Well, one more year has passed and am happy where am at. Lots of traveling and lots of images to look at and try and pick my favorites. I really don’t like doing a “top 10 images from 20xx” cause you really don’t know the story behind the image or the adventure that had to happen to get the images. But I will create a short post with just my top 10 ish image. So like last year, am going to go in order from January to December with a little bit of a story to go with it and what made the images special to me. So let’s kick this 2016 year end review right!
Warning! This is going to be a long post
– Tokyo Rooftops and Over/underpasses
I have seen my fair share of Tokyo but only from the ground level. I have always talked to a few pals of mine about getting on rooftops here in Tokyo but it seems like we always find a roadblock that prevents us from doing so. However this year, we found a fair share of rooftops that let us get some amazing shots. One night after teaching a workshop, I went out with them and checked out the new finds. Getting to some of these places are kinda tricky but once you get there, you have to find a way to make it look amazing. In the next shot, I had to rest my camera on the glass as it hung over a 90 ft drop to the city street below. CRAZY!!!!!
I love to photograph Tokyo Tower but I have shot it so many times from the same places or the same style. I was so happy to get an image with the iconic tower with some of the jammed pack city buildings in the foreground. It really does show how crowded the city really is.
I also shot at some old and new places to get a new look and feel. I love shooting from over/underpasses cause it lets you get right up close to light trails that you normally don’t get to shoot from ground level. Have to say if you don’t have a wide-angle lens, these shots are almost impossible.
– CP+ PhotoExpo and the Photowalk
This year, I went to the 2016 photo expo commonly known as CP+. It was a lot of fun to just walk around and see all the new toys and gadgets that are coming out and where the whole photo industry is heading. However, the highlight of it was when the Photowalk started. It was put on by Takahiro Yamamoto and I was happy to be there and finally meet him. It was nice to meet some new people but once the sun went down, I really started to feel at home. I walked away with these two images of the Yokohama bay front area. I have shot the Cosmo clock fares wheel so many times but I wanted to capture it in a new way so this time I just went ahead and shot it like this. Also, I love light trails so having a light trail that goes from white to red was a happy moment for me.
– Cherry Blossom Season in Japan.
Here in japan, Sakura season is a very very big thing. I can not emphasize this enough!!!!! when the flower start to come out from their winter slumber, the people start to gather in the park in the masses. Am talking about tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands in certain parks all across Japan and Tokyo. During this time I generally stop shooting landscapes due to the fact that I will have a crap load of people in any of my images that I can think. So I do Cherry Blossom photo shoots for families and couples. It’s a good way to enjoy the outdoors and meet new people. This year I wanted to try and get a decent cherry blossom image and I could not think of a better place than the nakameguro river. This place is kinda famous for its overlapping trees over a high walled canal. Plus I entered this image in a Photo contest and I won! nothing big, just a print of it.
– My much needed yearly Vacation: Singapore -> Thailand -> Korea
Part 1: Singapore layover
Every year I take a much-needed vacation away from work, home, family, and everything that keeps me up at night, and go explore the world. It’s my one time every year to just kick back and relax. This year we went to Thailand with a stop over in Singapore and end our travel in South Korea to visit some family. So while in Singapore I got a few new shots that am happy with and which is the Buddhist temple nestled in the heart of downtown Singapore. We had to go into some strange apartment building and go to a few different floors to find that right view point for this image.
I was also able to get a new image of the famous Marina bay sands hotel and the Helix bridge. I really love coming to this part of the city to watch the light show because you get to see everything all at once!
Part 2: Thailand( Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Krabi)
My wife and I always wanted to go to Thailand to experience the culture, food, and atmosphere. We did not want to stay the whole time in all the heavily touristy areas, so we went to Chiang Mai for a first stop. It’s the food mecha of Thailand and it was amazing! Not only because of the food but also we timed it just perfect to coincide with the Thai Songkran festival. Think of a whole city shutting down and having a huge water fight from noon to sundown. you can’t walk 10 feet from your hotel without getting soaked or a moped drive by with a water gun. Needless to say, my camera did not come out during this time. I did get some really cool GoPro video from our first day out.
But when we were not out exploring the craziness of Thailand, I did get some shots from our hotel.
One of the few things that we wanted to do while we were in the countryside was to go and play with the elephants. We did not want to ride them but to simply go out and see them in their “natural” surroundings… If you can call it that. Yes, they are kinda captive but it’s for their own good. Lots of people see them as a nuisance as a harm the crops around the farmers, So we went out of the city and headed out into the jungle. Plus I was able to get a elephants kiss and a few decent images from there. After this, we pack our bags and head to the big city of Bangkok!
You really don’t need to say much about this place. It is its own world. You can see almost anything and do almost anything you want(might be a bribe here and there) but anything is up for grabs if you are willing to just ask. We hit the ground running and head right away to the famous walking street called Khao San Road and it was just an eye-opening experience. Nothing like riding in the back of a tug tug popping wheelies down the main road.
We had to go to the Lebua at State Tower where the Hangover 2 was filmed at and enjoy a world class view of Bangkok. No tripods allowed but I was still able to make something happen for me.
I was also able to talk my way up to the top of the hotel I was staying at to get a few images of the skyline from the Helo pad. I really wanted to shoot more but the security guards were watching me like a hawk so I cut my time up on the time short. Either way, it was a great time.
Krabi: All good things come to an end.
