Saturday, October 19, 2013

Revisiting Japan Pictures - Six Months Later

I have the great fortune of visiting Japan often, usually every spring. This year we went in late March, and had a wonderful time, as usual. My wife's cousin, Yoshiko, is a highly-experience guide focusing on the Kyoto area, one of Japan's most historic places. Yoshiko and I spent a half-day walking around Kyoto for a photo tour. It was not the best weather, and in fact rained quite hard. I carried my Leica M9 and 35mm f1.4 Summilux.
(Click Here) to read about the Summilux, or use the tab at the top of this page to see all of my Whole Lotta Leica posts, including results posts for this lens.
To be honest, I was not very pleased with my own photographic results. Yoshiko took me to some amazing places, and weather is no reason to fail to bring back excellent images. I remember looking through them and thinking that I just had not hit the mark on that day.
I decided to go back through those images, and see if I'd missed anything. Here are two shots that I now quite like:
Gion Crossing, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summilux 35mm f1.4 Lens
iso 640, f6.7, 1/90 sec.
Gion, in Kyoto, is the most famous geisha district in Japan. What I really like about the shot above are the secondary elements (the two ladies in kimono sharing an umbrella are the primary element). I love how the ladies across the street are turning to look at them. The Japanese have a fascination with their past and culture, even if many of them no longer practice any aspects of it regularly. They are always interested to see someone who is. The other element I like is the painting of a geisha on the wall to the left of those ladies. It was an announcement for an event, and adds another nice touch of historic Japanese imagery.
Here's another that caught my eye:
Noren, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summilux 35mm f1.4 Lens
iso 640, f6.7, 1/90 sec.
I always love the graphic arts in Japan. For example, restaurants frequently hang "noren," decorative curtains, in their doorways. In this shot, you see the purple noren dominating nearly half of the image, and the semi-line of red paper lanterns pulling you further into the picture. The person looking out between the second and third lantern really adds a nice finishing element in my opinion.
So, maybe I did a little better than I initially thought. I find that I sometimes need to take a good long time to let my expectations for a particular shoot or event fade before I can fairly judge my own results. I was not able, due to my own limitations, to get the shots I expected on that day, even though I was presented with a rare opportunity and an expert guide. As I'm learning through other pursuits in life, expectations can be expensive; Buddha says they're the root of suffering. Once I get past expectations, I can usually find beauty.