Author Archives: emma519041

Sato Shintaro

Sato Shintaro is a Japanese photographer, who photographs cityscapes at night; particularly in Tokyo, where he was born.  Our course literature refers us to Shintaro’s body of work titled ‘Night Lights’, which was produced between 1997 and 1999 and was published in his first book in 2000.

Night Lights is a vibrant body of work photographing the streets of Tokyo at night; within the entertainment district; clad with neon signs.  Shintaro chose to photograph this district with the aim to ‘capture the peculiar beauty and atmosphere of squalid neighborhoods that are anything but beautiful in the common sense.’ Shintaro. S (s.d.)

When viewing all of Shintaro’s work you are immediately aware of his fascination and love affair with the vibrant colours adorning Tokyo at night.  Shintaro describes this fascination saying:

‘…We can see dark and light at the same time. And color has more variety at night than in the daytime. For example, the sky appears red, dark places like the top of a building has a bluish color, the signboards are more vivid than in the daytime. And from the flow of light or the light coming from each of the windows, we can see signs of life more clearly than we can in the daytime even though actual people cannot be seen in the photos’

Shintaro. S. (2009)

To enable him to capture these busy vibrant street Shintaro would use long exposures of approximately 30 seconds.  However, Shintaro wanted to avoid people within the frame, explaining his view that ‘if people show up in the frame, the viewer sees the people.’  He wanted the viewer to see ‘Just the signs, just light, just colors, just the thing itself.  And the rhythm these things are making’ as he felt that they would be a distraction Shintaro. S. (2009). To ensure that there were no people within this images Shintaro would have to cover his lens when anyone entered the frame, wait for them to disappear and continue with the exposure. Due to this a 30 second exposure would actually take about 30 minutes in reality. 

Juso-Honmachi, Osaka Senju, Tokyo

Fig. 1.

Juso-Honmachi, Osaka Senju, Tokyo

The above image has been taken from the series Night Lights. It is of a narrow street in the entertainment district of Tokyo that is densley clad all around with brightly lit neon signs combined with brightly coloured signage.

When you first view the image there is an onslaught of a myriad of colours overloading the senses, creating a chaotic claustraphobic scene. As your eyes start to settle you start taking in the scene bit by bit, realising that although this is an image of nightlife in Tokyo, there is actually no-one in the image and the claustraphobic reaction begins to ebb away.

The framing of the image pays an important part of the composition. Shintaro has captured a shopfront of a convenience store with flowers sat outside confirming that this is indeed a street and not just a collection of brightly light signs.

The image below is of another neon clad street in the enteratainment district from the peice of work Night Lights. This has a similar effect, but it is not quite as chaotic and is therefore calmer. This has been acheived through the inclusion of an unilluminated frontage presumably because the premises are closed. Shintaro has also used the road as a leading line in the foreground which is clear beside the bycicles parked on each side. Both of these elements have served to open up the space.

Fig. 2.

Nishi-Kamata, Tokyo

Despite the image not being quite as chatic, you still get the feeling of a busy nightlife all around you due to the vibrant lighting and bycicles parked all along the side of the road.

Shintaro continued capturing night lights in his next body of work titled Tokyo Twilight Zone, which he created between 2002 and 2008. It was whilst he was working on Night Lights that he wondered what the streets would like like from afar. For this series Shintaro continued using long exposures to capture his images. He worked during the months of December and January as the sky above Tonkyo at that time of year tends to be clear.

Fig. 3.

Tokyo 2006

In the image above looking down on Tokyo streets at night, you can see how having a clear night compliments and works together with the scene. The clear sky allows clarity and speration to the lights and sunset whereas clouds would reflect and mix the colours. The only reflective surface for the lights is the white buildings and glass panels which take on the colour leaving the space between with a clean white light from the street lighting.

When viewing both bodies of work there is a chaos to them with the buildings towering above the streets densley clad with neon lights and hoarding, but there is also an order, with the clean lines and the defined lights due to the clearness of the air not duffusing or reflecting the lights creating a graduation.

I find the definition, tonal range and clarity allows the colours to pop within the images appealing to me on an aesthetic level rather than its contents.

