Onishi summer matsuri

Over the last couple years since I did a short artist residency in Onishi in Gunma Prefecture, I’ve been lucky enough to attend the summer matsuri. This is a super short post since I’ve written about it before, but I found these pictures from 2015 the other day and it brought back great memories of hot summers, community solidarity and friendliness. I hope I can take more pictures this summer.


Thanks ONISHI!








蛍: More Fireflies From Last Week

Last weekend I was in Onishi, Gunma and took some firefly photos at a river near town. These photos were taken further up river on the Kami Kawa on Sakurayama. Kjell Hahn, of Shiro Oni Studios, was a great host and drove me and fellow artist Delphine, up in the evening. He also provided some head lanterns and katori senko (mosquito coils). I didn’t realize how much they would be needed. To the naked eye, the river area was pitch dark. It wasn’t far from the car to the river but with the long, wet grass and head lanterns lighting the way, footing was a bit of an adventure. I’m sure my innate clumsiness factored somewhat. We found a slow, shallow part in the river and I set up Kjell’s tripod (See? I really wasn’t planning to night shoot when I packed for the weekend) and started shooting.

I’m fairly happy with the photos given the camera. I hadn’t known about fireflies in this area so I only had a Canon Eos M. The bulb function seems to require pressing down on the shutter button until time to release it which rather defeats the purpose of a tripod and long exposure. I used a 2 second timer and 30 second exposure at a high ISO to capture images. The result is extremely noisy but I’d rather have a photo than no photo. Still, it was a lot of fun and an interesting challenge to get my camera to meet the challenges of this condition.

I brought a flash to add some detail to the landscape but even at low power it was too harsh. I did better with light painting parts of the foreground with a flashlight. So that was a good experiment. I was kind of surprised at the sky color. Last week’s photos had odd lighting from  the bridge  and highway lights. These photos didn’t have the same issue, but I’m wondering if light pollution from the nearby town was a factor, given the overcast weather that night.

Hotaru 蛍 Fireflies

I’m back in Onishi, Gunma for a few days visiting Shiro Oni Studios where I did a photography residency in April. Fireflies are on my mind. The photos look like a collection of darkness until you click them to enlarge. Fireflies, hotaru, are increasingly rare in Japan. The places they can be seen are decreasing and their numbers are smaller as years go by. These ones didn’t come out until it was full dark, around 7:45.

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