Around AIST

つつじ | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/800s f/2.2 ISO100 55mm 

I spent most of my whirlwind week in Japan north of Tokyo in a place called Tsukuba. It's known as Tsukuba Science City; a planned science park developed in the 1960s. Though many of the buildings indeed date back 50 years, the buildings of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) are comparatively modern.

Going for lunch | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/60s f/5.6 ISO160 55mm

I was working 8:30 ~ 8pm most days, and only ventured outside at lunchtime. On this day, the weather was particularly good, so I spent 15 minutes walking around my immediate area, camera in hand, to have a look around.

Koi | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/80s f/5.6 ISO100 55mm

This lens is actually one of my favourites. The build quality is very high, but is nothing compared to the image quality. It is almost impossible to take a bad shot with this lens. However, it is possible. Using my camera in A mode most of the time (aperture priority) means that the camera will decide the shutter speed. For wider lenses, this is not really a problem, but for focal lengths longer than 35mm, I would normally want to shoot at 1/100s, or faster. There was plenty of light, and so that wouldn't have been a problem. Thus, I chose the wrong mode, and the result is that I am not 100% happy with a few of the shots at 100%... but I don't really view photos at 100% very often, so it's no real problem. It's worth bearing in mind for next time.

Ladder | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/320s f/5.6 ISO100 55mm

Balconies | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/200s f/5.6 ISO100 55mm 

The 50mm focal length is not historically one of my favourites, but it is a relatively simple focal length to use well. It's hard to get it *really* wrong. It is a focal length often suggested to new photographers as their main prime—and their abundance means that you can pick up a good manual focus 50mm lens for ~£10. My Zeiss cost close to 100x that, but then it's possibly one of the best ~50mm lenses available. There are probably 5-6 lenses which "beat" it, and all will have far higher price tags.

Only for pedestrians | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/100s f/1.8 ISO100 55mm 

I am not sure whether it's Japan, its quality of light, or just the product of my surroundings, but I found myself more interested than usual in the abstract man-made structures surrounding AIST. I say this, because I work on something of an industrial estate in the UK, but nowhere looks as clean and polished as industrial areas in Japan. Hell, even the rust here is aesthetically pleasing.

Spiral | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/160s f/4.0 ISO100 55mm

Red | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8  | 1/60s f/5.6 ISO160 55mm 

Still, I am a bit of a sucker for nature and its ways, so I crouched down in the hot midday sun and got level with some grass.

Grass | A7R & Carl Zeiss Sonnar 55mm F1.8 | 1/500s f/3.2 ISO100 55mm 

Perhaps on the next sunny day here in the UK (which are infrequent, but possible), I may take my camera out with me for a stroll. Another thing to note, is that Japanese are not scared of people with cameras. In the UK, I always feel self-conscious with a camera, even in the area around my workplace. People are treated with suspicion, which is another reason why there are fewer photos in this style from my daily life, though I will try to push myself to take some in the future.