Light Shows

July 27th, 2008

It’s been an interesting few days out the window. Yesterday was the Sumida River fireworks, and today there was a spectacular lightning storm and sunset.

Yesterday’s fireworks show was, actually, a big disappointment. It came on what was arguably the haziest day of the year so far; we could barely see Akihabara from Ikebukuro, and that cut down on the show considerably. Add the smoke from the previous fireworks, and it got hard to see anything. In fact, the haze just got worse and worse as the evening went on; by the end of the show, we could see the fireworks streaking up, only to disappear, and, if we were lucky, the faintest of outlines of a starburst would show through. Most of the bursts, however, were simply invisible.

Here are a few shots from earlier in the show:






Tonight, there was a much more spectacular light show, and I almost missed it. However, I heard some sounds out on the balcony, and knew that winds had started tossing about a few things we’d left out there. As I went out to batten down the hatches, as it were, I saw a tremendous thunder- and lightning-storm charging by to the north, darkening the sky before sunset.

It was still far too light to take time exposures to catch the lightning, so I tried another strategy: with my finger on the shutter, I waited for lightning bursts to come, hopefully catching some prolonged bursts that way. When that was not successful, I just held down the shutter and took continuous shots, dozens at a time–and that worked. The lightning was frequent enough that I got some good shots. The last one, the most spectacular, is available in an enlarged version when clicked:




And then, out of nowhere, there came an amazing red lighting. Clouds had cleared around the sun as it set, and even as lightning continued to scatter to the north, a brilliant red and orange wash broke out from the west. As we’re on the east side of the building, I could not see the sunset directly, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t see some fantastic light effects. Many of the images below–which don’t do the reality justice–are available in larger sizes. I swear, some of them look like images of Coruscant from the Star Wars movies.





The Sunshine 60 building looked almost ominous in the light:



Here is a panorama of Akihabara to Ochanomizu–first cut into two parts, then in full, but reduced in size artificially. Click on the lowest image to see the full-sized image, 1920 pixels wide. The buildings almost look like toy models here.




Categories: Focus on Japan 2008, Ikebukuro Tags: by
  1. Hachi Gatsu
    July 27th, 2008 at 23:05 | #1

    Very nice! Awesome lightning shots too!

  2. Anonymous
    July 29th, 2008 at 12:08 | #2

    great pictures. please blog again with more information on the tokkou lecture!

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