Floating Lanterns

The homepage of the Tokyo tourist office describes the floating lanterns of Asakusa as just a “symbol of summer”, but of course it’s much more complex than that. The lanterns are to guide the spirits of one’s ancestors back to the other world at the close of the Bon Festival. I was unsure about whether I should film the ceremony, except that it is such a spectacular event, and, as you can see from the video, so many other people were filming it. In fact, the recording of the event, on phones, tablets, and cameras, another kind of commemoration, became one of the themes of the video, as well as one of the challenges of shooting.

Having finally got the lens turbo focal reducer to mount on the Olympus E-M5 (it took quite a bit of pressure before I could rotate the adaptor and lock it into place), I went for a long lens, the Nikkor 85mm f2, to see if I could shoot between the phones and cameras being held aloft, or use them to frame the shot, or make them the subject. The 5-axis stabilisation could just about handle shooting handheld with a lens of this length (122mm equivalent or so, if the lens turbo is 0.72 reduction), although the shots with the 2x electronic telefocus (244mm equivalent) didn’t work quite so well. Sadly the E-M5 codec badly fell down on the detailed landscape shots; I guess that camera shake from using such a long lens didn’t do the codec any favours. On the plus side, I was impressed with how the camera handled noise reduction. I didn’t realise that I had noise reduction on auto; the shots came out very clean, which saved time in the grade. In general, we always hear that we should do noise reduction in post. But I wonder whether, when the codec struggles as much as it does on the E-M5, it might not be a better idea to reduce noise in camera, before the image is compressed?

Music: Portraits Pt. 2 by Keith Kenniff

floating lanterns flash


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