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Monday, October 20, 2014

eyexplore Tokyo Photo Tour

I took part on Saturday in a hands-on photo tour called "Tradition and Modernity" organized by eyexploretokyo photo tours.

Japanese couple with parasol in Hamarikyu Park, Tokyo.

I had actually booked a couple of weeks beforehand for the eyexploretokyo "People and Streets" tour that took groups of aspiring tourist/photographers through the streets of Harajuku, but Typhoon Phanfone put paid to that.

"Tradition and Modernity" began in Tokyo's beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens, which is ideal for the theme given its deeply traditional landscaping and examples of Japanese architecture against a not-so-distant backdrop of very modern skyscrapers that almost surround the park.

Inside Hamarikyu Park, Tokyo.


Magnus, our tour guide, is a professional photographer, originally from Germany and now based in Japan. "Tradition" obviously being of the Japanese variety, we were encouraged to draw on Japanese aesthetic traditions in composing our photos. Our guide not only gave examples, but provided clear and constructive feedback on the photos we took. Comparing what we had taken with what he had taken, and with shots by other participants, too, was a valuable learning experience in itself.

Shiodome City Center building, Tokyo, taken on an eyexploretokyo photo tour.


The afternoon sun on the park gave way to dusk, and we were encouraged to take advantage of the changing light to capture scenes creatively and memorably.

We then walked to nearby Shinbashi station, through a cluster of skyscrapers, which we spent further time photographing more in the "modernity" vein. The next stop was Yurakucho, a warren of darkly lit underpaths and alleys that feature tiny Japanese-style pubs and snack stalls - evocative of the movie Bladerunner which drew very much on this tradition-modernity dichotomy for its effect.

eyexploretokyo guide, Magnus, in Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan.
Our expert eyexploretokyo guide, Magnus, in foreground

I appreciated in particular the handy hints regarding aperture and speed settings for the dingy conditions we were shooting in, and found a touch of new-found confidence operating in manual mode.

Colorful advertising in a Yamanote line train, Tokyo.

The group then moved on to the brand-new, super-modern Kitte building in Marunouchi, from whose outdoor balcony we finished up with more night shots, of the recently, and beautifully, renovated Tokyo Station, in all its redbrick grandeur complete with restored cupolas.

Raamen shop underneath Yurakucho station, Tokyo.


The above shots are from my own "best of" on the day which, thanks to eyexploretokyo, represent a far better outcome than my usual unreflective solitary pointing and shooting.


Recently restored Tokyo Station by night.

I heartily recommend one of these tours to anyone in Tokyo, resident or tourist. This tour opened this long-term Tokyo resident's eyes to new aspects of Tokyo's charm, mystery and beauty ... in expert hands, in great company, and with some beautiful shots to show for it.

eyexploretokyo website (check out the eyexploretokyo Facebook page too)


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