I thought today was going to be a continuation of being overwhelmed with photo opportunities, but luckily, my subconscious saved me from too much damage by arranging for me to forget to charge my camera batteries before heading out to the target-rich environment (photographically speaking) that is the Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatoro night lightup event.
It's going on every evening for a week or so in the Higashiyama (“Eastern Mountain”) district of Kyoto just south of where I live, where quaint streets are closed to all but pedestrians and rickshaw, and lined with lanterns and the occasional brightly-lit display of ikebana. To add to the glow, temples along the way illuminate themselves with their own lanterns, floodlit trees, etc. It makes for an exceedingly warm and nice atmosphere, at least during this weekday evening that wasn't heinously crowded. (The Wikipedia page for the event says that over a million people will visit during the 10-day-run, and I believe it.)
You can see on the map that the area is tall and thin. It's just south of me, so when I visited with my friend Britto this evening, we entered into the lightup area from the north. Unfortunately, the north third of so of the area is really lame (relatively speaking; it's still wonderful, but nothing at all like what follows after you pass south through Maruyama park).
Unfortunately2, I didn't realize how much nicer it would be later on, so I wasted a lot of time in the lame area at the beginning, only to find that it got better and better (as my battery got lower and lower). The big “doh!” moment came when I found that my spare battery was not charged. Oops, that's a first.
I have a visceral dislike for Maruyama Koen Park (mostly because it is the poster child for the ugly side of cherry-blossom viewing, but it was really nice this evening. It had a lot of displays of “modern ikebana” (現代生花), which would normally have me running in the opposite direction, but because most dealt with warm lights in interesting ways, it was really nice.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 31 mm — 1.1 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 20 mm — 2 sec, f/9, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
(perhaps eight feet tall)
I really hope that the wooden blocks that make up the item shown above are glued together.
The “River of Bamboo Lanterns” were clusters of cut bamboo with candles in them, filling much of a small stream that runs through the park. Toward the start upriver, they were spaced out and washed in soft green light from a lanterns along the banks. Here's a three-second exposure...
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 3 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
it really was that green
As it progressed, the green lanterns got fewer and the candle-filled-bamboo became more. There was a stepping-stone bridge cutting through at one point; in the photo below, you can see a man crouching on the bridge, trying to get a shot with his point-n-shoot...
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1.5 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
This next photo is (to overuse a word) lame compared to the glow of seeing them. It was nice; this photo is bland.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 2.5 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
The blue thing you can sort of see in the background was either someone's “modern ikebana” display, or a bug-zapping light. I'm not sure which.
I would have liked to show more of the pieces on display, but my camera battery died. Oh well. Britto and I continued south sans camera, and found that it just kept getting nicer and nicer.
The car in this next photo (which I took in Maruyama Park) had nothing to do with the evening's events, I think, but was parked off in one corner of the, er, park. I guess if you have enough money to afford a custom car like this, you're allowed to use a famous thousand-year-old public park as your private garage.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 6 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Much much more
This is a six-second exposure of a scene that was very dark. The only light was the wash from one of the ikebana displays. I can see much more in this photo than I could when I took it. This was a very stylized modern car meant to evoke a feeling of the old 1930s (?) classics. I should go back tomorrow when I can actually see it clearly. (My batteries should be charged by then.)
Finally, here's the first shot I took this evening, albeit somewhat stylized:
The original photo was unexpectedly bland, so on a whim I applied a Lightroom preset I'd made by following these instructions on a Scott Kelby blog post that attempts to reproduce the “Dave Hill” look. The results were highly dependent on the white-balance setting I chose, because the wall wash washed at some points with incandescent floodlights, and at others with yellow street lights. In the end, I chose to leave it at whatever the camera's auto setting selected. I think it's at least a little interesting.