A Disneyland with a Twist

Entrance to Toyko's DisneySea Resort

When my wife and I went on a trip with friends to Japan in 2010, on a whim we decided to visit this strange Disneyland Resort just a small train ride out of Tokyo called Tokyo DisneySea. 

First, a partial definition of what is the DisneySea Resort on wikipedia.org:

Tokyo DisneySea (東京ディズニーシー Tōkyō Dizunīshī?) is a 176-acre (71.22 ha) theme park at theTokyo Disney Resort located in UrayasuChibaJapan, just outside Tokyo.[1]  

DisneySea has an overall nautical exploration theme to it. Unlike Tokyo Disneyland, the overall intention was to create a more adult-themed park, including faster, scarier rides and shows designed more for an older audience. By the time Tokyo DisneySea opened in 2001, its concepts and designs had been in development at Walt Disney Imagineering for well over 20 years.

...and it shows!

I have to say without reservation that Tokyo's DisneySea is one of the most well-crafted amusement parks I ever visited. From the faux-Firenze palazzo at its entrance, the false-perspective volcano at the center of the park, to the supremely constructed medieval buildings that house replicas of Leonardo Da Vinci's inventions like a fully functional (but gamified) astrolab, we were blown away.

It is definitely one of the few Disney parks geared for teenagers and adults. There is barely any of that typical "toddler-to-pre-teen" Disney branding with the ultra-bright colors or cutesy iconography everywhere like it is in other resorts. 

In one of the sections of the park, a Western medieval town was specifically designed for an exploratory scavenger hunt. It had to do with finding Da Vinci's lost seal by going through a bunch of puzzles that were scattered throughout the area. If one wanted to participate, you were herded into a small dark room where a park-employee dressed up as a wizard speaking Japanese gave each small group a map where you have to go to each "station", figure out the puzzle, which then pointed you to the next leg of the hunt. 

The puzzles and set-ups were pretty varied ranging from a giant crossbow that had cool sound fx that you needed to calculate it's arrow velocity, to a high-ceiling room with an astrolab which projected constellations on the ceiling where we needed to input the right coordinates on these little dials to match up stars, to at the end a ship's spyglass that pointed to an area with a secret device that stamped your map with a Da VInci's "seaL of approval".

Other sections of the park included a downtown 1920's New York City area (with mini-Statue of Liberty), a romanticized Middle-eastern Aladdin-themed area, an "Under the Sea" Little Mermaid-esque area (with Kabuki mermaid show), a Mayan jungle area (with very well-constructed minecart rollar coaster), and one of my favorites which front and center of the park, a steampunk-themed outpost in a magma-flowing volcano.

This jewel of the park is the area based on Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". There is an entrance to the center of the volcano which reveals a ton of steampunk machinery, a shop, and a ridable Nautilus in a small lake on the floor of the "volcano". To top it off, sandwiched in the walls of the "rocks" was a roller coaster ride that weaves in and out of the caves and tunnels.

When I visit Japan again I would love to go back to this resort.

See some pics I taken with my little Canon Powershot at the time, below.

Learning with a Leica (LwL)

I have now started to crate some blog posts about learning photography with my new rangefinder camera: a Leica M9

I recently purchased this from a friend used since the new M (M10) is coming out soon and he wanted to jump to get that one. :)

The inspiration for this blog is from a post I recently found:

Leica as a Teacher
Here’s an excerpt:

“ I would just like to throw this out there for what little it’s worth…if any young or beginning photographer of real ambition within the sound of my voice would like to radically improve his or her photography quickly and efficiently, I suggest shooting with nothing but a Leica and one lens for a year. Shoot one type of black-and-white film (yes, even if you’re completely devoted to color and digital, and hate film and everything it stands for. You don’t have to commit to this forever; it’s an exercise). Pick a single-focal-length 50mm, or 35mm, or 28mm. It doesn’t have to be a “good” lens—anything that appeals to you and that fits the camera will do..”

I altered it somewhat in that I’m not going to be shooting film (too expensive and a little too old school for my taste) and I’m going to use the LCD preview from time-to-time but I’ll be going in-line with all of the other suggestions.

I will be posting some pics by the end of the week. I’ll try to put the best I can muster up here but mostly this blog is to learn to grow as a photographer and I hope that you will want to go on the journey with me too through the great pics and the “ehh” pics. 

1 Camera (My “new” Leica : M9)

1 Lens (a Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2)

1 color - Monochrome (Black and White)

1 Year (2013)


The Leica M9

CicLAvia walk

CicLAvia Event - 4-21-2013

LA Leggers support. The city path for the event is 15-miles long, more than a half-marathon!


This is one of the few events in LA (besides the city's marathon) where such a long stretch of road is opened up for cyclists, runners, and walkers. This year it starts from downtown all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Venice. 

Even though it was somewhat "June gloomy" at the beginning, the sun eventually burned away all of the overcast sky and fog.

I honestly haven't seen so many bikers in one place in LA ever since I moved in 2003. It's great to see people out and about. 

I took some pictures from the pedestrian side of things (hard to balance a full DSLR and lens, taking pics, and not plowing into someone on a bike) and even though there were a couple of typical "LA drivers" on two wheels that I had a few words with, it was overall a great experience.




Color and Tone tumblr

Color and Tone tumblr blog

Color and Tone tumblr blog

Aside from getting into the business side of photography, I also have a love for realistic and hyper-realistic color illustration

I usually take about a 1/2 hour a day and look through hundreds of tumblr art and illustration pics and repost what I feel really resonates with me.

With my second tumblr feed (that I just now made defunct and rolling it in to this blog), I'm creating a visual journal of sorts getting to grips with one of the most hallowed pieces of film gear around, the Leica M9, and training my eyes by only "thinking" in black and white (most of the time) and really honing in on composition/tone/contrast with only one lens.


Sinking my teeth into new gear!

EF 100mm Macro 2.8L IS and a EF 70-200mm Telephoto 2.8L IS

EF 100mm Macro 2.8L IS and a EF 70-200mm Telephoto 2.8L IS

Now that I'm ramping up, I rented some lenses for a week (borrowlenses.com is awesome!) to do some tests and get used to the very different focal lengths.

These lenses be needed for a product and portrait shoot for a client next week so I thought it best to get on it early. 

Excited to put these puppies through their paces.