Tomomi is an old friend who I finally got around to doing a photo session with. She has spent a lot of time in France and I think she has a European air to her, so I suggested we go to the Shikemichi area in downtown Nagoya. Once an old merchant district, it has now become an understated, but hip area, with art galleries and small restaurants tucked between residential buildings. I like the area for its black-walled buildings and old town look. It also features an open air shopping district.
We met at Fushimi Station and walked from there. Along the way we passed a park, so we stopped there first. It was still too sunny for direct lighting, so we used the open shade provided by the trees.
At the southern end of the Shikemichi district is the Fuji Sengen Shrine. I liked the look of the green moss on the stones in the shrine, so tried to incorporate it into the photos.
One salient feature of the Shikemichi area is all the dark walled buildings. As Tomomi was wearing dark clothes, her torso blended in with the dark walls, causing her face and hands to stand out, so we emphasized those.
There is one large building with black wood siding that I particularly like. Using my 50mm lens, I tried taking photos of Tomomi from different distances, and in both portrait and landscape orientation to see what I liked best.
As it had rained earlier in the day, there were areas of standing water in some of the lots. Whenever I see standing water, I look for reflections, as they offer a different perspective.
I've always been fascinated by empty lots and like how they become large frames. We took photos in this lot twice, once while it was still bright, and then we returned a bit later when it was darker. For the later session, I used two flash units, one for Tomomi's face, and one to highlight the outline of her figure from behind.
At one point we found a doorway with a dark space behind it, so we used it as a frame. I wasn't sure whether to go with color or black and white for these, so I tried both.
By the time we got to the shopping mall the sun was starting to set and the lights had come on. I liked the sense of depth provided by the rows of lights fading into the background, so I used a wide aperture (F1.8) to blur out the lights in the background. I wanted a dark enough exposure to accentuate the lights, but I didn't want to cast Tomomi in shadow, so I used a fill-flash to brighten her face. We shot from both directions to get slightly different feels.
With these lantern boxes next to the shrine, I again used a wide aperture to emphasize the sense of depth.
Before heading back to the station, we crossed the Gojo Bridge. It was getting dark by this time, so we used fill flash for the photos. I am still learning flash, but my goal is to illuminate the subject while keeping the ambient exposure dark enough to give a sense of evening, and highlight the night lights. I don't like using an overly strong flash and creating an artificial look, but lacking sophisticated lighting equipment, it can be a challenge to get the right balance. On this day, I was pretty pleased with the result.
I have never been good at giving instruction to models, but Tomomi was comfortable with herself and a natural. It was nice to catch up, and have a relaxed photo session at the same time. On the way back to the station, we passed an area where the sky scrapers downtown Nagoya are visible, so we got in a couple more photos before it got too dark.