5 min read

Greetings from Southern California

Greetings from Southern California
Low clouds obscure the setting sun at the Hermosa Beach Pier.

Hermosawave Picture of the Day photographer Daniel Sofer here.
 I have escaped the Rainy Season (梅雨) in Japan for June Gloom in coastal Los Angeles. A time of morning fog that sometimes never clears up the entire day. 

I always fly out of Tokyo’s Narita Airport, so I take the Shinkansen train from Kyoto and spend a few days in Tokyo along the way.

While in Tokyo, I visited the inner garden at Meiji Jingu shrine, full of water lilies and irises in bloom.  

Iris field at Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo.

I spent some time at the coffee shops along the Sumida River in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa, and visiting friends in Kichijoji.

Iki Espresso in Kiyosumi, Tokyo.

Since there are so many people in Japan these days, I’ve been experimenting with longer shutter speeds to blur some of the action. Between 1/8 and 1/2 of a second, if I can find something to lean against or rest the camera on, I can take sharp pictures of these moving subjects. It provides a hint of action, yet one does not focus on the people much, because they are not sharp. 

Nanaibashi Street in Kichijoji, Tokyo

Southern California Summer

Los Angeles South Bay Map

I’m in the city of Torrance now, a few miles southeast of Hermosa Beach. Its local climate is about as good as it gets in Southern California – cool temperatures and strong ocean breezes, yet far enough from the sea that the “low clouds and fog” don’t reach us, so it’s sunny even when Hermosa is fogged in. I can see the coastal clouds on the horizon.

Hermosa Beach at mid-day

Anyway, I’m here for the summer to see family & friends, and take a few pictures from time to time, hopefully from interesting places. It's been sunny since I got here, with many beautiful blue cloudscapes during the day. But the beach at sunset is still cloudy, like the photo at the top of this newsletter. But soon the June Gloom will be over and hopefully we can get some nice sunset photos.

Film adventures, continued

One of my goals while in California is to improve my film scanning setup. I’ve been getting scans from the Noritsu film processor (remember those 1 Hour Photo places?) when I bring my slide film for development. The scans look good but aren’t very high resolution, only 6 megapixels. 

I’ve tried scanning using my own camera and macro lens, but the results aren’t sharp enough. Are they out of focus, is the film not flat, or… ?

Anyway, here in LA I purchased a light source and film carrier from Negative Supply. These look very promising; a nice bright full-spectrum light, and a carrier that holds the film flat, just above the light source; paired with a Nikon Macro lens on my Sony mirrorless body (AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8) that focuses to 1:1 (real size) without extra extension tubes. The lens is another 20 year old beauty for $100, from Fujiya Camera in Nakano, Tokyo.

Negative Supply film carrier atop light source

Negative Supply has an interesting manufacturing model for these admittedly niche products. Most all the components of their scanning products are produced with 3D Printers in their Southern California factory, avoiding expensive plastic tooling or more expensive anodized aluminum parts. 

I’m also using the Negative Lab Pro plugin for Adobe Lightroom, my photo editing software. The Negative Lab plugin reverses b&w and color film negatives (the orange ones), and the initial results on screen looked great and were easy to make. I think Negative Lab will also improve the look of the Fujichrome Velvia slide film I’m using.

The results look good, but I’m just experimenting with this setup here in California. The real work will take place back in Japan. 

Empty Kyoto and the devalued Japanese Yen

Since the pandemic ended the Japanese Yen has lost a third of its value against the US dollar. So in US Dollars, everything is cheap in Japan these days.

Including my book! Since the Empty Kyoto book was produced in Japan, in Yen, I can afford to reduce the cost in US dollars while the Yen is down in value.

Now that I can ship books from California, I can get your copy of Empty Kyoto to you faster and cheaper than before.

I know many of you already have the Empty Kyoto book, thank you, but if you don’t or if you know someone who needs to have a copy, here's a link to order online.

Syndicating my photographs across the web

Yesterday, I was able to add Threads to the social media networks that automatically get my photos whenever I post on my website. That list includes Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn, Mastodon, Blue Sky, and now Threads. So you can enjoy my photography wherever you like to hang out.

But let me suggest visiting my website directly. The photo appears larger, the presentation is better, and sometimes there are additional photos that don’t make it to the social networks. 

I would also like to suggest the RSS feed for my website. Subscribing to the RSS Feed is a way to get the latest from people you want to see, without all the “engagement crap” that social networks drag us all down with. RSS is making a comeback, and there are many different reading programs (RSS Readers) for every computer and mobile platform. I use Unread and Feedly on iOS.

Here's the link for my website's RSS feed: https://hermosawavephotography.com/feed.xml Paste this into your favorite RSS Reader program and you're good to go!

This newsletter (Behind the Shot) also has an RSS Feed: https://blog.hermosawavephotography.com/rss

Some more info on RSS here...

Well, that's it for now. Enjoy your summer and we'll talk again soon!
-- Daniel