We left Bangkok on a high note and we headed to Krabi to just sit back and soak up the sun on the white beaches and just melt away. Well, that was the plan but someone had other plans for me. After arriving at our first hotel, we went on a 4 island tour to see some amazing places but instead I got 2nd-degree sunburns on my arms and chest… sad thing is that I was wearing SPF 50 sunscreen and I still looked like a lobster. I got this image for my hard work out in the sun.
Within 24 hours of me cooking myself alive, I now have the traveling bug. I proceeded to stay in my hotel room and stay out of the sun for the next three days. I did come out for sunset but besides that, I was done for. Here are a few of my Sunset images that I was happy about getting even though I was sick and burnt.
After our not so pleasant stay at a hotel resort which will remain unnamed, we headed to Phulay bay a ritz-Carlton reserve to end our Thailand adventure. If you ever want to be treated like a king or queen, this is the place to do just that. PLUS it has some amazing sights to take in on the reserve and they also took us out to Hong Island which I think is so much nicer than Maya beach.
After a few days enjoying the niceties of the resort, it was time to say goodbye and head to my wife family home.
South Korea: trip to Busan to meet a few pals
After a long flight into Inchon International airport, we hopped on a bus to the countryside of Gangwon province. I wanted to make a trip down south to visit Jason Teale and Pete DeMarco, Both of which are amazing Photographers located in South Korea. They took me to one of the most famous location down on the Busan waterfront. I really find it amazing how something so simple as a puddle on the ground can create such amazing image, you just have to know where to look. After my short time in Busan, it was time to hop on the next flight and head back to Tokyo and end my vacation and go back to normal life.
– Overnight Trip to Mt Fuji
Well, I just got home from my month long trip around South Asia but I still wanted to get some amazing images of Mt Fuji before the summer season started. I wanted to get a Milkyway image on top of Fuji but the weather did not let that happen so I just got some normal images which in hindsight turned out better than I expected.
– A visit from Tom-Go
I got contacted by a cool guy named Tom-Go and he asked me if I wanted to meet up one day and go shooting in Tokyo. Little back story on Tom, He is from Berlin and living in Busan and pals with Jason. A friend of a friend as one would say and that is all good with me. He said he wanted to shoot an Iconic image of the Tokyo Skyline and I could not think of a better place than the Tokyo World trade center building. We ended up getting an amazing sunset and blue hour to end the night. Can’t wait for me to go and visit him this time in Korea.
– I Climbed Mt Fuji!!!!!
One thing that I always wanted to do was get to the tallest mountain in japan and look out over all vast open land. I have always wanted to climb it ever since my first time to japan back in 2008. This year, I made the plan to climb to the top of Mt fuji but not only to reach the top of Mt Fuji but to be there for the magical sunrise from the peak, PLUS there will be very little foot traffic along the route. I won’t lie, the hike up to the summit was not fun by any means. we started our hike at 5:30 pm from station 5 and our plan was to reach the top an hour or two before the sun comes up. We reached the summit around 2 am and we just had to sit back and wait for the sun to meet us. However, the only downside is that it was freezing up at the top. This is what it looks like from the top of Mt Fuji just waiting for the sun.
This is what it looks like right after sunrise. These are the people that could not make it up the last 500 ft to reach the top of Mt Fuji to see the sun come up. I would hate to be in that line.
– Traveled to Iwo Jima
My work gave me a great opportunity to travel to Iwo Jima for 10 days. I would have loved to explore more of the island and share this place with everyone but unfortunately, we had a typhoon warning and some really bad weather that prevented me from doing any real photography. I was still able to get away from the workplace and get a few decent images.
– Going To Oregon for a quick holiday
Well, I had to make a quick trip back home to Oregon to renew my driver’s license and while I was there, I was able to get out and do some shooting. If you have never been to Oregon, it has to be one of the best-kept secrets in the United States. Luckily for me, my parents live on the Oregon coast where some of the most beautiful vistas and lookouts are found right around their house. Here are a few of the best images I took from that short holiday.
– Back to Korea!
Well, we went back to South Korea to visit family again and this time it was really short. It was not really a photography based trip but more of a trip to see family. The one thing I have learned over the last few years was that family is very important. You need to take advantage of all the times you get to visit them and enjoy the time we have with them. So the camera stayed in the bag but I was still able to get some shots of the frosty morning on my wife’s parents farm along with a cool shot which I got from the Airport… He he!
– Last few months…..
Well, the last few months have been some ups and downs. Ever since I have been living in Japan, I have suffered from seasonal allergies which for the first 2 years was misdiagnosed which manifested itself into severe bronchitis which lead into walking pneumonia. I absolutely hated the spring and fall because I knew that the next 6 weeks or so, I would be very sick and nothing I could do about it until this last summer where I tried a few different things and found out that I had seasonal allergies. Now I try and plan to take a holiday away from Japan during the allergy seasons.
I have also made some great new friends that are truly amazing! We had the pleasure to photograph their engagement and part of their wedding! I look forward to going out and shooting and exploring with them this next year also. The last one the list is my Secret project that I have been working on for the last year. I know last year at this time I said it would be coming out very soon but I promise you now, we are in the home stretch and you will know all about it in the next few months! If you want to see a little bit of it, head over to Glenlewis design on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Stay tuned for the website to be up and running and the Kickstarter to launch.
So there you have it. Travel to 5 countries, 9 locations, and flown over 20,000 miles just to give it some scale. Well, I hope you enjoyed the read, I know it was a bit long this year but I have done a lot of traveling. I just wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope that next year, you will be able to do everything you want to do and more!