For exquisite macro work created with the help of Mextures we turn to the work of Tsutomu Tanaka (@tbisdd) in Japan. For decades his interest in photography has grown and his skill and creativity have expanded evermore. For Tsutomu, no detail is too small and no color unworthy of brightening. We spent the last several weeks in conversation with Tsutomu to discover just what keeps him creating. Read along!
My name is Tsutomu Tanaka. I live in the Kanto region of Japan.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN HIGH SCHOOL?
In high school, I loved taking pictures. I was the president of the photography club, but I wasn't very good at getting the focus right. These days, I'm grateful for the autofocus feature. Other than that I mostly sang and played the guitar. These were the things that gave me real joy every day. The artists I listened to were Bob Dylan, Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and so forth. I was also into blues, R&B, Disco and Hard Rock.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
I wanted to be a Composer, or singer songwriter and start a band like the Rolling Stones when I grew up. The band that I perform with now-a-days is really suitable for me.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD?
My favorite comfort food is pancakes.
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?
The owl. But if I were choosing from among humans, Bob Dylan,
WHAT TWO CELEBRITIES WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE YOUR PARENTS?
I haven't thought about which celebrities would be my ideal parents before, but if I was looking for the genes that would turn me into a genius, I would choose John Lennon and @husknutsbilder (She is a photographer I adore. )
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR INSTAGRAM ALONE?
After learning about Instagram, I came to admire the creativity and technique of pros and amateurs alike along with the great nature found all around the world. Furthermore, I was fortunate to get to know the infinite expressiveness available with Mextures. There isn't much that is interesting about me aside from my photography. But I have been attentively enjoying watching as my son grows up.
WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST AND WHY?
I fear regret more than everything else. When I regret something, it means that I didn't judge the situation correctly. When this happens, I feel immature and I hate that feeling.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?
I'm remembering how it all started more than 44 years ago. I recall that it was around 1973 when photography first caught my interest. My father had a cheap camera, the sort that anyone could easily use. It was a black-and-white camera that used film. I'd had my picture taken
before, but up to that point, I had never had the chance to take pictures myself. One day, when I was out on holiday with my family, my father unthinkingly handed me his camera. "Try taking some pictures of the family," he said. My father mainly took commemorative photos. But
I was very excited that it was my first time to hold a camera in my hands. I happily took lots of photos of my family. I had never seen them enjoy taking photos so much up to that point. They really looked like they were happy and having fun. My family was usually very serious when their picture was being taken, but since I was a child they made all kinds of funny faces and gestures. It was then that I came to love photography. I was also interested in human psychology. Other than that day, I never had the chance to use a camera. Around
Three years later, in 1976, the Canon released the Canon AE-1. I longed to use a camera again for the second time. Anyhow, it was the hottest camera at the time. I took all my savings
and bought it. At that time, the places I could go were very limited, so I mostly used my new AE-1 to take photos of plastic models I had made, the moon and stars, my cat, I would take photos of anything and everything. Of course at that time we could only take black and white photos.
From the age of 16 to 18, I got the chance to use the darkroom at my high school. I would play my guitar as I waited for my photos to dry. As I talk about this, I feel very nostalgic. It feels like such a long time ago. I think you would remember what it was like Mr. Johnston. Thanks for giving me the chance to talk about this.
I have never properly studied design before. So I can't talk about my experiences with it. That said, my grandfather was a traditional Japanese painter. He wasn't famous at all, and he certainly wasn't wealthy. But it also looked like he had a joyful life. I only have a few memories of my grandfather. I didn't have many chances to see him. I guess he taught me a lot, but it didn't feel like I was being taught. As we enjoyed our time together, he would show me all sorts of amazing things from nature around where he lived. My Grandfather lived on the top of a mountain. He loved his wife, his son and his daughter very much. The villagers called him a mountain hermit. I have only a few memories of him, but I recall his gentle smile and way of talking.
His daughter is my mother.
Three years ago, I found out about Instagram and Mextures. I discovered amazing photography work by professionals and amateurs alike. It continues to inspire me and encourage me to work hard on improving my own photography. For me it's a truly joyful thing.
HAS SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYED A ROLE IN YOUR WORK?
The only social media service I use is Instagram. In my life it is an essential form of media. If I were out and were to take a photo of a butterfly, it would get to my friends all over the world in a matter of seconds. Then they could give me their comments on my work. I am deeply moved and grateful for this experience.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU TRY TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH YOUR WORK?
