Takashi Kitajima’s “extra bokeh” series depicts Tokyo as a sea of bokeh balls

by Felix Esser

posted Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM EDT

The city of Toyko, the capital of Japan, is without doubt one of the most fascinating and vibrant places in the world, especially for tech aficionados. Attracting millions of visitors each year, Tokyo is also one of the most-photographed places in the world. Thus, showing the city in a new perspective is not exactly an easy task.

With his series "extra bokeh", Japanese photographer Takashi Kitajima manages to do the seemingly impossible and show Tokyo in an entirely different light -- quite literally. By using the decades-old technique of lens tilting, Kitajima captures the city bathing in a sea of 'bokeh balls,' and creates an unprecedented and unique visual impression of his nation's capital.

'Tokyo Inn', Shinagawa

Kitajima, who is a software engineer in his day job, takes his pictures during the rare moments when he finds the time to stroll through the city. He only discovered photography as a hobby four years ago in 2010, inspired by the work of others on Flickr. He has since amassed a significant portfolio, parts of which can be licensed via GettyImages.

For his "extra bokeh" series, Kitajima relies on various camera bodies including a Sony Alpha 6000 and an Olympus PEN E-P5, which he uses with adapted manual lenses such as a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai, SIGMA 35mm f/1.4, and various Lensbaby optics. In order to achieve his hallmark bokeh effect, he created his own tilt-shift adapter to which he attaches his various lenses.

'the gate of the treasure', Asakusa

Many of the pictures in the series were taken from observation decks of Tokyo's numerous skyscrapers, while others were taken at ground level. In each case, however, the focus point is in the far distance, so that the foreground drowns in a sea of bokeh, caused by the many defocused light sources in the images.

For the future, Kitajima plans to continue his series in other cities, with a trip to Korea being planned for this year. His photographs can be seen not only on Flickr, but also at an exhibition in Tokyo in August. Another exhibition of his work is scheduled to take place in Rome, Italy this fall. You can also follow Kitajima's work via his Google+ profile and on his portfolio website.

'statue of liberty', Odaiba

'new city hotel', Shinjuku

'fountain', Tokyo Dome city

'compare heights', Umeda sky building air garden observation deck

'bridge of the brilliance', Daiba Park

All images in this article are © Takashi Kitajima and used with permission. We'd like to thank Takashi Kitajima for providing us with some background information about his work.