Cherry Blossoms in the Rain at the Heian Shrine, Part 2
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desktop background image of idallic soft-glow view of pink cherry blossoms and a small stone bridge, in the gardens of the Heian Shrine, Kyoto Japan -- Artsy- Fartsy 1 Gardens of the Heian Shrine, Kyoto Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 36 mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Artsy-Fartsy 1
Gardens of the Heian Shrine, Kyoto Japan
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This post continues from my previous post, “Cherry Blossoms in the Rain at the Heian Shrine”. Even more so than in that post, a lot of the pictures this time have a sort of distinct (distinctly annoying?) feel, with multiple planes of focus (or the lack there of).

Also, as with some of the photos in last month's “Kyoto 2009 Cherry-Blossom Preview”, some this time have had a touch of Lightroom's “negative clarity”, which I apparently am enamored with. The shot above, of course, has had a lot of negative clarity applied, to give it a glowing pastel feel. I guess it qualifies as “art”, which means that I don't care whether you think it's contrived and affected. 🙂

Cherry-Blossom Petal Pond Scum is there a synonym for “scum” with a pleasant nuance? -- Heian Shrine -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 58 mm — 1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Cherry-Blossom Petal Pond Scum
is there a synonym for “scum” with a pleasant nuance?

The first picture in last year's “Snowy Gardens of the Heian Shrine” is a nice shot from almost the same vantage point, with Anthony and Fumie reflected in the glassy surface of the cold, winter pond.

That little lake has stepping stones that were closed off this time, but I think I've seen people on them before...

Heian Shrine -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos

That little shack in the background is new... I wonder what it's for.

Common Photo-Op Spot -- Heian Shrine -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 50 mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Common Photo-Op Spot

The guy in the picture above had a big pro-level Canon SLR and a big lens of some sort. Would like to have seen his results.

As another winter/spring comparison, here's a shot from the same position, after a snowstorm back in 2005.

Here are a few more artsy-fartsy multi-plane touch-of-negative-clarity shots...

Artsy- Fartsy 2 -- Heian Shrine -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 56 mm — 1/160 sec, f/4, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
Artsy-Fartsy 2
desktop background image of a lake, covered bridge, and foliage in the gardens of the Heian Shrine, Kyoto Japan -- Artsy- Fartsy 3 -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/160 sec, f/4, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Artsy-Fartsy 3
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desktop background image of a small bridge over a stream, in the gardens of the Heian Shrine, Kyoto Japan -- Artsy- Fartsy 4 -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/160 sec, f/4, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Artsy-Fartsy 4
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Heian Shrine -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26 mm — 1/160 sec, f/7.1, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos

As many guessed correctly to the Geometric “What am I?” Quiz from the other day, the pattern in the dirt is from rainwater dripping from the bamboo lattice. You might recall that the paths seen in Part I of this pair of posts showed no signs of these patterns, and that's almost certainly because those paths are well traveled, but the path in the photo above is normally a dead end. (It leads to a closed gate, which leads to the bridge seen in Artsy-Fartsy 4 above.)

Not Sure Where to Focus a touch disconcerting, but somehow pretty -- Heian Shrine -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Not Sure Where to Focus
a touch disconcerting, but somehow pretty

Back outside the gardens and into the public square of the shrine, there were some fluffy pink “trees” that I briefly considered making into a “What am I?” Quiz...

Pink Trees -- Heian Shrine -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Pink Trees

I decided against making it a quiz because those who knew what it was would recognize it immediately, and those who didn't would never be able to guess.

They're twigs with papers tied on like leaves...

Pink Paper “Leaves” it says “Heian Shrine” -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/800 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Pink Paper “Leaves”
it says “Heian Shrine”

These are common at shrines, although normally they're white and on strings strung between two posts. These were apparently set up specially for the cherry-blossom season; the normal white ones on string were nearby.

It's my understanding that individuals buy the papers for some small amount (a buck or five) and writes a wish on them before tying them to the string. (Update: I finally asked Fumie about these; they're called Omikuji, and are fortunes/predictions. You pay a few bucks to get a random one, and if it's good you take it with you. If bad, you tie it to the string, leaving your bad fortune behind.)

I'm not sure what happens after that, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were later subject to a Shinto rite involving fire, such as those described in “Intense Burn: Shinto Rite at the Heian Shrine” and “Rare Shinto Shrine-Closing Ceremony”.

These kinds of papers have been seen before on my blog – likely several times – but the only one I can find are some green ones at an out-of-the-way shrine in Kibune.


All 12 comments so far, oldest first...

Those pink papers tied onto the branches.. I’ve seen white ones before at Yasaka shrine… I think people only tie them there when they don’t want that particular “wish” to happen or something… It’s similar to the chinese i-ching whereby you go into the shrine, pray and shake a cylindrical tube full of wooden sticks. You then pick a piece of paper from a tray according to the # written on the wooden stick that falls out from the tube…

— comment by John on April 21st, 2009 at 11:17pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I’ve heard the same as John – I think the tradition is if you tie a bad fortune to the branch of a tree, it won’t come true. I’ve seen shrines without convenient trees nearby that just set up racks of strings where people can tie bad fortunes, guess as long as it’s tree branch-like, it works for preventing bad fortune. Great pictures again, next-best thing to actually being in Kyoto for cherry blossom season 🙂

— comment by Brian on April 21st, 2009 at 11:43pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

#4 is a winner

— comment by Brian on April 21st, 2009 at 11:51pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

Pink trees is nice. I’d love to see a screensaver size of that one. Also AF4 is great too.

