Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 1400 — map & image data — nearby photos
two people alone with each other amid a crowded sea of revelers
The photo above is pretty much exactly the kind of shot I had in mind when I first thought to venture out into the crowds at Kyoto's Gion Matsuri festival, and seems to be what the Nikkor 300mm f/2 was made for. I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of people were milling about, but as far as the lens was concerned, at that moment there were only two people on earth.
I bet they felt the same.
Just compare it to a shot taken a few seconds later at f/11...
Back to the isolating effects of f/2...
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image data — nearby photos
She's still digging you in a big way
I've lived in this area on and off for 22 years, but I hadn't been to Gion Matsuri for 21 years because it's usually so incredibly hot and crowded, but a few weeks ago a friend told me a bit about how festive the evening atmosphere would be when the streets were closed, and I commented absentmindedly that it would be great for my 300mm f/2. The more I thought about it, the more an image formed in my mind of what I wanted to capture, and how to do it.
I went to a home center and spent $10 on a small folding stool that I could transport easily while on foot, and stand on to put me above the river of people when using the camera. I packed the 300mm f/2 into a lens backpack and threw a 50mm f/1.4, my GPS unit, and my wallet into a pouch. On the side of the backpack, I attached my monopod, sporting a recently-acquired Really Right Stuff MH-01 Hi-Capacity Monopod Head (like most Really Right Stuff stuff, a wonderful bit of engineering).
On the first night (of three), I took a bunch of shots showing the mood, and I'm really happy with them, but I found I enjoyed the people shots more, which is what I had in mind in the first place. That's why most of the shots from day two are people. By the time day three came about, I had a pretty strong idea of what to do: set up in a location that doesn't block the flow of the crowds, and watch 20-50 meters away for interesting looks, cute kids, classy women, happy couples, and smiles. Mostly smiles.
On the first night I got this shot, which felt very right... it was exactly what I had described to my friend when the idea had first struck, and made me feel great to have an idea validated in practice.
On the third day when I first set up shop at a particular spot early in the evening, I immediately noticed the happy couple seen in this post... they were sending such a great vibe that it was impossible to miss, and impossible not to smile with them. After a minute or so, I was so thrilled with the photos that I wanted to share with them, so broke down my gear and headed off to find them, catching them just as they were jaunting off arm in arm. I showed them a shot or two and gave them my card. I hope they contact me so I can send them the full set, and thank them again for their smiles.
UPDATE: they contacted me, loved the photos, and I sent the whole set. 🙂