Beware His Cleansing Fire

Fudō-sama is one scary looking guy. But he has a good heart.

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New Year Lantern

These colorful lanterns are a nice sight at most feativals. This one is for Shōgatsu (正月) — New Years.

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JapanDave 6.0 Coming!

I know updates have become somewhat sparse lately. The reason for this is that I have been spending nearly all my free time working on the next version of JapanDave. Balance is not always my strong suit, so I’m afraid the result’s been my ignoring the current site. I’ll try to rectify that in the coming weeks.

At any rate, be on the lookout for the 6.0 update. Among other things it will include:

  • Some fancy javascript to fix the footnote problems on this site
  • It should be a lot faster as I am rewriting some php files for more efficiency and also eliminating nearly all WordPress plugins
  • I am going back to the drawing board and redesigning the four major posts types I do here — quotes, links, photos, and long-form articles about Japan — to make them more consistent, easier to read.
  • To the last point, for example: Currently no date shows up for link posts or news posts (like this one). I am fixing this.

I daresay I am mostly finished with any major changes, the only holdup is minor things that I want to get perfect. How soon the update shows up is probably directly related to how much I am able to suppress these perfectionist urges.


The Anti-VSCO Photographer

Conor McClure:

I’m going to come out and say it: I’m Anti-VSCO. I think that too many photographers rely too heavily on these presets, and I see less and less visual variety every day because of it.

I think we all saw this coming. Anything that becomes popular enough will eventually gain some rebellion against it.

I don’t think criticizing the tool itself — VSCO filters, in this case — instead of the lazy, human tendency to find a shortcut to success is very helpful. He does make some excellent points about attempting to buy your way to talent, however. As I often point out: do a search for any great camera on Flickr and you will see more shit photos than good photos.

One niggle:

If you’re truly in pursuit of the “film look,” for heaven’s sake, shoot film!

The problem with this is many (certainly not all) of of films VSCO emulates are not available anymore. Thus if we want to use the look, we have to use VSCO (or some other filter emulating the look).

My personal main beef with VSCO is no Kodachrome.[1]

  1. Which, I might add, is not available anymore. Even if you can track down some rolls of it to shoot with, it is impossible to have developed.  ↩


The Sacred Bridge

The famous Shinkyō bridge in Nikkō. Shinkyō might be translated as Sacred Bridge, but I think most people tend to use the Japanese name. It is known as one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan and is a World Heritage site.

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Trees of Red

Autumn is here! And with it, the beautiful colored leaves.

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Photography helps people to see.

From The Archives: Stormy Sky Over Church

I remember taking this shot a few years ago. The sky had been darkening for awhile and I knew it would let loose soon, but I went out anyway to take some photos, including this one. After just a few minutes I headed home and got in just in time — moments later it came pouring down.

HDR clouds and stormy sky

The Photogs: Mark Esguerra

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?

I’m Mark Esguerra. A traveler and photographer for The Marke’s World (My profile photo was shot by Scott Jarvie)


What is your current camera kit?

This year I’ve been going through the process of changing gear. Before, my main body was a Nikon D3S. With it I use a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, a 28 – 300mm f/3.5, and a Tokina 16 – 28mm f/2.8 wide angle lens.

However, since adding the Sony A7R to my camera bag, I’ve been finding that I shoot primarily with the A7R. To put it simply, it gives me what I need (with more dynamic range) without any of the weight of a DSLR.

With the Sony setup, I adapt my Nikon lenses frequently, more specifically the wide angle lens. And for native Sony lenses I use an FE 55mm f/1.8, FE 24 – 70mm f/4, and a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 wide angle lens.

What software do you use for processing your photos and how do you use it?

I’m a Windows 7 user, which may come as a surprise to some. I use Lightroom, Photoshop, and the Nik collection for photo processing. During travel I use my iPhone or iPad Mini to process images for some quick sharing online.

What is your favorite camera and why?

This answer might come off as a bit biased since it’s a camera I’m currently using, but I’m going with the Sony A7R. I have it with me almost all of the time for any shoot, so it’s hard not to say it’s my favorite considering how often I use it. It’s become my primary camera and if I couldn’t say that it was my favorite, then I wouldn’t be using it as often as I do.

Digital or Film?

Digital. I appreciate film and film photographers, but digital is just so convenient on many levels. One such advantage I like about digital is the fact that I can see an image I’ve shot immediately. I can process it immediately (if I use a smart device) or I can immediately work on it when I get it home to my computer.

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

Hmm. That’s a tricky one because I don’t publish anything that I don’t really like personally. But if I had to choose one for now, I’m going to pick an image I titled Endless Lights.

Endless Lights

I’m choosing this photo because first of all, it’s from a place I consider home away from home, my favorite place to visit, Tokyo, Japan. But also because I think it represents how far I’ve come as a photographer. You see, this was taken behind glass, and behind me were reflections of light and tourists using the flash on their phone cameras. So the original RAW had some unsightly light reflections on either side and in the corners. If this were even as early as a year ago, I would have given up on the image. But with what I’ve learned over the years I was able to save the image, and use selective adjustments to pretty much get rid of the light reflections. So the fact that I could still process this image without giving up on it really showed me how far I’ve come as a photographer.

What photography advice do you have for beginners?

I’m sure most photographers would offer this same advice, but I’d say to focus on composition. Don’t worry about having the latest gear or anything like that. Just focus on composition and trying to tell a story with that image. Even using something as simple as a phone would be helpful for a beginner. They don’t have to worry about various camera settings, they can just compose and shoot.

In fact, there’s a book that my friend Andrew Gram published earlier this year on his site that would be most helpful in that regard called The Uncommon Photographer’s Guide to Photography. It’s a great book and something that even veteran photographers could find helpful.

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

At this point, the hard drive space and/or cloud storage. And lots of it. If money were really no object, I would get the maximum possible. The one downside to digital photography is the size of the files I think. Which means that memory goes fast.

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

Traveling to various locations around the world and sharing what I see with my loved ones. That’s it really. Even if I had zero followers and no online presence, as long as I can get my images to my friends and family, then that’s enough to make me want to keep shooting and keep improving.

Where can people find you online?

My homebase is my website The Marke’s World. I post one new image everyday. I’ve been doing so for several years now and I have no intention of slowing down.

I can also be found on Stocksy, G+, Facebook, Twitter Flickr, and Instagram. There are other locations, which can be found on my G+ about page.

Thanks, Mark!

You can find more The Photogs interviews right here.


Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.