Thirsty Thursday: Throwback Film Love

Rambler: Beth
Drink at Hand: No. 209 Gin + tonic 

Well, its been awhile since we got our ducks in a row to post on a Thursday. Don't really have a good excuse other than that we've been busy. Nothing big, just lots of little stuff that take away from spending time with the photography blog. So, here we go, with a little throwback because, well, Thursdays. 

Between 2003 and 2007, we were lucky enough to live in Japan. Besides being just a beautiful country with amazing culture and melt-in-your-mouth fresh tuna sushi, its a country that takes its photography very seriously. Back in 2006 when these photos were taken, digital was quickly gaining momentum, but I believed that film was the purest form of photography. I had a Canon 20D, but I loved film. Terry had already embraced digital and was running amok and producing some great imagery with his Rebel, but I still loved my Canon Elan 7e. And when I really wanted to immerse myself in a creative shooting project, I'd take an old fully manual Nikon loaned to me from Terry's mom to get my film fix. Sure I had to wait a week to see the results, but I didn't mind. 

Part of my film love might have been the camera stores in Tokyo. There was one not far away in Tachikawa. They had long refrigerated cases of film, not unlike the dairy aisle in an American grocery store. Kodak, Fuji, Ilford, Agfa, 35mm, 120, negative, was all there. The Air Force base where we were stationed had a dark room, so I could even play around with my own black and white processing. 

When we left Japan, I no longer had a dark room or massive camera stores with huge film selections. I was busy with grad school, and I upgraded to a Canon 40D as shooting digital was just easier and far more affordable. Without access to a place to browse and buy film, and without a lot of time to shoot creatively, the film cameras sat idle in the camera cabinet. That idleness continued until a little over a year ago when our house was burglarized and both of my film cameras were stolen (and ironically the digital cameras were left untouched). Now I have no film camera and I miss having that option. 

So tonight, a few frames from a ski trip to Zao in Japan. The snow in Japan gets a lot of hype, and I can say that the powdery goodness is definitely worth the hype. The Zao snow monsters are unique, and as you can see I had a little obsession with trees at the time. Especially frosty trees. Sometimes I look back and cringe at my photographic technique (and am happy with the way I have evolved and progressed as a photographer), but I still love how pure these frames captured on film turned out. 

Might have to find myself another film body soon. But in the meantime, I have plenty of digital work to keep me busy! 

Thirsty Thursday: New Year on Mt Mitake

Rambler: Beth

Drink at Hand: Prairie Berry Winery Sand Creek American Red Wine

Happy New Year Welliver Photography fans! Thirsty Thursday here again. Time to pour something yummy and make those weekend plans. Since this is the first Thursday of the year, and seeing how this whole "Throwback Thursday" thing is getting to be pretty popular, I figured I'd throw it back to New Years 2007 for tonight's post. 

New Years 2007 was our last New Year in Japan. We'd gone to a Japanese temple either at midnight or on New Years day each year. However, seeing the first sunrise of the year is a big deal in Japan, so for our final New Years we decided to go to hike up Mitake-san (Mt Mitake) and watch the sunrise from the temple located at the top of the 3,048' peak. 

While there is a cog rail that goes up the mountain, we decided, in true Welliver Photography fashion, to hike to the top in the dark. After all, it was New Years and the Japanese love their New Years sunrise celebrations...therefore, the cog rail was packed. The effort was worth it. 


Though as you can see, it was insanely crowded. And no, that is not Terry hold that camera up...he actually took the photo above and below. 


After watching the sunrise, visitors at the shrine get their fortune, or O-mikuji, for the year. It is customary to tie to the fortune to a nearby wire or branch after reading the fortune.


The wires get pretty full on New Years at any shrine. 


The fascinating thing about visiting shrines on New Years is despite the throng of people, its a quiet, peaceful experience. You leave feeling happy, content, and hopeful for the coming year. 

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Some big changes coming to Welliver Photography this year. Its always nice to reflect on where we've been and what's gotten us to where we are as we move forward into the next year. We plan to make a year filled with adventures, and hopefully, some cool photos doing cool stuff in cool places. One thing is for sure, we only spent one night out in a tent last year and we plan to do much better than that this year! Time to start making the New Years worth of weekend plans! And then get out there and do something awesome!

Happy New Year! 

Thirsty Thursday: Tokyo's Ginkgo Avenue

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: Yogi Breath Easy Tea...good for allergies

Its time for another Thirsty Thursday! Time to pour something yummy and think about the upcoming weekend. In most parts of the country autumn is in full effect. Trees are turning beautiful shades of crimson and gold, and the after sunlight is so golden and warming. Fall is my favorite time of year. Unfortunately we don't get much fall color here on the central coast, and what we do get doesn't normally pop up until late November. So I have to live vicariously through some autumn photo shoots in the archives.

Autumn in Japan can only be described with one word...AMAZING. The Japanese relish the fall "koyo" season. Flocks of people flood shrines and park creating a festival-like atmosphere beneath the brilliant red momiji (Japanese maple) and yellow icho (ginkgo) trees.

If you're lucky, you can sometimes find a usually busy Tokyo street deserted on a crisp weekday afternoon. And if you're really lucky, that street is lined with golden ginkgo trees, the official tree of Tokyo.

Streets like this in the middle of fall beg for a stroll or a slow bike ride. Ironically a bustling train station and busy shopping center at the heart of Tokyo are mere blocks away.

Yet if you just immerse yourself in the muffled quiet of falling leaves, the hustle and bustle of the real world seems worlds away.

And even if you can't take that stroll, you can keep that scene for later.

Hopefully you can find somewhere to go enjoy some wonderful fall colors this weekend, too! Whatever you do, get out there and enjoy it!



