San José Obon

I didn’t get to have an Obon post last year because I ended up dancing for the first time.* I didn’t plan on it but the kids got really into the San José Obon practices and so I ended up helping and encouraging them and by the end of the summer they’d danced in multiple obons and had managed to convince my mom to outfit them with all the accoutrement that they’d need for the next year.

*A few post-odori photos did make it into my July backlog though.

Anyway, dancing was fun and while I don’t plan on doing it in every obon I attend, it’s nice to actually take part beyond just photographing the event. Also, I got to spend a year thinking about how I wanted to photograph this year’s odori while dancing. I opted for the “hold the camera in my hand and shoot viewfinderless” approach—a very different viewpoint than my previous telephoto shots and one that, aside from the consistency of who’s in the photo, I find myself enjoying just for the way it forces me to cede control.

Also, yes, my family was all wearing matching Giants happi.




Continuing my magazine experiments, this time I figured I’d give Magcloud a whirl. I was happy with Blurb’s magazines but I wanted to try smaller formats and experiment with saddlestitching. Magcloud’s 5.25″×8.25″ format looked ideal since it’s a decent size for vertical photos and the saddlestitch format is much more forgiving for crossovers so I can use similar-sized horizontal or square photos as well.

I’m pretty happy with the results. Magcloud uses very-good toner-based printing technology and the results are about as good as I’d expect from that. They do still show the typical telltale heavy-gloss in high-coverage areas* though so the overall result doesn’t feel as high quality to me as Blurb’s printing. But the print quality itself—screening, color, etc.—is plenty good.

*This is admittedly something I’m sensitive to and it only shows up in certain lighting situations anyway.

The only other thing which caught my attention is that Magcloud’s bindery operation is pretty loose. They want an eighth of an inch for bleeds and they mean it. I had a few photos where I could only spare a sixteenth of an inch for bleed and that wasn’t nearly enough, Magcloud needs the full eighth of an inch. Similarly, while the crossovers are mostly satisfactory, there’s a decent amount of play—over a sixteenth of an inch again—in terms of where the center fold is.

These aren’t complaints as the price is more than fair and the results are still fine. But they‘re worth keeping in mind so I don‘t expect anything better than that and treat these as the mini-projects/project dummies that they are. I don’t expect any of my magazines to be the final form of the projects, they’re just waypoints which scratch my urge to get things printed and which I can live with and look through until I’m ready to take the next step.

The magazines I made are all working through a bunch of small projects which I’m not sure what to do with yet. There are two which are photos from Powwow—one of the Aztec dancers, the other of the powwow itself.

There are two which are photos from Obon—one of San José Taiko, the other of the obon odori.

And there’s one which consists of photos from all the bounce house birthday parties I’ve been to.

Some of those projects I don’t expect to be adding to. Others might get a photo here or there each summer but I’m reaching the point where I’ll want to replace existing photos rather than add to the project overall. In all cases though I expect I’ll be heading back to Magcloud to do some more small projects and see how they work together.

San José Obon

Not much to add to last year’s post, although this year we didn’t even make it to the Obon Odori dancing. Yay for kids getting tired and fussy. But it was still good. We got the most important thing done. Shave Ice!


And while we didn’t get to see dancing, we were able to enjoy a full performance of San José Taiko. I enjoy photographing their gigs since they go out of their way to be expressive.


So yeah. A good day despite leaving early.


San José Obon


Another year, another Obon festival. In Japan, this is their version of Día de los Muertos where you remember and honor your ancestors. In the US, while there’s still some of this, it’s morphed into a major celebration of Japanese-Americanness with all kinds of food, treats, entertainment, games, etc. I’m glad it’s in the summer so I can look forward to taking my sons, all dressed up, to this year after year.