Year of the Snake

Year of the Snake

Happy New Year!  あけましておめでとうございます!

Exit the Dragon…enter Year of the Snake…

I hope everyone had a nice new years with family and friends.   I like that Japan shuts down for the week around New Years as it gives you a chance to reflect on the past year and think about the year ahead.

My goals from last year will not change and I will continue them for this year.  Some I think I did really well and others I need to make more progress:

Be a student of photography

I know the fundamentals of photography.  I know what f stop, ISO or shutter speed to use to get the image I desire.   These things are second nature to me at this point.   I want to continue to become a better photographer through continuing to build my skills.

To take great photographs you need to know what makes a good photograph.  One of the best ways to study photography is to spend time looking at images from great photographers.   I have been slowing building a collection of photography books, mostly through gifts from my loving wife.

I gave her a list a few years ago of photographers I wanted to study so she always buys me a book from the list whenever there is an occasion where we would exchange gifts.   I am impossible to buy for as I typically buy something if I want it and I am not a big collector of things outside of photography equipment.   This approach reduces gift buying stress for my wife and ensures I always get something I love.   It works really well for us.  I highly recommend this approach…

I have also built a new Photo Bookshelf page where I will list out the books I am reading.

Photography Books

I want to continue to try to attend a photography workshop at least once a year.  I find it a great way to expand my skills, network and most of all spend a few days completely dedicated to photography.   In 2011 I took Jay Maisel’s workshop in NYC and last year I took Bruce Gilden’s workshop in Tokyo.    I want to do another workshop this year.  Perhaps the Jay Maisel Alumni workshop or Thorsten Overgaard’s workshop.

I want to improve my technical skills as a photographer

The biggest area I want to improve here is ensuring minimalist digital workflow is as efficient and effective as possible.   I signed up last year at Kelby Training and found it a great way to expand my skills.  They have great videos with some of the best in the business covering just about every topic on photography.  You can watch a video in just a short amount of time and pick up some new skills.

I want to explore Japan more

I have found it difficult to travel around Japan much as my work and travel schedule just haven’t allowed it.  This year I am committed to get to Kyoto.   It is a shame I have never been to Kyoto in all of the years I have lived in Tokyo.  I even own! I think I need to plan a few day trips to new parts of Japan as well.  I have also began expanding my education by ensuring to read the Japan Times more often to educate myself on politics and general Japan happenings.


I want to more consistently study Japanese

I studied a lot last year but not in nearly as structured of a format as I would have liked.  I made a lot of progress but I started taking a new approach that will allow me to sit for the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam.   I am posting my daily progress on my sidebar under 日本語1000日.   Feel free to follow along.

More activity on ShootTokyo

I want to post a little more often here on ShootTokyo.   My Japanese study will keep me posting daily but I want to make sure I am making photography related posts 3 times a week.  You might see some shorter posts so I can achieve that.  I sometimes get really carried away with posts and they can take a really long time to create.

…and I dropped one goal from last year

I dropped my goal to publish a book.  I did all of the research on how to do it and gather most of the images I wanted to put it in but then I decided I can do better.  I think my images need a lot more work and consistency before I make the significant investment of self publishing a book.  I think perhaps I might do one of my film photography in the future.

I know many photographers commit to 365 or 52 projects for the New Year.    If you are and need some inspiration check out 10 things I learned from Daily Shooting and The 2K Experiment.

What are your resolutions this year?  Please leave a comment and share…

OK.   Glad to get all of that out of the way before my year begins to take off.  I already have upcoming trips to Palm Springs, San Francisco, Sydney, and Singapore planning.  It is going to be a busy year so onto today’s post.

 Today’s configuration:  Leica M9-P, Summicron 90mm f/2.0, Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 and Summilux 21mm f/1.4.

On a clear day I can get a nice view of Mt Fuji from my balcony.    It was a nice surprise to see a great view his morning.

Mt Fuji view

Welcome Year of the Snake…but Japan is closed until the 4th so please come back then.

Year of the snake

I stopped by the local shrine during my morning walk…

Jiyugaoka Temple

Jiyugaoka Temple

Year of the Snake

If you head to the shrines to wish in the New Year be careful…Stone LionDogs are everywhere!

Stone Lion

Thankfully Starbucks doesn’t close on New Year’s Day… I was able to pick up a Grande Americano at the end of my morning walk.

Starbucks Coffee in Jiyugoaka

In a holiday miracle the post man delivered 40 rolls of the impossible to get/discontinued FujiChrome Asita 100.   My wife won it for me in a vicious bidding war on eBay!   She is very strong at online auctions…

Now I know that many of you photographers are holding on to the myth that film is better digital.  Come on it is 2013!  Do you really think film is better?   #filmisdead.   ShootTokyo is the world’s only recognized film disposal company and by law you must surrender all rare and expired film to me for proper disposal.

You do not want to tangle with the Japanese and German photography powerhouses so suggest you comply immediately!


