500px Tokyo Photo Walk: An Experimental Tricking Essay


When one thinks of Tokyo...
When one thinks of Tokyo, endless blocks like these come to mind…

On a whim, I signed up for a 500px x Red Bull photo walk to explore Tokyo’s urban core. This city is a constant spring of inspiration and surprises, whether it’s the familiar urban skyscrapers being lit in an eerie light or a quiet Showa neighbourhood around a corner that catches you unaware.

I’m just one of thousands of fascinated photographers. How do others approach this city? What lenses and frames do they prefer, figuratively and literally? I was curious to find out.

While I took many other subjects throughout the day, this post is just a photo diary to document my first attempt at shooting action with my the Fujifilm X100.

I guess as photographers, we’re quick to get sorted for group photos too!
500px red bull tokyo photowalk
Follow the umbrella. Jason was a well-paced guide who managed to keep us all together.

The theme for the event was “Action and Adventure”, which is second only to night photography for equipment unsuitability. My Fujifilm X100 focuses too slowly and has low-quality continuous shooting renders. That’s not a problem for everything else along the walk: the streets, shops and people I’ll inevitably pass. Technical limitations may preclude me from certain types of shots, but they also challenge me to think through my lense.

imperial palace hotel gardens
First stop: outside the Imperial Palace East Gardens.

For our walk, we had 3 tricking models who obligingly pulled out moves whenever we were at a good spot (thanks to Jason, who arranged the route).

I did sports photography in high school, and I’ve never had the luxury of ideal equipment or conditions. As a result, I’ve learned some strange tricks such as pre-timing shots for slow (or sometimes delayed) shutters. Shooting action with a wide-angle, using single-frame is a fun challenge to really focus on the subject and predict exactly what they’ll do and where they’ll go.

500px red bull tokyo photowalk
Getting off to an early morning start.
500px red bull tokyo photowalk
The muggy heat didn’t deter our 3 models from sticking to long-sleeves.
500px red bull tokyo photowalk
These fountains are at the North-East entrance to the Imperial Palace gardens.
500px red bull tokyo photowalk
It wasn’t long before our crowd was asked to move along.

500px red bull tokyo photowalk 500px red bull tokyo photowalk

Our route took us from Tokyo Station, through to the North-East corner of the Imperial Palace Park, up to Akihabara, and through to Ueno. Our subject options ranged from blue skies and trees, to electronic shops, to quiet back alleys, to crowded markets,  and finally to Ueno Park and Nezu Shrine up at Yanasen.

Walking north to Akihabara
Walking north to Akihabara, one passes through several canal over-passes.
Overpasses in Chuo-ku
Overpasses in Tokyo always have something underneath: canals, parks, parking lots.

By 12:30, we just made it to Ueno Park, but everyone was having a good time. The attendees were a mix of Japanese and foreigners from all backgrounds. The good company quickly became even more distracting than the places we were walking through!

500px red bull tokyo photowalk
BMX bringing a different perspective to Ueno Park

With a wide lense (18mm >> 22mm), I couldn’t get a good close-up of the action without blocking other photographers. As such, I had to do a lot of photo processing to make up, so I had fun playing around. Below is a first go.

500px red bull tokyo photowalk
Tricking in Ueno Park during our mini lunch-break

If anyone has tips and suggestions, please let me know! 
500px red bull tokyo photowalk 500px red bull tokyo photowalk 500px red bull tokyo photowalk 500px red bull tokyo photowalk 500px red bull tokyo photowalk 500px red bull tokyo photowalk

I think of photos like a canvas. As such, my processing might seem inconsistent as I usually run with whatever seems to interest me in that moment. However, I’d appreciate some tips and pointers (bearing in mind I only use wide-angle lenses)!

Also, you can download these photos CC from my Flickr.

Below is the walking route we took, in case you want to try yourself!

500px Red Bull Tokyo Photowalk Facebook
Image courtesy of 500px Red Bull Tokyo Photo Walk Facebook Event

Thanks for checking this out! 

I usually do travel photo essays, so please check out my post on the moss-covered temples in Kunisaki, or the historical mountain town of Gujo Hachiman.

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