A few weeks ago, Toni and I made a trip down to the end of the Odakyu line at Odawara to see the castle and some other assorted places. It was the first touring that we’ve made the time to do in quite some time and it felt really good to get out and see some things together with no pressure to do anything specific. Also, it was Toni’s first time to visit the city and the only castle she had seen previously was Matsumoto-jo, so it was an easy way to bag another sight for her. After a little over an hour on the train, we arrived at Odawara and immediately headed out in search of some of the minor museums and ‘touristy’ spots. We were a little surprised about the lack of people in town but on reflection, with the events related to the Tohoku earthquake and the push to conserve energy, it’s more of a wonder that there were any tourists there at all. So we pretty much had the run of the place. We did a little souvenir shopping and I tried my best not to knock things over in stores with my huge tripod (I did manage to startle everyone in the pizza place we went to for lunch when it fell over making a ridiculous bang). The monstrous thing did come in handy however, and I used it several times to make identically framed bracketed shots that I merged into some pretty cool HDR images. I’m working on several of them and because it can be very labor intensive to remove the artifacts and weird effects that the process can introduce, I only have two ready for this post.

The first photo is from the area around the old gates. I believe that it is the old main gate (though I could be wrong) reflected in the moat that has been reconstructed in front of the castle. Like the shot above, this is a composite of three exposures that has been merged using Photomatix Pro and edited for color and consistency in Aperture.

The next is looking across a hedge of hydrangeas over the lotus (fields? marsh?) with the castle wall on one side and a wisteria garden and city street on the other. It was pretty overcast, so the HDR method worked very well to help pull some of the cloud detail out of the highlights and keep a good deal of detail in the shadows as well as maintaining the stunning color of the hydrangeas and the lotus.

I’ll be working on other images from the trip and posting both here and in my gallery site’s HDR section.