Thanks for stopping by today…  Happy New Year!


  • Zhen Hung

    Good evening Dave. Happy New Year! Love to see more photographs from you soon! ^_^

  • Dave

    Thanks Zhen Hung. Happy New Year…

  • Masa

    Happy New Year ! I have also been to Kyoto several times just in my school excursion only. Someday I hope to see and to shoot Maruyama Park cherry blossom .

  • Dave

    Masa – What a shame if you have only been there a few times. Perhaps we need to plan a road trip…

  • Julian

    Thanks Dave for sharing, my resolutions as follows:

    1. Learn (enjoy learning) how to be a father, things are due to change significantly sometime during the next month!

    2. Continue to work on my Japanese similar to you. I took and passed N4 last year and so am aiming for N3 or N2 this year.

    3. Take more pictures. I love photography but I let too many opportunities pass by in 2012, need to do better in 13.

    Meet Dave Powell if I have a chance? Often round your office area though know you’re busy

  • Dave

    Julian – Congratulations on your upcoming child birth. I need to catch up with you on my Japanese. You are way ahead of me. I’m sure we’ll find a chance to meet up. If you see me around the office say Hi else I’ll be hosting another photowalk when it gets warmer. You should come along…

  • Carlos Ferreira

    Happy New Year, Dave!

    This year I would like to develop my capacity to “see” photos, to catch that fleeting instant. I spent 2012 trying to learn about the technical part of photography, and I am at a stage where I can decide on what settings to use. Most of the time, at least… must keep practising.

  • Dave

    Carlos – That is half the battle. I tend to walk around with my camera more or less pre-exposed so I spend my time looking for the shots vs. playing with my setting. Go for a walk and pre-determine your ISO, Aperture and put your camera in Aperture Priority and just focus on finding shots. Another good idea is to do that and find a scene that you like such as an alley, street corner or crossing and then wait for your subject (person, car, bike, dog, whatever) to enter the scene – Snap!

  • Carlos Ferreira

    That makes a lot of sense, Dave. Thanks for the advise – this year I will try to photograph with my eye and my mind, not with my fingers on the buttons and settings.

  • Mike

    Happy New Year, Dave! You’ve been a big insperation for me. You keep posting and I’ll keep reading. BTW, if you want to branch out beyond Tokyo, I think you would find Yokohama very interesting (I do). And, it’s just a short train trip away for you. Anyway, keep up the good work!

  • Dave

    Mike – Thanks. I know I have added it to my list. I am heading to Kamakura today. it is only a 1 hour train ride and lots of interesting things to see. I need to explore Yokohama as well…

  • Humphrey Chan

    Hi Dave, my best wishes to you and your family in the New Year! Look forward to catching up and go out shooting somewhere and sometime during this year!

  • Greg

    Good to see that the Astia arrived. Enjoy. Next time I am in Tokyo I will stop by and pick up my finders-fee for that. Be well. Happy New Year. Maybe we will see you in Boston this year? — Greg

  • Ricky Lai

    Happy New Year!

    Look forward to more of your posting~ Hopefully you will be able to organise a photo walk in SG.

    I’m working on my Project 365, hopefully I’m able to complete this.

  • Dave

    I look forward to it Humphrey…

  • Dave

    Greg – No worries… I will hold a roll for you. Not sure if I will be in Boston or not. Not plans at this point. Perhaps you need a Tokyo trip to pick up your film. The mail system is very unreliable. You should pick it up to be safe…

  • candace

    My husband spent a lot of last year working in Japan (Akita) and I was able to meed up with him for some vacation time in March. We split our time between Tokyo & Kyoto and we really loved Kyoto – I didn’t want to leave! You should definitely go. :)

    I love seeing your photos of Japan. We enjoyed our time there so much and your photos really bring that back to me.

  • Dave

    Thanks Candace. I will definitely get to Kyoto this year. I live to close to not have made it there already…

  • Julia Boggio

    Hi, Dave,

    I just found your blog this morning and I really enjoyed looking through all of your pictures. I should spend more time taking pictures of London! I’d love to come to Tokyo one day, especially as my father worked for a Japanese company for 25 years and used to bring me the most fantastic presents. I’ve always wanted to get over there. Maybe I should come over to give a photography course? Anyway, your images are great and I look forward to seeing how you grow as a photographer.


  • JACK

    Keep it up DAVE !

  • Jen Xi

    Happy New Year, Dave! Let me know when you’ll be in Singapore. I’d love to meet up with you and maybe do a photo walk.

    I used to make yearly resolutions but I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t work for me. Nowadays, I simply have a general goal and strive to improve in that aspect. So it’s still the same direction for me as the past two years: photography.

    Ok, maybe that’s too general. So I’ll add in “Go closer”. 😉

  • Dave

    Jen – Sure. I’ll let you know if I hold a photowalk. It will depend on my travel schedule.

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