On Assignment: Kyoto

Travelers line up at Kyoto station. Photograph by cory Lum.

Travelers line up at Kyoto station. Photograph by cory Lum.

Aloha all! Apologies for not posting sooner. Work has been steady with interesting gigs !
Sharing some behind the scenes images from a project shot in Kyoto, Japan. Strict contract requirements prevent me from sharing the ‘take’ but more announcements will come in 2015.  I’ve also started a Instagram account, please check it out @corypix @corypix @corypix for recent photographic meanderings.

Model being dressed by expert staff. Kyoto, Japan. Photograph by cory Lum. Instagram via @corypix

Model being dressed by expert staff. Kyoto, Japan. Photograph by cory Lum. Instagram via @corypix

Whirlwind of a trip shuttling photography gear much like a snail carrying the house on the back. Complete with 3 Nikon bodies, lenses and a full location lighting kit that was really worked as the most important tenet is ‘quality light’


Below we have some of the amazing hand made textiles. Each garment is a unique work of art.




Kyoto is an amazing city. Lots of history and amazing views. Below a torii or gate at one of the many gate entrances to the Royal Palace in Kyoto. Much of Kyoto has been photographed. The extreme challenge is making unique images of a well photographed city, story telling visually and giving the viewer a ‘cory Lum’ view of Kyoto.

Tilt shift torii

Tilt shift torii

More to come.


yokohama wanderings

Wandering about Yokohama on a fine, muggy afternoon with Mr. T. Decided to ‘layer’ images of the port city, 6-images at a time, various compositions using the Hexomniscope 6-pinhole camera. Keeping ye ole fingers crossed until i process the film sooner or later. I really wish processing C-41 in japan wasn’t so expensive ! really miss processing at Hawaii Pacific Photo across the street in Mo’ili’ili !

The light was fabulous ! clear and clean blue skies, the sun dropped but gave a show of amazing colors and clarity.

Enjoyed also lugging the velbon tripod, a non carbon fiber variant thru the thick, muggy port city air. Happened on a cool rest spot, a Lawson’s convenience store situated just along Osambashi Pier. Grabbed a beverage and sat in the air conditioned air and watched folks peruse by outside. Also had Mr T’s Helios 40-2 85mm f/1.5 lens in tow, the lens ways a ton. hefty.

along the way i was testing a Helios Russian 85mm f1.5 lens. wild bokeh. sometimes sharp sometimes bokeh’d. LOL.

i think this is commander Perry’s arrival reenactment. cool. looks like it was shot w/ a tilt shift lens ! haha !

anyways, thanks for swinging by. hopeful to post some images after i get the film back.
cheers !

Blooming Ajisai

Ajisai blooms in Kamakura, Japan (above photograph, nikkor 105mm f/1.8 lens, freelensed). This year was unusual at our favorite place in Hasedera, it seemed only 15-percent of the plants were flowering. Quite disappointing considering standing in line for almost one hour and then seeing this below. usually, the whole mountain terrace is loaded with a panoramic sea of colors. this year, only green. whoa … what is freelensing ? carefully holding lens after removing the lens from the camera body, then tilting or moving the lens away from the body, like an invisible extension tube. Using the canon 7D, the sensor is smaller so the 35mm lenses have more coverage allowing the photographer to tilt, swing the lens.

Thousands of people flocked to see these little morsels of color, meandering in murmuring lines of humanity. i’m not usually a ‘flowerly guy’ but living in japan, every season (hawaii is stuck in perpetual summer) is greeted with an amazing array of flowers that signal a season. The olfactory glands are in full swing as you peruse through undulating terraces, climbing, climbing and climbing. ayu tagged along for this short vacation, so with camera and a baby strapped to my chest. fun ! try making macro photographs with a wiggling one year infant moving. manual focus becomes challenging.

people wall to wall making photographs of the tiny hydrangea flowers known as ‘ajisai’. ranging from whites, pinks, purples and even cyans. wow ! the fresh air of kamakura rejuvenated our bodies as we hiked through mountainous roads ending up in amazing smaller temples along the way. Kamakura is an amazing place for exploring.

ajisai or hydrangea are about the size of your palm.

image below, snaking lines of people. we happened to go on a weekday, i can only imagine what weekends are like with thousands more people. lines are common. if you’re visiting japan, go early, Hasedera opens at 8AM.

