I am an English teacher and photo enthusiast living in Takasaki, Japan.
The theme of my work is, “The Art in the Ordinary”: The unseen art in the things we see every day. To illustrate this, I’m including photos of the locations where the art photos were taken.
All the photos I present were taken within 4 miles from my home in the quiet little city of Takasaki, Japan. I spend hours and hours every week on my bike riding down the narrow streets and alleyways of this rather “ordinary” city, looking for “art”. My hope is that after people see the work and where it was found, they will be inspired to look more deeply within their everyday surroundings and discover what art may be there.
More info: photography.co.jp
Right Of Which Way?
This is a very complicated looking intersection here in Takasaki, Japan. I love the way the moving cars actually add a kind of soothing effect to the chaotic, white “guide” lines. Because I didn’t have an adapter, I had to hand hold a neutral density filter over the lens to get this one second exposure during the bright daylight.
Location Photo Of “Right Of Which Way?”
I had been to this store’s parking lot many times, but on this day, the sun was really pouring down on that brick wall and these dark cars were absorbing its reflection very intensely.
Location For “Car Chameleons”
Gentle Curves, Subtle Lines
What appealed to me about this old store front when I first saw it was the soft curving shapes that the blinds had formed after falling from their ceiling supports. I also liked the subtle, vertical and horizontal lines of the tiles outside that are being reflected on the door that I am shooting through. What cannot be seen though, are the contortions I’m going through to keep my reflection off the door that I’m shooting through!
Location For “Gentle Curves, Subtle Lines”
Timing! I was riding down the narrow back streets of Takasaki, Japan, when I came across this bay window jutting out from a house. The angle of the shadow under it made it look like it was floating. Below was a hedge in shadow and an orange parking cone in front of it. I used a flash to brighten the cone. It looks so photoshopped! (but it’s not!)
Location For “Floating House”
This is a very, very old metal sign. So old in fact, that, if you look carefully, you can see parts of an even older, but similar sign in the areas where sections of the newer sign have fallen away. I found this sign on the side of an old tool shed that had been used by a now defunct tire store. The image is actually upside down; but I like this composition better. The green lettering, which is also upside down, is the Japanese, “Anzen Dai Ichi”; which translates into, “Safety First”.
Location For “Safety First”
“Art in the Ordinary” Exhibition: Takasaki, Japan (4 minutes)
These are colorful shipping crates wrapped in vinyl ready to be shipped to Kobe, Japan. I had to wait until the sun briefly peeked out from the clouds to get the reflective glare of the vinyl and the subtle colors of the packing crates.
Location for “Kobe Bound”
This photo was taken at a very nice restaurant on the top floor of City Hall here in Takasaki, Japan. I was having lunch with some of my English students. After lunch, they began chatting in Japanese, so I started wandering around the restaurant looking for something that might be interesting to photograph. I found these glasses standing in a lovely, geometric symmetry. I really like the soft pastel colors of the side wall, ceiling and windows. As you can see from the “location” photo, I removed some napkin holders that were in front of the glasses. Other than that, it was just as you see it.
Location for “Bottoms Up!”
These are daisies peeking through a blue wire fence that is typical here in Takasaki, Japan. I used a long zoom lens to “compress” and transform the fence into an interesting background that really makes the flowers stand out, literally!
Location for “Peek-a-boo Bouquet”
This is the Mascot/Logo for “Pegasus Parking” in Japan. I’m shooting from below and behind the pole to which it is mounted. The objects extending from it on either side are solar power lighting fixtures. The ring around it is a neon tube that lights up at night. The “high key” lighting results from my exposing for the shadow area underneath the horse and allowing the overcast sky and gray pole to become overexposed. In so doing, the pole, itself, performs a rather interesting compositional vivisection of the shot.
Location for “Pegasus Mounted”
Here in Takasaki, Japan, they have these old irrigation channels for their rice fields. I just love the way the concrete middle section takes on the graceful flow of the water it’s carrying. The “sunset” is actually the reflection of an orange house just out of frame in the background. The Google “Street View” link below shows it clearly.
Location for “Flowing Sunset”
Someone’s Following Us
To get this juxtaposition I had to really stretch the limits of my Samsung EX2 lens. At its 80ish mm limit, I had to get close and find the right angle to bring the two traffic signs into proximity This made it necessary for me to stand several feet off the curb and watch for oncoming traffic. Fortunately, our ‘shady green character’ was my guide. Whenever he was around, it was safe(r) to step into the street; and when he started to flash, it was time to get out or dodge.
