Sunday, 29 January 2012

A Winter chawan

This is a great Winter chawan, a tea cup for the tea ceremony, with matsu (pine trees), under the snow (yuki). This chawan is one of a nice collection of a cha-no-you (tea ceremony) master in KItakata, Japan. I took this picture with natural light and using a Japanese black laquered wooden tablet as back ground to achieve the reflection of the cup.

More karate pictures



For the coming exhibition, I decided to use the sequence of images as groups, four triptych that give more the idea of dynamicity, movement and harmony I felt during the shooting. The focus of my photographic research is the gesture in the traditional Japanese arts, not description of ambient, portraits or social reportage, just the gesture that enclose all the tousand of years of art tradition and search of perfection and inner realization.

Karate master in abbiategrasso, Milano



I do not practice any martial art, but I have a great respect and esteem for master of any of this arts. This is Shirai Hiroshi sensei (master), he is a living mith of Japanese traditional karate, he was charged by his school in Japoan back in the '60s, with the mission of bringing the real and traditional karate to the west. Now is more than fourty years working in Europe, is one of the most important and esteemed teacher of this art in the world. I took this pictur after being invited by the Yoshitaka dojo to shoot his portrait for the comingevent about Japan and my photographic exhibition (to be held in February 2012), in the town of Abbiategrasso near Milano in December 20111. I used few 350 wats tungsten spot lights on both sides of the subjects, actually, back of the subjects, to achieve a dramatic light and strong graphism. I like the white walls and white kimono dress contrasting with the only grey and black of the skin. I used a 85mm. Nikon lens. fully opened at 1.4f . Very shallow focus is difficult to achieve on unpredictable and fast movements, I never stop the motion of the master, never ask to pose for the shoot, of course I had to throw away so many shoots. I had only 30 minuts in total to do my shooting, set lighting included.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Tori at Higashiyama


In AizuWakamatsu in the Fukushima prefecture there is a quarter on the mountain where is a very nice onsen area the famous hot springs, few riokan, traditional hotel and modern hotels. Very nice in winter with a lot of snow.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Home made bread

This masterpiece is made by my wife Emiko, by the way, is home made bread, with a cube shaped mould bought in Japan. We like home made bread even if in Italy can found very good bread in bakery of so many type and shapes. Photo taken in my studio with strobes, camera Nikon D2Xs with 85mm at f1.4 to obtain a strong shallow focus effect.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Cha-no-yu room




This is a room for the tea ceremony, the Cha-no-yù, here the color of the walls is quite unusual, indicate a strong personality and personal aestetic sense of the house master, a man, also in the choice of the kimono and accessory. I love the quiet mood in this room, simple room but with great attention to the details. The chanoyu was very nice, the matcha deliciously bitter and the objects where exquisite and so the master art and ospitality. In kitakata, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan on the 2nd of September 2006 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sunday strolling in Ginza

On Sunday in the central and more elegant and shopping crazy district of Ginza, in Tokyo is a no traffic zone and a lot of people walk in the street watching shop windows of the most elegant and expensives fashion labels of all around the world. Also the Kabuki Theatre is there, huge department store like Mitsukoshi and Matsuya, a huge Mac store, Sony have his five floors showroom, inside wich they give hospitality to BMW cars showroom! And many more. Of course the main interst is the fashion competition, especially women exibit great and expencive outfits, no matter if traditional or western style, just do your best to impress. In this case she succeeded in impress me! Not only her beauty is stunning and sensual, her skin white and very little make add freshness to her beauty, in addition her outfit is exquisitely elegant. She wears a nice kimono and white tabi (soxs) and getà (sandals) that have to be a little smaller than the feet to be elegan. (initially posted on the 14th of November 2007)

My friend Kurisu bi eyes.


This is Kris, she is an artist and art curator in Tokyo and that means it works with artists and galleries and private people to organize exibitions, in art gallery, museums, public spaces. I meet her in Milano in Autumn '06. She is very intelligent, full of energy, very beautyful and has a fantastic smile! Just irresistible.....
I took this portrait in studio using a Fuji GX680 with Sinar 54 Digital back, that has an incredible quality. I used studio flashes, to achieve this natural light feeling, I used a big white fabric on a frame to soften the light. I love shallow focus, so full aperture f5,6 on my Fujinon 150mm. Great camera and great lens. I just can't stop shooting her and I took hundreds of shoots. The big problem is to choose the right shoot out of hundreds. (initially posted on the 8th of November 2007)