2011 tohoku quake

whew march crawled by… survived. the family and kids are adjusting as well as they can, concentrating on day to day life activities has our focus away from the grim news of casualties and radiation woes from the damaged reactors in Fukushima and Onagawa.

i was watching ayu on my day off, friday while my wife headed to Motomachi Chukagai for lunch with her buddy from tokyo. all i remember is grabbing my camera, hitting the video record mode and making images. normally the quakes shake for a little while and then stop… this particular quake lasted for a long time.

flipped on the boob tube to gather what and where the epicenter was. whoa. amazing images of disaster flowed like a very bad nightmare.

from wikipedia, “The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami (東日本大震災 Higashi Nihon Daishinsai[6]?, literally “Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster”[fn 1]) was caused by a 9.0-magnitude undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday, 11 March 2011.[2][3][7] The epicenter was approximately 72 km (45 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku, with the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 32 km (19.9 mi).[2][8] On 1 April 2011, the Japanese government named the disaster resulting from the earthquake and tsunami the “Great Eastern Japan Earthquake” (東日本大震災 Higashi Nihon Daishinsai?).[9]
The earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 37.9 meters (124 ft)[10] that struck Japan minutes after the quake, in some cases traveling up to 10 km (6 mi) inland,[11] with smaller waves reaching many other countries after several hours. Tsunami warnings were issued and evacuations ordered along Japan’s Pacific coast and at least 20 other countries, including the entire Pacific coast of the Americas.[12][13][14] ”

first concern was to message wife to move to high ground not knowing how bad a tsunami might hit low lying areas of yokohama. at this point, all the trains stopped. many people were stranded in kanagawa, tokyo and throughout the metropolis.

above live television view of houses and debris being pushed in by monstrous tsunami

since all the trains were down, i jumped on my trusty mamachari to ride into the city to photograph damages and how people were being affected. traffic was backed up for miles. every major road was jammed going into yokohama and into metropolitan tokyo. i saw hundreds of people walking. this was the day the city stopped functioning. one of my friends working in tokyo walked over 5 hours to get home in tamagawa.

the next day at 530am i rolled back into the city to document and photograph more. people were strewn about the yokohama JR station like drunken barflies, sleeping on cardboard boxes and on the ground. many refugees from the train stoppage lay sleeping in the walkways of the station. graciously, the Japan Railway and station folks allowed all these stranded to camp overnight and stay in a heated building.

more to come soon…

Sakura Hexomniscope view


spring started last week in tokyo. beautiful sakura or cherry blossoms in full tilt !

to see the trees in full bloom is definitely a spectacle with hundreds of gawkers heading to famous viewing spots around tokyo. among my favorites are aoyama bochi (aoyama graveyard), naka meguro and kitanomaru kooen (near yasukuni jinja).

one of the challenging aspects of making photographs of a yearly event with many, many photographers is having special lenses or panoramic cameras that have the ability to see more than 180-degrees or even in this case 360-degrees. my personal philosophy about photography is to put the viewer where he/she can never be and photographic images that offer a fresh and new perspective. in this case, f/180 and 10 seconds and a vertical format. the human eye sees horizontally with peripheral vision. my vision with the hexomniscope, 120 roll film panoramic pinhole camera is much like the chinese ‘hanging scrolls”.

the hexomniscope was created over 10 years ago by Matt Abelson www.abelsonscopeworks.com, friend and maker of amazing cameras such as the omniscope, 5×7 anamorphic pinhole cameras, and more.

Ueno Sakura Hexomniscope View

a view of the camera in action.

hanami & hexomniscope


the camera itself features 6 pinholes with an effective aperture of f/180. in most cases with iso 100 film you get 4 images on one roll of 120 roll film. roughly the size of 6-centimeters by 20-centimeters (negative shown below). each pinhole can individually be activated or deactivated before exposure.

hexomniscope 120 negative

hexomniscope - 6 lens pinhole camera


hanami panoramic