Last week whilst perusing my iPhone I discovered something on Twitter which aroused my attention - a weekly photography competition by WEX Photographic aptly titled Wex Mondays. The premise is that every Monday one can submit a photo on Twitter with the hashtag #WexMondays and stand a chance to win a lovely prize for your artistry.
WEX receive around 150-200 entries every week, and the competition is strong! If you haven't checked it out I would urge you to have a look - and enter - it definitely makes Mondays all that more enjoyable.
Yesterday I was pleased to receive an email from Sophie @ WEX kindly asking me to blog about my submitted photo - the image above.
The subjects I've been asked to write about are where and why I took the photo, why I chose it for the competition, and any techniques used in acquisition and post production.
Where & Why
I took this photo in the Kyoto International Manga Museum on a recent holiday to Japan with a friend. We're both avid photographers who share an appreciation for the Japanese anime subculture, and thought our visit to this amazing city would not be complete without a trip to the museum. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I was somewhat surprised at the limited photographic opportunities I found in the museum - the light was all quite clinical and harsh, and after snapping the expansive archives of anime, I was mostly left with big, bold plastic sculptures which didn't lend themselves immediately to my tastes.
Looking back, it was probably the huge change in my environment that phased me. We had spent days meandering amongst ancient temples clad with gold leaf, beautiful gardens peppered with waterfalls, and fantastical back streets adorned with hanging lanterns, picturesque bridges, and scuttling Geisha - a stark contrast with the aesthetics of the inner museum!
Towards the end of our tour I came across these cast hand sculptures which are all taken from famous anime artists of the past and knew I had my jackpot! I loved the bands of light being reflected in the glass display, the symmetry in the arrangement of hands, and how each were almost the same, but not quite.
This is one of my favorite shots from my trip to Japan which was definitely a strong contributing factor as to why I chose it for the competition. Also - I had been looking over some of Horoshi Sugimoto's photos of theaters, and even though I in no way compare myself to Sugimoto Sama, there is a resemblance with the symmetry and monochrome contrast which drew me to the photo when I was making my choice.
This wasn't the hardest image to capture or edit in any way, the only major challenge being composition. As symmetry is so important in this image I needed to be as head-on to the central hand as possible, whilst placing the two bands of reflective light in the correct position. It took me a few shots to get it right, as I was semi-squatting so that I was at eye-line with the hands, whilst trying to keep myself steady as waves of curious tourists flooded through my frame.
Exposure wise it was very straightforward as the light was so controlled.
I used a Canon 5D MKiii with a 24-105 L on the wide end at f5.6.
I edited in Lightroom where I applied a wide crop to play on the aspect ratio of the glass cabinet. After desaturating I started to play around with the levels - bringing the highlights down so there was still come detail in the reflective bands. With the contrast, I initially upped it so that the image was all contrasty black and white, but after some time I took it down which mellowed everything out and made the whole vibe a bit more peaceful.
After this there wasn't a lot to do except to use the adjustment brush to darken off the edges of the image as I wanted the hands on either side to fade to black, but didn't want to use the vignette effect to achieve this. I did play around with putting more sharpening in but decided against it, in the same ilk as the contrast.
And I think that's it! An easy and simple photo, but I really like the final outcome - it's got that blend of futuristic and organic that you come across so frequently in anime.
Please check out my other Japanese photographs in the Galleries section, and do please get in touch if you have any questions! Thanks very much to WEX for asking me to write this blog and to you for reading it - look out for my future submissions to #WexMondays!