More Blossoms in Kyoto, More Quakes out East
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desktop background image of cherry blossoms in Kyoto, Japan -- All-Natural Dreamy Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
All-Natural Dreamy
Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto
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Today was a laid back Saturday for me. Anthony was on a trip with his grandparents and Fumie was working on ballet, so I stayed home to try to make a dent in the unending backlog of stuff I'm behind on. But with the blossoms starting to come out in force and the temperature approaching 20°C (66°F), I couldn't resist to step outside a bit with the camera. The mood outside was wonderfully relaxed, an uncrowded, low-key version of the cherry-blossom joie de vivre that I've written about before. It was really nice. I expect next weekend will be the crowded hectic (but still nice) version.

The blossoms above are on the same branch as the first blossoms in the area that I reported the other day because that one branch has the added benefit of being low enough that I can photograph it with something other than sky as the background. It didn't matter in this case because I was fairly zoomed up with my Cosina Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 that I got last year, so being that zoomed up left the background nothing but other blossoms. This is my first cherry-blossom season with the Voigtländer, so I'm excited to put it through its paces in the coming weeks.

A macro can make things so creamy... the photo above is captioned “all natural” because it looks as if I've given it the “funky joy” treatment that I most recently used at the head of the cherry-blossom preview three weeks ago. I'm partial to that effect in measured doses, but other than setting the white balance, the shot above is straight out of Lightroom with all-default settings.

Coming Along Nicely but still a long way to go -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1600 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Coming Along Nicely
but still a long way to go

The blossoms are still in the early stages, with some trees still almost entirely blossomless. Those that have them still have a long way to go before mankai, full bloom. You can see in the photo below how anemic things look from a distance...

Shirakawa River from the Biwako Canal -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Shirakawa River
from the Biwako Canal

I like this close-focus version better...

desktop background image of the cherry-blossom lined Shirakawa River in Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1600 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
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That close focus on foreground foliage is another effect that I seem to be partial to... it reminds me of one of my favorite shots, Serenity at the Sanzen-in Temple.

Over at the canal, I got this sort of odd photo...

Stacked -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1250 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Stacked

That's a cherry-blossom-viewing boat passing under the bridge. They run during this season every year (I've written about them before, such as here and here), but I wondered whether I'd see them this year because this morning I saw a news report about similar boats in Tokyo sitting idle because people felt it would be inappropriate to enjoy them under the current circumstances. Kyoto is far enough away to not have those concerns; the boats I saw today were full.

On top of the bridge were some Buddhist monks collecting donations for the earthquake....

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

I probably wouldn't have even thought to snap these shots except that lately I've seen similar shots on another Kyoto blog (here and here), so I thought to give it a try. And now that I'm writing this, I realize that today's group is the same as in the second post I linked to; they're from the Shogo'in Temple. The temple is just half a mile from my place, but I'd never heard of it. I'll have to pay it a visit soon.

Back to the blossoms, they've still got a way to go, but even so are sure pretty...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/1000 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

And of course, when the blossoms come out, so do the cameras...

Photo Op -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op
Photo Op? -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500 mm, cropped — 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op?

I'm not sure what was going on with the guy photographing a doll in front of a backdrop of blossoms, but most scenarios I can conjure up would fall under the heading of either “heartbreaking” or “creepy”. But maybe he's just an artisan taking a snapshot of his latest creation. Who knows...

This final shot of a mess of blossoms had some punch to it, which I then enhanced a tad in Lightroom. It grabs my attention, though I'm still not sure whether in a good way..

Punchy -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Sigma “Bigma” 50-500mm OS @ 500 mm — 1/800 sec, f/6.3, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Punchy

I hope the spring and cherry blossoms help bring some peace to the people up in the quake-ravaged northeast.

There was another shindo-5 quake today, just like yesterday and the day before. A “shindo 5 (damage-level five) quake is one where people in the hardest hit area might feel either

Most people try to escape from a danger. Some people find it difficult to move.

for a 5 minus like today's, or

Many people are considerably frightened and find it difficult to move

for a 5 plus like yesterday's.

