Tokyo in Pics

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A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Tokyo Skytree and why Gear Matters

Let me start off by telling you that this article, isn’t really about Tokyo Skytree.  It is really about having the right gear to get the shot you want. Until I wrote this article, I thought I had enough.  I don’t have a lot, but what I do have is pretty good. My camera is the Fujifilm X-T2, which is excellent. The lenses for my camera are good, more than good.  Lee makes my filters, which are excellent. I’ve also got a camera bag which is good, well, good enough. But photographing Tokyo Skytree made me realise I needed more - a tripod with a ball head.  A ball head that would allow the camera to swivel around on its base. For this particular shot, I really needed one.

Tokyo Skytree from Jikken Bridge (the cropped version)

My plan was to do a long exposure shot of Skytree from Jikken Bridge, which lies on a canal about one kilometer away.  You’ve probably seen the pictures with Skytree rising up over six hundred meters into the sky, and its reflection in the water.  An iconic Tokyo shot. I’ve been wanting to take it for years. I thought with my 10-24 mm lens, it’d be easy to get some long exposure photographs with a tripod.  How wrong I was.

Even with such a wide-angle lens like the Fujifilm 10-24 mm, it was impossible.  After arriving at the bridge, I set up my camera on the tripod and immediately found a problem.  The height of the tower combined with the length of the reflection in the water, was too much to fit into the frame with the camera in its  landscape orientation. The answer was obvious - flip the camera on its side, but with a standard tripod you can’t do that. It was something I never thought about when I bought it.  In hindsight, I should have thought about my future needs a little more carefully and spent a little more money on it.

The uncropped version of the top photo

That night, I was left with a picture that only had the tower, and a part of the reflection in it.    Not exactly what I wanted. So this article has two versions of the same shot, a cropped and uncropped.  You can decide which is best, but I prefer the cropped version (I think). I’ll put the day down as a learning experience, especially as the weather wasn’t that great.

And that means I’ll be going back again, another day when I have a tripod with a ball head!  Hopefully get better weather then too. I’m not sure what brand or what type I actually need, so I’ll need to do some research.