Location for “Someone’s Following Us”
These are rolls of corrugated tin use extensively on the old houses and farms here in Takasaki, Japan. I found these lying in an open storage cabinet just waiting for more dirt and dust from the busy street nearby.
Location for “Corrugated Blossoms”
This is a glass block window of a barbershop here in Takasaki, Japan. The colors come from the reflections of the buildings across the street and sky. When I first started shooting it, there was some kind of paper price list handing on it on the inside. I went in and asked an understandably confused barber if I could removed it temporarily while I took photos. After a hesitant, “Yes,” the window was uncluttered and I was clicking away.
Location for “Window Mosaic”
This is a glass block window of a barbershop here in Takasaki, Japan. The colors come from the reflections of the buildings across the street and sky. When I first started shooting it, there was some kind of paper price list handing on it on the inside. I went in and asked an understandably confused barber if I could removed it temporarily while I took photos. After a hesitant, “Yes later, I was unfettered and the window was uncluttered and I was clicking away.
This photo was taken during the Cherry Blossom season here in Takasaki, Japan. It is of a moat, with overhanging cherry blossoms. On the surface of the water we see the reflected patterns of a department store behind it out of frame. The white reflections are from the metal panels running vertically up its side wall. The black wavy lines are of the panels running horizontally along the same wall. The red lines are from a red lamppost just out of frame. The ripples are created by a small water aerator that gave just the right amount of “wave” action for the effect we see. Many Japanese say the lines look like old Japanese calligraphy. I think so too.
Location for “Wavy Reflections”
Bookshelf with a View
I love this simple shot; the way the books coming in from the right, look like a wave; and the one book on top seems to be resting on a gentle sea of other books. Another thing I like about this photo is the way it looks like it’s a painting! The reason is that I was using a Samsung camera with a very short zoom; so I had to use the ‘digital zoom’ which give a very pleasing degradation of image quality.
Location for “Bookshelf with a View”
Bright Spot on a Snowy Day
After a heavy snow here in Takasaki, Japan, I went out to see what snowy photo opportunities there might be. From the tallest building in the city (21 stories) I pressed my face to the window to get a downward angle of the patterns in the intersection that had been made by the few cars moving about that day. For people living in places where it snows often, this must seem like pretty standard stuff; but for us here in Takasaki, this was something special. But I wanted some color to make it even more interesting. So I was waiting for one of the local buses to come. With its bright green with purple sides and roof, I thought it would really stand out against the white and black patterns. So I waited and waited, but it must have been held up because of the snow. Then suddenly, I saw this person with a bright yellow umbrella walking towards the intersection! ‘Perfect!’, I thought. But, as they were waiting for the light to cross, another person with a boring gray umbrella came up and crossed just behind them when the light changed. Fortunately, they were just far enough apart that I was able to get a shot where the gray umbrella was somewhat blended into the crossing pattern. This left our hero with the yellow umbrella free to stand out and, in so doing, make the photo stand out too.
Location for “Bright Spot on a Snowy Day”
This shot was taken in a two story parking garage in Japan. This particular structure has metal flooring on the second level and no roof above that. The flooring has holes in it to allow water to pass through. On that day, it was cloudy, so no direct light was shining through the holes; just the light from the soft overcast. The polka-a-dot effect comes from the bright pattern of the holes in the upper flooring being reflecting in the body and glass of the car. I shot at a low angle to eliminate a distracting background. Behind and above the car, you can see the second level flooring itself.
Location for “Polka-Dotted BMW”
Dirty Art on a White Canvas
I took this photo one day when it was raining on and off. I had been riding around the neighborhoods of Takasaki, Japan and hadn’t found anything really special to take pictures of. I was actually on my way back home when I turned down this little side street (most of the streets in Japan are little) and saw this large square tarp spread out among the high grass of vacant lot. It must have been there for ages. What impressed me the most was the way the creases had naturally formed into such artistic patterns; and how over the months (years?) dirt and small rocks had found their way onto it and given it subtle, colorful accents. Very Pollock-esque!
Location for “Dirty Art on a White Canvas”
Rainy Day Playground
Another rainy day shot. I love showing this to people and see what they think it is. To be fair, the black border may make it a little harder to understand. It’s a swing being reflected in a water puddle. The red portion is the seat; the black is the underneath of the seat being reflected in the puddle. The converging black lines are the chains from the seat extending up to the crossbar. The gray of the puddle comes from the overcast sky.
Location for “Rainy Day Playground”
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