Having fun with the super wide-angle on the Pentax Q7 in Japan

Hikarie Wonderland - Tokyo, Japan

Hikarie Wonderland – Tokyo, Japan

Last time, I mentioned that I bought the 08 Wide Zoom for my Pentax Q7. In that post, I uncharacteristically shot fall color nature shots. Today, I’m back with urban photographs, something that’s more my style. Architecture, buildings and the city, that’s where I like to use my super wide-angle lens.

Back a while ago, when I had my crop sensor Canon 7D, the super wide-angle was one of my most used lenses. I had the Sigma 10-20mm which gave me a 16mm to 32mm range. I got rid of that camera and lens when I went to the full frame Canon 6D, and I lost my super-wide.

On the Olympus I shoot with the Panasonic 14mm with a wide-angle adapter, which gives me a 22mm equivalent. Now with the 08 wide zoom lens on the Pentax, I’m back to a nice 18mm equivalent. It doesn’t quite match my Canon 7D for super wides, but should be more than adequate for most things.

The old house and the tree - Tokyo, Japan
The old corner store - Tokyo, Japan

Out of the basket of lenses I bought for the Pentax Q7, the 01 Standard Prime and the 08 Wide Zoom were my most used. The 01 worked great for street photography and low light, but the 08 was just plain fun. I love the distortion, when used properly. And after years of practice, I easily see the world in wide-angle.

Leading lines out the Train - Tokyo, Japan
Geometric Lights, Shibuya Station - Tokyo, Japan
Non-descript Neighborhood - Tokyo, Japan

The most important thing with wide-angles is to have something interesting up close, in the foreground. Ideally, you also have interest in the mid-ground and background too. That pulls the viewer’s eye through your frame. If you have leading lines, all the better, to exaggerate that sense of depth. Look at most of these photos and you can tell I use the same compositional tricks. I try to follow the simple rules that I’ve outlined here.

The other challenge with wide-angles is to remove the clutter from your pictures, which can be hard at times. Alternatively, have something interesting enough, in the foreground, to distract the eye from noticing all the extra stuff you couldn’t compositionally remove.

Ueno Station at Night - Tokyo, Japan
Power Line Geometry - Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo Station Interior - Tokyo, Japan

What I enjoy most about the Pentax Q7 is the free-form and fun way I can shoot with the camera. I have a few preset effects that I can apply to the image, at any time, with a simple twist of the front dial. I shoot in JPEG and I hardly do any post processing, which is something different for me. Oh, the inky dark black and whites? Something I customized on the camera and I get that look without any extra post-processing. Nice.

Old House with Texture - Tokyo, Japan
Blue Walls with Green Floor - Tokyo, Japan
Arakawa Line Tracks - Tokyo, Japan

The “Brilliant Color” effect, while too extreme for my fall color nature shots, works better here, I think. Used judiciously, it brings out the gritty and colorful textures. It can also work nicely at night in the city, with its colorful lights. I have more than enough examples to show you in a future post.

Watching for Trains - Tokyo, Japan
Mossy Alleyway - Tokyo, Japan
New Bike in an Old Neighborhood - Tokyo, Japan

I shot a real mix of subjects in Japan, even for my urban landscapes. My friend Tony, who also lives in Austin, showed me the more grittier parts of old Tokyo. It’s not just ultra-modern architecture or the picturesque ancient temples. There is a crumbling and worn look to these places that, I think, most people don’t associate with Japan. I love shooting them though. They have so much character, which is often missing in new structures.

Circular Station, Shibuya - Tokyo, Japan

Of course, cool architecture is fun too. Japan has a way of constantly renewing itself. Old structures get torn down on a regular basis and replace with shiny new things. This circular station is located below the new Hikarie building in Shibuya, pictured at the top of the post. There are plans to completely remake this area, over the next 10+ years.

Escalator, Hikarie at Shibuya - Tokyo, Japan
Lumine Advertising - Tokyo, Japan
The Escalator and the Circle - Tokyo, Japan

Finally, I love the escalators in Japan, or at least photographing them. The nice ones rise dramatically through inspired spaces. They give ample opportunity for creating leading lines and motion blur. With loads of train stations, shopping malls and office buildings, there’s no shortage of these animated stairs.


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