my work, go here. Or my blog, here.

Socially, I’m very active on:

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram

Thanks, Jim!

You can find more The Photogs interviews right here.


To Walk With You Under The Sakura

I’m going on vacation up in Tochigi for Obon week. But before I go, a photo from this past spring.

Continue Reading →


Hell's Flames at the Abomb Dome

It’s the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Continue Reading →


How to Pronounce Japanese

Have you ever come across an unfamilar Japanese word and wondered how to pronounce it? Japan has worked its way into popular culture and we are surrounded by Japanese words. Words such as: Pokemon, Matcha, Sakura, Geisha, Samurai, Karaoke, Manga, and so on. When these words come into English, we nearly always retain the Japanese pronouncation, and this can be quite different than you may expect if you are strictly going by English rules. With this in mind, let’s take a few minutes to learn how to pronounce Japanese correctly.

Continue Reading →