The Kind Of Shot That Ultra Thin Depth Of Field Was Made For
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
Dude, She is *So* Into You two people alone with each other amid a crowded sea of revelers -- Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Dude, She is *So* Into You
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...

Much More Crowded at f/11 -- Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/200 sec, f/11, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Much More Crowded at f/11

Back to the isolating effects of f/2...

You Knew This Was Going To Happen -- Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
You Knew This Was Going To Happen
Mutual Brain Freeze -- Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 1400 — map & image datanearby photos
Mutual Brain Freeze
Portrait Mode She's still digging you in a big way -- Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 300mm f/2 — 1/1250 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Portrait Mode
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. 🙂

Continued here...


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

It makes those 15 pounds worth it! Amazing shot. Maybe I’ll hit the lottery and get me this lens and a Nikon.

— comment by Andrew on July 19th, 2011 at 1:11am JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Waow! You have a few really great shots here. Congratulations!

— comment by Edgar Bonet on July 19th, 2011 at 2:35am JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Been following your site for years now. Amazing shot. That is why we as photographers run around with a camera constantly. Also why I need to buy one (sold my bodies, in anticipation for newer goods but the waiting is killing me!)

— comment by Phil on July 19th, 2011 at 11:23am JST (6 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink
Leave a comment...


All comments are invisible to others until Jeffrey approves them.

Please mention what part of the world you're writing from, if you don't mind. It's always interesting to see where people are visiting from.


You can use basic HTML; be sure to close tags properly.

Subscribe without commenting