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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ohtawara After The Storm

The photo above is one I took back in 1992. I took it from the roof of my seventh floor apartment building (I lived on the third floor) known as Zuiko Haitsu (Zuiko Mansion), which I accessed by going to the seventh floor, climbing on a hand-railing and then pulling myself up onto the roof.
The fact that it was a very wet and slippery hand railing that I stood on, and the fact that the roof edge that I gripped precariously with my hands was also wet, and the fact that I lugged up my camera and three other lenses with me that Saturday at around 4PM in June... well... I nearly killed myself a few times as I slipped. But I have a stubbornness about me that dislikes to quit at anything I do - whether its a story I start, a job I have to do, or a person I need to deal with.
In this case, I had a building to scale so that I could get the photograph I wanted.
It occurred to me while I walked on the roof, that I was actually atop the roof of the people on the seventh floor, so I tromped along quietly.
Being a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan - even a somewhat beloved foreigner in my hometown of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken--I was reluctant to draw any more attention to myself than necessary.
I often would sneak around late at night, walking or more often than not, riding my bicycle about town, exploring things - seeing things I had no concept of. More often than not, I would see something, not know what it was and promise myself that I would find it again in the daytime and try to take a photo of it, have the film developed and then show the image to someone who could tell me just what the hell I was looking at.
Often I could not find my way back during the daytime.
I never, or rather hardly ever, took photographs at night. I had a flash, but was not very good at utilizing it to its full capabilities, and never got the shot I wanted. I'm pretty much a self-taught photographer. heck, even the camera I used, a Minolta SE, more often than not using a 35mm lens without a filter, was not mine. I borrowed my dad's, but really, I had no clue how to use it, and wasted many a roll of film trying to learn how to use it better.
Yes... this was all before the advent of digital cameras. Too bad... I have a 10.0 MP Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS digital camera now, and it's basically idiot proof - perfect for this idiot. 
Anyhow... the image above is from the top of the tallest building (in 1992) in Ohtawara City. It's looking north toward the Nasu Mountain range maybe 10+ kilometers away.
There... at the bottom one-third of the photo, from the left are: the Peak Sanbon-yari; the middling area appears to be Mt. Sudate; and the big one on the right is Mt. Asahi.
I didn't know any of that at the time.
The photograph was taken after a particularly nasty thunder and lightning storm that had quickly blown in and was blowing out as I snapped my picture. 
Down below - at the very bottom are some of the near buildings of Ohtawara. 
I used my 128mm telephoto lens and Fuji 400 color film to capture the mountains, the mist wafting away, the buildings in silhouette, the nasty dark rain clouds in the top one-third, and the clearing of the sky in the middle.
It's awesome, isn't it? I'm talking about the vista.
One of my things to photograph, besides interesting roofs on buildings, was clouds and the raw face of Mother Nature. Hey... I really like women.

Andrew Joseph

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