There is something irresistibly sinuous about a garden hose, exhibiting a natural elegance as it mimics the French curve. I found my Tokyo Hose last summer in trendy Shibuya.
Always on the lookout for found still lives, this one struck me as almost perfect as originally presented, and I did not ask my subject to make any changes in her pose. If I had it to do over again, I think I would have moved the bucket, but that turned out to be one of the easier digital darkroom operations. Taken at 17mm and f;8, ensured enough depth of field for the entire image to be adequately sharp. Perspective was the first fix, easily corrected in Lightroom (Distortion +7, Vertical –30, Horizontal –7, Rotate –0.9), resulting in a square image that looked like it had been taken directly downwards from an impossible position centered over the hose. This still left me with the unwanted bucket, and some unsightly reflections from the harsh midday sun, so I moved to Photoshop for some outpatient surgery.
Copying another section of tiles and pasting it over the bucket simplified the image, turning a garden scene into a near-abstract.
The next task was to take care of the unsightly reflections by copying better looking tiles, and pasting them over the ones with the bright reflections. I ended up making 4 patches like this. I created mask layers over 3 of the top 3 tile layers and then brushed black over the mask to blend in the seams. The hose was the most fiddly part, because it needed to look realistic, but I didn’t have a dark gap to hide a transition. I also used curve layers, (1, 2, and 3) to correct the exposure and contrast of several of these patches to more closely blend with their neighbors. My final step was to create an empty layer, setting the mode to Overlay, and filling it with neutral gray. This is a quick and easy way to make a Burn & Dodge layer, and it has the advantage of being editable. Painting on it with a white brush, as I did in the upper left corner, opened up the darker tiles, making them a closer match to the tiles around the hose, and ensuring a symmetric and simple background.
I’m very happy with the way it turned out. I’m not sure that Japanese hoses are innately more elegant than any other hoses, but to me, this particular bit of blue rubber tube is suggestive, even symbolic, of the Japanese obsession with elegance and form.