Sunday, October 14, 2018

Japanese Culture Day 2018

West Meets East: I attended Millbrae's Japanese Culture Day intending to make a photograph that combined as many elements that illustrated the celebration of the eastern and western dynamic. When I noticed that the backdrop featured both American and Japanese flags, it was an easy go-to background to help build on that theme. I watched a number of performances and settled on this dancer performing a traditional Japanese folk dance. From where I crouched, a perfect combination of composition, context, and expression was not possible, but I believed this photo was the best compromise of these three qualities.

Mayor-San: One of the guests was Komei Kawata, mayor of Hanyu, Japan. He was giving a welcoming speech to the many guests when I noticed the twin flags at the podium. Again, I included them in the composition, but because of my position, was unable to "move them closer". Like the shot at the top of the page, I was pretty much stuck in one location, and while it worked for my dancer, it wasn't optimal for the Mayor. 

Incidentally, the hat was a paper origami construction large enough to wear, and had no special significance, according to an aide to the Japanese Consulate, who was in attendance.

Kids: Okay, this was my attempt at shameless pandering to readers whose kids might make it to the front page photo. In this case, I still had the flags, and hoped that the adult coaches (Did you see the man crouching behind his daughter?) would add a bit to the back story.

I submitted this second shot because of the interaction between the singers and the woman at the  right. Her posture and expression were better than the first sample, and while I had enough pixels to crop it tighter, I felt that the more children, the better. I'm sure that there are dozens of grandparents who are thankful that I included so many of the little darlings.

Making Mochi: In this photo, taken through an opening in the tent's mesh walls, we see two volunteers using mallets to pound rice flour until it reaches a doughy consistency. It will be formed by hand into the familiar balls of mochi. In this shot, the mallet is not easily recognized, so it wasn't submitted. Also, there was a lot of empty space, which I try to avoid.

I was restricted from entering the food preparation area, so most of these shots had me reaching through openings in the tent with a Fuji X70 held high overhead. I used an Nikon SB-80 aimed into the ceiling with a paper plate used as a bounce card. In this case, the tent provided a low bouncing surface, so the plate was more of a fill card.

I submitted this photo as an illustration of a step in the process. It has the advantage of illustrating the attention of the two subjects, although what they're actually doing requires a detailed caption.

Editor's Choice: In the end, the Editor In Chief chose this photo to run on Page 1 of the Wednesday edition. I almost gave up on any of the photos making the paper, but there is something to be said about the universal appeal of kids performing on stage for what may be their very first time.

Time To Go: The party was still going strong when I finally left at 2:00 pm. I wanted to get some lunch before heading back to the city to process and submit the day's take. I photographed this young lady partly out of envy, as I often wish that happiness could be found by simply wearing a top with my favorite animal and eating/drinking a bowl of Hawaiian shaved ice.