Unlike the magnitude measurement common in the West, which measures absolute energy at the source of the quake (however far away and remote it might be), The Japanese shindo scale rankings are specific to each location, and are based upon ground movement actually measured in three dimensions at the location by an accelerometer. There are thousands sprinkled across the country.

For reference, the tremor my friend felt when he wrote “Big f#@*!ng earthquake. Currently under table” was only a shindo 4 in his area, though he was on the 9th floor in a building on a man-made island at the time, so I'm sure the effect was amplified. The same quake was an impressive six minus further up the coast, though none of this is anything compared to the magnitude 9 quake that had struck out to sea half an hour before, which registered only as high as shindo 7 because the scale goes no higher.

Anyway, shindo 5 and above quakes are fairly rare, and under normal circumstances the occurrence of one would be the lead item on the news, but the one today didn't even merit a mention even though it happened a few minutes before the start of the 7pm news, probably because there have been 25 of them in the last three weeks. Until a few days ago it had been settling down, but there were clusters of them in the week after the big quake, as my one week of quake accelerometer data video shows.

(Special just-to-be-clear note for my mom: none of these have been felt here in Kyoto.... all the problems are hundreds of miles away.)

With ten-to-twenty thousand bodies still not accounted for, the cold weather has been a blessing in one sense, but once they're recovered, I'm sure a warm spring with cherry blossoms will be at least a slight big of welcome relief for the folks up there.

At least I hope so. Not much else I can do.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Thanks for the reassurance, dear, though Dad and I are still uneasy about it all.
In your photo of the monks on the bridge, what are the black circles on their foreheads? Something applied? Can’t be hats. ..they wouldn’t stay on. Is it their hair, cut like that. Just wondering about the significance.

They’re some form of headgear (clicking through to the larger photos shows they’re held on by straps) vaguely in appearance reminiscent of tefillin, though I’ve no idea what they’re actually for. I’ll ask next time I have the chance. —Jeffy

— comment by Grandma Friedl in Ohio, USA on April 3rd, 2011 at 12:40am JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

My guess about the gentleman taking a picture of the doll is that it’s his daughter’s doll. He travels with the doll, taking pictures of it in different locations to share with his daughter once he gets home. I’ve done this with a little fairy bear doll (bear with fairy wings) for my girlfriend’s daughters. That fairy bear has been all over. From Grand Cayman to Italy to Maui. =)

— comment by Scott Wolfington on April 3rd, 2011 at 4:29am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Those are some nice shots. The guy taking the photo of the doll got me wondering – I’ve seen some sort of similar photos on Flickr, where people take some sort of figurine and take photos of it in various places and in various circumstances. The best known figurine used in those cases is Danbo, a figure which originates from a manga series that most Danbo photographers have probably never even heard of. Aside from Danbo, there was also a craze over Dollfies (again originating from Japan), although I don’t think that one ever became popular outside of Asia.

The figurine being photographed does not look like a Dollfie, and it seems too doll-like to be an anime or manga figurine (although it’s a possibility). It’s a mystery.

— comment by David K on April 3rd, 2011 at 4:43am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Hey Jeffrey –

You don’t know me from Adam’s house cat, but every now and a blue moon I take a peek at your blog. I love your photos of everything from maple leaves on stone lanterns to your lovely family (though I think your Mrs. may be a little camera shy since shots of her are rare 🙂 You have a wonderful eye and some time back I forwarded your site on to my son who is also quite a shutterbug.

Anyway, I thought of you and your little family when the string of disasters struck and I worried about the three of you. From the news over here it’s still hard to tell exactly what’s going on. But I just wanted you to know I am glad you and your wife and son are okay and that I am so very, very sorry for the heartbreaking loss to your adopted country.

My daily prayers continue for Japan.

Regards,

Heather Neill

— comment by Heather Neill on April 4th, 2011 at 6:37am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink
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