Hyogo Museum of Art


Visited the Hyogo Museum of Art in Kobe today (designed by Tadao Ando) and saw two great exhibitions: Noritake Kinashi 1994-2014 and Visual Deception II: Into the Future – the latter was a fascinating collection of works spanning centuries with the common them of optical or perceptual illusions. While it included works by well know artists such as Escher and Dali, it also included a lot of work I had never seen, the best imho was what could only be described as a grand piano which had been deconstructed, but when viewed at the right perspective and via a massive mirror appeared perfectly normal, but look back at the real physical sculpture and it was like some bad acid! It was nicely set up so that you first saw the deconstructed piano & then the reflection was revealed…..

update: found it online, Underground Piano by Shigeo Fukuda


Another great work was Wooden Mirror by Daniel Rozin which at first glance appeared to be a large pixelated display – as people moved in front of it, a pixelated version was displayed on a large screen. But getting closer it became apparent the display was actually made of wood squares & each was moving to change colour by angling to reflect light or be shaded from it – this video illustrates it better than my description:

One of the entrances to the gallery is the stairwell above, and once we had overloaded on art, we spent an hour wandering back into Kobe for dinner, so I could shoot some photos & test out my new lens.. That photo above is kind of beautiful in its symmetry – someone commented on FB that it looks like a cochlea – but the reality is that the photo above was about the tenth as I tried to find a way to simplify it – this was the first photo, overwhelmingly complex:


In learning this new Zeiss lens one thing I wanted to test was its ‘bokeh’ (wikipedia defines bokeh as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”) so I suspect a few people were wondering why I was focusing on apparently blank walls etc… These were all shot hand held & wide open @ F2.8




Walked past this place which at first I thought was from a Cronenberg movie, turned out the name gave it away: Gravity Research = indoor rock climbing


This wasn’t handheld – I stopped down to F22 and put my 5D on top of a fence to get a stable longer exposure….


Super happy with this lens & feel like the more I use it the more I am going to love it!

Stop 1 = Yodobashi Camera

It never ceases to amaze me what a decent sleep achieves. Combine 20+ hours of arduous travel with a 4 hour time zone shift and by last night I was ready for some VERY high quality sleep, and despite waking early, 6am still felt like 10am at home – easy to get up feeling SUPER refreshed! And on to mission #1 = catch train to Umeda & go visit Yodobashi camera & buy this lens that I have been dreaming about for weeks/months!


Ever since getting that Asahi Pentax Super Takumar 50mm vintage lens I have been researching prime lenses to sue with my 5DmkIII. Second step encouraging me down that path was getting the Zeiss Flektogon 35mm lens – both lenses have such hugely superior focus to any of my (expensive) Canon L lenses that I started to lust after a vintage Zeiss Distagon wide lens. But it seems there are potential problems with using them, or more correctly using them on a modern Canon 5D, depending on which adaptor you use. The best solution seemed to involve sourcing the best adaptor ex the USA and then disassembling the mount of the lens and replacing part of it. Yikes!! I could see a number of ways it could go wrong, but worst of all it meant even if found a great condition Distagon lens while here in Japan, my chances of actually shooting with it were unlikely. So I decided to bite the bullet & buy a new Distagon ZE lens, ZE signifying it has been built to mount on Canon EF cameras….

Like seriously good microphones I had to remind myself that it is not a short term investment – I need to learn to shoot with this lens & it is reputedly of such high quality that it is likely I will be shooting with it ten years from now. So my decision was a combination of the need for short term gratification AND long term thinking, same as all my best microphone decisions!

So I waited until I got home to break open the box & have a play, and as the sun was getting close to setting I went for a walk to the local supermarket to buy some iced coffee & take a few photos along the way – none of these are great photos, but wow the Distagon is really seriously great to shoot with! But like all my lenses & microphones I need to shoot lots with it to get confident & learn how to best use it to get great results….


When I arrived this new house was just a frame – I imagined shooting inside it (once the builders went home) and accentuating its geometry, but a day later and they are making rapid progress… But how is that crane!?! Very, very carefully snuck inside the multitude of power cables! Serious skills

And five houses along…


After the supermarket the sun was getting lower so I thought I’d better quickly try shooting a few shots with deep perspective & strong leading lines…


No sooner had I taken this shot than 3 young boys appeared out of nowhere – I pointed my camera at them & made ‘pew pew’ noises, and they laughed and one of them jumped down into this stealthy location!?!


I laughed & took a photo & then showed them it…. which made them laugh

Having watched a bunch of docos recently on street photography it was a great reminder of not hesitating & being ready to shoot… A pointless perspective test shot turned into a funny moment & was gone again within about 3 seconds!

But wow, this Distagon lens – I loved my first wide lens the EFs 10-22mm lens but it distorted the hell out of any & everything… The full frame EF16-35mm L lens was much better, but this Zeiss Distagon is in another league again!

Lots to learn


more info on the Zeiss Distagon 21mm F2.8

Getting there

Warning: this hypothesis will not hold up in any ‘debate’ with the fairer sex, so you know, please don’t quote me, but…. air travel is a little bit like child birth, in that memory becomes highly selective when it comes to repeat suffering. For example, being 6 foot plus and never having the budget to fly long distance in anything except cattle class means I just have to forget the pain of cramped conditions & having your knees constantly hitting the seat in front. Which means discovering it all over again!
Short term its ok, but 12+ hours and it can do your head in… The only solution I have found is occupying a window seat & taking a lot of photos (which is about where the child birth comparison ceases to be viable, if it ever was…)





The colour shift between those two photos is massive, but when we started to descend through the clouds to KIX (Kansai International Airport) the depth of field changed faster than my perception could cope!





Very happy to be back on terra firma!

Photos taken with Canon 5DmkIII and Zeiss Flektogon 35mm lens, colour pallets extracted via color explorer