Autumn near Milano

Autumn in Italy, near Milano, also here somethimes there are nice colors and yellow is my best color. (initially posted on the 8th of November 2007)

Love by Indiana

In 2003 I went for the first time to Japan and in Tokyo I had this pleasant surprise in Shijuku area, I found this big statue of American Pop artist Robert Indiana. Conceived in 1969, at the time when the United States was involved by the Vietnam War, this LOVE sculpture became a symbol for Peace and a logo printed on thousand of  postres, t-shirts and became in the '70s also the cover for the famous book Love Story and the poster of the movie from this book. Shijuku is a very busy district, but here is between very tall office blocks and at that time not too much people was around here, leaving us time to shoot this pictures with no hurry. This monument is 3,60 meter high and weighs 1,700 hilos of alluminium! Is not the only one of his kind, is a muliple piece of art and there are many of it in different colours around the word, well done Mr. Indiana.(originally posted on the 6th of November 2007)

Omu rice

Omu rice is a very thin omelette containing and enveloping rice dressed with tomato ketchup .... of course is not a traditional dish but a modern invention, a contamination of American culture of Japanese cusine. The cuts on the top is not compulsory, the tomato ketchup instead is it, this dish is very popular with youngster and children.(originally posted on the 30th of Novembre 2007)

Nasu, eggplant sandwich

Nasu are the eggplants, this is avery good dish, one of my favourite Japanese food. This are sandwiches of fried eggplants with veal escalopes inside, served with mustard and soy sauce.
In Japanese food there are thousand of vegetables and salades, in any meal there is always vegetables, often raw and cooked, rice, a soup and meat or fish or both! Is a feast for the eyes too, all those little plates, cups, and bowls, a mix of tastes, colours, smells and textures.
The traditional morning breakfast is based of rice, grilled fish or meat, vegetables, slad, miso soup and ofthen fish eggs. No cofee but tea, cold in summer. Is a bit difficult to start like this early in the morning for me the first time I was in Japan, I was asking for a cofee and milk first thing and after some time breakfast was ready and me too! Now I'm used to it and I really enjoy this habit, but only in Japan because my mother in law do this really hard work to prepare breakfast. Arigato okasan!  (originally posted on the 30th of Novembre 2007)

Fried sardines Japanese way

This is a Japanese home dish, fried sardines dusted in potato flour, very crispy, with soy sauce and, of course rice and on the background a bottle of sake.
Nihon ryori (Japanese food) is very rich, varoius and interesting, there's not only sushi or sashimi, those are the most famous but are eaten in special restaurants (sushi bar) or take away, sashimi is made at home somethimes but never sushi. In Japanese food you can find all kind of fish and sea shells, meat of chicken, pork, very little sheep and horse and especially beaf meat.

The beaf meat in Japan is very fat, good meat must looks like marble, with a lot of lines of fat, the opposite of Italian requirement of very lean meat. There is also the famous Kobe Beaf, this are very spoilt and pampered animals, they drink beer and have massages with gin! Of course this is the most expensive meat in the world but the taste is unique as well. This photo was taken in my studio on film for an Italian magazine. (initially posted on the 3rd of November 2007)

Traditional dancer

Dancer, actor and teacher Hanayagi sensei in his studio in Tokyo in summer 2007. All images are taken in natural light coming from a big windows behind him, taking the whole room side and filtered by the shoji, outside was very sunny and very hot. I left some neon light on the ceiling on to soften the shadows but keep the natural back light feeling.

Here Hanayagi sensei is performing a traditional dance with a fan, wearing a very formal outfit, black silk kimono called montsuki and hakama, a kind of wide pants. The small decoration on the chest and sleeves are called kamon, is the family crest. (originally posted on the 25th of October 2007)

Koto


In Summer 2006 I went to visit a kōtō school in Fukushima, I was very happy to discover that instead of a single master to take pictures of, they organized a class with many young girls all dressed very nicely with colorfull yukata and rehersing for a coming concert. Traditional arts in Japan are still alive! The kōtō is a kind of harp with 13 strings and movable bridges. Very nice sound, especially in ensemble with many kōtō together. The teacher was very kind and allow me to shoot freely and move around the class, there was a big window and the sun was coming through a white courtain diffusing the light, very nice.

