Kyoto Cherry-Blossom Preview: Live From the Imperial Palace
In Preparation -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl,
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/250 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
In Preparation

In my earlier cherry-blossom previews, I featured pictures from years past (standard cherry blossoms, some crepe-paper fluffy blossoms, and some plum blossoms), so for today's post I'd show what Kyoto's cherry blossoms look like today.

Around lunchtime, I found myself on the grounds of Kyoto's Imperial Palace, which is filled with all kinds of cherry trees. Pictured above is a nice stand of four surrounded by an old bamboo fence, but like the others, it's not yet their time. In three weeks or so, they'll be glorious. (See yesterday's timelapse movie for a sense of the timing.)

This next one features a raintree-shaped tree that will certainly be stunning, but it's still bare, just as it was last fall when it appeared at the bottom of a fall-colors post.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl,
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 23 mm — 1/320 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos

The palace grounds are not without their color; there are a few trees brimming with pink blossoms and a few with white or light pinks...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl,
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 1/750 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos

Sadly, photographing for the blossoms on a clear day calls for an exposure that lets in so much light from the sky that the sky tends to get washed out like in the first two shots, or blown out altogether (essentially turning the sky white in the photo). That happened to this last shot, so I lifted the properly-exposed sky from another picture and dropped in this one to restore the photo to an accurate representation of the scene. I didn't do that great a job of it, but if you didn't notice until I mentioned it, perhaps it's good enough.

All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

The best way to beat bright skies is to use a graduated ND filter, but failing that I have found a plugin for photoshop that works pretty amazing magic on landscapes. It’s part of the new color efex set from Nik and it’s the graduated ND simulator. It’s a quick way to restore a lot of color and detail to landscapes. I also like a lot of the other filters in color efex… amazing stuff!

I have a tokina 12-24 coming in today, can’t wait to take some real landscapes with it. I still need a tripod and ball head though. This stuff aint cheap!

— comment by Jon on March 15th, 2008 at 11:41pm JST (16 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Have you thought about using HDR to get the exposure of the cherry blossoms and sky correct? I’ve never done any of it myself, but I understand you can even do HDR on a single exposure if you’re shooting raw.

I’ve played with it without putting too much effort into it, and the results have been as poor (as one might expect for not putting much effort into it). HDR is something that makes an image look far worse when done improperly, until suddenly it makes it look better, and I can rarely get to that final goal. Shooting in raw gives you some extra latitude, but it’s still limited. You really need to expose the same frame at multiple exposures (using a tripod to ensure that there’s no movement, and hope for no wind in between). We’ll see…. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ben Pharr on March 17th, 2008 at 11:20am JST (16 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

Jon’s suggestion with using ND grads is actually probably the easiest way. Not to mention that once you’ve got it right in camera, you’ve saved a lot of computer work.. Always a bonus!

— comment by Sean McCormack on March 18th, 2008 at 7:19pm JST (16 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink
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