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I went to the optician yesterday. Out of curiosity, I had them read the prescriptions off my old glasses to see how my eyes have changed.
Because I’m such a tinkerer and perfectionist. 1800 photos don’t magically go through photoshop automatically ;)
Edited with Picassa
Edited with Photoshop
Problems: Photo too blue. Bag on girl on left blown out. Background crooked. Lighting flat. Colours drab. Composition makes it look like I’m nailed to a cross.
Remove colour cast. Warm up overall colour. Push colours. Burn bag. Increase contrast in quartertones. Straighten and re-compose to balance white purse against brown plaque. Burn background to focus down and to middle.
One question everyone is asking me since I got back from Japan is “How well did you do with your two semesters of Japanese? Were you able to get by?”
The answer is yes and no… I have the vocabulary of your average three-year-old child, and grammatical structures to match. In English, I would be able to say “I would like to buy a ticket on the Shinkansen to Toyko,” in Japanese I could get the point across with “ときょに しんかんせんで いきます おねがいします”, which literally means “To Toyko using Shinkansen Go Please.”
In fact, “___ please” turned out to be quite a useful little phrase. Ordering in restaurants became a matter of looking around, seeing someone eating something that looked good, and saying “that please.” Of course, it didn’t always work out – Theoretically, if nobody was eating anything that I wanted to eat, I would have to leave, hang around outside for 10 minutes, then go back in and try again.
Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was all the kanji. You see, Japanese is written in a combination of two alphabets and thousands of Chinese characters called kanji. And my courses don’t teach any kanji.
Because of this, you find yourself left in situations such as arriving at the train station and wondering when the next train to your destination is leaving…
Then you have to find the station on a map and figure out how much the ticket will cost…
And, of course, once you figure it out and buy a ticket, you have to try and discover (a) which track the train is departing from, (b) which car you should be in (because sometimes the trains end up splitting and going in two directions), and (c) which seat you have to sit in.
By the way, awesome bokeh in the background on that picture!
Sometimes it didn’t matter that I couldn’t read kanji, because the meaning was completely obvious:
And other times, my lack of kanji-ability didn’t matter, because I doubt it would have helped me figure out what some things were:
The English on the box says “Flash Over: Here is the thing I have been longing for. Transformation of extra quality is now completed. Experience yourself with this satisfaction.” Given that this was on a shelf near the boob cream, my theory is that it’s either a herbal anti-depressant or a vibrator.
I had brought my Japanese textbook with me, and I decided to go back to the beginning and start looking up all the Kanji for words that I didn’t know. Of course, studying isn’t exactly barrels of fun while you’re on vacation, so I decided to force myself to learn – I decided I would only order things in restaurants if I could read the name of it (with the help of a dictionary, of course) off the menu. Of course, I was buying most of my meals at convenience or grocery stores – this was to save money, not an unintended consequence of not ordering food I couldn’t read. (yeah right, says the peanut gallery.)
I had some success and some failures. For example, I decided to have coffee and cake in Shibuya, and managed to figure out how to say the name of the one at the bottom right of this picture:
Of course, when the waitress came and asked for my order, I opened the menu and immediately mental-blocked on whether the ショート at the end was pronounced “shouto” or “tsuuto”, so I just said the first part. Which, of course, is the name of the dessert at the top of the menu. Incidently, it’s “shouto” for “shortcake.”
I also discovered that riding the train or bus became a free game of kanji-flash-cards, as they both would display on a screen the same of the next stop in both kanji and english. Sometimes I had no clue – Sometimes I had almost one part. And this was my great triumph; three weeks in, I successfully read the name of this bus stop.
Obviously, I’m easy to please – “His great transformation occurred when he read the name of the bus stop.” If my life was a novel and that was the back-cover copy, I don’t think I’d buy it.
Incidently, I know the photos from my trip that I’m putting up right now look like crap – they’re the low-resolution JPEG versions of the RAW files that my camera generates, and I’m “editing” them in Picnik instead of photoshop.
Once I get home, I’ll start photoshopping pictures and replace them with half decent ones.