Tokyo & Tsukuba-san hike

29/30 Maart & 27/29 April, 2008

It's already more than a month ago! Not my last update (that was much longer ago...), but when all these things happened. It just shows that I did not have much time to sit down and work on all that text with the photos. First because I was busy with writing some reports for the Narita Museum of Aeronautics, for which I visited several famous museums around the world, and after that I have been busy with research (finally!).

Often contrasts are so big that some part of a picture is overexposed (the sky often is) and other parts are underexposed. The human eye can adapt easily, but a photocamera can't. That is why photos often don't show the scene "as beautiful as you remember it". More advanced photo cameras allow you to take 3 (or more) pictures immediately after another with different settings: too dark, normal and too light:

This way of taking pictures is called Bracketing (or Auto Exposure Bracketing, AEB).

There are several programs which can combine 3 (or more) such pictures into a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image (>Wiki), such as Dynamic Photo HDR and Photomatrix. The HDR image contains combined information of all pictures and can't be shown on a screen or printed (you would have to lose some of the information again). The programs can therefore also "tone-map" the HDR picture to get a normal, printable picture again.

The tone-mapping process let's you choose several settings so you can add or reduce contrast, you can strengthen minimal color differences etc. By changing the tone mapping settings, you can create many differently colored images from the same HDR, for example a very extreme one:

or one much more "like you remember it":

[HDR] The weekend of March 29th was was the top of cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo. I took my bicycle and went along the shakujigawa river, which looks more like a canal actually. I went roughly the part that is in Itabashi-ku. Although it has steep concrete side walls, the densely packed blooming cherry trees make it a nice sight still.

From this post on I will try to think of putting [HDR] with every (tonemapped) HDR picture I put on this website. I also developped a naming convention for myself: IMG_9449_50_1_tm7.jpg for instance is the tone mapped HDR made from picture IMG_9449, IMG_9450 and IMG_9451 (and it was my 7th try to get nice colors :-) )

One day later I went with Tobi & Mae Rose on the Toden Arakawa-line, which is the only remaining streetcar line in Tokyo (the rest has become metro). It is a sightseeing line through some old parts of Tokyo and there are some nice cherry blossoms along the line

This is the park in Oji. Already early in the morning many people had spread out their blue plastic sheets as to reserve a place under the cherry trees for their (mostly evening) party. This is actually very normal here in Japan in the cherry blossom season...

Later that day, on the side of the sumida river, next to Arakawa Yuen park.

The 27th of April (after my world tour) we went to some of the Tokyo gardens we hadn't seen yet. These are the Kiyosumi gardens. The pond is very nice and there are many animals (birds, fish, frogs, turtles, ...)

This is still the Kiyosumi gardens. After that we went to the Mukojima Hyakkaen gardens which has many different plants (actually the name means the garden of 100 flowers in Mukojima). It looks less maintained than the other public gardens we have seen here.

The 29th of April we climbed Tsukuba-san. We took the Tsukuba Express train and then a shuttle bus to the temple entrance at the mountain. The top is a little more than 800m above sea level, but I think there was only about 600m left to climb from the temple. There are also a cable car and a ropeway, so it is actually quite touristic. (Of the 3 famous touristic mountains around Tokyo, Takao-san, Mitake-san and Tsukuba-san, we only have not been to Mitake-san yet.)

Tsukubasan consists actually of two tops: nantaisan en nyotaisan; we climbed both. This photo is taken from Nyotaisan and you can see Nantaisan.

The top of Nyotaisan is very rocky

and provides a very good view around