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|WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)|
Superman's product of the century (so far):
Once again, I'm in Japan during September 11th. It's strange to be far from home in a place where they don't pay much attention to what happened on that fateful day. For me, it is more poignant.
Never forgetting means also, for me, being thankful for the subsequent protection that we've enjoyed since that day. With all of the scheming and attempts that have happened, it is truely remarkable - and a tribute to vigilance - that we have been spared further attacks.
We will never forget that day. We will never forget those who defend us. We will never forget those who watch ceaselessly on our behalf.
God Bless America.
So, the Japanese cell phone company that has a monkey as their mascot made a new commercial. Some African Americans in Japan are playing the race card.
Here's the ad (now pulled from broadcast in Japan):
I suppose this means that the long used and revered (in Japan anyway) eMobil mascot must be abandoned in favor of militant PC speak. I'm surprised that one of the 'victims' didn't start talking about slavery - oh, right, the Japanese people never enslaved any Africans. Never mind.
Of course, no one on the left would ever suggest that a prominent public figure might be somewhat simian. Jeff Goldstein had a bit more on that a few months ago.
Obamessiah's reach is long.
This is one of the pictures that I can hardly imagine was ever a photograph. It has been rather completely transformed into a painting. There's a certain longing that I find with this image. I don't know if it's a sense of goodbye or that we wonder just who that is and where they are going.
Another beautiful piece, don't you think?
This is the famous sacred bridge at Nikko (about an hour and a half train ride north of Tokyo - some very famous shrines here). The bridge and the backdrop look almost identical to the present day.
What's different now? Well, there's a two lane highway that would be between this camera perspective and the bridge today - i.e. you'd see another modern bridge in front of this one. Plus the two lane highway turns and runs perpendicular to the bridge at the right and you clearly see that highway if you were at this perspective today.
On the left today, there is a little, well, I'll call it a toll booth. Some monks sit there during open hours and charge you a few hundred yen to walk out on the old bridge. Maybe a hundred and something years ago, you could walk out there unfettered.
This is one of the photos in this album that has a very painting like quality to it. As you can tell, I'm liking all of these.
Here's the next one. This is another of Ueno Park - it's apparent to me that it's the entrance from the main part of downtown Ueno. But I believe that many of the stone lanterns here are either no longer in these positions or they are obscured by the trees that are currently there.
Of course, it could just be faulty memory on my part.
This is one that, for me, is really impacted by the post-photograph painting effort by the artist. The multiple shades of green and other tree foliage colors are rendered masterfully - and the color shadow work is very detailed and realistic.
Thanks for looking and please tell me what you think.
This is one of my favorites in the entire album. This much wysteria in one place probably has to be illegal.
The bridge is also exceptional I think because it is a perfect semi-circle. Of course the crew standing there on top of it is somewhat of a mystery. The reflections are fantastic. Yep, I like it.
What a grand staging.
The next picture is of a Tea House in Ueno during spring. (Note the spelling as 'Uyeno').
Unfortunately, the original photo was significantly overexposed so a good bit of the detail was blown out. The artist did an admirable job of providing some amount of detail.
I also converted the picture to LAB color (nothing to do with laboratory) and worked with some shadow/detail tools to bring out as much detail as I could from the original photo. It's not the best in the collection but I like the well, the rendition of cherry blossoms and those posed in the picture.
OK, here's the first one.
This is one of the few pictures in the album that doesn't identify its location. I don't recognize it. It's certainly a terrific example of a pre-Meiji period Japanese garden. And the costumes seem to fit the late 1800's time period these photographs were taken. It's also a significant posing effort. This was likely taken originally with a fairly big-box camera with relatively slow film. The people were posed with an aesthetic intention that is equivalent to the garden - fits with the Japanese way I think.
This is also one of the more realistically colored in the collection - i.e. less stylized.
The stone bridge in the foreground and the background looks particularly remarkable. I don't recall seeing any 'slab' style bridges in Japan. It may signal that this is a private garden in that slab bridges like that likely could not stand public traffic. That's just conjecture on my part.
For all of these photographs, I have scanned at at least 300 dpi resolution and used my standard smoothing filters in Photoshop. I've not modified the images in any way by hand.
What do you think?
Dear Mrs. Hapke has inspired me by scanning and posting a series of old post cards that she has. Things like this are nostalgic, yes, but they are also very interesting little captures of culture, maybe even art. I'm really enjoying seeing what she's putting up and am looking forward to her progress with them.
Last year (I'm pretty sure it was last year) I obtained an old Japanese photo album in an estate auction. It was one of those things where I low bid on the opportunity and lost to a higher bidder. Several months later the VP of sales of the estate auction company called me on the phone and told me that the deal had fallen through and I was next in line. "Did I want the album?" Well, erm, yes I did.
We completed the transaction and I could not have been more pleased with this collection when I received it. It's a bound album - but the backing has pretty much fallen off - the album 'cover' is made of carved and polished wood with a carved mettalic inlay - quite beautiful. The pictures were originally taken with standard silver emulsion type film and were all black and white.
The fascinating and unique thing about this album is that all of the photographs have been subsequently hand colored and are as much art pieces (in my opinion) as they are photographs.
I'll start with a scan of the album cover...
I couldn't scan the entire wood boundary in my scanner but I think you can get the sense of it. It's probably about a half-inch thick and the design is painted on the wood underneath the very thick resin or varnish coating. The bas-relef is carved out of some kind of metal and is embedded in the wood frame. I don't know what the process of creating the relief was but it's quite attractive.
There are around sixty photgraphs inside the album and I've scanned and worked on about a dozen so far. I think some of them are quite marvelous.
Are you curious to see them?
This took a second plus exposure on the tripod late at night in central Akasaka (which is west central Tokyo)...
Yes, I was rather elevated above the roadway....Continue reading "Akasaka Night Shot..."