Things that live in nature such as flowers, butterflies and bees are in many of my photos. When I lie in the grass, propping myself up with my elbows, I am also clinging to the earth. I think it is as if I am a bee clinging to a flower. I have been given so many blessings from nature. I think a lot about how it is the earth that allows me to live. I would be content if I could just convey that feeling.
HOW DO YOU GENERALLY APPROACH YOUR EDITING PROCESS FROM START TO FINISH?
I use Lightroom to maximize the attractiveness of the subject and determine the atmosphere for my work. After I've completed correcting the exposure and contrast, as well as the general photo development, I look for a variety of possibilities and try them out. I will try going on an adventure. This is how I decide on a rough image. I leave room to put the finishing touches on my photo development with Mextures.
HOW SPECIFICALLY DO YOU USE MEXTURES IN THAT PROCESS?
I use Mextures for the last finishing touches. I think that Mextures gives momentum to my work. When I use it, I can get around 10 attractive pieces of work. I tend to get lost trying to decide which one to work on for a day or two. There are times when I choose one photo for a composition and present it,
DO YOU EVER USE MEXTURES FORMULAS?
I use a various formulas. I'm surprised every time with how many choices there are. It's difficult to choose only five formulas, but here are five that I have been using recently.
I like the guest formula LIMESTONE because it emphasizes the outline by tightening the picture.
I like the guest formula AT SEA because it highlights the magical atmosphere and gives the picture more of an impact.
I like the guest formula DARLING because it gives depth in its ingenious color tones.
I like the guest formula LA BREA because it gave me the deep orange color that I was looking for.
And I like the anomaly formula SUNDAY MORNING because it brings a peaceful and mild light.
FOR YOU PERSONALLY, WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEXTURES THAT MAKES IT A VITAL PIECE OF YOUR EDITING PROCESS?
Mextures is very important in my editing process. It gives me hints for surpassing my imagination. And Mextures always makes my dreams come true. When I try various formulas, I'm amazed by and respect the talent of those who made them. The time I spend doing this is truly enjoyable.
PICK TWO OF YOUR FAVORITE PIECES THAT YOU'VE CREATED: WHAT IS IT ABOUT THEM THAT MAKES THEM STAND OUT TO YOU?
Sunflowers and honeybees - I wanted to photograph the collaboration between sunflowers and honeybees, so I went to a field of them. When I found some especially lovely sunflowers, I waited for the bees. Before long, some cute bees came flying by. This photo was taken with simpler colours, but with the magic of Mextures, you get an increased sense of realism. The scene becomes one of abundant life in a quiet, warm summer landscape. I feel very pleased with it.
Untitled - When I was walking through the thicket, I found a clump of tiny flowers. I sat down so the flowers would surround me. I told them I would take a photo to say hello. They did an excellent pose. The sun was setting, so I hurried and took the picture. Then I used the magic of Mextures. I was glad that it turned out to be an impactful photo.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE?
Three years ago, it had been thirty years since I got my hands on a SLR Camera. I was inspired by the artists I had met on Instagram and I wanted to photograph the wonderful forms of nature all around me. Also, the scenery that I am used to plays a dramatic role according to the season or time of day. So from now on, I want to include that in my photography. On my days off from work, I always go out to take photos. I wonder what sorts of encounters I'll have today. I'd like to run into some butterflies and bees, or some beautiful flowers. It's with these thoughts that I go on a stroll in the morning. At times I'll go to a park or the woods by car. When I'm done with my photography, I'm grateful for all the encounters I had. I always say thank you to my lovely models: the butterflies, bees, flowers and scenery.
IF YOU COULD STEAL CREDIT FOR ONE INSTAGRAM FEED, WHOSE WOULD IT BE?
I admire and respect the work by all of my friends I'm following on Instagram. Whether it's Macro, Plants, Flowers, Insects, Animals, Still life, Portraits, Landscape, Foods, Illustration, Fashion, or the photographer's own creation, every genre has its own magic and wonder. All of my friends are my masters.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?
The one who most influenced my photography is @husknutsbilder, the same one who has been supporting me since I started out on Instagram. Her work is always perfect and is overflowing with a sense of hope. I’m in constant admiration of her and her work. And also, I always think that I’m led by the amazing photographers who involve Mextures in their compositions.
I'd like to take this opportunity to show my deepest gratitude to all of my dear friends and followers on Instagram. I’m truly thankful.
Find more of @tbisdd’s work here!