Something fascinating about visiting the temples/shrines is the remarkable similarity (from a ritualistic perspective) between Catholic churches and Japanese temples and shrines.

They both have statues that people will pray in front of.
They both have special water for cleansing.
Candles / Incensce / Prayer Notes that you can leave.
Little boxes for monetary offerings
Places to kneel
Tributes to donors.
A sense of stillness in the midst of a rushing society

I don’t know much about history but I wonder if either group was influenced by the other.

— comment by Ron Evans on April 22nd, 2009 at 2:04am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I liked the first photo. But of all the photos in this post, though, the one you DIDN’T futz around with is the one I wanted to see with negative clarity applied. I downloaded “Cherry-Blossom Petal Pond Scum” and applied maximum negative clarity myself – and that REALY looked like an impressionist painting. A lot of artists at the time had a thing about umbrellas and rivers. Even raincoats on the people walking look at bit like 19th century dresses when you blur them a bit.

— comment by Marcina, USA on April 22nd, 2009 at 7:17am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Okay, I asked Fumie about the papers. They’re called omikuji, and they’re sort of like a fortune. You pay some donation (a few bucks) and get a paper with either a good prediction or bad prediction about your future. If it’s good, you take it with you, but if it’s bad, you tie it to the string (to leave your bad fortune behind, I guess).

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on April 22nd, 2009 at 11:05am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Your cherry blossom photos brings back fond memories of my trip to Kyoto in March ’07. I notice that you primarily use the 24-70 & 70-200 on the D700. Lots of chatter about the 70-200 not having sufficient field coverage for an FX camera. Do you shoot with any fixed focal length lenses?

I have a Nikkor 85/1.4 and a Sigma 30/1.4 (that latter being a DX lens). I generally prefer the zooms for their flexibility, ’cause I’m not that good of a photographer yet. I sometimes borrow a friend’s 50/1.2, and shot “Impossible Photography: No Light, No Tripod, No Hope. D700 and a 50mm f/1.2” with it. The 70-200 is fine if you get the exposure correct, but if you want to lower the exposure in post, the vignetting will make itself apparent quickly. —Jeffrey

— comment by ed on April 22nd, 2009 at 10:13pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

My favorites are # 1 and # 4. I personally like the use of negative clarity in these photos. I just can’t get over the beauty of the cherry blossoms and the dainty red Japanese maple. You’ve captured the essence of the season well.

— comment by Karen from Florida on April 22nd, 2009 at 10:49pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Might I recommend a recently introduced lens I recently bought; the tiny Cosina Voigtländer SL II 20mm f/3.5. Little distortion and sharp into the corners, though it overexposes by EV +2/3 routinely. Goes for about ¥55,000.
I, and others, have posted a host of images on: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cv20/
Given your subject matter, the 20mm would really add a significant tool to your kit.

— comment by ed on April 23rd, 2009 at 12:12am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

“Artsy Fartsy”… signature Friedl style 🙂 You certainly don’t try to be pretentious about “High Art” with your photos / writing about your photos. However I think you might be undervaluing your talent labeling it this way! It’s clear you do have ability to create art, just “art” not “artsy fartsy stuff” but it seems like you are also quick to dismiss it as if it were arts and crafts rather than “Art” with a capital A… am I making sense? Probably not. You have always come across as a very technical person which I guess makes sense given a programmer background. 🙂 I guess I’m just saying you aren’t one to go into flowery words when it comes to the visual / emotional meaning of the photos- preferring instead to say “here it is, and I tried some silly stuff”

I don’t think it’s silly (although I do try a lot of silly stuff, and even post some of the results), but I want to draw a distinction between something that is “my style” (which is whatever I do naturally, without thinking about it too much), and something that I’m trying or utilizing in a specific situation.

I post a lot of crappy photos on my blog because they participate in whatever story I’m telling that day, but sometimes I just want to post a pretty picture because I think it’s pretty, but when I affect an artificial look as strongly as I did in some of those on this post, I want to leave the reader plenty of room to feel “geez, that’s crap” if they want. Calling them “Artsy Fartsy” validates the viewer’s feelings whether they feel it’s Artsy or Fartsy, so in sense I’m saying “yeah, it’s a look, and I like it here, but I don’t fault you for not liking it”.

Along opposite lines, I don’t label pictures of my kid that way, implying to the reader what I, the writer, actually feel: you’d better agree that this is the most cute and adorable child, ever, or else! 🙂 —

(By the way, Jon, you’ve got the new house, new theater, new game console…. new family member in the cards for you two?)

— Jeffrey

— comment by Jon on April 23rd, 2009 at 11:29am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Hello, I visit your website more or less regularly for the photos and “slice of life in Japan” stories — very enjoyable, the lot. I had visited Japan as a child a couple of times and hope to go back again soon, and have been taking notes of places to go from your blog and others’.

I like your eye for aesthetics and have downloaded several wallpapers, thank you!

Anna M. in Michigan

— comment by Anna Myerscough on April 23rd, 2009 at 10:10pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

is there a synonym for “scum” with a pleasant nuance?
How about “Yuba?” It’s delicious Kyoto scum.

— comment by nils on April 24th, 2009 at 6:58pm JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink
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