Unbridled Cynicism

less bullshit, more often?

Ramen と Tarot と Kurisu

Ramen

We made arrangements to meet with Berym for lunch, the guy we met on the flight to Tokyo. The destination is Ichiran, a ramen place in Shibuya.

Ichiran is serious about their ramen. Each customer has a private booth with a divider on each side, so it’s just you and your ramen. You don’t even see the faces of staff, thanks to a little roll-down blind separating you from the kitchen. You pay using the menu ticket machine before being seated, then fill out a little questionnaire to describe just how you like your noodles cooked, how rich you want the stock, selection of garlic, meat, sauce, etc.

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Caption: I went pretty average for most of my choices, though I did pay for double-extra green onions (thanks, Miku) and a half-boiled egg.

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Caption: As ordered, lots and lots of green onions. Each booth has its own cups and a water dispenser spout. The little orange tray on the right is my signal for the extra noodles I ordered. Once I’m down to stock (or whenever the hell you want), I push the call-button behind the bowl and put the tray there.

The ramen is just right, all as I ordered. The egg is cooked to perfection, with the yolk unable to decide if it should be solid or liquid. Unlike Gumshara back home, which focuses on a very strong and rich flavour, Ichiran’s noodles are well-flavoured but not at all heavy or overpowering.

Tarot

After lunch we head back towards Akiba, making a stop in Suidobashi to visit Okuno Karuta. They specialise in cards and other traditional games, and Trej is here to look for some tarot.

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Caption: They keep really lazy shop hours here, opening at 11:30am.

We emerge sometime later, Trej with his tarot (a limited edition deck from a run of 300) and a Japanese learning game for fish names (you match the left and right cards in pairs). For an impulse buy he also grabbed something called Eroticartes, which I’m sure needs little explanation.

Kurisu

I was due to meet up with Blitz once he was back from visiting Yokohama with his friends from Canada, so I excused myself from shopping and headed back to the hotel to get changed. After yesterday’s shitty weather I was relieved to be dealing with dry and comparatively warm conditions.

I didn’t have time to try it out before leaving, but the wig turned out to be great. A little trimming and hairspray at the front fixed up the styling quite painlessly.

Seeing as we didn’t have any specific plans we headed over to the Radio Kaikan, or what’s left of it. The facade and iconic yellow sign is still there, which is good enough for us. I gave Blitz a really quick run-down of strobe lighting theory on the way there (sunlight was quickly disappearing) and we played around with things a bit, using Trej as a lightstand (thanks!). The photos were just okay, but serviceable, and shooting around ISO 1600 to get enough ambient.

One of the things I really enjoy about cosplaying is watching other people’s reactions, ordinary people or otherwise, and Akiba was no exception. It’s hardly the most outrageous outfit you’d see in Tokyo, but she does stand out, and having someone with a big camera also helps. I probably shouldn’t be surprised but people are also really good about avoiding the camera, I was kinda feeling bad that I might kakeru too much meiwaku for people >_<

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Caption: Radio Kaikan is just off to the right, you can see the 世 from “Sekai no Radio Kaikan”. I wanted the huge Steins;Gate sign to be visible instead.

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Caption: Stairs in front of the Crossfield sign. Not entirely pleased with the shot (and I shouldn’t have been wearing glasses) and it was difficult to light without burning inordinate amounts of time, but the lines and composition are good.

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Caption: Blitz whipped out the 50mm/1.4 at this point, being able to avoid higher ISOs is really nice. This was taken on the same stairs in front of the Crossfield sign.

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Caption: He hadn’t had a chance to play with depth of field on a full-frame camera body, so now was as good a time as any.

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Caption: One more, for jacket detail.

We had this idea about trying to catch a shot of a phone in midair as it’s dropped, but Akiba unfortunately wasn’t offering much in the way of suitable locations. If we had found something though, there are back-alley shops that can sell you a non-functional demo phone that are perfect for such things.

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Caption: While walking around we spotted this work crew in front of the Belle Salle building. The white things are inflatable softboxes, the unlit one was a wrinkled bag about a minute before this shot was taken. No doubt it’s very good for lighting up workspaces, but I bet they’d be great for lighting a large studio-type area for photography, especially if they’re portable.

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Caption: A Dr Pepper vending machine! This was tucked away on one of north-south streets just west of Chuo-dori.

Blitz also brought along his 85mm/1.4D, a very highly regarded lens. I’ve not played with one before, but my god I’m sold on it. I don’t know what it is – I thought it shouldn’t be all that different to the 50mm/1.4, but the output was just looking fantastic.

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Caption: What? I wasn’t going to pass up a can of Dr Pepper. The 85mm/1.4 produces huge cats-eyes of bokeh, I love it.

The ISO got ramped up a bit, but it’s still totally reasonable to shoot only with available light. Illumination is now solely from shopfronts, car headlights and sodium-vapour streetlamps, and it still looks great.

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Caption: Strangely one of the less-posed shots, but it looks nice and natural; an exercise in looking slouchy without actually slouching. Conclusion: I just suck at posing

We decided to wrap it up around 23:30 so Blitz could get some rest before his long train trip back to Nagoya. Before he left I played with the 85mm some more. It could be sample variance, but his lens is smooth in the focus ring, not at all like the 50mm, or even my 105mm/2.0. These things can be had for about a thousand bucks now, it’s really tempting…

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Caption: One last one, taken near the entrance to JR Akiba.