To a shakuhachi player, a bamboo grove is like a cathedral. On last week’s walk with my shakuhachi friend in the hills around Fushimi Inari shrine, we somehow wandered onto a path into a deep bamboo grove where we didn’t encounter another soul for a long time (which is a miracle for the middle of Kyoto).
The bamboo was undergoing some kind of molting process, where the skin was coming off to reveal the new green bamboo underneath. I can’t say the place was a riot of colors, because it was all green and brown, but it was certainly a riot of textures.
Here is a detail of a stone marker of some kind that was part of a mini-shrine in the bamboo grove. The scalloped shape of the stone is meant to mimic (I believe) the white paper decorations placed around objects of worship in shinto. I’d never seen one carved out of stone before, so I thought this was pretty cool.
I didn’t want to put this in, but felt kind of compelled to. The brutal fact is that whatever back-country beautiful spot you go to within Japan, someone has dumped cars, motorcycles, or bicycles there. This particular bamboo grove got off light with just a single bicycle and (I shit you not) a set of three stainless-steel sinks (which I’m kicking myself for not taking photos of).
Hanging out in the burned out bole of a tree full exif
This giant tree had fallen over the path. You can see where it fell from in the middle of the frame. Genbo is standing on about the midway point of the tree, and it continues way past the edge of the frame to the right.
Today we went to Muir Woods, a grove of huge redwoods that I remember fondly from when I was a kid growing up in the area. It was great to be able to take my own kids there. Although they didn’t approach the trees with quite the same quiet, pensive reverence that I prefer (to put it mildly), they had their own fun take on the environment and pursued it with abandon. Pictures of G&Z will have to wait until next post, because this one concentrates on the trees.
These are all taken with HDR, or the technique of mixing a light, normal and dark exposure to mitigate the camera’s limited ability to record a wide range of luminosity at once. Using it is a big benefit in this environment, because the forest makes for a whole lot of shadows. This is the first time I’ve really experimented with HDR B&W, but I think it suits the subject.
I got what I think is some valuable feedback on my previous effort at using shakuhachi music in a slideshow, which was that the images needed to be slower and less attention-grabbing, as they detracted from the music. Since I have a lot more invested (literally and figuratively) in shakuhachi than photography, this was actually a welcome criticism. So, this is my second try.
This song is called Sekibetsu no Uta (惜別の歌), and it was popularized during WWII. The name translated vaguely to “Song of Parting,” and uses words from a Shimazaki Touson (島崎藤村) poem published in 1897. I’ve always thought the melody was beautiful and sad, but haven’t really been happy with my playing of it until now. The flute used is a 2.1 Rampo (蘭畝).
Some photos from my recent trip to Wakayama to visit Pierre, who was not only an expert swordsmith but a great guide.
I also have a friend who is storing some high-grade recording equipment at my house, so I used that to record myself on shakuhachi. It was fun putting this slideshow together, but even this rudimentary level of synching audio and video took a couple hours, moving things around by tenths of a second until I had it just so…
Today was parents’ day at Zoe’s daycare. We got to go and watch them do daycare stuff. Genbo got to go and play with lots of friends he hasn’t seen since starting first grade. I got to go and take lots of photos of blooming wisteria vines with my 85/1.4. Maki got to get peeved at me for spending 90% of my time taking pictures of plants, and not our kids, specifically the one we were there to pay attention to.
Wisteria 1. I don’t usually go for high-key lighting, but this just happened and it kind of works full exif
Wisteria 2. This low-key is definitely much more my style full exif
Spring has finally come, and the garden in our building is bursting thanks to the Gardening Club, whose efforts I am grateful for but have no desire to partake in. (Gardening, ugh. Don’t they want to spend that time reading or playing bamboo flutes instead? I don’t get it.)
Cherry blossom season is coming to an end, alas, in Kyoto, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned, for it means an end to tourist-caused traffic jams (not as bad this year as most because of the recent spate of disasters) and the opportunity to take some photos like these.
Couldn’t decide which of the next two I liked more. The first is stopped down for more depth of field, while the second has a much narrower depth of field to give it a dreamier feeling. Hard to tell the difference in the thumbnails anyway, though. Gotta click through.
I decided to take advantage of the new snowfall to go take some photos. And, since I almost always find the part more interesting than the whole, ended up with some macros. No surprise there. A big surprise was the fact that, shortly after taking these photos, I discovered my precious Voigtlander 125/2.5 was mechanically broken, and its barrel would not de-extend. I’m going to send it in to get it fixed, and pray these aren’t the last photos taken with this rare classic.
I’ve always loved pansies as much as I’ve hated the name. I like how, in this first one, the two new sprouts or whatever coming off the stem just happen to be in the 2-3 mm of the image in focus. Serendipity strikes.
This one deserves to be clicked and viewed enlarged. In fact, a friend of mine just got a new printer capable of huge A2 prints (23.4 x 16.5 in), so I think I’m going to have to make an egregiously large print of it.
So the other day Maki took Genbo and Zoe to a party for a co-worker, but I stayed home to work on a huge translation. In other words, I left 10 minutes after they did, camera and tripod in hand, to take some long exposures in the nearby park.
OK, there are still a few blossoms on the cherry trees, so this post is not technically late. I returned to the exact place pictured in the first shot of this post with a mission to take some non-boring sakura pics. Since I wanted to use my new neutral density (ND) filters, however, I knew I wanted to do something with running water. These are basically just darkened glass you put in front of the lens to allow you to keep the shutter open for longer, thus capturing motion, without blowing everything out. The trick, as I quickly learned, is to find something moving in close juxtaposition with something not.
After many, many false starts, I finally settled on this one rock in the stream with some blossoms stuck to it. I had to take off my shoes and bring my tripod down into the stream to get the right perspective, but it was worth it. Not only was I able to arouse some levity among the passers-by, but I also got some very nice shots. (At first the water was extremely cold, but I just lost all sensation in my feet after a few minutes, which is good, because the rocks were sharp, too.)
These first two shots are some of my favorite that I’ve ever taken. I love how the ND filters let me keep the shutter open long enough to make the water all silky, while still capturing the rock-stranded blossoms in perfect clarity. The whisps of light you see are reflections on the water’s surface.
This first one, especially, deserves to be clicked on to see at full size.
Crows on the underside of the Sanjo bridge full exif
The same duck in repose a few minutes earlier. Taken with a neutral density filter allowing long exposure in daylight to get silky water effect. The ducks were completely still, which was sporting of them.