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.
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.
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.
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.