My beautiful friend Kumiko

This is my beautiful friend Kumiko, she lives in Tokyo and in November 2006 she came in Italy with a friend and we met in Torino. She is very beautyful and sexy, is tall and she likes good food and drinks. We went to Rivoli, a small medioeval village near Torino to visit the Castle on an hill top, now is a fantastic modern art museum, has a great collection of contemporary artist, great location and great view over Torino on one side and the mountains (of the Winter Olimpics of Sestriere) on the other side.  http://www.castellodirivoli.it/ 
After the culture we went to a little bar in a small streets of the village to drink a very good Italian spumante, sparkling white wine of Piemonte area, very good, can compete with French Champagne.




I shoot this portrait with my new Nikon D2Xs with the 85mm f1.4, I was very happy about the result, fantastic colors, very nice contrast and of course sharpness. Natural light inside the bar, very little dept of field at f1.4! This lens is fantastic, 90% of my pictures are taken with this lens. (initially posted on the 15th October 2007)





Kumiko shoot this great photo of me with her camera, near the Rivoli Castle, the Autumn colors are great, with the wall covered in red vine. I'm the yellow one ;-)

Me in Egypt

Back in the year 2000 mid January I was in Egypt, to shoot a documentary for Discovery Channel about Gold. The story of a couple of clever Egyptian geologysts, they saw an ancient map from the times of pharaohs, with location of few gold mines in the High Egypt, that means South Egypt to us. The original map is in the great Egyptian Museum of Turin (Italy), second in the world only to the Cairo Museum. They reserched widely the territory of the Eastern Desert and ...... found them! But they where not the only ones, Romans been there in the first centuries of our era and after them the British in late 19th century, beginning of 20th. With the new technology, is now possible to rework all the sediments left during the centuries and from the mines. We spent a couple of weeks in the miners camp, in the middle of the Eastern Desert, where were only ten people two sheeps and a donkey ..... but was fun.

In this picture, I was in early morning in front of Giza Pyramids, with the British director and a sound man, to film an interview with the famous Zahi Hawass, he left us waiting for him just a couple of hours ...... it was quite cold and around us the desert, no toilet ... or refreshments. Plenty of time to set up digital camera (Sony DigiCam 16:9), monitor, and to count the camels passing by .... not so many.

Interstingly in the desert in the opposite direction of this view, there was the rests of the stage and a lot of rubbish left from a huge concert for the Millenium of French musician Jean Michel Jarre performed on New Year's Eve. (initially posted on the 10th of October 2007)

Ramen!

Do you know ramen? Oishii! Means buono in Japanese and this is very good indeed, ramen are Japanese noodles, with spring onions in soy sauce and meat (or fish) broth, in this case with pork meat topping, this is my favourite. In every region ramen are differen in size (thickness), hardness and ingredients, this are the famous Kitakata ramen, I know, you can't see them, are hidden under the pork slices .... they are shy ;-) yummy!  There are so many ramen bar (restaurants) in Japan from simple to very sophisticated and expensive, to modern and trendy. I shoot this picture in the Summer 2007 in Kitakata, in natural light in a restaurant wit very shallow focus. As reference to it I suggest you search for the great Japanese movie Tampopo  of 1985 by director  Jûzô Itami, very funny and romantic too, is all about food and the philosopy behind it in Japan. (originally posted on the 7th of October 2007)

How to use a fan

 How to use a sensu, the fan, is central in Japanese dance education and outside the stage too, everybody use fan in Japan, men as well and so men should move differently from girls, unless.....

Hanayagi sensei (master) is a traditional Japanese actor, dancer and teacher, I took this photos in the Summer 2007 in his studio in Tokyo. He was teaching to this lovely girl named Mina, how a girl should walk in the traditional dance. She wear a very nice dark green yukata (cotton summer kimono) with lot of little bunnies drawn on it, she is really beautiful and elegant. (originally posted on the 7th October 2007)

The chasen

This Summer 2007 I had great holiday in Japan (again) and this doesn't mean I did nothing, actually I did a lot of work, 78 CD's of pictures! As usual I did a lot of pictures of Tea Ceremony, Chanoyu or Sado. This is the chasen, is the brush to make the green tea into a thick froth, is made in bamboo, a single bamboo cut into a lot of very thin stems divided in two groups a circonference and a core, it resemble a lot to a brush for shave foam. Is very fragile but is a really beautiful object, simplicity and efficiency and beauty, only Japanese can do that all together. (originally posted on the 7th October 2007)

Natsu matsuri in Kitakata


The natsu matsuri is the mid Summer traditional celebration held all over Japan, with the parade of mikoshi a decorated wagon for each district of Kitakata. The people is accompaining the wagon plaing drums and flutes and wearing a different happy or yukata for each quarter.