Thirsty Thursday: View from the Top

Rambler: Terry Drink at Hand: Green Tea (I've had a headache for the last couple of days)

Year of the Shots: 2004

Camera of the Day: Canon EOS Rebel 300D (their first real DSLR)

Getting to the place where these pictures were taken is a story for another day and another post. But seven years ago this weekend, we were on top of Mt. Fuji, Japan. And the view (seemingly in the clouds) was simply spectacular. I think this was the first time I've ever heard cheering when the sun rises out of the clouds. Amazing.

Thirsty Thursday: Hachioji Matsuri

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: Horizons Organic Chocolate Milk (love it after a bike ride!)

Another Thirsty Thursday here again...time to pour something yummy and make those weekend plans. This week we jump across Pacific to share a little Japanese festival fun!

Our West Coast readers have probably noticed a few signs or community advertisements for festivals in the nearby Japanese communities here in the US, so we decided to share our experience at the real deal in Japan. Summer time in Japan is full of festivals, and you can find a matsuri, or local festival, in small towns around Japan nearly every weekend during July and August. Just a few train stops from where we lived in Japan is a town called Hachioji. We usually went to Hachioji to hit up our favorite ramen and gyoza shop, but in late July they hosted the Hachioji Matsuri.

Early in the day, teams carry small shrines called mikoshi through the streets.

Then hundreds of women clad in kimonos and yukatas line up to do a tradition folk dance. Its more like a choreographed parade than a dance, but its beautiful to watch.  



There are old women...

And young girls...


And lots of paper lanterns...

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thirsty Thursday: Chasing Waterfalls

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: TJ's 2009 Petit Reserve Tempranillo

Terry and I used to shoot a lot of waterfalls. When we lived in Japan we actually had a book the listed locations of hundreds of waterfalls. Of course, the book was in Japanese so I had to play a little game of trying to match the thumbnail map included with the directions to our bilingual road map, but we still found quite a few of the waterfalls. When we went on vacations we'd continue our hunt for tumbling water, leading to hundreds of blurred water images from all over the world--or at least all over Asia and the US.

I don't know why we don't hunt for waterfalls anymore. I know there are a few not far away along the Central Coast and spring is always a great time to go find a fall with fresh snowmelt and spring showers fueling the flow. Perhaps we just need to make time. Or perhaps we just need a little reminder...and that's what Thirsty Thursdays are for...a little reminder to go out and doing something or find something cool this weekend.

Enjoy the waterfalls. I tried to include a name or location, but some of them I don't know or don't remember.

Little Missouri River, Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas.

Another view of the Little Missouri River, Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas.

Somewhere in northern Japan.

Tucked away in the rainforest near Cairns, Australia.

Close-up of water gushing into Milford Sound in New Zealand. Terry shot this with the 100-400mm lens from a boat.

Stream emptying into Lake Superior along Pictured Rocks National Seashore, Upper Peninsula, Michigan.

Somewhere near Marquette, Michigan.

Another waterfall somewhere near Marquette, Michigan.

We spent a whole weekend scouting falls in north central Japan and found these two images along the way.

Close-up of a rushing stream near Nikko, Japan.

Get out there and explore this weekend!


Two Word Tuesday: Wedding Day

This post is going to have a few more than 2 words, but future Two Word Tuesday posts will not. As a result of our staff meeting that Terry eluded to here yesterday, we came up with a couple of regular features we plan to post each week. Every Tuesday we'll be posting a photo and just 2 words to describe it. That's all. Pretty simple, eh? So without further ado (and as a bit of a happier post than last Friday's about our beloved Japan), here is the first installment of Two Word Tuesday.

Wedding Day.

Remembering Japan

The horrific images coming from Japan this morning are positively heartbreaking to me. Japan was our home for three and a half years. In that short time we fell in love with a country and a culture unlike anything we've experienced anywhere else. We are forever infected with a love of simplistic living amongst fast-moving chaos that is Japan. So much of Japan is a conundrum, with high-speed trains and neon lights mixed in with mom and pop noodle shops and ancient shrines. We were fortunate to live in a suburb of Tokyo, so a 30-minute train ride east took us into the heart of one of most lavishly modern cities in the world, while a 30-minute drive west took us into lonely and wild hills with idyllic mountain streams tumbling through gorges of towering rock down to tiny little villages hanging perilously on the edge of time. So as I watched scenes of shear devastation and destruction flash across the tv screen this morning, I wanted to cry. The big cities, like Sendai near the quake's epicenter, are built for "the big one". We lived in a 9-story apartment tower built to sway back and forth in the event of a quake (and it did!). But all those little villages are simple wooden houses and buildings. For those coastal towns that might have withstood the shaking, the tsunami has most likely done them in. Not much can withstand the power of a tsunami. Lives and livelihoods forever lost. Simple lives of rice farmers and fishermen. Gone.

Processing photos from our time in Japan has been on my list for several months now. Our collection of images from there is overwhelming in size, which has made it hard to start. But this morning I sat down and started looking for those images that spoke to me about the simple life. I found a few.

A number of the images I stumbled across this morning are from a road trip we took to the western part of Honshu, the main island in Japan. Few tourists visit this area, so my blond hair and blues eyes were quite the novelty in some areas and we couldn't count on someone to speak English to help us read a menu like we could around Tokyo. But we really saw rural Japan...a part of Japan that is quickly dying with its aging, negative-growth population. The brunt of the devastation happened on the opposite coast on the opposite end of the island from these images, but the scenes are similar--villages tucked neatly into coves between a wall of mountain and a relentless ocean, and wide plains squared off into rice paddies.

Our thoughts are with you Japan.