Bibliography

Fig. 1.
Sato Shintaro
(1999-1997)
Juso-Honmachi, Osaka Senju, Tokyo
[Photograph]
https://sato-shintaro.com/work/night-lights/
(Accessed 18 December 2019)

Fig. 2.
Sato Shintaro
(1999-1997)
Nishi-Kamata, Tokyo
[Photograph]
https://sato-shintaro.com/work/night-lights/
(Accessed 18 December 2019)

Fig. 3.
Sato Shintaro
(2006)
Tokyo 2006
[Photograph]
https://sato-shintaro.com/work/tokyo-twilight-zone/
(Accessed 18 December 2019)

Citations

Santo S
(s.d.)
‘Sato Shintaro Night Lights Statement’
In: Sato Shintaro
[Online]
At: https://sato-shintaro.com/work/night-lights/
Accessed on: 18 December 2019

Santo S
(2009)
‘Photographer Profile Interview with Shintaro Sato’
In: Japan Exposures
[Online]
At: http://www.japanexposures.com/2009/08/25/interview-with-shintaro-sato/
Accessed on: 18 December 2019

Exercise 4.1- Daylight

Brief

Taking the photography of Mann, Atgetor Schmidt or a photogapher of your own choosing as your starting point, shoot a number of photographs exploring the quality of naturallight. The exercise should be done in manual mode and the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it.

Exercise

I found Sally Mann’s body of work ‘Deep South’ to be very influential which started me thinking about the route I wanted to take for this exercise.  I decided that I would like to try and take some photographs using the mist to diffuse the light creating an emotive piece of work rather than a more clinical piece of work like Michael Schmidts. 

Although Sally Manns’ body of work ‘Deep South’ was my starting point for this exercise, I soon switched over to Michael Kenna being the main inspiration. I felt that I wanted to try and capture an ethereal light creating serene images that Kenna acheives in his photographs, compared to the haunting imagery of the ‘Deep South’ produced by Sally Mann. In addition to Kenna’s style, I wanted to capture the emotions that I feel on a cold misty morning, being my happy place, where everything feels at peace.

I chose Epping Forest for my location as it provided the tranquility that I was aiming to capture and punctuate with the light. Prior to taking my photographs I went to the forest to establish the scenes/landscapes I wanted to capture. I did this because although we were due a dense mist the next day I was conscious that mist can clear very quickly.

On the day I took my photographs I arrived soon after the Golden Hour as I wanted to use a soft neutral light, in order that the light did not create a colour cast.

I chose to photograph in colour and decided I would review this in post producton. My reflection of this can be read here:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/emma519041.wordpress.com/2044

Image One

1/320 sec, f4.0, 62mm, ISO 64

Image Two

1/125 Sec, f 9.0, 52mm, ISO 64

Image Three

1/60 sec, f 11, 62mm, ISO 64

All three of the images are of different views looking across Connaught Water in Epping on a misty morning.

I have used a soft morning light, which has been diffused through the mist. The light has been thrown evenly over the scene due to the diffusion through the mist devoiding the scene of any shadows and allowing clear reflections to be seen in the water.

The neutral light forms an integral part of the photographs on two counts. One being the white surround framing the images. Secondly the white reflection on the mist has muted the rich autumn colours resulting in a more subtle tonal range serving to creating a quietness/silent image. Finally the diffusion of the light creates a gradient in the muted colours reflecting in a form of depth of field.

I used the same exposure technique for each of the photographs. I set the light meter on the camera to matrix metering and then pointed the camera to the brightest part of the white mist to set the exposure. I chose this part of the image to set my exposure as the reflected white light forms such an integral part of the image. If I had metered for the shadows this would have resulted in the the highlights being blown, which would have lost the effect I was trying to acheive.

I feel that I have been successful in my aim to use the light to create elegant images that capture the emotion I was trying to portray.

Contact Sheet

Processing Images Part One

Connaught Water

Image One

Image Two

Image Three

Colour, Black and White or Sepia?

The photographers that I referred to for my inspiration on this exercise where Sally Mann and Michael Kenna.

Sally Mann produces her photographs in Black and White and a Sepia colour due to the camera’s and films that she uses. Michael Kenna works exclusively in Black and White. This led me to explore whether I should have my images processed in full colour or Black and White. I decided to keep the photographs in colour as the exercise is about observing and exploring the quality of light. For me, this would mean that I should also be exploring the colour of the light rays from the sun within my imagery.