Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 2000 — map & image data — nearby photos
Gion Matsuri Festival, Kyoto Japan
This is the season for the Gion Matsuri festival, and tonight was the first of three evenings when a lot of streets around Shijo Karasuma are closed off for pedestrian traffic. The streets fill with folks (and photographers) enjoying a festive atmosphere..
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 720 — map & image data — nearby photos
Shijo/Karasuma intersection, not long after being closed to traffic
I was shocked to see the photo above when I came home and checked out my pictures, because it makes it look much more crowded than it actually was. I hear that tomorrow and the next evening will be so crowded that it'll be difficult to move, but this evening was nothing but pleasant.
People come out for the mood and drink, and to check out the many massive wooden yamaboko floats that were assembled in the streets over the last few days, and take part in a big procession on Sunday. There are 32 of them scattered around, four of which can be seen (sort of) in the next photo.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos
beside the kankoboko float (函谷鉾)
in the distance are tsukihako, kakkyouyama, and shijoukasaboko
However, I came out not to look at the floats, but to try to capture a specific kind of photo made possible by my 300mm f/2. I brought it, a monopod, and a small stool to stand on to get me above the crowd, pretty much left the aperture at f/2, and just played with the plane of focus.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 220 — map & image data — nearby photos
from Karasuma, toward the Yasaka Shrine at the foot of the mountain
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 1800 — map & image data — nearby photos
I feel a bit bad for these girls... they were hamming it up for the camera as they approached, and asked if I'd take their picture. I told them that I already had, and gave them my card so that they could contact me for copies, but now I realize that one of the group never clearly appears, so I wish I would have had them pose.
This next group of restaurant coworkers approached and asked that I take their photo, so I told them to step back (way back) and took a few shots. I wanted something more, so I pantomimed a jump, and they obliged....
The idea for the jump came earlier with the guy in the first photo. I saw him jump out of the corner of my eye — either for another camera, or because he thought I was focusing on him — so when I actually did make eye contact a bit later, I pantomimed that he repeat his jump, and the photo that leads this post resulted. They smiled and started to walk away, but I motioned them over to look at the shot, and they really liked it.
Throughout the evening, lots of people would approach to chat, or just smiled as they walked by. The lens really attracts attention in a pleasant way, just as I experience the first time I used it.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1600 sec, f/2, ISO 1400 — map & image data — nearby photos
a slight rise in Shijo Street makes the crowd look like a wave
This is the closest shot I got to what I had been imagining, where the only thing in focus is a single couple. I do wish it were landscape instead of portrait, but the lady's smile makes it for me. I saw her smile bloom in the corner of the viewfinder, and I quickly recomposed to grab this shot. Moments later they were lost in the crowd.
I had to leave early because my assistant had homework before bed, so I packed away the big lens to a backpack, and threw on a 50mm f/1.4 for the walk back. Here's a shot showing how crowded it really was, and with the evening-dusk color left uncorrected...
I might try the same thing tomorrow, when it's supposed to be much more crowded.
Despite having lived walking distance from this event for the last seven years, today was the first time I'd attended in more than 20 years. I've never seen the big float procession, which is supposed to be amazing, but it's either unbearably hot or raining, so I may forgo it again this year as well.