Late afthernoon there is the performances of young and very young musicians with drums and flutes, later in the evening there are adult amateur and professional musicians and the atmosphere get hot! Thank to the sake and beer copiously drinked.

On holiday




For a little while on my blog there will be no news, I`m already in Kitakata, Japan for a month, weather is very hot and humid, at present a typhoon is heading south of here .... everything normal.

Today begins the town Matsuri, the town celebration, with a lot of food, drinks, (traditional) music with drums of all dimensions, everybody wears traditional clothes, me too! I`ll be back soon with new pictures. (initially posted without pictures on the 2nd of August 2007)
For the matsuri people usually wears yukata, is the same shape of kimono but is in cotton, suitable for Summer, and people partecipating at the matsuri wears happy, is a jaket in cotton with a draw or sign on the back to show their group or neighborhood, like this on the side.
In London I meet Kasumi in an art gallery in Soho, she is an artist and we worked on a multimedia project together, with her visual, my lighting and projections, a choreographer for dance and a young composer for nice music ..... we didn't finish the project, may be next time ...
I took many pictures of her, she is a good model, very beautyful and can move well because she do ballet as well.
I like in this picture the absent look, like a plastic mannequin, the lost eyes but very sensual as well, the original is in color, a lot of color! (originally posted on the 23rd of July 2007)

Nice smile!

I have to apologise, I forgot her name, few months ago there was in Milano the Fiera del Mobile, the Interior Design Fair, very big and interesting, with tousand of exhibitors from all over the world, of course many Japanese people showing their good work and many just visiting. Ther was also a big area devoted to Tokyo Design, where I met this nice girl and chatted with her for a litlle while. I know only she come from Kamakura, for shure I will go to visit the town on my next trip in Japan;-)
The exhibition was in a very dark area, but can see immediately after my eyes where used to the dim light ...... the BAR area, free sake testing! I like it very much, I prefer the one a little bit sweet than the dry ones, there are so many different kinds, I have to try them all. Serious.

In the middle of the exhibition main hall there was a big Tokyo model, no, no this one ;-) a town model like 6 meters by 6 meters of the center town, with the tower, Roppongi, and more. This was the model .... very nice to see a big city small ;-) I cannot recognize all area, just the Tower of Tokyo, Roppongi and Shijuku. (originally posted on the 23rd of July 2007)

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I was more interested by the surroundings ...


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Poetry for your senses

How to describe this little masterpiece of culinary art? It was still winter, it was January 2005, it was the year of the rooster for the chinese astrology, so any bird will armonize well for decorations, like the crane on the cup with golden clouds in the picture. The little sweet call wagashi, is soft and made of soy weat and sugar, is really tiny and smell of freshness, the small flower is a gracefull remaind of the future Spring to come, there is also tiny piece of leaf gold...... yummy.
If you are interested and not near the country of the Raising Sun, in Europe there is a traditional Japanese confectionery of this kind of sweets, one is in Paris and a branch in London: Kamakura Minamoto Kitchoan, they deliver in Europe. http://www.kitchoan.com/
Please, don't eat them with coffee or wine. (initially posted on the 18th of July 2007)

Thank you mate!

Yes I need to thank you old, faithfull mate, companion of many jobs and travels for three years. You worked fine, at that time was quite good quality on a full frame sensor. She never gave up, in the heat of summer in Japan or the cold, icy winter in Okkaido and even in the temperate climate of my studio. But in war like in business (so in work) never get too sentimental.
Yes, I admit it, I parted from her, and got a new, more fresh, more technological camera, even sexyer, most important, younger and more performing.
Please forgive me, I know my heart is mercenary, but this is life, a bitchy life, probably. (initially posted on the 17th of July 2007)

Pretty Saeko and me.



This is Saeko, very pretty architect from Tokyo, she was in Milano and I took a portrait of her while my nice assistant Karin, took a portrait of us. This was done in December 2006, in Mondadori studios in Cernusco, with strobes and I was using my new Nikon D2Xs camera with a 180mm, I like shallow focus and so I work always at full aperture: f 2,8, much better with the help of autofocus, I'm getting blind working a lot on the computer!
More difficult to portrait a normal person than models, models knows what to do (not all of them, only the good ones;-) to be beautiful is not enough (I know, I pretend too much), the subject must feel relaxed at least, or better, must love to be watched (she likes it). A model lives for this reason: people look at me and I desire to be looked at. Anyway this pictures  are very good. Brava Karin and ありがとう (initially posted on the 17th of July 2007)