Kyoto Plum-Blossom Preview
Plum Blossoms at the Zuishin'in Temple March, 2006 — Photos by Katsunori Shimada -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2006 Katsunori Shimada
Nikon D50 + Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 @ 80 mm — 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — full exif
Plum Blossoms at the Zuishin'in Temple
March, 2006 — Photos by Katsunori Shimada

In the last week or two I've started to notice some early blossoms around town. As far as I know, plum are the earliest, so that's what I assume they are. They tend to have much deeper, richer colors than cherry blossoms, and so can be more striking in one sense, but also more concrete and mortal in another. (Cherry blossoms, on the other hand, when experienced first hand, definitely lean toward “intangible” and “ethereal”.)

Last year I posted my first blossom pictures on Valentine's day. It seems that this year I've had a cold pretty much straight since then, so no fresh blossom pictures yet. Since no one liked the ultra-puffy late-blooming cherry blossoms in last week's Kyoto Cherry-Blossom Preview, I'll try some plum blossoms from my archive.

The photos on today's post were taken by my friend Katsunori Shimada two years ago, on a visit we made together to the Zuishin-in Temple) near where he lives in the Yamashina ward of Kyoto. It seems that I neglected to geoencode his photos, but they're taken at the same locations as my pictures from the same trip that I posted at the time, which do have “map” links.

Temple Wall Photo by Katsunori Shimada -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2006 Katsunori Shimada
Nikon D50 + Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 @ 50 mm — 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — full exif
Temple Wall
Photo by Katsunori Shimada
Plum-Blossom Detail Photo by Katsunori Shimada -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2006 Katsunori Shimada
Nikon D50 + Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 @ 80 mm — 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — full exif
Plum-Blossom Detail
Photo by Katsunori Shimada

It was an exceptionally bright day, so the shadow contrast was harsh. You can often make bright sunshine work to your advantage with fall foliage, but it's a bigger challenge for the more delicate nature of blossoms. Since posting my own shots two years ago, I've learned a bit how to compensate for strong contrast after the fact (in Lightroom, I lower the contrast, then raise the vibrancy to restore the color lost in the first step), so pictures on today's post may come out a bit more realistic.

Me, Showing my Good Side Photo by Katsunori Shimada -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2006 Katsunori Shimada
Nikon D50 + Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 @ 28 mm — 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — full exif
Me, Showing my Good Side
Photo by Katsunori Shimada

The Zuishin'in temple's gardens are nicely laid out with layers of color. If I can get over this cold, I'd like to head back there with Shimada-san to see whether I couldn't do better than I did last time.

Various Pinks Photo by Katsunori Shimada -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2006 Katsunori Shimada
Nikon D50 + Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 @ 60 mm — 1/640 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200 — full exif
Various Pinks
Photo by Katsunori Shimada
Camera-Phone Lady Photo by Katsunori Shimada -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2006 Katsunori Shimada
Nikon D50 + Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 @ 28 mm — 1/320 sec, f/9, ISO 200 — full exif
Camera-Phone Lady
Photo by Katsunori Shimada

Hah, he also took a picture of the lady trying to get a blossom picture with her camera phone. It's quite a common sight, but with the quality of phone cameras today, it's perhaps not as silly as it was two years ago.

Shimada-san is an excellent photographer with a natural, innate sense of composition, so it's unfortunate for us that he doesn't do it more. A collection of a few fall-foliage snapshots he took is one of the most popular posts on my blog, ever (see the “Hall of Fame” in the sidebar on my blog home page). Also on my blog are a dozen of his photos that I used for a calendar.


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Love your flower pictures. Are you sure they are plum and not apricot trees? Cheers

e

— comment by elvirarita on March 14th, 2008 at 8:40pm JST (9 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Beautiful shots. Are you sure these are not cherry blossoms? I thought plum blossoms had more oval-shaped petals, whereas the cherry has round petals with a bit of a slit of undulation around the edges.
Thank you!

I’m pretty sure they’re plum… this was well before cherry had bloomed in the area, at a temple famous for their plum. I’m often hard pressed to tell the difference in the absences of clues like this, because the colors and shapes of both spread a wide gamut, mostly overlapping. Either can be white or deeply pink or anywhere in between, and the petal shapes vary widely. The only thing consistent is their attraction to photographers. —Jeffrey

— comment by Anonymous on July 5th, 2010 at 11:24pm JST (7 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

I believe they (certainly the close-ups) are Prunus mume, ume or Japanese apricot, which is also often called “Japanese plum” or just “plum blossom” in Japan. Botanically it is not a plum (for one thing it has downy fruits) but a relative of the apricot. It is a lovely small tree, early flowering and with a scent rather like that of sweet violets.

— comment by Peter in Wales on July 6th, 2010 at 1:09am JST (7 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
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