Landscape & architecture: a trip up the Mori Tower to Tokyo City View

It’s been maybe six or seven years since I’ve been up the Mori Tower, to the 52nd floor viewing area at Tokyo City View. Just before New Year, I took myself, the Hasselblad and the Nikon up there for a treat.

Not cheap but worth it on the right day

At 1800¥ a ticket, excluding the SkyDeck (basically access to the helipad and outdoor area two more floors up), I need a good reason and guaranteed good weather to go up there. My having the HTS1.5 tilt shift adaptor for a few days, some glorious weather and the spare time to go finally got me up there again. There were long queues and it took me about 40mins from joining the queue to being up at the view deck and getting my camera out the bag.

The weather was glorious. I started shooting at about 3.40pm, which was perfect: time to have a good walk around, shoot and get plenty done ahead of the sunset.

As with many such places, tripods not allowed

No tripod means, with the Hasselblad especially, getting as much done in good daylight as is possible. I have the CCD sensor in my H4D-40 and whilst I adore the colour rendition, the camera is struggling at 1600ISO. The mirror is huge, the camera is heavy… so you really want to be shooting at 1/125sec minimum and the HTS adaptor takes 1.5 stops off the aperture, making the 80mm f/2.8 a 120mm f/4.5. Some of the shots you see here were shot at 800 and 1600ISO. That’s kind of outside the comfort zone of the Hassie, especially when it has the HTS on it. But, they look ok.

Taking the HTS off for a few shots was worth it during Blue Hour. I got my f/2.8 aperture back and could drop the ISO.

The Hassie with the 80mm and the HTS weighs in at about 4.5kgs.

I wish these places allowed tripods.

The Nikon D800e and 300mm is not exactly light either, so I got as much done with that as I could before the sun went down. But, it is a little easier to manage that body in lower light and I got a few at dusk, inthe blue hour, which look nice enough.

Shooting panoramas with the HTS

This is something I’ve been trying a bit recently. It’s hit and miss to be honest. Large panos with lots of shots, handheld, are a bit of a tough ask. Especially when you have a lot of movement on the HTS. It sort of comes down to the software getting confused and not being able to handle the blurred areas you get when you are applying tilt and shift.

I use Kolor AutoPano Pro, which is an amazing powerful piece of software, but its just not really set up to be stitching pans with TS lens movement.

Still, the smaller ones with less shots have been turning out well. I really like how the shot of the wonderfully designed National Art Centre came out. The glass wave on that building is amazing and the light, just prior to sunset was truly stunning on it.

What light suits TS shooting?

The light I was getting just prior to sunset, where it was low and raking across the city, really makes for great conditions for the HTS. The edges of things, lit by low crosslight from the falling sun really come out great. The softer light of just after sunset was ok but you really need contrast with this sort os shooting technique, so a bit of that got added in during post.

The big panoramas

Here are the panoramas I’ve stitched up so far. There are a few more big ones to make. I’ll hang on to those and post another day. Click each image for a big version with at bottom right of the screen, an option to get the full sized version. Note: these are all reduced size. The originals range from 14,000px across to 45,000pixels across. From 77MP to 291MP.

The National Art Centre, Roppongi. Four vertical shots from the Hasselblad.

Looking towards Shinjuku past, at right & middle, the cranes by the new Olympic Stadum. Three horizontal frames on the Hassie.

Looking east past the Tokyo Tower. Original is 23,000pixels across and made from six frames from the Hassie. Sky Tree at extreme left background.

The gallery of the rest….

So, here’s few shots. From the file names it’s pretty obvious which were shot with the Hasselblad and which with the Nikon. The TS shots are super obvious. There are some single frames and some panoramas.

Hope you enjoy looking at them. I’ll probably be doing an architecture and panorama workshop soon, using some of the high viewing areas in town. Drop me a line if you’re interested in being notified of when that happens.

Thanks.

 

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